Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’ve gone with Dan Howard since high school, but I was born Daniel Earl Javorsky. I chose Earl Javorsky as a writing name because there are too damn many Dan Howards.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Born in Berlin, Germany. Immigrated to New York when I was two. My dad was a cameraman and my mom had been in the Berlin State Opera as a ballerina. She remarried (to John Howard) when I was five and we moved to Los Angeles, so, basically, I’m from LA.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’ve been to a handful of colleges, including UCLA and a Waldorf teacher training college in the UK. I’d be a freshman if I went back. My wife is an artist, and my kids are in their twenties, finding their way at last.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have a new book coming out in September. It’s a sequel to my first book, Down Solo, which is about a heroin-addicted private investigator who wakes up in the morgue floating above his body. When it pulls him in, he finds that he can make it move, so he steals the clothes from a dressed corpse and goes out to solve his own murder.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
In high school, I had one of those scary English teachers—she kicked five people out of class in the first ten minutes of the first day of school. I was about to be the sixth. Between my interest in journalism and the challenge of getting an A in Mrs. O’Brien’s class, I got hooked.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Out of high school—at sixteen—and out of my family home soon after, I had a friend who worked for a start-up entertainment rag in Hollywood. He brought me in as a feature writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A creep in the LA recovery community—he was an old-timer, in his late sixties, and he posed as a mentor, mainly to attractive young women. He would manipulate them into having sex with him. In my book Trust Me, I turned him into a murderer.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Well, he was a therapist by trade, and “trust me” was his refrain.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I tend to create puzzles for myself, structurally, that seem impossible to solve—I’ll feel like an ape with a Rubik’s cube and then suddenly have a breakthrough on how to go on.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As I said, Trust Me is based on a real character. The protagonist, Jeff, has a lot in common with me, back when the road got rocky, so to speak. Charlie Miner in Down Solo is entirely an invention, and no, I’ve never injected heroin.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Down Solo has a section that occurs in Baja, a bit below Ensenada. It helped to have been there. I’m sure that the extent of my travels has informed my writing, but not in any specific way.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is an underlying theme, I suppose, of redemption. People with drug and alcohol problems can in fact get free of their addictions—it often takes a bit of resocialization. I take this a bit further in my upcoming book, Down to No Good, which indirectly provides some commentary on the failure of the so-called war on drugs.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’m fond of a new writer named Gabino Iglesias. His Zero Saints is spectacularly weird, hardboiled as an owl, and very well written. I like James Lee Burke, Michael Gruber, Elmore Leonard, and Iain Pears. Let’s add Brian Moore, Paul Bowles, Graham Greene, and John Lee Carre. And so many more.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Well, the acknowledgment in my first book says: To Linda, my ever optimistic champion. Otherwise, my friend Michael Ironside, who is a really interesting actor, director, and writer.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
A career in poverty. I work as a copy editor and proofreader, which keeps my eye sharp and pays some bills.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would make my female lead in Trust Me something other than an aspiring actress—it makes her seem (with apologies to all aspiring actresses) shallow. And I would take a joke out of Down Solo.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned that I’m a procrastinator, but I already knew that. I learned that the process of writing is not rational, even though critical thinking is part of the process.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Colin Farrell, no question.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write. Take a class. Write. Join a read-critique group. Write. Get a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. And read the best stuff you can—there’s no way you can rise above a diet of crap reading and produce quality writing. If you consistently read good material, you will internalize—to some extent—the basics of good sentence construction, punctuation, narrative structure, characterization, pace, etc.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope Charlie Miner creeps into your mind and parks there. Try three pages—that’s all I ask—on the Amazon site. Same with Trust Me. If I don’t have your interest by then, pass.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler. Lots of fun if you like noir.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz. Or Pinocchio.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh a lot. Sometimes while no one else does. Often with my wife. I don’t cry much, although occasionally I’ll get a gratitude high and my eyes will well up.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d really like to hang out with Ray McKinnon. I think what he did with Rectify is interesting and powerful. I liked his acting in Deadwood.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I play basketball at the gym about six nights a week. Drives my wife crazy. I have surfed since I was a kid, but it’s a zoo out there (I’m in SoCal). I gave music my best shot in LA for way too long, and I still like to play—I have three guitars left: an acoustic, an electric, and a classical.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
There’s so much good stuff on TV. We just finished the new season of Billions. Bloodline, Bosch, Big Little Lies, The Night Of, Luther—I could go on and on.
Same with movies, but the one that moved me the most was Malick’s The Tree of Life.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pretty eclectic, music-wise. I love a guy named Willie Porter—he’s just extraordinary. Look on YouTube for a song called Moonbeam and you’ll see what I mean. I started out a folkie and country blues guy. Then jazz. Not a big pop fan, although Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars are very good.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Nope. Not imagining that.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“Don’t worry about a thing; I’ll take care of it.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I would really like some input on my blog—check it out at www.earljavorsky.com.