Name: DeWayne Twitchell
Where are you from:
Rosiclare, IL. A small town on the banks of the Ohio River in the southeastern part of Illinois.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc:
I am single, have no more than a high school education, but, like the great Ray Bradbury, have read enough and absorbed enough in my life to feel educated as much if not more than a college graduate.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I have recently published my second book this year (ASIAN HAZE being the first back in February). It is a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories called NIGHT’S PLUTONIAN SHORE AND OTHER STORIES. Both books are published by Lang Book Publishing, Ltd., a small independent publishing house located in New Zealand. You know, where the Hobbits live (LOL).
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
My first book I started back in 1988. It was a fantasy novel and, because of many factors, took a long time to write to completion. I tinkered with it for years like someone would do with a classic car. The novel itself, though I have a special place for it in my heart always, I feel is an immature, but laudable effort, and will probably remain unpublished as a novel. But I did manage to get the prologue of the book, the climax, and the epilogue reworked as short stories that are in the new collection, NIGHT’S PLUTONIAN SHORE AND OTHER STORIES. I think I was able to work these stories out in a manner that enables the reader to get the whole story of the novel, without actually having to read the novel itself. And I think the writing is better in these stories, all of which were written in more recent years, than what I had written beginning in 1988. But while I was writing the fantasy novel, I started reading other genres of fiction, including crime fiction. Which eventually led me to conceive the character of Randall Arthur, the hero of ASIAN HAZE, and hopefully future books.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think two things happened to convince me that I really had talent, and was not deluding myself. The first was when I had two stories that I had submitted to L. RON HUBBARD’S WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST receive Honorable Mention status, one in 2007 and the other in 2008. Both of those stories, “Night’s Plutonian Shore” and a story called “Lone Voyager” that ended up being the last section of a new story called “The Triangle of the Pillars,” are part of the new collection. But that contest, which is for new writers of science fiction and fantasy, are judged by professional writers, and I figured if they thought my stories at least worthy of an Honorable Mention, I actually did have talent that could take me places I wanted to go. The other thing that happened was when Roger Lang of Lang Book Publishing, Ltd. decided to publish ASIAN HAZE. It had originally been self-published, and I saw an ad on Facebook from Lang Publishing asking for manuscripts to look at. Since the last part of the novel takes place in Australia, and the publishing company was in New Zealand, I thought I’d give it a shot and send it to them. Worked out pretty well, to my delighted surprise.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The fantasy novel I wrote because I loved fantasy fiction and I didn’t have to do research. I could just let my imagination go nuts. ASIAN HAZE and the Randall Arthur character was inspired from TV shows like “The Rockford Files” in the Seventies, and “Miami Vice” in the Eighties. It was around that time in 1985 when I first read a book called GLITZ by Elmore Leonard. It was the first crime novel I had ever read, and after reading that, I was hooked on both crime fiction and Elmore Leonard for life. Then I got into other crime writers like Robert B. Parker, Tony Hillerman, Jonathan Kellerman, etc.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I try to keep it as simple and spare as I can, while at the same time not dumbing it down for the reader. I will occasionally throw in something I think is stylish, but I try to just tell a good story in as concise, but riveting, manner as I can. But in the fantasy novel I wrote, I think one of the problems was that I was trying to be too stylish, and also I was imitating some other writers styles too much, which I think was too apparent in the prose for it to really work as my own thing.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I think I was on my front porch one summer afternoon, and was thinking about the plot of the story and about part of it taking place in Asia, and it was a hazy afternoon, and it clicked in my head. It was like, “Yeah, Asian Haze would be a great name for an illegal drug!” LOL
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t think there is a conscious attempt at a message. I mean, some of the messages are pretty obvious: drugs are bad, secrets are bad, governments can do bad things. But I was out just to tell what I thought was an entertaining story.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Some of the places are based on real places, but I just transposed them to other locations. There is no such drug as “Asian Haze,” but I did base it on stuff I had read about soldiers in Vietnam taking heroin orally, so it would give them just enough of a high as not to be lethal. I just imagined what it might be like if a heroin pill taken orally was chemically engineered to give more of a kick.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, not really. My life, compared to the characters’ experiences in the book, is pretty boring.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The first work of fiction, and the first writer, that had a great impact on me, was FAHREHNEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury. Then I got into more science fiction and fantasy. Then I started reading Stephen King and other writers in the horror genre. Then I got into international thrillers. Then I got into crime fiction, and later on historical novels and historical non-fiction.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Oddly enough, there are three independent writers whose work I was introduced to this past year through my connection with them via Facebook. The odd part of it is that they write in a genre I had honestly never read before, and that is the erotic fiction genre. I had read portions of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, but laughed in the places that the author probably did not mean to be humorous, which is not a good response to have. But the three ladies whose work I did read this year, K.J. Silver, Debbie Dickerson, and J.D. Welsch, are very good, and wrote stories that were not only erotic (and not laughably so), but had interesting characters and stories, which all good stories should have. Plus, all three ladies have been incredibly supportive of my fledgling career, even though I don’t write in their particular genre, and I am forever grateful to them for that. So, for those of you who are fans of that genre, I suggest, if you haven’t already, going on Amazon and checking out their work. I’m sure they’d appreciate it.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Right now, I’m in the early stages of the next Randall Arthur novel, titled FAMILY DYNAMICS. I hope to have it done by the summer of 2016, though that is not set in stone. But I’m going to try to get it out as soon as I can, while still trying to get it as good as I can.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’ll cheat a little and name two. One is my publisher, Roger Lang, who took a chance not only on ASIAN HAZE, but on the short story collection as well. The others are the writer friends I have made on Facebook, some I’ve already mentioned, who continuously show support and encouragement to me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely. That is my ultimate goal: to make this my life and livelihood. To wake up in in the morning, go into my office and write most of the day, and make my living just doing that.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
