Name: Charley Daveler
Where are you from?
Jackson Hole, Wyoming. If you type “Tetons” in Google, you’ll get a visual of what I saw out of my bedroom growing up. I, of course, kept my curtains shut because I was a shut-in.
A little about yourself i.e. your education, family, life, etc.:
Traditional family unit: mother, father, older brother, me. I grew up in a barn. I’d crack a joke, but I’m running out of ways to make it novel. It was a cliché shaped outside with a renovated inside, save for the tumor jutting out of the left side where my brother’s room was made.
I graduated with a B.A. in theatre which taught me less about theatre and more about how to deal with bureaucrats. But I think that was more applicable to my field of work anyway.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just recently launched the serial short stories, Stories of the Wyrd, which can be read online at www.charleydaveler.com/stories.html. (Be forewarned, the mobile version has not been posted yet.) It is a dark, supernatural comedy about two posing vampire hunters and their dealing with the ever-shifting boundaries of another realm, The Wyrd.
This January I also have an upcoming short story, “The Eye in the Lock” in Beyond Imaginations Magazine, and am looking for short story submissions for the literary journal, One in the Hole (www.facebook.com/oneintheholeanthology for guidelines).
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I decided to be a writer long before I actually wrote anything. I like to say that it needed time to gestate, but what I really mean is that procrastination doesn’t work if you don’t have a deadline.
Back in third grade my friend decided she wanted to be an illustrator, so I, daring as I am, decided I was going to be an author. She later on fickly changed her mind and is now an engineer, where as I stuck with my dream, and am now an unemployed former fabric store clerk. (By the way, it closed. I was a fabulous worker.)
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I finally felt comfortable with the term after the publication of my first short story, “A Test of Humanity.” By that point I had written ten novels, I just wanted a better answer than, “No, you wouldn’t know my work. No, don’t Google it,” because nothing had ever been published.
Funny story is that, while many authors complain about not receiving rejection letters, I never received an acceptance on that first story. The only reason I actually realize the story was published was because I got this strange feeling in my gut and went to see if maybe, just maybe, I had been. It was like sneezing and knowing someone is thinking about you, but way better because you can fact check.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Eragon and The Outsiders. I was twelve at the time, and ever since fourth grade I decided I was going to be the youngest author to get published. Not having any comprehension on how young that really was, I had assumed I had all the time in the world. Then, right at the same time, Eragon, written by a fifteen-year-old boy, became popular, The Outsiders, written by a sixteen-year-old girl, was being read in our English class. (Not by me, of course. I had an entrenched belief anything given to us by teachers was probably pseudo-intellectual garbage, so I never read of out spite. And laziness.)
The first novel I ever wrote was the epitome of how I perceived books and anime at the time. I finished it in a few months and then, after accidentally killing off the same character twice, I quickly finished it, decided to move on, and never read it again.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I always strive to have humorous characters in horrific, supernatural situations. I combine sarcasm, slapstick, and satire with eerie, high-stakes ambiance. While I would be hesitant to describe myself as a horror writer, I’ve come to find that most of my tension relies on fear. This kind of fear funnels the Alfred Hitchcock style claiming that the most frightening thing is the door left shut, rather than graphic violence. Most of my pay offs come from romance and humor. It’s about seeing different sides of people in a wide spectrum of stress.
While my plays tend to be more satirical and tend to lack magic, all of my novels and short stories have some speculative fiction element. I write in new universes with new rules, yet characters with real life problems.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I depend on the “shower theory” when it comes to making the title of any work. So, I don’t focus too hard on naming it and hope it will slap me in the face, probably while in the shower. There have been some that I wrote because of the title, like, The Vicarious Saving of the World (unpublished) but usually I just wait around for an epiphany while writing. I put in a working title, which is any buzz word that instantly tells me which story it is (I have literally hundreds of story documents to search through when I’m trying to find something.) As I’m writing, I keep thinking of something more permanent. When I find something I like, I give it a test run, call the book that for a while, and see if I really like it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I am definitely a thematic writer, but mostly for technical reasons. I like having arbitrary boundaries, which prevent me from getting overwhelmed. Having a jutting off point gives me more ideas because I have a place to start from. I use the “message,” to often tell me what should happen when I’m stuck, especially endings.
