1.) Dan, your novel In Search of the Legendary Phineas Ray includes zombies, assassins and baseball. So, tell us how you came up with this interesting, and somewhat unusual, mix for a story?
The early drafts involved baseball, a government conspiracy and an assassin. Stuff like zombies, the unicorn and talking fish came about later, when I would look at mind-numbingly boring scenes and ask myself, “What is the most bizarre thing that could possibly happen right now?”
Imagine you’re trying to track down some information on a very old baseball card. You’d take the card to a sports memorabilia shop and talk to an expert on baseball cards. You’d have stuff like, “What can you tell me about my card?” and “Wow, that’s a very old card. Where did you get that?” followed by “My grandfather gave it to me.” And so on.
That’s all pretty boring stuff. Sure, you can describe what the expert’s wearing and how he’s acting, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s very very boring and, if you fall asleep writing it, your readers will probably fall asleep reading it.
But, if the expert’s just come inside from slaying zombies in the back alley, is covered with blood and carrying a chainsaw, well, now you’ve got something.
2.) What are your future plans for your writing?
I'm currently working on three projects: the not-quite-a-sequel to In Search of the Legendary Phineas Ray, a collection of four short stories in the twisted romance genre and an extraordinarily lame novel.
3.) What are some of your favorite books?
I like old books. When I was in high school, we went to the nearest big city library, as opposed to our local library, to research a paper or something. I don't even remember what the assignment was. One of the books I used was a couple hundred years old. I used to remember how old it was but I don't anymore. I also can't remember if it was one that could be checked out.
At any rate, this book had been around for at least a couple centuries. How many people have held that book through the years?
I have a lot of old books in my collection. I'm not sure how old the oldest is. I have several that are over 100 years old. Some are dog-eared or contain handwritten notes from previous owners, or from someone who gifted the book to someone.
The future, of course, is eBooks. It's easier to have a large collection of books on a handheld device than it is to have as many physical books. On a device that fits in your hand, you can probably hold more books than the early days of the Library of Congress.
However, with that technology, we lose a little bit of history. On an e-reader, you can read the same book that someone else read generations before, and you can imagine what they must have thought when they read it. But, that's not the same as holding the same physical book that someone generations before once held. It's not the same as holding the same book that was passed down from a grandparent to a parent to you. And so on.
We gain convenience, but we lose some of that personal history.
4.) What is your favorite sport, and why?
Soccer because it airs on channels I don’t watch and they never pre-empt a science fiction program for a soccer game.
5.) Pirates vs. ninjas, who will win?
Ninjas are masters of stealth, so that gives them the element of surprise. However, pirates cheat so they're unpredictable, which balances the equation. But, in the end, when you contrast the surgical precision with which ninjas can attack against the rather roughshod nature of pirates, it becomes a moot point because, as the pirates and ninjas battle it out the kraken comes along and swallows the ship, consuming them all.
6.) You are walking home one night when you hear a moaning sound behind you. You turn back to look and find lurching toward you slowly a dozen yards away a flesh-eating zombie! What do you do?
It depends on how far away from home I am. If I’m far away from home, I simply run home. If they’re slow-moving zombies, they’ll never catch me and I’ll be able to get a large enough lead that they’ll never know where I went.
If I am close to home, then I don’t want them following me to my house. But, there’s this one neighbor that drives his truck through my backyard without even asking permission or anything. He just drives back there like he owns it or something. What if I had planted stuff there? So, I would run to his house. I would ring the doorbell and, when someone answered the door, I’d run inside, through the house and out the back door. The zombies, of course, will follow me shortly thereafter, but they’ll never see where I