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?
Darren O. Godfrey is the name I was born with, and on my next birthday, I will be 58. Something I’m not pleased about, but what can you do?
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in a southeast Idaho city called Pocatello. Not much I can do about that, either.
Fiona: Tell us a little about yourself.
Let’s see, from 1982 to 1988, I served in the U.S. Air Force. My job: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, which means I got to locate, identify, and dispose of ordnance items (missiles, rockets, grenades, etc.) that failed to explode on their own. We disposed of them by blowing them up. Most fun I ever had. I later went to work for a civilian company that did the same basic things. Great fun.
I’d had an interest in writing since the age of about 12, but never really applied myself to it until the late 80s, and in 1989 I made my first professional sale – “Clam Bake at Opaque Lake” – to Gorezone Magazine (then the sister publication to Fangoria). Shortly thereafter, I made my first professional anthology sale, to Borderlands 2, and have since placed tales in that series twice more. Also great fun.
In 1990, I married Bridget Lowry. We had two daughters together. In 1997, she passed away from cancer at 27 years of age, in a scene right out of Hollywood (which is difficult for me to describe). Worst period of my life, and believe me, I would have taken her place if it were possible.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Some recent story publications are: “D.U.I.” in Horror Library, Volume 6. “Miracle Meadows” in Borderlands 6. “Family Matters” in an upcoming Mystery Weekly.
Best of all, though, is that I just finished a novel I began 30 years ago. It’s called Jack in the Boxes, and its composition was equal parts fun and frustration.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
In my raucousteens, a friend of mine named Jeff Beery and I tried to form a rock band. We wrote songs, acquired instruments, took lessons, etc. It never really panned out (for me), but during quiet times at home I would sit on my bed write bogus interviews with us (the band) and Rolling Stone Magazine, creating band mates and their histories out of thin air. It took a few weeks before I realized that I was having much more fun, and feelingmuch more fulfilled, when writing these fictional accounts than I ever did going through the motions of being a rock & roller. (Jeff, by the way, went on to some musical success – onegroup he hooked up with once opened for the band Nazareth.)
Later, I picked up an issue of Twilight Zone Magazine, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and noticed an announcement for their 1st Annual Short Story Contest. I quickly wrote a story and submitted it. I received a “Dear Contest Entrant” rejection. (Dan Simmons, a writer I admire greatly, won that year… or, rather, his story tied for First Place.)
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Upon the acceptance of my first short story to a professional market (“Clam Bake at Opaque Lake” in Gorezone Magazine #9), which came about 8 years after that TZ Magazine contest try.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a collection of short stories called Apathetic Flesh; each tale, of course, having its own inspiration. The inspiration for my first novel, though, came from a conversation I had with a friend about how the past greatly influences the present, and about how certain authors (Peter Straub chiefly among them) so expertly apply that to their work. The past, it seems, never stops happening.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It lent itself naturally to the book’s events, though it did take me a couple of months to see it. Until then, I’d just referred to the book as BOXES.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I honestly try not to examine things like style and technique, preferring to let them happen naturally. Perhaps I’m afraid that if I look too closely, they’ll no longer work for me.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the locations in Jack in the Boxes are real, as are most of the locations in my short stories. As for experiences, yes, but only to a degree. I may put a character through a turmoil I myself have experienced, but I usually end up twisting it somehow, turning it into an entirely different animal. As it were.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Entertainment comes first. If there’s a message in there, well, it may be that (and I’m speaking of Jack in the Boxes, here) boys are often not only confused about “what it means to be a man” but also, at times, downright terrified over the concept.
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?
Though he’s hardly new, Gary McMahon is one of a recent generation of writers whose work I admire, along with his fellow Englishman, Gary Fry. My favorites are the ones you so often hear, I suppose: King, Straub, Simmons, McCammon, Lansdale, Etchison. I also adore Bradbury, Matheson (senior and junior), Ellison. Robert Bloch and Lawrence Block. David Goodis, one of the best from the old pulp magazine days. So many more.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My friends, Candon McLean and the aforementioned Jeff Beery. Sadly, that’s about it. But to be fair, a great many of the people around me, in all phases of my life, never knew I was writing at all. I rarely talk about it… except with my daughters who probably get sick of hearing about it.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I try to. Thanks to the direction publishing has gone, that’s a difficult thing to do.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. With each thing I write, I learn more about the art and craft of writing, but, conversely, I learn that I may not know as much about myself as I thought I did. The stuff pouring onto the page is coming from me, but not coming from me. Does that make sense? Not having a lock on where it’s coming from (and not really wanting to lock in on it), causes a sense of mystery and wonder… but also some suspicion.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
The character Jack is presented in different times, at different ages, so it would take a team to play him… and I wouldn’t even hazard a guess as to the players most suitable. Sorry.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Learn your craft. Never stop learning your craft.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I recently finished reading (for about the 8th time) what some call Peter Straub’s Blue Rose Trilogy. They are Koko, Mystery, The Throat. They are three of the greatest works of fiction on the planet. I just started rereading The Spear, by James Herbert (another one of my favorites, by the way). I do a great deal of rereading.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I went from short children’s books (Dr Seuss, etc), to longer ones such as The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Desmond the Dog Detective, and then right intoTales of the Grotesque and Arabesque by Edgar Allan Poe. I was about 10 when I first read that.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Abraham Lincoln, because he was one of the greatest men in history. I used to then add “Adolph Hitler” because he was one of the worst, but, truth to tell, I would likely vomit just being in the guy’s presence.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Golf. It calms me like nothing else. Except maybe for egg-drop soup.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The best show ever televised, in my opinion, was Sherlock. I watch it repeatedly. I also watch a lot of classics like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I love movies of all types, mostly old ones. The Thin Man movies, the Marx brothers… The Old Dark House: a very old movie with more modern sensibilities. It’s very clever, with a style all its own.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Italian food is far and away my favorite. Color: Intense, electric green. Music: rock and roll, from classic rock to hard-driving heavy metal. I also love rhythm and blues (old and new), and some jazz music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Blow things up.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“Nothing to see here.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Only a Facebook page. Not much of an online presence, I know….