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 sometimes the story flows, the characters are all saying the right things, some 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.

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 the novel, 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 the novel, 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 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 lets the story tell itself.

 What’s the story behind your latest book?

After Sometime Tomorrow and Let’s be Frank, I decided to turn this into a trilogy. I liked my characters, Tess, Ramon, Jordan, Malcolm, the mysterious Angel, and now Frank with his newfound connection with another highly intelligent life form. How could I not? Time travel is always interesting and both ends of this story take place under the dome, but with more than more than a hundred and fifty years separating them. Uplanders, coming soon.

 How do you approach cover design?

You Gotta Have Wings needed to suggest escape, therefore a car and wings. Sometime Tomorrow needed to show the annihilation of matter. On Standby is a dark story, simple and suggestive of personal struggles. The Other World, a place where anything can happen. Borrowing Time, time is limited. East Side, just playing around. A fun cover. Let’s be Frank, quick-sketch the condo and compose Aria out of stars.

 What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

I don’t market my stories at all anymore. I’ve discovered that I can spend a lot of time sending out query letters, searching for ways to get readers, developing relationships, or I can write. It’s my hope that if you take the time to read them, I can deliver a story that you will remember. So, I’d guess that you can say my marketing technique is word of mouth.