Name D.T. Griffith
Where are you from
Norwalk, Connecticut, USA, near New York City
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I recently completed my MFA in Creative & Professional Writing and hold a BFA in Fine Arts that covered a mix of graphic design, illustration, and creative writing, which I earned twenty years ago. My wife and I have been married for 18 years and we have one daughter who will turn 16 soon – she managed to keep us quite busy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest writing news is the release of the anthology The Grimorium Verum, published by Western Legends on Friday, February 13. It includes my story “T is for Transformation: Cacophony in B Minor.”
The story tells the account of Duane, a talented musician and computer programmer, who is wrapped up in his self-loathing over a congenital disability despite the successes he has attained in life. The combination of his mood, desire, and music open the gate to a supernatural intervention. It was inspired by a series of recent health events in my life.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in high school in my mid-teens. I wrote what I considered poetry at the time – I cringe looking back at it now, with a smile – along with short stories. I cannot recall exactly how I started, but I was heavily inspired to write while reading a variety of works by Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickenson, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I had joined our high school’s literary magazine staff, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and continued the practice into college.
In college, I had the amazing opportunity to study creative writing with the American poet Dick Allen for three semesters; he currently holds the title of Connecticut’s Poet Laureate. He has been a long-lasting inspiration in my drive to write. I’ve held onto every one of my printed drafts from those days with his handwritten notes.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
This occurred only recently. Writing has played a role in my professional life throughout various stages of my career. The writing was for a largely corporate audience; it would include copy for websites and brochures, employee communications, and the like. The fact that writing had become such a large part of my profession is what inspired me to pursue a Writing MFA degree in 2010, but I never once called myself a writer. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure why. I was definitely a copywriter and a corporate writer at various times in my career.
I studied short fiction as my creative genre in the MFA program, which provided a springboard to seek out publication of my work. Only when I had a few printed books in hand containing some of my stories did I finally start calling myself a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is still in development. It was inspired by the simple thought – how interesting can I make the most mundane, plain person ever known to the world? It has taken on a dark path of psychosis and multiple murders. I’m planning to finish it this year and pursue to the submission process.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m told that I do, but I don’t quite know how to define it. It’s a mixture of my writer’s voice, some influences like Cormac McCarthy and George Saunders, and my OCD in writing well. I find myself constantly disrupting my OCD tendencies; it’s a subconscious thing I uncover during multiple revisions. It seems to work.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The book that is in development is largely situated in the protagonist’s mind and perception of the world. There is a convergence of reality and haunting entities of people form her past. Some might view them as ghosts, others as her subconscious. Or, perhaps there is something else going on. The story is set in the real world, but in the mind of someone who is clearly not healthy.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of my stories are derived from some sort of personal experience, it could be something as small as witnessing a peculiar interaction between two people sitting in a diner, or as I mentioned in the case of my story for The Grimorium Verum, my year-long medical issues which required two neurological surgeries, one of which due to a congenital deformity. Unfortunately, my daughter shares this same issue and has also ensure two surgeries for it in the past two years. Coping with these surgeries on the brain and spine as both parent and patient have inspired several dark stories.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
One of the first books to influence me was In Our Time by Hemingway. I read it when I was maybe 15 years old. Though I cannot recite any passages, I can recall the vivid images of a wartime it planted in my mind. I loved the use vignettes inserted between each story, some of which were linked. The simplicity of the writing, the bold word choices. Written when he was quite young, probably why I was drawn to the collection.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I recently finished Prisoner 489 by Joe Lansdale, which I enjoyed. I have a few books I’m about to start, including Larry’s Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose, The Nickronomicon by Nick Mamatas, Within Wet Walls by Lily Childs, and the new Lovecraftian anthology Shadows Over Main Street. I have also been reading on and off The Complete H. P. Lovecraft Reader and The Best American Noir of the Century edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
This is a tough question to provide only one answer to because I have received a lot of on-going support from the circle of writers I have come to know through my good friend and author John Palisano, as well as the many talented up-and-comers and well-established writers through my MFA program.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love for my professional career to evolve into one that is all writing with the realization that this would not necessarily be to write fiction, but that’s okay. Like most any writer, the ability to live off of publishing fiction would be wonderful, but I know that’s not a reality for most any creative profession in the world right now. There is no reason not to write fiction outside of a full-time job, professional writing or otherwise.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes, finding a suitable ending that comes across as both real and unexpected. It’s easy to quickly kill off a character to create an ending; I’m guilty of it, and want to prevent it from ever happening again. Endings are always my challenge.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is tough because I have many. For the moment, I am enthralled with Cormac McCarthy. I love his writing style, the beautiful sensory level he brings into every passage with what appears to be minimal effort. He has the ability to make a grisly murder scene seem like a place I want to vacation in. Reading his work pushes me to write more. I plan on diving into Blood Meridian in the near future.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
That depends on the publisher. Through a close relationship I have with Western Legends I have designed most of the book covers for their publications, regardless of whether my stories appear in them. In most of these instances I’ve had the pleasure of working with the illustrator James Powell – we make a great team.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Three pieces of advice:
- Don’t worry about whether a story might be marketable; just write it.
- Rules on writing well exist for a reason – follow them. Only break them once you have mastered them.
- Enjoy writing.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m always happy to hear from you.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I play the guitar and piano. I don’t play as often as I used to, but it’s always fun. I have a bad habit of getting sucked into video games for stretches between writing projects.
I also help my wife with a dog rescue she works with. I won’t take too much credit as I do the basic animal care at home stuff while she handles all of the hard work arranging adoptions, transportation, and so forth. A great cause.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Shameless (US), Wentworth, Homeland, and American Horror Story.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I like most all music types, though I generally gravitate toward punk rock, particular Celtic punk. About the only genre I don’t like is the mainstream pop stuff that dominates the music awards shows and radio stations now.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve had my hands in so many different creative endeavors my entire life, I cannot say for sure. I am drawn to medical science and perhaps would have pursued that when I was younger had life played out any differently.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My website, which contains a blog, is http://dtgriffith.com/
Western Legends: http://westernlegendspublishing.com/books/the-grimorium-verum/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1508431914/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1508431914/