Unpublished Novelist Daulton Dickey Interviews Failed Novelist Daulton Dickey

transcribed by
Julius M. Henry.

Daulton Dickey is a nobody. No one’s interested in him. Yet he runs around the Internet begging for attention and whinging about how no one will publish his artsy-fartsy novels. In a blatant and unapologetic act of theft, I’ve decided to ripoff Kurt Vonnegut’s interview from the Paris Review and track down Daulton—spoiler: he wasn’t hard to find—to ask him questions about life, writing, philosophy, and whatever else popped into my head. Knowing Daulton, I expect pretentious answers. And bullshit—spoiler: he’s an asshole.

Daulton Dickey [DD]: So. Here we are.

Daulton Dickey [Dd]: Indeed.

DD: I wanted to start by filling the audience in on a few things.20160601-230511.jpg

Dd: What audience?

DD: The audience reading this.

Dd: Are you high? No one reads this.

DD: This blog has had over 18,000 views.

Dd: Maybe so, but no one’s going to read this twaddle.

DD: Let’s agree to disagree. [Pause.] Now why don’t we start by telling the audience a little something about you?

Continue reading

Notes on Failing as a Self-Published Writer

by
Daulton Dickey.

Selling books is a Sisyphean task. Without a budget, without a name anyone knows or cares about, or cares to know, you’re certain to fail. Bereft of a marketing department at a major publisher, bereft of a publisher altogether, in fact, puts you in an interesting position. How do you get your book out there? People won’t read it if they don’t know it exists, and people won’t read it if they don’t feel compelled, in some way, to read it. So this is the question you must ask yourself as a self-published writer: how do you create awareness for your book? And—this is a two-parter—how do you inspire people to want to read it?

Imagine you’re a writer in Indiana trying to get noticed. You’ve written and published several books. Few people have read them. You ask yourself why. Why haven’t they read them? Have they browsed them online without finding anything to pique their interest or do they not know your books exist?

The former remains aloof, always a possibility. Bracketing it for a moment, you try to gauge awareness of your books. How many people know they exist? It’s an alarming question, alarming because you don’t know any metrics by which to answer the question.

In your limited experience, you’ve discovered one thing, a dirty little piece of trivia: a self-published writer is full-time marketer, and those who don’t practice and perfect the art of marketing will not succeed as a writer. It’s a sad state of affairs when a writer must set aside his or her craft in favor of creating an image and a brand, but such is the pat20160601-230511.jpgh you chose.

To create awareness of oneself is to open the possibility of inviting readers into your world, to coaxing them, to luring them, to seducing them. —But how do you create awareness, you might ask? —How do you introduce yourself to the world? How do you persuade them to try what you’re offering?

As a self-published author, I have failed in my endeavors. For several reasons. I don’t have a brand, I don’t have a consistent online persona, I don’t have money—and I don’t have loyal followers and readers. I have failed to penetrate the online world in a meaningful way. Continue reading

Nine Writers and Performers Who Influenced Bastard Virtues

by
Daulton Dickey.

In 2003, my cousin died in a car accident. I received the news while loafing around in New Mexico. I had traveled there earlier in the year, and, after a brief stint in Las Vegas, felt lost. But I had left Indiana—hopefully—for good, and I was determined to start a new life somewhere else. Jobless and low on money, I resisted giving in. I resisted going home.

Then news of his death arrived, and it hit me hard. I felt isolated. My determination to stay transformed into a desire to leave, to go back home, to spend time with my friends and family. To fill the hole my cousin had left.

Although he was a year younger than me, we grew up together—and we were close: we made the same mistakes together, tried alcohol and pot together, developed a similar sense of humor, and developed similar tastes in movies and music, in pop culture in general.

Rage filled me when he died, and I felt the urge to write about it. I tried and failed several times before I hit on the opening chapter of Bastard Virtues. My desire to honor my cousin gave way to my anger and rage, which consumed me whenever I thought about his death. Early on, I realized the novel wasn’t about him as much as it was about my anger, my rage, my sadness—emotions transformed into themes which dominated the novel.

On embracing the anger and rage, I decided to pick influences for the novel which reflected my relationship with my cousin. Some of the influences are mine alone, and reflect nothing more than my preoccupations at the time. Other influences, however, represent shared interests between my cousin and me.

