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’m David Estringel and I am 50 years old (this past April 11th).
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Alice, Texas, but lived the better first-half of my life in Brownsville, Texas, where I now live.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Well, I am the youngest of two children (I have an older sister), born to parents who were teachers.Pursuing higher education was highly stressed in the home, though I resisted it at first.Finally, I buckled down and pursued by bachelor’s degree in English, which really solidified my interest in writing poetry and fiction. So, I suppose I owe a great debt of gratitude to my parents for that. Originally, I had planned to go for a graduate degree in English and teach, but ‘life’ happened, and I ended up becoming a social worker and psychotherapist. Even though my career in mental health and public health has been good to me and rewarding, I eventually had to return to my roots; hence, the beginning of my emerging writing career.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I recently had my first feature-length collection of poetry and prose Indelible Fingerprints published by Alien Buddha Press on April 1, 2019, so, I am quite excited about that. It has been a life-long dream of mine to publish a book, and the whole process happened so incredibly fast; I am still trying to settle into the idea. Apart from that, I am working on new poetry and tossing around ideas for some new short fiction pieces. I had some new poems recently accepted at Alien Buddha Zine (USA), The Blue Nib (UK) and Fishbowl Press (Germany) for which I am very excited. My older works still continue to be reprinted—here and there—which is always nice but managing those submissions feels like a full-time job sometimes. It’s good to see them continue to find new places to hang their hats for a while, though.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
My earliest recollection of writing takes me back to the Second Grade. I recall writing a story about two doves that I spent hours on, trying to get it (and my thoughts) perfectly down on paper. I demonstrated a lot of intensity for an eight-year-old–an obvious foreshadowing of the future. I continued to enjoy writing throughout my educational career. It came easy to me, so it was never an arduous task that it seemed to be for most of my peers. I tried my hand at writing short stories during my teens and early adulthood but to no avail. I don’t think I had lived enough, plus I didn’t really have a ‘voice’. Three decades later, at the age of 49, that changed. It definitely felt like finding my way home.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Despite my rough start as a youth, I would have to say I considered myself to be a writer during my senior year of college. I took a creative writing course and dove headlong into poetry and short story-writing. My instructor was very supportive, and she loved my poetry. She was the first person to ever call me “a poet” and that stuck in my head all these years. I would have to say, however, that I didn’t fully consider myself to be a writer until the Summer of 2018, after I had, again, found myself in graduate school and taking creative writing classes. It was like stepping back in time and picking up where I left off. With a lifetime of experiences behind me and a definite voice, I put pen to paper and the poems and short stories started to flow. I started to submit my stuff to literary journals and magazines and, over time, began to get my work published. At that point, I knew I had finally realized my ultimate goal of being a writer. I had a literary journal instant message me on Twitter the other day, stating that they loved my work and wanted me to submit some poetry to their publication. If I ever needed proof, that was it. I love the universe and its crazy ways.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
At some point, the collection of poems and short stories in Indelible Fingerprints felt like a cohesive representation of who I was—am—at the moment. I was going to hold off a while longer to add more work, but I started to feel ‘labor pains’ and decided that my first book would be something more personal and intimate. I think I achieved that.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Indelible Fingerprints encompasses what the poems and stories represent, which are moments in time—irreversible—that shaped me into the person I am today. Good or bad, they are parts of me and my narrative that can’t ever be erased, sticking like birthdays or the need to breathe. Whether it was God or Fate, something had a hand in moulding things. The title was perfect.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I have a tendency to gravitate towards dirty realism, which is something I appreciate very much in authors that I love to read, such as Raymond Carver and Denis Johnson. Whether poems or short stories, I tend to create smaller but gritty pieces that make one feel like they just stepped into and out of a person’s experience at the right time. That is very evident in my short stories, where there are really no resolutions to the stories, just the anticipation of them. Life doesn’t play out that way. Things are uncertain and can turn on a dime at any moment. I want the reader to come to their own conclusions, maybe inject a little of themselves into the characters and plots, living through them…just a little. In terms of my poetry, I, too, prefer short pieces but have been known to churn out a 10-stanza monster. Either way, I try to distil life’s experiences into brief, knowable moments that connect, which is why I love haiku so much.