For instance, the novel I’m in the middle of writing now, I knew that I believe in self-empowerment, agency, and nurture over nature. I had two issues: One was my female protagonist only had her immense powers via being possessed by her brother, and I could only control her via her love interest (because she was definitely a loose cannon), and two, I wanted her to succeed on her own. I did not want to spread the message that she couldn’t win without the help of men, and I did want to say that she could succeed despite not being born the actual “chosen one.”
How could she possibly do that? I asked myself what message I was trying convey—we can defy our “birthright”—and what I thought someone would have to do for that to be true—to keep trying and be willing to try every strategies. The final scene entails her fighting long past her expiration date with a myriad of tactic the antagonist does not expect.
I always have messages; it’s rarely important that the reader sees them.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I’m not a big fan of reality. I like stylistic dialogue, playing with word choice, and toying with the fourth wall. I love magic and magic-like technology, and I’m not an admirer of modern day America. (I mean, it’s a nice place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit.)
That being said, while the world contains the supernatural, it tends to be low density. Most of my characters up to this point have no magical powers of their own. They are the average humans in a world filled with demons and wizards and Gods. The magic tends to linger in the background rather be in your face, and most of my characters are relatively ignorant to their world, caught up in only their lives. I talk about realistic problems, often giving characters one of my neuroses, or discussing issues we actually experience. Characters have drug addictions, (though sometimes to things like healing potions), anorexia, are cutters, alcoholics, etc. Most of these issues are in the background that the reader will recognize the symptoms of, but are problems the other characters don’t realize exist.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not usually, but sometimes. My friends often ask if I ever write about them, and I say, “Have you pissed me off recently?”
I mix in reality with fantasy, but it becomes so convoluted from what really happened that I wouldn’t say it was based off my own life.
For instance, in one book, I had a female character who had been brainwashed by a cult on a mostly-uninhabitable planet. An outsider comes in and tries to live amongst them, the two fall in love, and soon he has to leave. His choice is to flee or be enslaved. He goes to ask her to come with him, but believing she is far more dedicated to the cult than him, he ends up taking her with him without explaining why.
At the time, I had just gotten out of a long relationship with my long-term boyfriend. I had graduated from college—a place in which only wasn’t a cult because the faculty was too lazy to tell the willing students what to do—and wanted to leave California. My boyfriend, afraid of the unknown, didn’t want to go. So we broke up. I had wanted him to love me enough to be willing to leave, and I wanted to love him enough to be willing to stay. But it wasn’t the case. Raiden and Libra’s relationship was what real love could make someone do.
The genders are switched, the actions changed, the situation different, but I could definitely see the parallels, unintentional as they were.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
The novelists that I admire most are Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Neil Gaiman (Stardust and American Gods), and Johnathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels).
But a lot of my influences are in other mediums, like Calvin and Hobbes, Joss Whedon, and Alan Moore.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m attempting to get through the books I borrowed and have to return before I move away. I like to read something old, something changing, and then some mental chewing gum, i.e., something that doesn’t any mental ability at all.
Currently, I’m reading the classic, Lost Horizons.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I’m a big follower of the self-publishing scene, more so than the bigger world of literary endeavors. I usually end up following the tail end of trends so that I have more information on what I’m reading and more security that people actually liked it and it wasn’t a flash in the pan.
I recently read Kory M. Shrum’s Dying for a Living, which was ridiculously funny and enthralling. (If you like sarcasm.) Also, while not being my usual kind of book, I recently got into Michael W. Garza’s The Elder Unearthed.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I always have a lot of things going at once. And, a big believer in experimentation, I recently took up writing several books at the same time.
