Interview with Daniel Paul Davis

How do you approach cover design?
I look thru the historical events in the text it'll be the cover for and find 2 events that I think cohere weirdly or contradict. I think my favorite was Disneyland's Haunted Mansion opening the day of the Manson murders--that one wrote itself.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The "favorite" question is a weird one because the answer perishes fairly quickly. Next year I'll have 5 different "favorite" books. Thus, to the answer: in 2015, they'd be the Book of Esther for being both history and every writer's model for the perfect short story; "Conquest" by Hugh Thomas for 600 pages of detailed research exposing that everything we'd been told about Cortes + the Aztecs was DED dead wrong; "Mel Bay's Encyclopedia of Bass Riffs" because I started off having fun with the rockabilly riffs (recognized some of them) and have recognized some since them (they have Devo's "Whip It"); Dave Barry's "Big Trouble" for how to write humor in fiction because the book is hilaroius (see the movie for how to not translate humor-in-text to humor-in-film); "The Silmarillion" because it's all about the origin story.
What do you read for pleasure?
The Bible or Bible commentaries.
Describe your desk
Papers on it that are "temporary" (ha ha ha ha ha) such as my wife's calendar for August, a free cheeseburger coupon for "The Habit" I got for giving blood . . . in 2014; the So Cal Metrolink system map for use with my grandson (we ride the rails for fun); phone, lens cleaner, calculator, and 2 intensely yummy root beer suckers.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm a native of Claremont, CA and still live here. ALL of the folks I knew in high school left A.S.A.P. The social group I hung out with ("Granolas") tried a 5-year reunion (I had the box of mementos, including the green M&M's) and 1 ex-friend put it succinctly: "I'd have to be stoned." I am in the town I was born in, raised in, went to college in (Pomona College), and I do not really feel as if I belong here. This leads to my not taking anything else seriously, either. Oh, and I have different friends now . . . 1 or 2 actually live in Claremont.
When did you first start writing?
Such as question as this demands one first define "writing." My mom kept our school work and I stumbled upon something from (I think) 1st grade in which I said I wanted to either work @ Shakey's Pizza or for TWA. Can you tell which commercials I'd been forced to sit thru? Eventually, I remembered writing that. But that was a school assignment and these sorts of questions usually condense to "writing for fun" if not profit. In 8th grade, I bought a calendar and instead of using it to write future events to prepare for (since I had none), I used it to write what happened that day--a first diary. That was when I started writing to write.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Hysterically Historical" is a combination of 2 things I enjoyed on the Internet: the history summaries of "On-This-Day" sites and Fark. I later learned in my research that enough of those "On-This-Day" events (even Wikipedia) are wrong as to spoil the whole thing for me (so I set about to fix that error.) But I earlier had read that outfits such as Trivial Pursuit will purposefully introduce wrong stuff into their data so when the wrong stuff shows up elsewhere, BING! copyright infringement. Instead, I looked at Fark and the multiple gags written about current events headlines and thought this should be done for any historical event, current or ancient. Why limit the mockery pool? My jokes are my copyright marker (instead of purposeful errors.)
What motivated you to become an indie author?
No one else would talk to me. The (very) few who answered my queries would always say what I proposed looked nice but didn't fit what they were doing (so change what you're doing!) Get that enough and one realizes this sort of thing won't fit anyone's 5-year plan. The same is true for literary agents. Literally, D.I.Y. is the only way to get this unrecognizable monster published: let the customer figure it out on her or his own, which is more likely without the middleman (or woman.)
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
A great punchline, which is one I think is still funny when I come across it later.
Who are your favorite authors?
James Thurber; C.S. Lewis (more accessible than J.R.R. Tolkein); Richard Armour (you, too, can succeed in spite of coming from Claremont); Kenneth Grahame (some times when I'm really bummed, I'll read "The Wind in the Willows" because it's that good . . . tho stay far away from the BBC production, which is a great version of the book until it wholly re-writes the ending in the last 60 seconds!)
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Only way my back stops hurting
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Predaling. It's the only P.T. I can do. Oh, and the occasional Tom Cruise movie (nyuck nyuck nyuck!)
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Hoo boy, of course. I re-wrote "Mr. Limpit" on the back of a Kleenex box while sitting in group therapy. I was that bored.
What is your writing process?
Write. Editing is so much more fun that I throw it all out there to begin with, then delete delete delete.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I forget the age (more older than 8) when my best (only) friend Thomas gave me "Emmet's Pig." I read it myself. The gist was Emmet had a thing for pigs, but living in the city made that thing difficult to satisfy. His parents arranged for him to "have" a pig on a farm outside the city. Not the "best of both worlds" but that his parent saw his want and did what could be done for it.
Of course that's not how my life went.
Published 2015-08-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Hysterically Historical: March II
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 85,170. Language: American English. Published: August 21, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire, Nonfiction » History » World
Short, easly-read descriptions of events in history with comments ridiculing the responsible = fun, even if no learning occurs. But learning might actually happen, so why fight it?
Hysterically Historical: March I
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 88,310. Language: American English. Published: August 21, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » World, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire
Short, discrete, easy-to-read historical events with an appropriate amount of mockery leave the guilty exposed, the innocent, well, unmocked.
Hysterically Historical: February II
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 67,670. Language: American English. Published: August 20, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » World, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire
Individual historical events arranged chronologically by date for easy reference, easy research, and easy reading, then flavored with satire, puns, hyperbole, and general mockery, all in a series of 24 copyrighted (not copied) texts.
Hysterically Historical: February I
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 67,670. Language: American English. Published: August 20, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire, Nonfiction » History » World
Short, easy-to-read descriptions of historical events with hysterical comments, organized an easy-to-find chronological order.
Hysterically Historical: January II
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 58,710. Language: American English. Published: August 20, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » World, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor and satire
Historical events presented chronologically by date for easy, daily reading (bathroom, school, etc.) salted + peppered with commentary on how ridiculous the "greats" really were.
Hysterically Historical: January I
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 57,930. Language: American English. Published: August 19, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » History » World
Historical events organized by date, with commentary mocking the principals involved.