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D.A. Blyler Interview

How long have you been writing fiction and essays? How did you get started and what inspires you?

I began writing essays with ďThe 7 Vices of Highly Creative People,Ē at the age of thirty, sitting in a taproom in Boone, NC. Though Iíd spent the previous twelve years writing college student essays, Iíd be hard-pressed to call those formative years. Steffiís Club was my first serious stab at fiction and seemed a logical extension of my work as an essayist, my essays being what they are. As for inspiration, the aforementioned 7 vices essay pretty much covers it.

What is your interest and/or affiliation with independent media?

Well, Salon.com was the first independent media organization to establish a significant presence on the web, and (though struggling) they were, and still are, the only one with serious financial backing. Thanks to their easy and open editorial submission process, I was able to get my 7 vices essay (and a few other works) published with them. As everyone knows, the internet is filled with a lot of dross, but thankfully other professional online publications, such as 3am Magazine, are emerging who maintain the tight editorial controls found at Salon and compete with them in delivering quality alternative content, in fact often exceeding them.

Where did you get the idea for Steffiís Club? Is it in any way autobiographical?

Steffiís Club began as a creative non-fiction piece titled ďThe Universal Language,Ē which was published by Salon. Undoubtedly, the people who know me will find similarities between the protagonist of the book and myself. I suppose that the novel is autobiographical in the same way that Hunter S. Thompsonís Rum Diary is, and that perhaps Iím trying to do the same thing for the city of Plzen that Hunter wanted to do for San Juan.

People often compare your writing style with Thompsonís. How do you respond to that?

Hunter S. Thompson is probably the best prose stylist of his generation, so any comparison in that regard is obviously unwarranted. Hell, I havenít even been working at mine for that long. If people see similarities itís probably with regards to a shared sense of humor and recognition of the absurd. Iíll never be as bold and intrepid as Hunter, in life or on the printed page.

You started out writing poetry. Why did you stop?

People tend to have lofty and overly serious ideas about writing poetry; but you know what Kerouac said when he was asked what it was all about, his bohemian days with Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, et al in New York City and San Francisco? He came clean and replied that it was just a bunch of young guys looking to get laid. When I finally came to my senses and realized that 1990s America wasnít 1950s Greenwich Village (women arenít wooed that easily by well-fashioned similes these days) I gave it up. Though I still do believe a few lasting poems can be found in Shared Solitude and Diary of a Seducer.

Do you have a day job? Explain. I teach writing, literature, and drama at Rajabhat Institute Rajanagarindra in Chachoengsao, Thailand. The institute is classified as a ďvocationalĒ college, but in reality itís most often referred to as a ďvacationalĒ college, which suits me just fine.

If you could, would you support yourself with your writing? Is this a possibility?

What writer doesnít imagine the day when he can subsist entirely off the proceeds from his writing? As for the possibility of this, well, living in Thailand anything is possible. It only costs $1.75 for a decent lunch and pint of rice whisky in my town.

BurnhillWolf released your novel in the winter of 2003. Tell us about having your first novel published. What is Steffiís Club about?

My primary reason for writing Steffiís Club was just to tell an engaging story, in this case, an expat story of romance, love, and revenge in the Czech Republic. In a small way, I also wanted to make a generational statement with regards to one that has been largely left undefined. That is, my own. Born on the cusp of the Baby Boomers and Gen Xrs, my generation came of age during the Reagan years, and in the book I refer to us as the Jaded Generation. Look closely and itís a jadedness that can be seen reflected in any Friends episode.

Obviously, you have written for Salon. In what other publications or venues has your work appeared?

Other than Salon, my work has also appeared in Exquisite Corpse, 3am Magazine, The Jack Jackman Project, Zuzuís Petals Quarterly, and Friction Magazine, among others. While living in the Czech Republic, I was also a senior contributing editor to the Prague based culture magazine THINK.

What other projects are you working on and what can we expect from you in the next year or so? Anything past Steffi?

Iím presently working on a follow up novel to Steffiís Club, the setting of which is Thailand. Itís tentatively titled The Moon is Not Square. I hope to have it finished by summer 2003. In addition, new, short creative non-fiction pieces are always in the pipeline.

What advice would you give to new writers or those trying to get published and gain some exposure?

The best advice for any writer is to read voraciously, especially the classics. Having said that, Iíd advise would-be writers is to go abroad for a few years. Itís pretty much the best way to rid oneself of the gray matter garbage accumulated through decades of living in the United States. Secondly, while you are abroad socialize with the locals instead of other expat writers. The only thing more wearying than listening to armchair philosophers at college campus coffeehouses is listening to wanna-be-Hemingways popping off equally cliched views on life, but with even greater pretension because theyíre sitting in a European cafť. As for exposure, donít forget that Walt Whitman peddled his works from door to door. But also remember that you are not Walt Whitman.



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Comments

The following comments are for "An Interview with D.A. Blyler"
by BurnhillWolf

Your interview
O.K. interview. You should post your "7 vices" article for all of us to read. When i get dsl, i'll be able to read it (i need to bribe my mom for internet time. I probably sound like a loser for living with my mom, but i am in high school. Getting back to the subject, i'll give my eval of it. And then my moral rebuttle :)

( Posted by: a.k.a. Gambit2 [Member] On: August 13, 2003 )





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