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Meow, our guest today is another KNTR anthology author, Dan Fiorella!
Dan Fiorella lives in New York. Downtown New York. Very downtown New York. Okay, he lives in Staten Island. He’s written for the "Prairie Home Companion" radio show, MAD magazine, All-Star Radio, “The Start of Something Big” with Steve Allen and the “Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes 2” video game. Dan was Dear Dottie for the Weekly World News and Traveling Editor for Cracked magazine. He has a lovely wife and three wonderful daughters who read these things. He posts on this website at www.danFiorella.com and enjoys writing about himself in the third person.
R: Meow, welcome Dan! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
I was a child of TV, old movies and comedy. I loved sketch comedy; Carol Burnett, Abbott & Costello, the Little Rascals, Laurel & Hardy, Bugs Bunny, Laugh-In. TV just exposed me do all these great, silly things. I would write sketches for grade school projects and student assemblies. They were awful, just blatant rip-offs of “Who’s on First” or Bob Newhart routines. Once for a school oratory contest, instead of memorizing “Casey at the Bat” or “The Raven,” I did Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert routine from “Wonderfulness.” I would write sketches or draw comics just to do it. I had this itch and it was the only way to scratch it.
R: How did you hear about Kids Need to Read?
That would be via our beloved editor, Christiana Miller. Her career path crossed Nathan Fillion’s at some point and she became aware of his charity work. She decided that, if we were going to do this thing, they should be the recipient.
R: Tell us about your story in the KNTR anthology, LOVE AND OTHE DISTRACTIONS. What was the inspiration?
Well, I had published my book, LOST CLAUS, on Amazon and was debating what to do next. I’m a member of an internet BBS, Writer’s Action, and we were discussing ebooks and such (which is what inspired me to attempt it in the first place) and the idea of an anthology was first suggested. It seemed like a nice idea but it didn’t seem to concern me. Then they decided that there should be a theme and it would be (at the time) Valentine’s Day. So they were kicking around title ideas. I tossed out “Cupid is as Cupid Does” (wacky, right?) but that all set something to simmering. CLAUS was about a crime noir detective solving a Christmas mystery. Why couldn’t he solve a Valentine’s Day mystery? Some ideas fell into place and next thing I knew, I was writing a short story. So I withdrew my title suggestion from consideration and grabbed it back for myself. My other suggestion, “Valentine’s Day Reservations” was not used. L
R: Tell us about your comedy mystery novel, LOST CLAUS. What inspired that.
The classic Christmas movies and TV specials. Also, a fondness for those “fish-out-of-water” type comedies. Somehow, the idea of Santa going missing came up, and I liked the idea of a Santa story but without Santa. Along came the thought of an outsider, someone way out of his element. Someone needed to find Santa. And I had watched enough Bogart and “Maltese Falcon” to recognize who that someone should be. Thus was born the hard-boiled PI, Nick Flebber, down on his luck and willing to take any case. And this is what falls in his lap. And they paid up-front in cash. Anyway, that was a screenplay. It actually got optioned by Warner Bros. but then that all fell apart. It sat in my drawer for await, then figured it might make a cute prose story and things kinda went from there.
R: which do you find more challenging as an author, screenplays or novels and why?
Novels, far and away. You ever try to do a sight gag in a novel? Or a spit take?
R: What writers would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
It’s an eclectic mix. And my writing would always change and mimic who I last discovered. But, again, Abbott & Costello (and their writer John Grant) for word play. Wood Allen. Monty Python. Oh, and Joseph Heller and “Catch-22.” It was assigned reading in high school and it just opened my mind to the fact that “literature” could be wacky and funny and absurd. I mimicked the style in the book report I had to write for it and the concept that school work could be funny was amazing for me.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
The Staten Island Ferry. I’ve done so much of my writing on the commute to and from work. Some paper, a pencil and a clear 30 minute trip before me to simply zone out and scribble away.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Well, my family would say “trying to be a writer.” I’m a very low-key person, bordering on shut-in. But a while back there was a comedy club contest for the “Funniest New Yorker” and I signed up for that and performed stand-up comedy. What was I thinking? From that I learned that I’m more comfortable behind a keyboard than a mike.
R: What is your next project?
Well, because I enjoyed writing “Cupid” so much, I pulled out an old story of mine and novelized it into another Nick Flebber story, SPACE CASE. Spoiler alert: no holidays are involved! I considered CLAUS a one-and-done, but the short story was so much fun, I thought I’d have another go. Besides, I’ve learned that any decent ebook author has to have a series going, so I’m hoping to do a couple more as part of my new “The Nick Files” series (~Plug~). But I’ve got so many stories sitting on my hard drive and all this independent publishing is a real delight in that they might finally see the light of day.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser, all the way. I’m a horrible outliner. It always feels like writing the book report for a book that doesn’t exist yet. I need a premise, the characters, some set pieces and an ending. I really can’t start going without knowing where I’m headed. I might end up taking the scenic route there, but I need that target destination.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
In lieu of party tricks and hobbies, I have a family. Wife and three girls, now grown. Along with a job, that eats up a lot of time. Also, the dog. I’m still a TV-holic, but even now I find myself watching classic movies over newer fare.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Oh, I’m going to get all linky on you now! There’s my website, www.danfiorella.com, which leads to my blog and my Nick Files site. I’m over on the Facebook and have an author site as well. And I got one of them there Amazon Author pages. Sometimes I’m on the subway, shouting.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
They always say “write what you know” but it’s more like “write what you like.” There’s no way to predict the market, no way to chase a trend. Write what you would want to read . There’s no guarantees that it’ll sell anyway, so it might as well be something you enjoy and enjoyed doing. And if it does sell, well, better to be stuck continuing on something you wanted to do than have to deal with something you just churned out. Hey, that’s pretty good, I should write that down.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? .
Day…especially around naptime.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)
Dog. Or very canine cats.
Beach or Pool?
Steak or salad?
Favorite TV Series?
Saturday Night Live.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?
Hawaii or Alaska?
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be __David Letterman__
If I had just one wish, it would be__to see that my family is provided for__
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be ___me in the alternate universe where I’m fabulously successful. Failing that, Mark Evanier._