Interview with D. D. Riessen

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Joy? It's a love-hate relationship. If I had a dollar for every time I asked myself, "And you call yourself a writer?" I could buy a new car. But I also keep a Kleenex nearby for those times when the story flows, the characters are all saying the right things, finally, the episodes of bad fortune that get me to laughing so hard I can't see to type and the sad moments when I lose a character that I've come to love. In the end, I guess I could call it joy-ish.
What is the first story that you remember reading and how has it impacted your writing?
Many years ago, my Aunt Mim gave me a book titled, The Last Unicorn. I was infatuated with the story and quickly moved on to read, Watership Down. I loved the idea of talking animals and saw it as a way to address their concerns and the interaction between humans and animals. I started writing fantasy stories and have been intrigued with the venue ever since. This led to my writing the novel, The Other World. Since, I've just completed the sequel to it, Borrowing Time.
What is the most difficult aspect of writing for you?
Omnipresence, how to present the scenes without revealing my voice, a fly on the wall, so to speak. First person is relatively easy because somebody is telling the story. This example is from East Side:
Benny cut a round figure. I cannot say that he looked like a beach ball in coveralls with four protrusions, short neck and a mostly bald head, but he comes closer to that than anyone I’ve ever seen. He has a pencil mustache and a space between his two front teeth that looks like it should whistle. Benny builds race cars.
For an omnipresence perspective, I'll try most anything, but two rules stand out, for me anyway, let the characters describe the scene and don't dwell on transition from place to place. Having done that, I rush to dialogue and let the characters do the work. This example is from Sometime Tomorrow:
Lindy pulled the strap back up over her shoulder and stepped through the doorway onto the Swift Line. She seated herself mid-car, secured her belongings, did a quick take of everybody else inside and, feeling pretty sure that she hadn’t been followed, pulled out her Life Link and called Adelle, back at the condo.
“Yes, Miss Lindy?”
“Adelle. I am instructing you to go to Level Four.”
“Please enter password.”
Lindy held the Life Link in front of her face and thought out the code. A blinking green dot appeared down in the right hand corner.
“I am now operating under the programming of Level Four, Miss Lindy. I am accessing your Cond-Orbit account and preparing to transfer all assets to the programmed destination. Should I continue?”
Once I get to that perspective, it's easy to continue through that scene. But, the next chapter will present a whole new set of challenges.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I just finished it, a novel titled, East Side, historical fiction that takes place in East San Diego in the mid 1960's. This 'coming of age' story depicts the inane thinking of teenagers trying to become adults. Logical? No. Stupid? Of course. A lot of friendships are formed around bad and crazy ideas. Hormones are raging and sometimes things get out of hand. The Viet Nam War is escalating and kids are getting drafted. Just graduated, turned eighteen? Not going to college? Not married? The friends and neighbors of your community have chosen you...,
How do you approach cover design?
Sometimes the story itself dictates what I create for the cover. You Gotta Have Wings (historical fiction) needed to suggest escape, therefore a car and wings, and Sometime Tomorrow (sci-fi) needed to show the annihilation of matter. On Standby (adult fiction) is a dark story and required something simple and suggestive of personal struggles. The Other World (both fantasy and sci-fi) needed to show a place where anything can happen. My latest novel, Borrowing Time, stumped me. I created eight different versions of a cover and was unhappy with all of them. Fortunately, my son, Phelan, is pretty good with the airbrush tool in Photoshop. With his help, it all seemed to come together.
What are you working on next?
I don't know. After finishing a novel, I wander around aimlessly, feeling empty, sure that I have nothing more to say and wondering what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. But the habit of sitting in front of the computer and telling tales is too strong to resist. A murder mystery? I haven't done that yet. Possibly a sequel to Sometime Tomorrow? Been thinking about it. I haven't done fantasy in quite a while. Hmm. For now, baffled.
What is your writing process?
Every day, I get in touch with the stories that I'm working on. If the telling or illustrating is going well, I spend hours moving ahead, trying to squeeze as much as I can out of the current run. When it's bad, it's bad. I avoid the hard stuff and walk away shaking my head. It's a good time to catch up on all of the other things that I've been putting off. Writing a novel taxes me the most because I've invested in the characters. I don't want to kill someone, but sometimes that's the only way the story can proceed. As I've said before, it's a love-hate relationship.
