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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Indie Author Interview: Douglas Cole

Indie Author Interview with Douglas Cole - Author of the Drama/Crime/Literature Novel The White Field.

Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry, a novella called Ghost, and The White Field, a novel. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as many journals, such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Poetry International, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Louisiana Literature and Slipstream. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and Best of the Net and received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. He lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington.

Interview with Douglas Cole

Author Douglas Cole
Author Douglas Cole
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News):
What is your (writing) background?
Douglas Cole: Minimalist. I was told I might have dyslexia when I was a kid. That stuck with me, so I never thought I had the wiring for it. But it got a hook into me anyway…
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences? 
Alphabetically…I like the weird, coincidental-but-it’s-true nature of Paul Auster’s books, Borges, definitely, the writer dreaming god dreaming the writer. Braverman for her raw poetry. Bukowski for that voice and the humor…no time for metaphor! Carver because each story is several shots of whiskey. Delillo seemed to find his own code form of poetry. James Dickey, Joan Didion, Joy Harjo, Jim Harrison, James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, Jack London, Malcolm Lowry, Cormac McCarthy, Herman Melville, Octavio Paz, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, Sam Shepard, Hunter S. Thompson, Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, Edith Wharton, Nathaniel West, Elie Wiesel, Oscar Wilde…and I’m leaving out some that I can’t see from here right now…

"[...] writing was always going to be something I’d do for myself"
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
In early high school I had an inkling that writing was always going to be something I’d do for myself, as a means of meditation and prayer if nothing else.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do. I was a junior in high school. I wrote it for an English class. We had two student teachers from UC Berkeley: a young woman and a broken-down, Columbo type of guy, though I think he was pretty young, too. He got the flu that semester and one eye was swollen and red for a while. 
I wrote a story, and the editor of the newspaper’s girlfriend was in my class and gave him the story and he published it with the title “The Saddest Story You Ever Heard.” I didn’t give it that title. It was about hanging out with a kid in my neighborhood, and we’re riding bikes and make a jump out of bricks and plywood, and we’re carrying more bricks out to make the ramp higher and his brother throws a wrench at him. He was fairly hurt, but he was lucky that it only hit him in the hand. I guess it was a pretty good shot. Their mom, a big woman, grabs the brother and starts slamming his head into the wall. I left around that moment. That’s the story I wrote. It was just something that happened. I didn’t make it up.

"[...] a lot of ideas come when I walk."

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
Every day. I like the morning. Although that’s not the only time. I bring a small notepad when I walk because a lot of ideas come when I walk. Sometimes I’ll hold them all, instead, in my head. I make it a kind of exercise. A discipline. To hold the different ideas in my head and sometimes in a certain order, though they don’t always come back that way, and then write when I get home. It’s like I went hunting and came back with my shoulders loaded with these ideas and I drop them on the table and feel immense relief. And of course night has it’s own magic. Twilight and night. The veil seems to thin, or something. 
Please, describe your desk/workplace.
I’ve just started using one again after…a lot of years. I’ve mostly just used kitchen counters, couches. Nothing permanent. In fact I found myself making sure to keep cycling or circling away from a designated spot. It had to come with me where I had to go. Anything else felt like a luxury. And why is that bad? I had a beautiful desk once, just a piece of plywood on two file cabinets. Worked great. Now I’m using a little black Ikea desk, sometimes, mostly because I also teach and during the pandemic I set up a spot for teaching and found myself using it for writing, too. But still, I think of the kitchen. By the back door. It’s better when the door is open. Not much going on in the alleyway. It rains a lot here. I like that. 

"Writing with a pen on paper. It’s so free. Really, you can do anything."
What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
Writing with a pen on paper. It’s so free. Really, you can do anything. Throw things into a notebook. It’s like being a kid in school forever. And I like sifting through for gold, stuff that I might type. If it gets typed, it’s going to stick around a bit longer, but it’s still raw. There are no guarantees. But it’s still pretty easy. Still just fun. No judgment. The world is your oyster. The universe in a drop of ink. Then comes the slash and burn, ruthless as a conqueror. Soft hearted for your beauties. They make you weep. Forgetting time. Back stiffening up. The hard part is balance, a sort of Bushido of writing, physical strength that inter-circulates with mental vibrancy. But that’s not really even hard. I mean, like someone said, I never worked hard except on a poem. 
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Discovery, zoning out and in, watching it shrink like bacon sizzling in a pan, cutting it into diamond clarity. 