But my prioritized project is the one tepidly called The Impostor’s Prison, (a play on the term Impostor Syndrome), a fantasy set in a dark world where one man is chosen to save it. He is promptly sent to his death and the duty falls back on his sister: a common, ordinary girl with no powers but has an entrenched hatred for the empire her brother was trying to save.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
There are two sorts of support: verbal and active. There’s been a lot of verbal support from temporary well wishers, but the people I feel truly grateful for are my friends who would actually read a 700 page manuscript for me. And it’s never who you think it’s going to be.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
In a way, I always felt lucky being a woman. My success is rarely determined by how much money I make, and it’s less looked down upon for me to maintain a hobby that isn’t fiscally beneficial.
Don’t get me wrong. I love money. I’d bathe in it until I choked if I could. And I consider myself as a novelist before anything else. It’s just not a career until I don’t need another one. Any day-job I chose it to support the habit. I’m planning on it being a sustainable existence, but I don’t bank on it. It is life-long, even if I never make enough to see it as the breadwinning habit.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not really. I’m not against making huge changes in the editing process (editing is fun once I’ve figured out what I’m going for), so anything I want to be different, I can make it different. There are things I don’t think it has succeeded at yet, but not that I would find easier had I known about it at the beginning.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
“I can do that.”
I always have the tendency to not understand how hard something is when I’m looking at it. And then, when I try it and make a mistake, I tend to see it just as a mistake because, “I can do that,” and “If I just changed this…” Like most things in life, my delusion in my abilities has always enabled me to pursue all sorts of skill sets. But writing, unlike many other things, stuck.
I think it was because I never got through with playing pretend, just got self-aware enough to be embarrassed about it.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The beginning of The Impostor’s Prison:
She took the green, bubbling vial, but wouldn’t drink it. Instead, Iris placed her elbow on her free hand and stared at the witch levelly. Ankica waited, not aware this was defiance until after the hesitation had grown uncomfortably long.
The witch bristled. “What’s the problem?”
Straightening her nose, Iris twisted. She gestured at it, mulling over her words.
“It’s a little hot,” she said finally.
Ankica folded her long, delicate arms.
“It’s not that it’s green,” Iris explained, “though I will admit that’s a part of it… It’s that it is less a liquid and more like a sludge.”
“It’s a first attempt. It hasn’t been made pretty for the public. It won’t hurt you.”
“Oh yeah?” she nodded. “What’s it do?”
Ankica smirked. “I can’t tell you, fool.”
The small hut was filled with smoke, a bubbling concoction drying on the sides of a large stone bowl, buried up to its rim in dirt. Brown, ink blotted notes fluttered underneath makeshift paperweights. Twisted twigs and colored pots of powder held down the little scribbles. The place was minimal in furniture, and yet still managed to be a mess.
Every time a customer barged through the door, he always turned straight for Ankica; if he even saw Iris, he would never consider she might be the proprietor. The witch was a chiseled, slender woman. Her pale face shone an unnatural, yet beautiful, glow whenever touched by direct light. With long black hair turned translucent in the sun, blue faintly tainting the strands. When seeped by shadow, it went to the darkest black. And even when the extremes subsided and her features veered human, she still was far too striking to ever hide in a crowd.
When standing face to face, she towered over Iris, the girl’s already small stature condensed by Ankica’s graceful height. The peasant was short, scrawny, with soft copper hair and olive skin, sun-kissed then sun-slapped, the hard burns rough on the tops of her cheekbones. Her plain gray tunic was ratted and worn, looking fragile compared to the thick red fabric of the witch’s blouse.
As the noon sun began to shine in through the open framed windows, Ankica put her white hands on her black draped hips, eyebrows raised. They had a momentary force of wills, but, in the end, Iris finally gave in, tightened her lips, and took a gulp.
