This week I interviewed: @dan.me.yan_k !
- Tell me a little bit about yourself:
“My name is Damian Karras (a pen name stolen from the younger priest in The Exorcist, my real last name is Reeser and I hate it). I live in Iowa, right by the Mississippi, with my beautiful wife, six obnoxious kids, and two cats who love me but have a really hard time showing it. At this point in my “career” I’m considered an indie author. I’ve self-published three books (two short story collections and a novel) but am happy to announce that horrorzine.com is traditionally publishing one of my short stories in October. I also work full-time as an Insulated Glass Fabricator (which is an incredibly fancy way of saying I risk my life for money in a glass factory) and am an undergraduate student at Southern New Hampshire University. My major is English with a concentration on Fiction Writing, and my minor is History. On top of all that, I have an unhealthy videogame addiction, collect tattoos as fast as I can make money to pay for them, produce music whenever I get a spare second, and run all my social media by myself.”
2. What made you want to pursue a degree in English and Creative Writing?
Really, it was more about perspective than necessity. I’ve been doing industrial work for about a decade now, and while it is good money, it’s really hard on the body. About two years ago, my back finally decided to tell me what it thought about my line of work, and I collapsed in my backyard feeling like I’d been stabbed. While standing in the lobby of an urgent care facility (I couldn’t sit down because of the aforementioned agony) I came to the realization that I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing for work on into my golden years. Wheelchairs are cool and everything, but I really didn’t want to be stuck in one at fifty. So, after some research, I enrolled at SNHU, hoping one day to be a world-famous author and screenwriter, or at least a copy editor who gets to sit in the air conditioning and read stories all day. I’ve been addicted to fiction since my mom handed me a Stephen King novel at eight years old, and I’ve been writing on and off since I was a teenager, so I thought this was a dream I could happily pursue.”
3. If you could invite your top 3 favorite authors to a dinner (they could be dead or alive). Who would you invite and why?
“Dining with Brilliance
If I had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with three authaors of my choice, the first thing I’d do is have a massive heart-attack brought on by anxiety. Then, after recovering in the ICU and adjusting my meds, I’d invite Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Margret Atwood.
Why? Well, I think the first choice is obvious. King has been my literary hero since before I went through puberty. I own everything he’s ever written (by himself and with others). The man is the master of horror, and his book “On Writing” is one of the most comprehensive guides to the craft ever published. Would I actually be able to speak to the man? Probably not, but I’d try like hell to get out a word or two. Maybe just choke out “I love you” through my happy tears.
Now, Palahniuk is an entirely different animal. You might not know his name, but you sure as hell know his work. Ever seen “Fight Club”? Yeah, that’s my boy Chuck. As surprised as you might be to find out, that’s actually one of his tamer novels. The guy goes from ultra-violence to romance to comedic dialogue faster and smoother than anyone I’ve ever read, and I’d love to pick his brain about how exactly he gets away with his subject matter. Also, like King, he’s published an amazing book about the art of written narrative titled “Consider This”, which I’ve poured over so many times that the damn pages are falling out.
Third but far from last, I’d worship the ground Margret Atwood walked on to get to the table. Please, for the love of all the gods, turn off your streaming services and find a paperback copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. I think that no matter your profession or hobby, there’s always going to be someone better at it than you. Someone who can catch more footballs, paint prettier pictures, hit higher notes with more vibrato. I can honestly say that when I finished “Handmaid’s Tale” for the first time, I almost quit writing altogether. That’s not a joke, the book is that good. I sat on my couch, stared at the ceiling, and thought “there is no possible way I’ll ever write anything even close to that good.” But hey, that’s why we persevere right? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, so I sucked it up, read the book again, and started chasing that level of excellence. Atwood is amazing. How amazing? I had one of her quotes tattooed across my chest. She’s that freaking amazing.”
4. What was the first creative writing piece you remember writing and what was it about?
“My First Stupid Little Story
Okay, so, I was a weird little kid, let’s just get that out in the open. I remember beginning to write poetry when I was still in elementary school. Strange story poems about werewolves and flowers and guts and girls. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I attempted to write an actual story, a piece that was eventually titled “Josie’s Way” about a schizophrenic girl who takes a knock to the head and ends up murdering her cheating boyfriend with an axe. (There’s that obvious King influence, lol.) The only person I showed it to was my mom, and directly after that I formed my first band and lost interest in the written word. It took fifteen years, two kids, five jobs, three relationships, and multiple phases of recovery from drugs and alcohol for me to get back to writing fiction. Then, somewhere around four years ago, I bought a Chromebook and typed out my first proper story “Scarlet Light” about a realistic alien invasion. That one didn’t end well for the characters, and neither did the next ten stories I pumped out. You can find them all in my short story collection aptly titled “I Don’t Write Happy Endings…”
5. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
“Shameless Self Promotion Time!!!
Well, you know, I don’t like to toot my own horn but… My debut novel “Avari” is out now on Amazon!!! “A kingdom at war with itself, an orphan pulled into the bloodshed, and a single girl who might be strong enough to pull it all down…” Search “Damian Karras” on Amazon books or visit my website damiankarras.com for all your indie fiction needs. Also, as I mentioned earlier, my first traditionally published story “Deny, deny, deny” will be available on horrorzine.com in October. Thanks for reading!!!”