Welcome to Cat After Dark, Robert! It’s so nice of you to take time from your vacation to let us get to know you a little bit better. Maybe we could start off with your vacation….
What are you up to? Obviously you can’t quite get away from writing, since you’re doing this, but are you having some other sort of fun time?
Thanks for having me. I’m taking a bit of a vacation to meet my second grandson. He’s nine months already and I got to hold him yesterday for the first time. What fun! His name is Robert too. How great is that?
And you’re right, there is no getting away from the writing life. The fantasy of course, is that we can write books and everything else is hammocks and boat drinks. Heck, writers can’t even make their own schedules the way we always dream. I’ve travelled across the country dragging my laptop so I can talk with you, set up promo work on my latest Katrina Williams mystery, A PARTICULAR DARKNESS, edit a work in progress, and keep up with the unending e-mails.
But there is always room for a little fun.
What are you working on now? What does your publishing schedule look like for the future?
Always working! I just sent off the manuscript for A MOMENTARY LIFE, (Hurricane) Katrina Williams book 3. My original agreement with Lyrical was for two books with an option for a third. Right after I sent off the finals on the second book my editor gave me the news that they wanted more Katrina stories. I was happy with that and jumped right on the third book. So A PARTICULAR DARKNESS Katrina Williams #2 comes out 9/12/17 and you can look for two more books next year.
Weaving through that same bit of time I was writing a gritty, border noir called DEAD MAN’S BADGE. That found a home with an amazing publisher, Brash Books. I’m busy getting that ready for a first quarter 2018 release.
The currently writing, work-in-progress is a near future science fiction/horror novel that I’m thinking will be a short novel. I won’t have time for a 100,000 word book with all the commitments for mysteries.
What’s on your bucket list? Have you crossed anything off lately?
My bucket is so leaky. It seems like anytime I have a new inspiration for something I want to accomplish, I get drawn off by something else. Focus is not always my strong suit. Most of the things I really want to do are more personally fulfilling than adventurous. There is always an old car waiting to be restored but I end up simply keeping my truck running. There is always the big book deal, but I keep working on all the great smaller ones without worrying about the dream deal. And there is the hammock I dream of. Now that’s a big bucket thing for me. Maybe I need a one of those fund me things for the world’s best hammock. I have a perfect spot on the back porch.
When did you first start telling stories? Do you remember your first story?
I recall very well a story about a WWI flying ace chimp. He flew a biplane with machine guns that fired bananas. That was 4th grade I believe. I remember also that instead of saying, The End, I capped it off with an end page that read, The Living End.
After that I wrote things constantly. I wrote plays for the class to perform in 5th and 6th grades and novelized a comic book series in spiral notebooks. It never stopped from there.
What would you put in your backpack if you were to spend a week on a deserted island?
Toilet paper. You never know about the accommodations on those deserted islands. After the essentials were taken care of I would stuff the backpack with my laptop, I’m (almost) always working. My Kindle loaded with a few great books. A solar charger because I think of those things. And then I would worry about how to bring enough ice and diet Dr. Pepper.
What are your three favorite books? And what are you reading now?
Reading now is easy. It is all nonfiction at the moment. I have How To Clone A Mammoth by Beth Shapiro going along with Spillover by David Quammen, Rabid by Bill Wasik and a couple of others. The one by Beth Shapiro is because I’m researching for a novel about animals restored from extinction and genetically modified. The others are because I have an interest in plagues, and disease. Fun guy aren’t I?
Favorite books—that’s hard. At any time that list will shift. But almost always you will find, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein, Salem’s Lot by King, Lonesome Dove by Larry Mc Murtry, and something from Craig Johnson, one of the many greats from James Lee Burke and anything by Shelby Foote.
Limiting it to three favorite books—I don’t think I can decide.
Who influenced your writing the most? Do you think you are still evolving?
Those are questions that are definitely tied together. I am still evolving from the early influences of Poe, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I loved adventure and horror but the books I had access to were mostly classic. For a long time I thought that was the way “real” books were written. That shifted as I discovered comic books. Later, I was drawn to science fiction in large part by the incredible cover art. I fell under the influence of Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury. They led me to Vonnegut and many other wonderful authors. In each phase the influence of the authors was like seasonings in a stew. They blended and spiced everything I did. After that I began reading mysteries. I went from Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to Elmore Leonard. But I think I hit my niche with the amazing horror and thriller novels of the 1970’s. I read so much King, Blatty, Benchley, Masterson, Matheson, Straub etc. there was no way not to be influenced.
I still keep finding new influences and new author loves. It will always be with pride that I point to several reviews of my novel A LIVING GRAVE, that compare that book to those of James Lee Burke.
If you could choose one book to visit for a day, what book would it be and what would you do? (You have healing potions.)
Jurassic Park of course! Crichton was a master. And dinosaurs… How could I not?
What 7 people from history would you invite to a dinner party and what would you serve?
Pancho Villa, Hemingway, Sgt. Alvin York, Sgt. Henry Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt, Colonel James (Jimmy) Doolittle, and Clarence Darrow. We would go to Hooters for wings and talk about manly things.
How would you like the world to remember you?
I don’t care and doubt that it will to any degree. My kids though, and family beyond them—I want them to remember me well and fondly. I hope there are stories told about me for generations. A hundred years from now I can only hope that my descendants know who I was, get an occasional laugh from the family lore, and are proud to have me as part of their heritage.
I’m on FB, https://www.facebook.com/RobertEDunnAuthor/
I’m often on Twitter, @WritingDead
Thanks for letting me take part!
These are books best read in order. Book one, A LIVING GRAVE introduces Katrina Williams, an Iraqi War vet turned Sheriff’s deputy. Author Robert Dunn has created a world of flawed, real people who do stupid, hateful and hurtful things to one another. As a military brat himself he wrote what he knew about and his character Katrina follows in her family’s footsteps and goes for a career in the military, then chooses to join the sheriff’s department.
Her cases are convoluted and gruesome. More power to you if you can figure out the answers by the midpoint! Robert Dunn has done some fine writing, unlike most thrillers out there. The publishers at Lyrical Underground have already asked him for another, and I couldn’t be happier to see this series continue. Fine writing, thoughtful titles and very real scenarios make this a series not to be missed. You can buy Robert’s books at Amazon, B&N or wherever fine books are sold.