She finished. Her face contorted. Her tongue stuck out. She made a noise. Ankica smiled, turned about, and picked up a piece of paper. Her quill hovered in anticipation.
Iris smacked her lips a couple of times, furrowed her mouth, and stared at the floor. Nose twisting, the girl anticipated a delayed reaction. Her gaze landed on the muffins sitting beside the rows of jars. Picking one up, she ate it. Still nothing happened.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Fight scenes. I always tune them out in movies, and I skim in books. Even if it’s only a paragraph, I can get stuck for days trying to explain the action. It’s not something that interests me, but does interest my reader, so I do it, despite not truly understanding what elements are interesting about it.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’m going to be completely honest here even though he doesn’t work in my medium. Bill Waterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, is my all-time hero. I love his stylistic dialogue, the way he creates a complete bond between two characters, and how he portrays his philosophy in a new and hilarious manner.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. In the back of my mind, I’d like to travel the country and visit high schools—they had a program like that where we got to meet all kinds of authors in my hometown—but as of yet, touring isn’t a beneficial decision considering where I am right now.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I write by seeing an image before me and then deducing truths from that. When I first start with a book, I often only have one scene planned out, but I do understand something about the characters and the world as I go along. “If this is true, then that must be true,” sort of connection making. Each decision makes several for me.
Sometimes, however, a decision is not made. I have to start answering questions that I don’t know the answer to yet. When writing my most recent book, I struggled with world building because I didn’t have a lot of the answers people wanted to know, and in the first draft, I just avoided answering them, which made it harder.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Reading what you write is the fastest way to improve. I wrote four novels before I actually started looking at them. I never attempted to edit or get published because writing was the fun part, and I always figured I could do it later. But as soon as I actually sat down and forced myself to read what I was doing, I understood what I was doing a lot better, and I immediately found myself with more control.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write for all the reasons. Write because it’s fun, write because you want to get famous, because you want to make a lot of money, because you want to help the world, because you want your imagination to come to life, because you want to touch people the way your favorite authors touched you, whatever. The important thing is to write, and the more reasons you have, the more likely you will.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’ve found the most supportive people are the ones I hadn’t met, so I thank you guys for that.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope. I remember fake reading a lot though. When I was in Kindergarten, I pretended to read Robinson Crusoe all the time.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Witty humor is my favorite kind, especially the sorts of things that point out a thought you had in the back of your mind but never really acknowledged.
What makes me cry is grief. I don’t mean my grief, but watching someone grieve is the worst thing in the world. It’s not about how you kill off your characters, it’s how the others react to it.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I used to say Jack the Ripper because then I would know who he was, but I hear they’ve already figured that out. I’m going to have to do some research and find someone who died with a secret and I’ll get back to you.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Something funny. I haven’t decided yet. I figure I have time.
Maybe, “I thought I had time.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Writing is nice because it’s free; the rest of my hobbies suck me dry. I paint somewhat, although it’s a struggle. (I’ve been drawing for years, but that’s a much different process.) I’ve also gone into quilting and sewing. It gets really addictive. While writing you have to think, quilting is just going through the motions. It’s a big relaxer.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m the hardest person to get to trust anything new, so my favorites are sort of dated, but I still watch them. I stick them on to have some background noise while doing other things: Gilmore Girls, Daria, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers, comedies and cartoons, mostly.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m not a big fan of food. Oreos, I suppose. I like dark, cooler tones in colors, especially blue. Music, I like whatever gets your heart rate up. I often don’t know the name or the band of what I’m playing.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
That’s the question, isn’t it?
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
www.charleydaveler.com is my official website, which contains a list of my past work as well as my web comic (currently undergoing revision), and my serial short stories, Stories of the Wyrd.
My blog, worsethanwas.blogspot.com, is filled with funny, writing-based stories, big time rants, and how I cope with basic writing dilemmas.