An Interview with Damian Trasler
Maker, Cosplayer, and Playwrite Damian Trasler and I had chat last week about plays and cosplay disasters. It wasn’t disastrous.
AW: Which author wasn’t your greatest inspiration, but did make you think, “Maybe I could be an author”?
DT: Harry Harrison. He wrote “The Stainless Steel Rat” series, which has a deceptively easy first person viewpoint which I badly wanted to emulate. Instead I emulated it very badly.
AW: Tell me about the first time you thought, “Wow. I’m a real author!”
DT: The first article I wrote and submitted was bought by a magazine. That was a big deal for me. Then the tenth or so short story was published and I was a fiction writer. Getting my plays published was awesome, but I’ve never had a book trad published, and that’s the key for me. I’m not an author, just a playwright and e-publisher.
AW: What’s the oddest part about your routine that you simply must do in order to sit down and write?
DT: For a long time, my snack of choice while working was Cheetos, but they’re hell on a keyboard, so I would use chopsticks to eat them. I also drink coffee from a pint mug while writing, and can go through an entire pot in less than a morning’s work.
AW: I’m giggling thinking about you eating Cheetos with chopsticks. What is your biggest writing obstacle?
DT: Time, and the value of time. For the last eight years or so, writing is a secondary income. It’s important, but not large. Because it’s not a big income, writing time is not a priority compared to housework, childcare, DIY, dogwalking, grocery shopping or literally ANYTHING else. Case in point: Three months ago I negotiated Monday and Tuesday evenings as my writing nights. Since then, I have had three actual writing nights. Three.
AW: How do you prefer to network, and what impact do you think those avenues have had on your sales?
DT: I love G+, though my time on it has shrunk drastically since my return to full-time work (9-5, that is). Twitter fares better for me, since I can check and tweet easier on my phone than I can check posts and post decent things on G+. But my ROI on Twitter is hard to discern, and I only have 650 followers after several years. Obviously, they’re QUALITY followers, but still… The last three months of play sales have been the best in the decade I’ve been with my publisher. I’d like to think that’s a reflection of my last six months’ publicity efforts on Twitter, but I can’t be sure.
AW: What is one mistake you’ve made in your publishing career that you’d like to warn other authors off of?
DT: I cold-called a publisher without sufficient preparation. I had just finished a novel and thought I could pitch, but when the resigned voice asked me about it, I was tongue-tied and gibbered nonsense at him. I may even have apologised and hung up. Some people say you shouldn’t rehearse your elevator pitch, so it’s fresh when you give it. I think these people are either more confident than I am, or they are twits.
AW: I shudder at the thought of stepping onto a stage to perform a play without practicing for it. And cold-pitching is no different! Is there any advice you’d like to give to a new writer?
DT: Don’t give up the day job. Seriously. If you are writing around your work, it’s because it’s what you want to write, what you have to write. If you’re grabbing those few precious minutes at the keyboard, you’re not likely to waste them on Facebook. Giving up work will add financial pressures, relationship pressures and there is no guarantee of return. When you’ve sold three books and you have a contract for another three that you can live on, fine. Until then, a paycheque is a wonderful thing.
AW: What are you currently reading?
DT: A horrible collection of non-fiction books, actually. Working in the library, I keep seeing the “New Books” list come in, and recently the ones that have caught my eye have been non-fiction – declutter your data, why we make bad decisions, How to be a social Media whore (no, really). I’m waiting on John Scalzi’s follow up to “Lock in”, “Head On”, and listening to the audio book of “Altered Carbon”.
AW: Have any super fans found you yet, and if so, what sort of things have they done that seem surreal to you!
DT: I don’t know about superfans, but I did get to meet Lisa Cohen when she travelled all the way to Vancouver to meet me. By complete coincidence, her husband came along and found a medical conference he wanted to attend in the city at the same time. Other than that, the nicest thing was a guy in Hong Kong wanting to produce one of my plays, and having to consult with him on the meaning of some of the British idioms I used so he could translate them accurately into Chinese. Apparently they don’t have a direct equivalent of “Under the thumb”.
AW: When people read your books, what do you want their greatest take-away to be?
DT: Smiles. No matter the subject of the book, no matter whether it’s one of my fiction or non-fiction, there’s laughs in there. It’s inevitable and it won’t stay away. I can’t take anything seriously (even the Zombie Apocalypse). So there’s always jokes, or humour of some sort. We always need more smiles.
I was born in the North East of England, but moved south when I was 7 and lost my accent. I married a woman in the RAF and we moved around a lot before coming out to Canada to raise our 3 kids. I don’t have a genre, I don’t have a style, I don’t have a plan, and I don’t have a clue, most of the time. I write plays for money and books as some kind of masochistic punishment.
You can find Damian:
Owner, Adriel Wiggins Author Services and Consulting
Hello! I’m Adriel Wiggins, wife, mother of three, bibliophile, art geek, and all around student. I’ve been on a quest all of my life to learn as much as I possibly can about everything I possibly can. This has helped me tremendously in what eventually became my life’s purpose: to help other people become the best version of themselves. It is in that line that I became an assistant.
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