Describe your desk
My desk is a mess. There are scraps of paper with notes to myself, ideas to ponder, timelines for one story or another, suggestions for names of characters, I have an old (30 years at least) Mead subject notebook that is filled with scribbles, ideas hastily written down before I forget, projects, either completed or upcoming, poetry. etc. There are still a few blank pages within the covers, so it will probably be around for another year or so. Everything else kind of comes and goes depending on how fast I can get rid of it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I don't market my stories at all anymore. I am not as interested in making money, although that would be nice, as I am in telling the story. I've discovered that I can spend a lot of time, too much, sending out query letters, searching for ways to get readers, developing relationships that can benefit my writing career..., or I can write. I choose the latter. These stories mean a lot to me and they all have a message that I want to convey. You will never walk away from any of my novels without a different perspective. And it's my hope that if you take the time to read them, that I can deliver a story that you will remember. So, I'd guess that you can say my marketing technique is word of mouth.
Published 2018-07-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

East Side
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 79,870. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Historical » USA
(5.00 from 1 review)
Two teenagers, growing up San Diego in the 1960's, begin the long journey to adulthood. Between here and there, cars, drugs, sex, rock and roll, the Viet Nam War, the draft and competition for the same girl. Will best friends betray each other? They're teenagers. What do you expect?
Price: Free! Words: 580. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Emotions & Feelings
(5.00 from 1 review)
How do we appear to others? Are we judged by what they see? And if everyone has a different opinion, who are we really? This is a story about being happy with who you are.
Light Years Away Pt. 4
Price: Free! Words: 1,360. Language: English. Published: March 24, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Educational
Hank is losing the battle to save Earth and its inhabitants. It seems that fake news has more power to sway than the facts. Fortunately, Hank has the Big Guy on his side. Will that help? Not according to the Rules of Creation. Not only can he not interfere, He will celebrate our demise. Really? How can this be?
Borrowing Time
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 81,340. Language: American English. Published: May 8, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Sam thought that the saga of the fire stone was behind him. But a letter from Sasi, a distant relative living in Lampung, Indonesia, suggests otherwise, Going back in time, they speak with Kashif and learn another well-kept secret that takes them on a new adventure, This is the sequel to The Other World.
The Other World
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 101,600. Language: English. Published: March 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Two worlds more than a century apart come together under the magic of a fire stone and a blue moon. Oskar cautioned us about such a possibility, but the warning was so incredible that no one believed him. Is reality what we see? Or, is there more to it than that? Fantasy? Science fiction? Time Travel? Sure. Why not? If you're looking for mystery, adventure and a lot of WTF, this is the one.
The Magic Rock
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 1,080. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Imagination & Play
Every child wants to believe that something is magical. Everyone hopes that their dreams will come true…, if only. Finding an odd rock at the end of a rainbow? What could be more magical than that? Unfortunately, if anything has value, someone else always wants it. Once again, Kyo Takahashi has brought my words to life with his remarkable watercolor illustrations.
Inside - Outside
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 990. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » General
What goes through the mind of someone who knows that their assignment means certain death? What face do they show to their peers and how does that compare to what they feel inside? This story was inspired by someone who lived through such an ordeal. This is a simple telling of the events that unfolded, illustrated magnificently by Masaaki Kimura.
Price: Free! Words: 1,930. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
Marsi didn't know how to sail, but figured her life would be better than pushing a shopping cart around collecting cans and bottles in the never ending hunt for enough money for her next meal. Madame Nuage advised that a BIG adventure was coming, something Marsi wanted no part of. But, destiny is what it is, and none of us have any choice as to whether, or not, we want to participate.
Light Years Away Pt. 3
Price: Free! Words: 1,350. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Hank was having trouble holding up his end of the bet. Saving the planet from roasting in the oven like a hot potato and finding a way for humans to come to their senses was proving to be a bit more of a challenge than he anticipated. It was time for a meeting of the minds.
The Bad Fortune Teller - Harry, Ted..., and Gary
Price: Free! Words: 1,300. Language: American English. Published: May 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Madame Nuage sees a dark future for Harry. When he asks her how to prepare for such a thing, he is told to do what he has always done, see it through. Her prediction is either dire trouble..., or worse. What does one do with that? Harry has his doubts (along with a beer).