What I find most challenging about my style has more to do with my own apprehension about the level of transparency in the content. I write from experience, so my own feelings and thoughts get tangled into my creations. I don’t do vulnerability well, but the work calls for it, so I do let things happen organically. Sometimes, I go to dark places in my writing. Sometimes, my more erotic pieces (not erotica) are captured in a very raw way, bordering on the grotesque, but sometimes the elemental natures of love and sex aren’t necessarily so pretty (yet, they excite us). I still explore the heights (and depths) of these parts of my ‘self’ and find ‘knowing’ myself to be an ongoing process. I can’t wait to see who I will end up being.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Indelible Fingerprints is my life and soul on a silver platter. Eighty percent reality with all the flavour.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
For right now, I don’t have to travel to become inspired; however, that will change. I mentioned before that I had trouble writing as a youth due to having not lived, so I can’t assume that has completely changed. Ultimately, I want to travel for a while and just write, becoming inspired by new sights and people, breathing different air and seeing the world from completely new perspectives. I think I am old enough now to appreciate the experience.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Indelible Fingerprint’s cover was designed by my publisher at Alien Buddha Press, Red Focks. He is a brilliant artist. He basically offered up any of his available works for the cover and we both immediately gravitated towards the modern-styled piece that graces the cover today. People seems to really love it. I know I fell in love with it at first sight.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Life is about living, so live unapologetically.
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?
Unfortunately, I have not had a lot of time to read, lately (hanging head in shame), but I have to say that the three authors that have significantly impacted my life are Raymond Carver (of course), E. M. Forster, and Thomas Hardy. I think they all write about the harshness of life, just in different ways. I like how Carver splays out the day-to-day, honestly and unapologetically. Forster, who has been my favourite ever since I read Maurice, introduced me to the use of Classical allusion and notion of how absurd people (society) can be. Thomas Hardy is just plain amazing. I am ravenous for his books.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I would really have to say my best friend Brian is the one who offered the most support. I pretty much kept the whole writing ‘thing’ under wraps while I figured out what it was, exactly, that I wanted to do. Brian knew that I wanted to write and did his best to nudge me every so often. Glad he did.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I can see it and would like it very much, though it hasn’t started paying the bills yet. Right now, it is definitely a labour of love. I am hopeful, though.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t know that I would change anything about the book per se. I would have released a couple of chapbooks first, however. The offer to publish it came out of nowhere, so I felt like I should strike while the iron was hot.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned that writing books of poetry and short stories is what I, ultimately, want to do. Again, I am hopeful.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
My book is a collection of poems and short stories, so I think an ensemble cast would probably be more appropriate. I would insist, however, that Ewan McGregor be in it. There is a lot of wisdom behind those blue eyes of his.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep writing no matter what! Otherwise, you WILL regret it.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you for your support and for funding my bagel and cream cheese addiction.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Distant Sound by Gert Jonke
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I have never been able to get it out of my head.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Love on both accounts.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love to spend the day with Raymond Carver and absorb his genius. He is my inspiration, now and always.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Not really. I work two full-time jobs, edit and/or write for a few magazines, and am “Dad” to five very precocious dachshunds. Does sleep count?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I am not much of a movie watcher, actually. I am quite addicted to Gilmore Girls. The dialogue is just so smart and cutting (at times). I am a sucker for great dialogue.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I have always been a steak and potatoes kind of guy and will likely always be. I love dark blues (navy or Prussian). As far as music, Fleetwood Mac all the way. Ladytron will do in a pinch, however.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read every book in my library (1310 books and counting).
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would lay in bed with my five dogs, eating pepperoni pizza and chocolate chip cookies, and listen to Fleetwood Mac all day long.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He saw too much. He knew too much. He felt too much. He stuck around, anyway.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes. Folks can visit my website at https://davidaestringel.com to access links to view (and in some cases buy) my work, as well as check up on what is going on in my little world. People can also connect with on Twitter (@The_Booky_Man) and my writing page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/davidAestringel/).
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