Hunter S. Thompson

Thompson’s influence is apparent early on in the novel, the opening section of which was inspired by The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved. Although Thompson’s story meant nothing to my cousin, it was a starting off point for me. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas connected my cousin and me to Thompson, which is what inspired the setting early in the novel. Thompson’s cynicism and vitriol hit a nerve with us when we were teenagers; it was the language we had already used, and in Thompson we’d found a sort of spiritual guide. Continue reading

Another Thinking Animal

by
Daulton Dickey.

 

—So tell me why you’re here.

—I’m tired. Not exhausted, but … just, I don’t know, tired.

Sarah’s wearing that gray face sad people wear, that mask with dead eyes looks like an unpainted statue.

—Can you describe it? “Tired” is so …

—Not clear?

—Mmm Hmm.

—I didn’t want no attention, she says. —Some people, I think, will think I did it for attention. But it wasn’t attention I wanted. Continue reading

Bastard Virtues Now Available for Pre-Order

Jeff O’Brien Answers the Proust Questionnaire

Jeff O’Brien writes fantasy and horror, weird and absurd novels and stories. For more 13508885_10154140920775926_1024170234206822858_nabout his books … actually, skip reading about them and just read them. You can find them here.

1.What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A utopia with myself, my wife, my dogs, beautiful green women, and the small band of people who grasp our concept of perfect happiness. In my backyard there would be a transport to the magical land of Xanth, and I could go and hang out with the gorgons, nymphs, zombies, ogres and puns. I love a good pun.

2.What is your greatest fear?

The possible repercussions of sharing my greatest fear with the general public. Nice try, Dickey!

3.What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Probably vanity, as I can’t think of one.

4.What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Lack of conversation etiquette. I have no use for someone who talks over others.

5.Which living person do you most admire?

Piers Anthony. I mean, I don’t know much about what kind of guy he is, but his virtually endless bibliography has pretty much been the greatest thing I’ve ever discovered.

6.What is your greatest extravagance?

Books. I live rather frugally, but can’t seem to restrain myself in the purchasing of books. I have more than I can possibly ever read, but I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Continue reading

6 Tips for Writers Who Want to Break the Mold

by
Daulton Dickey.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step into any bookstore or library and you’re bound to discover at least one book professing to be capital-t the underscored book to learn how to write a book that publishers and agents and readers and Hollywood producers and the Dalai Lama and maybe the Pope or some low-rent Mafioso will recognize and idolize and adore. Fiction, according to the reality in which these writers write, is an algorithm. Replace variables with values and, viola, book is done. Sale is imminent.

And that might work for some people. But if you have any ambition and integrity, then you should buy or borrow that book, tear out each and every page, and use those pages to roll cigarettes or joints. Smoke that inhales the words fermenting on the pages. Those rules are better to inhale and exhale, they’re better as permanent scars on your lungs, than they are to absorb and incorporate into your writing.

Now let’s make a distinction. Some rules are useful, such as word economics or showing in lieu of telling. I’m talking about structure. I’m talking about form. I’m talking about what information is necessary, what isn’t—but I’m modifying it: ambiguity and disconnection constitute important information as well. I’m talking about the algorithms writers and agents and editors and authors of ‘How-to’ books drill into your head. The algorithm of fiction is what we want to avoid. How else are we going to invent new ways of storytelling—and new ways of seeing ourselves—if we stick to the same tired rules?

Which leads to a question: How do we invent new forms of storytelling?

Which leads to Tip #1:

Experiment. Break the mold. Try to write in new ways, try to shake things up, to use a cliché, try to change how sentences and paragraphs and chapters flow. Try to alter what information you find necessary and what information you don’t find necessary. Continue reading

Wittgenstein, Art, and Random Prose: Excerpts from Notes and Journals

by
Daulton Dickey.

Oceans above and eyeballs below: the slant of the horizon twists and sways. Nothing forgotten, nothing forgiven. The detriment of the darkness settles on the hands of gloom. Night cracks. Fright moans. Terror settles into the white gold, a diamond crusted experience.

Daulton sits on a windowsill staring at the sky, all loose and soiled, cracked and broken. Fear and anxiety courses through him. Trees in the distance rattle and crack, and the oceans churn and spit out waves that break and collapse onto the starry evening.

—–

The diamond maze
The din of haze
Mocks the crooks
In superior air

Shadows splay
Darkness stays
In meadowless brooks
Behind the trees

—–

The superior air of the sanctuary in the sky cracks bolts and stows jolts and splays shadows across the faces of buildings and the hazy maze of cemetery trees. Through spirals of fire fucking wood in a funeral pyre, the rate permeates in nostril cells. Bile glows and bows inward, upsets the system and rusts the machinery. All parts are glowing and fatigued, and the darkness lingers and sways—air batted between trees.