The Bad Fortune Teller - Melvin and the Mud Daubers
Price: Free! Words: 2,260. Language: English. Published: March 17, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Melvin didn’t believe in fortune-tellers and those kinds of things but he was desperate. Ever since he fell out of a tree his back had not been the same and it was getting worse no matter what the doctors ordered. Bad back and Destiny? Is there a link? Ask Madame Nuage.
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 830. Language: English. Published: January 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Peer Pressure
Kuchan, a little cloud, is tired of raining and wants to try something new. But she is quickly reminded that, as a cloud, it is her duty to rain. Does that stop her? Would it stop you? Read on.
Price: Free! Words: 1,190. Language: English. Published: November 9, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
So you think everything's under control? You just never know for sure. Since, I've added a few more poems to this piece. I'm not a poet, not even close. So I guess I should just call these attempts. Some of the concepts are interesting though.
The Curse of Ann Lanar
Price: Free! Words: 1,570. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Occult
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Are some secrets best left untold? What if it's retrievable, but buried with the deceased? You might not want to know the answer. Happy Halloween!
Sometime Tomorrow
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 61,510. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(5.00 from 1 review)
2132 - The manufacture of parts for orbiting condos is the main function inside Cond-Orbit's massive dome, located several miles east of L. A. But, two stories underground, a far more secretive project is taking place, Project Eclipse, the building and testing of a probe designed to explore an alternate reality. What can go wrong? Everything.
The Bad Fortune Teller - Bill's Bricks
Price: Free! Words: 1,040. Language: English. Published: July 24, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
(5.00 from 1 review)
Bill thought he had it all figured out. Life was just a big bowl of cherries and he would take his pick. But if the cherries turn out to be bricks, that's another matter. Once again, Madam Nuage has her say.
The Storm
Price: Free! Words: 950. Language: English. Published: July 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
(4.00 from 1 review)
Lost a loved one recently? Does it seem like they're still around? If not, does it seem like they should be? You are not alone.
Just Passing Through
Price: Free! Words: 3,900. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General
We heard the distant thunder before we were even aware of the approaching storm. Seeing the big, black clouds rolling toward us, and seeing the slanted shafts of gray beneath them, still miles away, we hurried to get home before we got drenched. I thought I was safe. I had no idea that I was about to get a first hand lesson about the power of lightning.
Beds of Kelp
Price: Free! Words: 870. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Our relationship started out well. We both hoped it would work. But some things are just not meant to be. And sometimes, while trying to make things right, it just goes from bad to worse.
Light Years Away - part 2
Price: Free! Words: 730. Language: English. Published: February 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Unite scientists, politicians, religious beliefs in one fell swoop? Save Earth over a game of chess? Take us to new levels as a species? It will take some pretty fancy maneuvering to make that happen. We stand on the shoulders of Hank, God forbid.
Not thirsty for This
Price: Free! Words: 720. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
This was just a dream, more like a nightmare. And it was laughable until it started to unfold. Would you cross the street?
Light Years Away
Price: Free! Words: 670. Language: English. Published: February 4, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
(5.00 from 1 review)
The battle between religion and science has never been more convoluted, a culture clash between humans and their institutions. Read on to find out why Schnapps rule!
The Bad Fortune Teller - Ernie's Great Adventure
Price: Free! Words: 1,310. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
(5.00 from 1 review)
Ernie wants to know his destiny. He decides to get the advice of Madam Nuage, a fortune teller and, even though he takes all of the proper precautions, he cannot avoid her warnings. Destiny is what it is.
On Standby
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 73,010. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
“It’s like herding cats,” Martin was thinking, referring to the group of individuals he had to manage. “They don’t pay me enough.” Can it blow up? Of course. Can you get hurt? You bet. Will you get enough training to make sure you don’t get hurt? Probably not. They all have stories to tell. This is for the working class. Read on.
You Gotta Have Wings
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 67,330. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
(4.00 from 1 review)
What does one learn at age seven that is powerful enough to change their whole view of life? 1954, simple times, at least that’s how it looks on the surface. Going into the mind of a seven year old, life is far more complicated. Living in a small town in Nebraska while his family breaks apart, he finds a friend but, with lots of freedom and time to kill, anything can happen.