Interview with Douglas Wicken

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Curiosity. Every new day brings fresh insight. I want to know what's around every corner.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The entire creative process: ideas, 'what-ifs,' character development, research, writing, editing. Then of course, as an indie, there are other creative choices to make: layout and design, formatting, cover, how to answer questions during interviews. I've always been one who wants to do it all myself; I'd be a terrible boss because I can't delegate.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Muses and Consummations focuses on the relationship of two creative people. Damon, a 60-year-old jazz pianist and college professor is faced with the uncertainty of early retirement. Naomi, a 28-year-old dancer, struggles with a boring dance company and gender confusion. They are drawn together through their mutual interest in pursuing more artistic freedom, but soon discover they share similar darknesses from their past, which they learn to resolve through meditation and their muses.
When did you first start writing?
Later in life. I was around 40 when I self-published my first book of documentary photographs. In preparation for that project, I attended several basic writing classes at the local college, mainly so I could assemble some written articles to accompany the images. I also managed to write my first poem for that book. When I was 50, I self-published my second book of photos, along with more of my writing, and another poem. Since that time, I've focused on fiction, starting with short stories, and finally, a first novel. I'm now 73.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
As a jazz double bassist, I keep active with my music, both in performance and rehearsal. I walk everyday for an hour or more. I try to photograph regularly, an activity I did for a living for many years. I also think a lot.
Describe your desk
I live in a one-bedroom apartment along with my musical instruments and some basic furniture. Currently, my desk is one half of the dining table.
How do you approach cover design?
I agonized over the cover for Muses and Consummations because there are many different levels to the story. There's always a desire to put everything into a design but of course, that's impossible. I browsed through online stock files until I found an image that blended a couple of key story elements, and projected them with solid impact. A great cover must be a quick read.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are many, but Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Carlos Ruiz-Zafon, John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, and Paulo Coelho are the ones I reread often. I never tire of One Hundred Years of Solitude.
What do you read for pleasure?
I don't consider myself as a 'read-for-pleasure' person. Reading, for me, is part of the creative process so, while it can be extremely enjoyable, there is always an element of work attached to it. In short, I'm not one who starts to read a book because I have nothing else to do.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My parents moved around often, mainly through southern Ontario and Quebec. I'm blessed with a wonderful memory (so far), so I can draw on the uniqueness of the memories I have from those experiences. Since adulthood, especially as a documentary photojournalist, I have been exposed to cultures different from my own, which has enriched my idea bank.
What are you working on next?
I want to publish my short stories as a collection, and I've been thinking of republishing my Nicaragua Portfolio documentary photo book as an eBook. I also have the seeds of another novel starting to sprout.
Published 2015-08-10.
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