The world in an eggshell hooks the yolk and cooks the fat, and daylight cracks and drips, staining the planet with opaque sulfur. Charcoal roasts the dawn, spawns the fawns, the dour-like opinions of inward looking faces.

Lightning blasts the kerosene and gasoline burns and bubbles and burps a cacophony of slivers and terrors and sounds melting the earlobes and scarring the prefrontal cortex. That atoms grow and merge and explode, that neurons tremble and shiver, that all life is a dream funneled into the gaps of nothingness frames hallucinations nestled into a head of sweat forming in the brows of agnostic spinsters.

Blow the horn. Slow the storm. Strong arm the national fervor. Sell the whores. Replace the stores. Burn the engine in despair. Sell the machine to repair the rotten eggs and the faceless cunts and cocks breeding ignorance and death. Fuck the lame and suck the stable. Cannibalize Cain and dismember Able. Chew the gristle of fantasies until you’ve secreted their proteins. Then discard them. You don’t need them anymore. Continue reading

An Excerpt From Another Novel No One Will Publish

by
Daulton Dickey.

The bedroom looks more or less as it did when Sarah’s mother had returned from the hospital, like something out of a 70s Style magazine: khaki colored carpet—shag carpet, mind you—vanilla walls, a beige ceiling. A dresser stands beside the closet door. A bed towers in the center of the room, one of those velvet numbers. It looks old and worn, the bed, like it’s been sitting beneath a pile of scrap metal for years.

As a child, Sarah loved to peel the sheets and blankets off and roll around on it. Complete with a velvet headboard, the bed attracted her; she loved how it felt, adored it, even.

It repulsed her after her mother died. And, as a teenager, it embarrassed her when, on a rare occasion, a friend, rarer still, showed up to the house and peered into the room. The headboard alone belonged in a museum, it was so old; and its color, purple, caught the eye. It never failed to elicit a comment, usually about her father, which further embarrassed her.

Sarah shoves her fist into the mattress. It creaks. She recoils and blurts something like a scream but not quite a scream. More like a yelp. Touching the mattress had raised gooseflesh on her arms, which she now pulls to her chest and massages.

Her mother’s absence lingers, but it’s vague. It reminds Sarah of the feeling she experiences when she leaves her house and forgets something—but not certain if she has, in fact, forgot something. And this evokes pretty much the same sensation, her mother’s absence. Why does she linger? But then does she linger?

After a while, the sensation dims. It dims. The shadows of years gone by darken the signature of her existence.

And but Sarah’s father … His absence is fucking oppressive. Like at any moment, Sarah expects him to call from downstairs or to make an appearance or to ask why she’s in his room. Like it doesn’t even feel like he’s out of town or on vacation or something. It feels like he’s there, right there, alive and well and in the house, maybe in the living room, maybe, or in the basement. And … but … she doesn’t have access to him. Like he’s there but she can’t pinpoint his location; like she knows he’s home but she can’t figure out in which room he’s doing whatever it is he does.

She opens the closet door—inside, it smells like dust—and fumbles for the twine dangling from the light fixture. She flails her arm and pinches her fingers. Then, still flailing her arm, she slaps the twine, catches and pulls it. Photons ping pong around the closet.

Clothes hang from wall to wall. Men’s clothes. Some old, some new, some she’s never seen. She slides her fingers across the sleeve of an old jacket. Goosebumps. The clothes retain his smell, his signature. Tears threaten to assault her. She clears her throat and closes her eyes and pops her neck, slaying the tears before they usurp her.

It’s almost funny. Every suit, every shirt, every pair of paints—everything seems plucked out of the 1970s and 80s, like her father was maybe some secret sitcom star and had saved his wardrobe. As a teenager, of course, she didn’t find it funny, even though his style wasn’t as outdated.

Among blues and whites, and even a pink, among velvet and cardigan, a black suit sticks out. Does it look good? Seams are frayed and, at some twitterheader (2)points, gray dulls black, turning it more or less silver. So no: it doesn’t look good. But then so what? Does it matter what he looks like when he’s buried?

But even in death people tend to appear the way others expect them to appear.

—It’s such bullshit, she says.

More faded clothes. More frayed seams. Did the man own a decent suit? Continue reading

Politics and the English Language by George Orwell

by
George Orwell.

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.george-orwell

These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad — I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen — but because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly representative examples. I number them so that I can refer back to them when necessary: Continue reading