Hello, friends! Today I have the pleasure of interviewing author David Harris Griffith. David is a man of many talents, being an author, photographer, and martial artist. David holds a bachelor’s degree in English, which includes a specialty in Creative Writing. Although he has studied the eclectic martial art known as Shao Lym Ryu and runs a school teaching it, he is not one to call himself a master. David believes that calling yourself a master implies that you have nothing left to learn, and learning is all a part of living (wise words).
Along with having worked as a professional photographer in the past, David has played as a bassist in several local bands throughout the years. David is also a passionate poker player, having even written a well received book on techniques for Texas Hold’em. Recently, David has taken an interest in the cigar box guitar movement, and has been building cigar box guitars. He loves transforming what some might perceive as “junk” into playable instruments, finding great joy in answering the question, “how can I put strings on that?”
If you’d like to check out David’s work, you can take a look at his social media and website here:
Alright! So to get to some questions for David:
1) So David, were there any particular books/events that inspired you to start writing?
I grew up reading. I had a book-a-day habit in high school.
2) What is your writing background?
As I said, I grew up reading. That started the process. Academically, after one year of studying engineering I decided I didn’t want to do calculus every day for the rest of my life so I switched my major to English. I have a BA in creative writing from the University of Kentucky. After graduation, I spent years writing for my own enjoyment.
3) What is your writing process? Is it a set process or more fluid? What inspires you?
I am a horribly undisciplined author with no set process. Everything inspires me. One of my photography teachers once told me that art is the byproduct of the artist trying to understand the world. Everything I see, do, or feel, comes out in my writing one way or another.
4) What advice do you have for new/aspiring writers?
The biggest advice is to keep at it. Everyone knows that we learn how to write by reading and writing, but the part that people don’t mention is that that isn’t enough by itself. In order to get better you have to pay attention to what does and doesn’t work. I read Stephen King’s fiction like I’m reading a textbook. (Which is really quite distracting sometimes.) To get better you have to be honest with yourself about the flaws in your own work.
5) Do you draw inspiration from pop culture (TV Shows, Video Games, Movies, etc), and if so, which ones?
On some level, I study every story I see, no matter what format it is in. If it’s told well enough that I don’t notice the storytelling right away I know that is golden storytelling and I go back and study the structure after I get over the story.
6) You’re trapped on an island, but are allowed to bring one person, one food item, and one object. What are your choices?
That’s tough. What sort of island? How am I trapped? A shipwreck on a tropical island is very different from hiding on an island in a Canadian lake because the bad guy(s) is(are) looking for me.
The item: either a fully charged satellite phone (here I am, send help) or a good knife. A knife is the most basic of tools, and everything else from a survival standpoint can be made with it. This really depends on the circumstances of being trapped. Is there anyone who would rescue me if they knew where I was? Am I trapped because people are hunting for me and it will end soon, one way or another?–If so a gun might be my first choice.
Food item: How much of it do I get to bring? A product like soylent is nasty, but would keep me alive indefinitely just about anywhere as long as there was enough of it. Would MREs count as one food item? A couple of pallets of those would go a long way. On the other hand, if I were limited to a quantity that would fit in a backpack, I’d go with some sort of treat or seasoning. Maybe booze.
Person: Again, it depends. Short term, pretty location, low danger sounds like a romantic getaway… but anything long term or indefinite? There is nobody I would subject to that. Short term, dangerous? I know some people, but I won’t name any of them. 😉
7) What drew you to your genres in general?
I write what I read. I grew up reading Science fiction and fantasy, and over the years have shifted more to crime fiction, thrillers and horror. I suppose that the common thread is that they are all fantastic. I live an everyday life, I want fiction that is more exciting. Another common theme is that I do not like being sad. Bad things happening is the nature of fiction, but if the thrust of a story is to invoke tears I want no part of it. I like laughter. I like excitement. I like good triumphing in the end.
8) What project have you enjoyed working on the most?
It’s probably The Whisper Garden. (check it out here) The book came together when a couple of story concepts I had started working together. Sometimes you have an idea, but it really isn’t a story in and of itself. Sometimes these ideas work well together.
In this case, one of the ideas was based on something that actually happened to me. It was late at night, and I kept hearing a TV in another room. I could hear voices–snippets of dialogue. When I looked in the other rooms, there was no TV on. I eventually figured out I was hearing the babbling of a small tabletop fountain in another room, and my brain was trying to make sense of that noise. That lead to the concept of a whisper garden–someplace you could go to hear voices by listening to a babbling fountain. While it was an interesting idea, it wasn’t a story.
Then while on vacation in New Orleans and I became fascinated with the street performers who make their living by pretending to be statues. That gave me a character, but still no story. It also gave me a setting: I love New Orleans, and it is the sort of place where a whisper garden could exist. Once I had all that rolling around together, all I needed was conflict. Enter the murderer, and the story wrote itself. I was just along for the ride, turning pages to see what happened.
9) What is the deciding factor on whether or not to pursue a project?
I start writing. If it keeps my interest I keep going with it. Partly this is because I am undisciplined and haphazard, but mostly because for me writing is like reading. I write to find out what happens. I know I’m writing well if I surprise myself, and I get bored if I know what is going to happen. So if a project holds my interest, I assume it will also hold the interest of a reader.
Thank you for the interview, David! I found it interesting to learn how David’s writing process in more “undisciplined”. I am very organized (at least I try to be), so this goes to show how there is no one way to write. Everyone just needs to find out what works for them! I also loved how David mentions reading the works of others, like Stephen King, as a textbook, where he can learn what works and doesn’t work. That’s a brilliant strategy that can teach a writer their own strengths and weaknesses.
I hope you all enjoyed learning about David as much as I did!