The White Field (Douglas Cole)
Click to Read an Excerpt

Douglas, please tell us a little about your Drama / Crime Novel The White Field.
It’s not really a crime novel. I mean, it is. But it isn’t. It’s a dream meditation on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. It’s an account of the Bardo. It’s a meta-thing like a Twilight Zone but morphed and jazzed-out, meaning it’s not a horror story, even though some bad things happen. But what would a character think, waking up in a book?

"[...] the plot made itself like a landing strip in the middle of nowhere."
What inspired you to write the book?
Escape! The need to escape. And the land. The edges of civilization, the outskirts of cities where workers wait for buses and bring their lunches in metal pails. Everyone as young as they are has a rough past. Then I backtracked and the plot made itself like a landing strip in the middle of nowhere. I hung my life on the props, brought my friends in for cameos.  
Who do you see as your target audience?
Um…lit kids in high school getting sparked by a strange story that looks like a familiar world but shifts and bends and isn’t quite stable but in a good way like on a roller coaster you get queasy and your heart jumps up into your throat. It’s a little dose of an alternate version as real as the version you think is real. And it’s an honest claim from the underclass that the story is not dead end only, not obscurity, scholars in sweat shops listening for a sympathetic vibration. The target audience…it seems like they’re a little bit in the future or way in the past, and yet everything is happening right now. 
What makes your book special?
I hope it has the unique stamp of my voice and style. I hope the way it sounds, the language, is on a high order but also like someone telling you their story simple and true. I’m exploring something in it, and I hope that what I am exploring rings a truth for others. 
How did you come to work with the publisher you did?
I had an agent circulating the manuscript, but then he sort of lost interest. Then I had another agent who was just starting to shop it around, but he took a job in a publishing house. He said he wanted to publish it, but it kept getting delayed, so I started querying independent presses and received a lot of positive interest and got to pick out of several offers. I published with Touchpoint because they looked like a solid press with diverse writers and genres. 

"Read…a lot. Write. Just write."
Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Read…a lot. Write. Just write. Live your life and report ye well and true. Have fun. 
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I have several irons in the fire. Nothing to report, yet. Well…a children’s book I’m working on with a cool artist…I can admit that one. 
Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I don’t see the come-back of the blockbuster bookstore. But books themselves are a beautiful artform with the distinct strength of being accessible without technology, really, beyond printing them. So, when the smoke clears and people come crawling out of their shelters, books will still be around, just don’t drop your glasses!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
If I e-read I use a cellphone.

"[...] I’m always learning as a writer"
Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I also teach, and I know some writers feel teaching takes away from time to write, which can be true if you have to moonlight to make up or the low wages of most teaching gigs, but I find teaching a perfect complement to writing. And I’m always learning as a writer, so teaching keeps me honest.
How can readers connect with you?
I have a website: https://douglastcole.com/ and Facebook 

Thank you very much for the Interview, Douglas.

About the Book The White Field 

The White Field (Douglas Cole)
Click to Read an Excerpt
The White Field is a fast-paced journey of a man, Tom, fresh out of prison and trying desperately to rebuild his life. But he is caught by mysterious, unseen forces beyond his knowledge or control.

After his release from prison, he is dropped back into the world in the wastelands of the city. In the menial work afforded the underclass, he begins his new life among characters at the edges of society, dwellers of the netherworld such as Raphael, a former cop from Mexicali singing Spanish arias in the mists of the industrial night among drug addicts and crooked cops; Tony, a stoner scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of history based solely on the intricate study of rock and roll; and Larry, the bloated, abusive manager trapped as much as his workers in a world of tedium and repetition and machines. 

Think, The Three Stooges on acid. Unable to reconnect with what’s left of his family, Tom embarks on a criminal path more harrowing than the one that led him to prison in the first place. Lured in by the nefarious, Thane, he slips into a plan that will leave him with no way back. And with no place left in this world to go but prison, he makes one last run for freedom. 

Will he escape?

Links to the Book

Link to the Audiobook The White Field on Amazon

Link to the Paperback The White Field on Amazon

Link to the eBook The White Field on Amazon

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