Q&A with Dave M. Strom
Please welcome Dave M. Strom to our Featured Q&A series at Writer’s Fun Zone.
If you’d like to be considered for an interview, check out our guidelines here.
ABOUT DAVE M. STROM
I, Dave M. Strom, am a technical writer, comic book geek, and budding novelist and short story writer. So far, I specialize in bringing to life Holly Hansson, the Super(wo)man who’d rather be Clark Kent. She’s a writer also.
Why the “M” in my name here? I am thinking of the old Superboy foe, Dev-Em, the juvenile delinquent from Krypton. I love that goofy old line, “Dev-Em! My super-memory recalls you!” Dave M. sounds Kryptonian, and that amuses me. Even though I don’t have superpowers.
My super stories are action adventure comedies with as little grit as possible.
On to our interview!
1. Tell us who you are and what inspires you to write in 100 words or less.
I am a technical writer and a comic book geek. I have always enjoyed writing. I wrote funny letters to the San Jose Mercury News, and got a free dinner out of that. I wrote a column in a comic book magazine, which helped pay for my weekly comic book fix. But after the book The DaVinci Code came out, I had to write a satire (I like to make other people laugh). However, other people wrote better satires. Then my superheroine Holly started punching the bad guys, and I have been writing about her ever since.
2. How did you get to this place in your life? Share your story!
Raised in the California central valley to the smell of cows and silage. College in Chicago (math), then in San Luis Obispo (computer science), then became a programmer in Silicon Valley, then a technical writer.
I have written most of my life. I loved writing vocabulary stories in high school. I wrote to newspapers. I wrote a column. Now I write about a superheroine. I found my niche. Or Holly found it for me.
I made a political journey from conservative to liberal, which means that I know how both sides think. That also make me Rush Limbaugh’s worst nightmare.
3. What are you most passionate about?
HA! I like to make people laugh. (The world has enough sadness already, why would I want to write more of that?)
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY. Ever since I was a kid, I was irked when the female character cringed and cowered when the villain is beating up the hero and a baseball bat is a couple inches from her hand. I write stronger women. It is funnier when a woman K.O.s the bad guy.
SUPERHEROES. I am a comic book geek. Always have been, always will be. So after years of working on my novel, I created an entire universe for them to live in. Yes, I am GOD in there! MOO HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Of course, if I get out of line, Holly will punch me.
PERFORMING. I discovered open mics. I love reading my work in front of a crowd. Except when a reading goes flat.
WHEN I GOT SOMETHING. Mike Royko, the best newspaper columnist ever, once said that he did not do many interviews because “I’ve got a column. When I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it in the column.” When I got issues, jokes, and scenes I’d like to see, I put them in my stories.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, routine, and/or rituals around your writing?
1. I get the idea. A situation, a joke, a topic, for my superheroine or a friend of hers.
2. I decide who is the point of view character: who will be the reader’s eyes and ears? Also, who is the hero(ine), who is the sidekick (if any), and who is the villain(ess)?
3. I outline a story around the idea. And I find that the better the outline, the easier it is to write the story. Iron out plot points and squash bugs here, that will save a lot of rewrites later.
4. I write a first draft. No editing, just push it out from start to finish.
5. Then I write drafts that other people can read. Good descriptions. Feel, see, hear, smell, and think like the POV character.
6. I find a great first line, and a great last line.
7. I show the story to others and put in their feedback.
8. I perform parts of the story at open mics. It sometimes helps, mostly it is fun because I like to perform.
9. I try to find an editor. They help a lot. For a short story. She had lots of comments. I rewrote lots.
5. What are a few challenges you faced in creating, marketing, or publishing your creative work? And your solutions to them.
I spent years trying to write my novel. After all that time, I realize I was learning how to write. I switched to short stories to sharpen my writing. Such as:
Point of view. See feel hear smell and think through one character per scene. I was writing action and spoken dialog. But the POV internal dialog/thoughts are what pulls readers in.
Description. My barber read an early chapter in my novel Holly fighting four super villains at once like Rooster Cogburn (she will now be fighting about 100 super soldiers), and the first thing he asked was, “Dave, what does she look like?”
Three act story structure. I was up to 80 chapters. TOO LONG! I wrote chapters that would not fit into the novel. Then I discovered a book called Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It is about writing screenplays, but it has a chapter about 15 steps for the standard three act story structure. It helped my get my novel back under control. I am down to less than 40 chapters.
Publishing? I have stories in a couple anthologies. I’ll cross the bridge of publishing under my own name soon.
6. What do you wish you had known before you started writing fiction?
I wish I had known that self-publishing would take off like it has. More hope to earn a little $$$.
Close third person point of view is an excellent way to slip readers into the skin of your characters.
Other writers provide great feedback. I love critique groups. Editors are even better, but you will pay a little $$$ for them.
Do not just write action, that leads to stories that feel like screenplays or outlines. I need the internal mental dialog so the reader knows who is the POV character. Oh, and that dialog needs to be in the voice of that character, that is what makes a story fun, becoming someone else for a while.
It’ll never be perfect. I have to know when to stop.
Women writers are wonderful people to critique stories about a superheroine.
Deadlines are the best motivators.
Ideas are a dime a dozen.
If some other writer makes another superheroine popular, that makes my stories more likely to sell.
Side characters in the novel can carry a story. Just ask Kittygirl.
Outlines save a lot of rewrites.
7. What’s next for you in your creative work?
I will follow my superheroine Holly and her friends through their lives.To do that, I will:
1: Finish my novel! It has been a LONG road, a road called Learning How To Write Road.
2: Write short stories. They are coming quicker now, and they are fun. A book is a movie. A short story is a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
3: Do more novels after I finish the first one. I have the ideas. I need to write the outlines. And then do the writing.
4: Blog more. I like writing my little essays about superheroes, cartoons, movies, and even writing. And I like when I post and I get a couple more followers. I am up to 133. Yes, my minions, follow me, your MASTER! MOO HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
5: Build a cohesive social platform. That means whipping my Facebook, Google+, and maybe even Twitter into shape.
6: If my stories get traction once they are on Kindle, I will consider hiring an artist to do a graphic novel. Likely through Kickstarter. Good artists are not cheap.
8. Is there anything else you wished I’d asked? Please share!
I think you covered it. However, the link I am posting for my book is actually for an anthology under someone else’s name. My novel is not finished yet.
Fanboys Shrugged. Graphic novel writer, geek girl, and Batman fangirl Holly Hansson get super-strength and a super bosom, and discovers she is the Super Grail: the woman who will channel superpowers into the world. Where: the Comic Convent. To whom: fanboys/fangirls, for they know that with superpowers comes the responsibility to do good with them. And then she can get back to writing. If only fanboys would stop ogling her chest. Or if a deadly supervillain and supervillainess were not lurking behind the scenes, ready to take over the Comic Convent, Hollywood, and the world. In that order.
To connect with Dave M. Strom
Site Link: https://davemstrom.wordpress.com