Perhaps he’s not a good musician, but getting H David Blalock to toot his own horn is often next to impossible. (I was going to do some sort of metaphore/simile there, but I thought I’d spare you thoughts of “pulling teeth from an amoeba” as a comparison.) In his many years as a published author, HDB has dozens of short stories and poems to his credit, and several novels. One of which was turned into a short film. He’s a Darrell Award winner, and has been nominated for several others. This is H David Blalock.
Who are you? Tell us (briefly) about you and a bit about what you’ve written and what you’re working on right now.
I am a writer of speculative fiction and editor of parABnormal Digest. I go by the moniker of H. David Blalock, but in essence I am more a part of my work than vice versa. Over the years I have written novels, novellas, short stories, poems, articles, commentary, and reviews. Currently I am involved in writing two novels and several short stories for different anthologies.
What are your earliest book-related memories?
My earliest is reading The Red Planet by Robert Heinlein at the age of about 12. I had read books before, I’m sure, but Heinlein’s work first touched that place that eventually would lead to me to pursue a writing career. I was caught up in the adventure and simplicity of the story.
What are your three favorite books?
That is impossible to answer. I can give you the titles that immediately come to mind when the question is asked, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I like them more than any other. I prefer speculative fiction, but literary and mainstream works still hold special places in my bookshelves.
How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I typically read from three to five books at a time. Currently, I am fighting deadlines so I have little time for reading. Before the pressure built, I was involved in re-reading Good Omens, reading American History: A Survey (a textbook), The Gods of Eden by William Bramley, and The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce.
Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
usually fall asleep. The inference of “curling up” indicates I’m set to take a nap (which I find myself doing more often nowadays).
To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Re-read. I often find myself re-reading a book I enjoyed before and finding more in it to enjoy.
How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Depends on who recommends it. Usually I accept recommendations and try to get to the book as soon as I can thereafter, but that’s not always possible.
How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Not very likely. I don’t assume that anyone else shares my tastes. If I ever do recommend a book, it is usually when I am asked, and then I always issue the caveat that it’s just my opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions.
What do you look for in a good book?
Substance. Good writing touches the reader at some basic level. I believe that, if the book doesn’t challenge or touch me emotionally, it’s not good literature.
Why do you write?
Because I have to. I have stories to tell, opinions to express, and too small an audience around me. I’m not looking for fame and fortune. I’m looking to do what our educational system no longer does: make people think.
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Frustrated. I might become an artist (I have a modicum of basic talent) or musician. I would need an outlet that wouldn’t land me in jail or an asylum.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Personal observation of people, events, and beliefs. I am an avid fan of ancient history and military studies. I draw from personal experience in building characters (what writer doesn’t?) and try to accentuate the differences to create identities for each. Tritely spoken, life is the greatest inspiration.
What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I need to listen more closely to others, observe life more closely, and spend more time in meditation of the importance of the individual. We are each of us alone inside our shell, the center of our own universe, and the real need we have to break through that barrier is what drives our lives, makes us seek out relationships with others, and defines us personally. I have learned how to more effectively communicate and better understand others.
How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They all think it amusing. I am viewed as the eccentric of the family, the odd duck who is to be tolerated because of his interesting but relatively useless career. After all, how many people actually make a living as a writer of tall tales?
Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
We’re not all alcoholics. Just most of us (smile). We aren’t all introverts. Just most of us. We aren’t all shut-ins or sociopaths or even highly intelligent. We’re just folks. More’s the pity.
What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Getting up the courage to submit for publication. Everyone has a novel or poem in them, but few people ever consider trying to get their work published. For those few who actually finish something and get it down on paper (or in a word file), the real problem becomes “Do I really want other people to see this?”
Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Trying to write what I don’t know. Early on, I discovered that there were things I needed to learn more about before writing about them. It was a hard lesson emotionally and led to many rejection letters. I have since come to esteem research and observation much more highly.
Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I would love to work on a full length motion picture. Preferably based on one of my own works, of course. I love movies and am fascinated with how the story becomes real through that medium.
How do you deal with your fan base?
I am unaware I have one. If there are those out there who enjoy my work, I am delighted.
Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
Anything. As I said, if I have fans it is a surprise to me.
You’re one of the brains behind Imagicopter. Tell us about it.
Certainly. Imagicopter is an author and artist network whose purpose is to promote their own and each others’ work. This is done by sharing information about the participants at the Imagicopter website, through announcements in press releases, and helping participants become involved in local conventions, events, and book signings. It began in 2009 with only half a dozen participants. Today there are 97 participants in 17 states, with hubs in Memphis, Jackson (MS), and soon in St. Louis. Because no one has deep pockets, the idea behind Imagicopter is to help the participants find or generate events inside a reasonable distance from their homes. This cuts down on expenses. To add to the exposure, wherever Imagicopter events are held we try to promote those who cannot attend by distributing bookmarks, business cards, and other promotional material.
Anything else we should know?
I appreciate the chance to connect with your audience.
To all the readers out there, don’t neglect the talent you can find in small press and independent publications. There is a huge pool of magnificent talent out there ignored by the mass marketers because they are not well known. You will encounter the full range of expertise, from rank amateur to polished professional, but you will not be bored.
To the writers and the aspiring writers, keep writing and submitting. We need to keep literacy high, because it is through the written word that civilization retains memory of its greatest achievements and most horrendous mistakes.