Friday 13 January 2012

Dancing With Myself: DAVID FREED interviews DAVID FREED

At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, you can get a free copy of With Love And Squalor today at Amazon in the UK and the US as well as throughout Europe.

And now, here's something that will definitely be of interest, an interview with a lot of great information.  Take it away Mr David Freed.

How can you ask yourself questions and answer them for public dissemination without coming off as completely egomaniacal and/or wacko?

Brilliant question. You must be a genius! Seriously, though, I don’t really know how to answer that one. This is my first Q&A in which I functioned both as the interviewer and interviewee. I guess the most truthful response is to say that any writer, or anyone who dares to hold his creative work up for public inspection, must maintain a fairly healthy ego. But if you’ve kicked around, and been kicked around for as long as I have, you learn pretty quickly to park the maniacal part of your writer’s id at the door—or else have it shoved down your throat every time some critic savages your work. As my mother used to say, “Egotism is an alphabet of one letter.” Actually, my mother never said that. It’s an old Scottish proverb. I only used it because it makes me sound incredibly intelligent which, of course, I must be, to ask and answer my own questions, right?

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Hardly. I convinced myself for the longest time that I wanted to be both a physician—a heart surgeon, in particular—and a World War II fighter pilot. A dubious GPA my freshman year of college quickly disabused me of the doctor game plan, and I was born long after WWII ended, so the fighter jock thing was out, too--though I did get my pilot’s license in my early 20’s and continue to fly to this day. For what it's worth, I also held out the notion in various phases of my life of being an astronaut, playing in the NFL, and performing with the Beatles. Each ambition was as equally implausible as the next. For whatever reason, I always enjoyed writing and, like so many others of my generation, had this wacky idea that I could Make The World A Better Place, which more or less led me to investigative journalism. I realized, hey, I could be a detective armed not with a ,45, but a notepad. Getting paid to write while defending truth, justice, and the American way, plus seeing my name on the front page. Not a bad way to earn a buck. I later toiled in Hollywood as a screenwriter and, later still, working with the U.S. intelligence community, all of which provided plenty of grist when I ultimately decided to try my hand at writing a novel.

Who were/are the people inspired you?

For better or worse, I’m not a big believer in external inspiration, or role models, for that matter. Creativity, as the old saw goes, is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. When it comes to being a writer, that means you can’t wait for brilliance to strike. All you can do is park your butt in the chair and write. No excuses. Too many folks who aspire to write for a living spend way too much time talking about writing, or pretending to write, hanging out at Starbuck’s, eavesdropping on conversations ostensibly for “research” purposes, and not actually writing. For me, the process of composing creatively only works if I can wall myself off from the rest of the world--just me and my laptop--and focus. My goal when I’m actively engaged in a project is to write 1,000 words a day, no less than five days a week. Some days, I fail miserably when attempting that goal; on other days, when I’m in The Zone, I can double or even triple that number. Those are rare days, to be sure.

Your hero in Flat Spin, Cord Logan, is a private pilot and flight instructor, and the book contains many flight references. What influences led you to incorporate this element in his character?

The Internal Revenue Service. I’m an instrument-rated pilot and own my own airplane. One big problem with owning a plane is how much it costs. One day, the guy who does my taxes assured me that I could deduct at least a portion of my flying expenses if those expenses involved legitimate research, and that research ultimately contributed to my work product. When he told me this, I nearly kissed him! Thus, Cordell Logan was born. My life has not been the same since.

And a follow-up: What is a "Flat Spin"?

A flat spin occurs when an aircraft spirals down, wildly out of control, while remaining essentially horizontal to the ground. There’s relatively little hope of recovery, depending on what kind of plane you’re in. Remember that scene in “The Right Stuff,” when Chuck Yeager (as played by Sam Shepard) nearly makes it into space in a silver F-104 Starfighter, then loses power, fights to regain control while falling to earth, and ultimately has to punch out? That was the flat spin to end all flat spins. Get in one, and you’re basically toast. In the case of my book, Flat Spin, the title serves as a metaphor to explain the sorry state of my hero’s life when we first meet him.

What books are on your nightstand? Who are your favorite authors and genres?

I’m pretty eclectic in my reading tastes. Nonfiction-wise, I particularly love biographies and military histories. As far as fiction goes, I just finished David Benoiff’s City of Thieves—a great book, if you haven’t read it—and am about to embark on Shavetail by Thomas Cobb, who wrote Crazy Heart (another great book). I love Steinbeck, Faulkner, and Hemingway, though the latter, not as much as I once did. When it comes to modern literature, you can’t beat James Salter, in my opinion. On my best day, I could not write one-tenth as well as he does. Among authors of mysteries, I stand in particularly awe of Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Reed Farrell Coleman, Bruce DeSilva (his Rogue Island is fantastic), Denise Hamilton, and Chris Knopf, whose Sam Acquillo/Hampton series is consistently entertaining, and newcomer Len Rosen, whose “All Cry Chaos” is nothing short of brilliant.

To paraphrase Steve Martin, "Hey, Dave, how can you be so freaking funny?" Others who’ve read and enjoyed it say that part of Flat Spin's allure are the sardonic, sometimes over-the-top characters. Is humor an element in all of your writing? Have you ever thought of being a stand-up comic?

Truth be told, I’d rather go to the dentist and get a root canal than stand up in front of a crowd of strangers—unless, of course, they’re willing to buy my book!

Is there a real Mrs. Schmulowitz? Can she come to my house for Thanksgiving dinner?

You mean Cordell Logan’s landlady, a retired PE teacher who loves pro football, cooks a mean brisket, and is the only 80-something who favors Lycra bicycle shorts and fire engine red tank tops? Nope. There is no real Mrs. Schmulowitz, though I have had more than a few relatives and friends upon whom I modeled her.

Your hero, Logan, is a former government assassin-turned-flight instructor who used to be an Air Force fighter pilot. If you had your choice of flying any fighter, which would it be?

The World War II-era P-51 Mustang, hands down, followed, in no particular order: the F-86 Sabre, A-10 Warthog, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the Harrier.

Finally, the question we've all been wondering: Why are there no vampires in "Flat Spin"?

Because--spoiler alert--there are no vampires

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