There might be a few little things I might slightly obsess over, but on the whole, no. People who have read it so far and have expressed their opinion to me have liked it, so I have to assume I did at least OK.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I guess as a kid I had an overly active imagination and eventually thought that writing out what I imagined might be fun. And I found out that it was, along with being hard work. But fun hard work.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I can tell you it involves a newspaper family that has a stunning secret from its past that is going to come back and wreak havoc in the present. And the plot will be complicated, but hopefully comprehensible. Beyond that, you will have to wait to read the book.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Probably just getting the details as right as I can, and getting the story as plausible as I can, while at the same time making it a little crazy. ASIAN HAZE has that quality, and the next novel will definitely have it as well.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Wow, there are so many writers that I love that I couldn’t say one was my favorite over another. But, I will say that I usually will not reread a book until probably many years after I had originally read it. But there is one writer that I have reread at least twice, and probably will reread again, and that is Robert Ludlum. And in particular the books he wrote between maybe 1974 and 1990, from THE RHINEMANN EXCHANGE to THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. Those book in particular were Ludlum at his best, books full of complex and intriguing plots, and seemingly non-stop action. They were big books, but they went by quickly. I love novels that are full of intrigue and secrets and action, novels that keep you involved from first page to last. That is what I try to do in my work, and reading Robert Ludlum is a great way to learn how to do just that.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. Though I write about western New York State, Myanmar (Burma), and Australia in ASIAN HAZE, I’ve actually been to none of those places. I used both Internet research and my imagination. And, I figured if a publisher from nearby New Zealand liked the book enough to publish it, I must have gotten the aura of Australia at least relatively close.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Both the covers of ASIAN HAZE and NIGHT’S PLUTONIAN SHORE AND OTHER STORIES were designed by a very talented man named Blair McLean. It took me a little bit to warm to the design of the ASIAN HAZE cover, just because I first saw it and saw the picture of a man standing at the edge of a dock, looking into a thick haze. And there is not a scene like that in the book! (LOL) But then I realized it was meant to express atmosphere, and then I began to like it more. Now, the cover for NIGHT’S PLUTONIAN I loved at first sight. It looked like one of those old science fiction covers from the early pulp days of the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties. And he’s told me that his design was inspired by an old WAR OF THE WORLDS book cover he saw.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think just making the details as plausible as I could, and making the plot have a logic to it that made it believable and entertaining enough to have the reader anxiously turning the pages to see what the outcome would be.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think the main thing I learned “on the job” is that the most important part of writing is rewriting. Rewrite and rewrite until you get it as right as you can get it. Then rewrite it a little more.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read as much as you can. Not only the good books, but the bad ones as well. Read those bad ones to know how not to do it. Work on developing your own style, while still being influenced by other writers. Write in whatever genre you love, and if you want, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to just one genre. Ken Follett is one of my writing heroes, not only because of his wonderful novels, but because he was able to go from successfully writing in the thriller genre to writing even more successfully in the historical fiction genre. And I eventually want to get into the historical fiction genre. I have always loved history and I have several ideas for historical novels I really want to write before I kick the bucket.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Well, to the few actual ones I have at the moment and to those who haven’t read my work yet, I will just say I hope you enjoy my work and will continue to take a leap of faith in my future work and buy and support it, so to keep me writing these books for many years to come. I promise I will try my best to entertain you.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I remember that I wanted was a coffee table book called WE CAME IN PEACE, published back in 1969 right after the Moon landing by the Gulf Oil Corporation in tribute to that. There was a Gulf gas station near my home and I saw it there when I was probably three or four years old and actually cried for it until my parents finally bought it for me! True story. (LOL)
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Great TV comedies like “The Simpsons” (early years between 1989 and the early 2000s, not so much now) and “Seinfeld” make me laugh. Stupid stuff usually makes me cry, like Spock’s death scene in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” Not that the scene itself is stupid. It’s maybe the best death scene I’ve ever seen on film. It was just so well-acted by both Shatner and Nimoy that you felt the pain there. Some songs make me cry, too. One in particular that comes to mind now is a song by my all time favorite rock band, Rush, called “The Garden,” that is the last song on their most recent album “Clockwork Angels.” Such a beautiful song from a band known for more active, rocking tunes. “You’ve Got a Friend” usually gets to me, too. Either the James Taylor or Carole King versions. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton is another one.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
There are a lot of people from the past I’d probably love to meet, but if you made me choose just one, it would be Ray Bradbury, just to thank him for inspiring me and entertaining me with his wonderful and imaginative stories. I wish I could have met him before he passed away in 2012.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I always joke that I want “I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque” on my tombstone. People will see it and laugh and not be so sad that I’m dead.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love a lot of shows from the past, but right now I’m into shows like “The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Homeland.” Most of my favorite films are science fiction films: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Blade Runner,” the “Star Wars” series. Also love westerns (mainly Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone films), and war movies (especially World War II and Vietnam).
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food is spaghetti. My favorite color is blue. My favorite music is classic rock, mainly from the Seventies and Eighties.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I think I would have loved to been an architect, except I hate math, and architects need to know that, especially algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. But architects are creative people, too, and I would have gone into it for that aspect of it.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
First I will mention my Facebook author page, DeWayne Twitchell Author
There you will find the links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. to the two books. I do have a website, http://ddt19652.wix.com/asian-haze, where I have done several blogs over the past few months, though unfortunately nothing lately. But they have been about how my writing has evolved, and my loves of history and science fiction, how one love is about mostly a past where I did not exist, and the other is mostly about a future in which I will not exist. But I hope to spend the remaining time that I actually have to exist in this world writing stories that entertain a lot of people, and have a good and happy life because of that.