Interview with D. D. Riessen

Published 2020-04-30.
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?”
“Yes.”
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 is your favorite aspect of writing?
Dialogue. Oh, how I love dialogue. It's not me talking anymore. It's them. All I have to do is let them be themselves and record the conversation. They are the ones taking the chances with what they say and what they hold back. That's how I get to know them. Dialogue gets me out of the picture and let's the story tell itself.
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...,
After every novel comes a vacuum. What to write? To fill it, I've recently finished a short story titled, Almost the Fifth, taken from a screenplay I'd written several years before and hoped to convert to a first-person narrative, which failed. Deciding to just roll with it and have fun, using what used to be scene changes and calling them chapters, this odd, fast moving tale began to emerge. The ending surprised even me.
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. As for East Side, I was just playing around with different ideas and was wondering how to connect them when a mobile came to mind, But, it looked lifeless until I slanted the helicopter downward. A fun cover.
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.
What are you working on next?
I've started a sequel to my novel, Sometime Tomorrow, which I've titled, Let's be Frank. This story takes place both on Earth and up in Cond-Orbit's world three hundred miles above the planet. As usual with writing a novel, it's a mixed bag, moments of great writing pleasure when it works and days of frustration when it doesn't.
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.
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Latest books by This Author

Almost the Fifth
Price: Free! Words: 25,500. Language: American English. Published: March 31, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General
Ben has a broken nose and the doctors suspect that he has a concussion. Ben has no idea how that happened, but has proof that the subsequent hallucinations are real. A gift from Coyote puts his life in grave danger but, fortunately, he has Vargo and Pretty to help him along.
East Side
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 80,190. 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?
Reflections
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: 1,380. 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: 101,370. 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: 1,030. 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: 910. 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.
Kibo
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.
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