Interview with our
Tour Author Dan Otsuki
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Like most authors, I’d obviously love to one day be able to say I’m a best seller. I also recognize this isn’t a hugely realistic goal, but it’s a dream nonetheless. Aside from that, I’d love if I could ever get to the point in my life where I could live happily by only writing. I also recognize this isn’t exactly easy, but it would be the dream.
Which writers inspire you?
Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Flannery O’Connor, Rachel Kushner, Brandon Sanderson
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m currently bouncing back and forth between two things. Firstly, and what I’m working on primarily, is an actual novel, not short stories, taking place in a fiction town in central/Cascade-area Washington. The idea is supposed to be reminiscent of King’s It and Stroker’s Dracula in that, although it’s at least partly supernatural-monster narrative, I hope that it provides some social commentary on globalization and out-sourced labor, particularly how it pertains to multiple generations.
The second thing I’m working on will be another compilation of stories, though all at least the same length as the longest in The Lives We Fear (i.e. “Mister Jackson Monroe”). I’m ideally looking at four separate post-apocalyptic narratives. My only struggle here is whether or not all four narratives occur within the same universe and disaster, or if I make all of them very distinct. If I do choose to make them distinct, those who liked “Those of Us Left” in The Lives We Fear can look forward to a potential sequel story.
How much research do you do?
Depends a lot on what I’m writing and how well I know it. For instance, I try to write in a lot of settings that are either vague or fictional so the details don’t matter much or settings I know well so research isn’t overly necessary. Still, if I fell like I’m bullshitting too much, to the point where many readers would probably pause and call me on my adlibbing, I’m off to do research.
Why do you write?
I love it. Creating stories and characters no one else has ever thought of is one of the most rewarding things in the world for me. To me, there’s nothing better in the world than pure creation of something entirely new.
Where do the your ideas come from?
A lot of my ideas just come to me at night when I can’t sleep. I suffer from insomnia, so there will be some nights were I’ll just look at my ceiling for hours, never sleeping. Gives me a lot of time to think, and a good chunk of that thinking time boils down to me thinking of story ideas or plot points within a given story I’m working on. If it didn’t leave me so exhausted so often, I’d be pretty glad I had insomnia. It’s productive, at the very least.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Second-guessing yourself. I’ve found that there will be times when I look over something I’ve written and wondered whether or not my meaning is relayed correctly to the audience. I always have to remind myself that part of the fun of reading is leaving some things up to the reader’s own imagination, not just what I’m telling him/her/them.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Everyone does, but when I do, I’ll take a break from a given story and just do some free writing. Gets me more in the mindset to write in general. I’ve also found a routine—a minimum word count for a given day—can really force me to break through the block.