Houston might be the fourth largest city in the country, but the writing community is rather small. Or maybe that’s just the way it seems to me because I do have this tendency to talk…a lot.
Anyway the writer that was kind enough to answer my 20 Questions in the lovely month of July is one of those authors that everyone knows and loves. Not only because he’s an amazing author, but he’s just a really cool dude.
We met at Comic Con a few months ago were I was able to pick up a copy of his latest work (and first in a series) Soledad. While I was reading it I did notice some similarities to his protagonist and my character Samantha in Blood On The Potomac. Yet as his fast paced story continued I realized that Young is highly adept in creating a world that is familiar although tragically altered in his dystopian tale. By the end I continued to see the similarities between Sol and Sam (of hispanic descent, on a mission in which they’ll do anything to find the truth, survived a horrific past) but their stories are highly different. Also Sol had much more soul when it came to the prospect of hurting someone (pun intended).
Basically I’m obsessed with his novel Soledad and after reading it I knew that I wanted author D.L. Young to answer my 20 Questions…
His answers just prove how cool he is.
Twenty Questions With… D.L. Young.
Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?
In my case it wasn’t a book. Great storytelling—irrespective of the platform—inspired me to tell stories. TV shows, movies, comics, and (of course) books were all part of that.
2. How old where you when you started writing?
9 or 10? It was my grade school years for sure. Drawing was my first love and creative outlet, but since I also enjoyed stories, I began to do my own comic strips. My strips adorned the family refrigerator for years.
3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.
Kurt Vonnegut, Zadie Smith, Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson
What would you eat?
With Thompson and Bukowski in attendance, I doubt there would be food.
How do you plot out your work?
I’m definitely in the ‘planner’ camp. I obsessively outline all major plot points, character profiles, character arcs, etc. That said, though, I try to outline in a way that allows me some wiggle room if—during the actual writing—the creative process takes things in an interesting, unplanned direction.
Do you write in the morning or evening?
Short stories I can write in bits and pieces when I get time. For novels, I force myself to get up at 5AM and write until the kids wake up, around 7. I’m not a morning person at all, but that schedule seems to work well for me.
Is there music on?
I’ve written with and without music. For me, I’m far more productive in silence.
What inspired your last story?
It’s an adaptation of the “Llorona” legend from Latin America. The story was a specific request from the editor of an upcoming anthology, and I had a lot of fun writing it.
Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.
Huckleberry Finn, The Windup Girl, White Teeth
What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?
For me, Breaking Bad was just about the best television series ever. Phenomenal writing and acting. In film, I can’t think of anyone who’s made better movies than the Coen brothers, although I’d put Wes Anderson up there as well. In music, Pink Floyd’s lyrics have always resonated with me.
Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?
Tough question! Who would play Soledad, the protagonist of my current novel? Michelle Rodriguez has the perfect blend of toughness, vulnerability, and unpredictability, but Soledad is about 15 years younger. Maybe an unknown actress would be better, since Soledad is a bit of an unknown quantity as well.
Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?
The last novel for sure. Though I’m not sure I’d say ‘hard’. More like challenging since I’d only written short fiction up until that point. I don’t view writing as hard. It’s a challenge, can be frustrating, but I love it and I try to remember it’s a privilege, not a chore. The day it starts to be drudgery, I’ll stop writing.
Which was the easiest?
A tongue-in-cheek story I wrote about an AI who makes blockbuster movies. It just seemed to write itself.
Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?
My short story “Ximena”. It’s about the owner of a brothel with robot “service providers” set in Madrid. Women almost universally got it and liked it. Interestingly, though, men—especially men over fifty—almost universally disliked it. The dichotomy of feedback was so interesting to me that I wrote a blog about it entitled “The Time I Accidentally Wrote Feminist Fiction” (link here: http://dlyoungfiction.com/2014/04/the-time-i-accidentally-wrote-feminist-fiction/)
What are you working on now?
The follow-up novel to Soledad. The working title is Prayer’s War.
What story do you have to write before you die?
Whatever story I’m working on at the moment!
What’s your best fan story?
Not sure I have a specific one, but when readers discover your work and reach out to you and say it meant something to them, or they go out of their way to evangelize your work, it’s really great. I find it very inspiring.
What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?
“It’s a shitty world and people are the shittiest thing in it.” So yeah, my stuff tends to be a tad on the dark side.
Have you ever based characters off of real people?
I do this all the time. After I come up with a character’s basic outline, I think of a real person I can base them on. This helps me “see” them more clearly and model their way of talking, walking, mannerisms, etc.
Who’s your favorite character?
That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. Impossible to answer! That said, though, readers really liked the character Lela (a fearless, faithful bodyguard) from Soledad. I can see myself doing a standalone work exploring her story at some point.