Well, I'm Dyrk Ashton, brand spankin' new author of a brand spankin' new book, Paternus. The book's so new, in fact, it only came out in May 2016.
I grew up in the midwest (Ohio, to be specific), have a PhD in Film Studies, lived in Hollywood for a while and did some acting there. Back in Ohio now and following a lifelong dream of writing. And it's working. Which is really weird. And cool.
I write in the fantasy genre. Paternus is probably best described as Contemporary Mythic Fantasy - takes place today, in this world, but with gods and monsters of myth - though in the book our heroes find out there's nothing "mythical' about them.
Do you have another job or are you a full time author?
I teach film classes, undergrad and masters level, all online. That's my 'day job.' I do like it quite a bit, and it affords me the time to actually read the kinds of books I like (fantasy and scif-fi mostly), and best of all, to write. I was full time faculty for quite a few years and had absolutely no time to look at or write anything that wasn't exceptionally 'scholarly' or 'academic' (which I like, but man it's nice to have time for some variety).
When did you start writing?
I've been writing short stories for as long as I can remember, on and off. When I was in 1st grade I wrote (in crayon) and illustrated (in crayon) a kid's book called The Human Zoo. Very strange and kind of dark. No it never got published, only the family ever saw it, just a kids fun project. I attempted a novel in high school, sci-fi stuff, but never finished. I began writing screenplays in college and wrote them throughout my time in Los Angeles. I began Paternus about 3 and a half years ago, been writing a few hours every day since then. Sounds slow, I know, but several revisions and hundreds of pages of notes and research. Yeah, I'm like that. Maybe not the best writing method, but it's what I do. (I bet I'm not the only one secretly wanting to see the crayon tale, it sounds oddly compelling)
What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
Puppies. Funny self-deprecating tweets from authors I follow and respect on Twitter. Coffee. And puppies.
Funny you should mention puppies, have a gratuitous photo of my new one!
Do you have any pets?
You know I don't anymore, but I used to have two ferrets who harassed me all the way through the writing of my dissertation (on the The Lord of the Rings films and French philosopher Gilles Deleuze). I let them out for awhile every day. They liked to knock over the trash can and play with the loudest plastic and paper. And those suckers could climb. Mostly me.
Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
Boy that's a tough one, there are so many. If I had to pick, I'd say Roger Zelazny, but it hurts to do so because I also love Tolkein, G.R.R. Martin, the list really goes on and on. I think every author I've ever read influences me, if I love them or don't like their work at all - I see what I'd like to accomplish, as well as what I definitely DON'T want to do. My writing, I believe, has pieces of dozens of authors in it - style, subject matter, beats, pauses, dramatic action and situations - but I hope I've brought my own voice and ideas to it. I actually began writing Paternus for myself alone, because I wanted to read something like it and couldn't quite find anything similar enough, and for grown-ups. Enough folks liked it that about halfway through the process I decided to go ahead and try out this self-publishing thing. It's still the book I wanted to write, for me to read, but maybe other people will like it as well. I can't be the only weirdo who wants to read stuff like this. Or maybe I can, we shall see...
Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I recently finished the Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown. Right now I'm in the first quarter of M.R. Carey's Fellside. And LOVE it.
Where do you do most of your writing?
I do write at home, but I'd bet that 75% to 80% happens at local coffee shops (they've learned to put up with me). Since my work is all online I do that in the morning at home, then in the afternoons it's nice to go somewhere else to write. Also something about the noise and bustle actually helps me focus. And I like coffee. Did I say I like coffee?
Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
Oh, cool question! And difficult in my case because speaking of the neatest stuff about the characters is a bit of a spoiler. Well, maybe not... I never thought he would be, but I just recently realized that one of the most difficult characters to write, and the one I had the hardest time formulating throughout, might actually be my favorite character now. And he's important, but he's not the main character (though he does appear pretty much throughout the novel). He's the main character, Fi's, Uncle Edgar. Fi is an orphan and lives in the US in a midwestern city with her old uncle from England. He's somewhere between 60 and 70 in appearance (he'll never tell). He seems to know a little something about everything, and kind of drives Fi crazy with his odd facts and stoic ways. And he has a dusty sword and shield hanging over the fireplace of their hulking (and a bit decrepit) three story Edwardian home that he says have been in the family for centuries... There that's about all I can tell for now ;)
What is your favourite biscuit?
Being here over the pond in the colonies, I'm assuming you're talking about cookies (though Edgar does indeed call them biscuits in the book). Gooey chocolate chip, without a doubt!
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee. Cream and sugar. Though sometimes in the evenings I will have tea with honey.
In the film of your life who would play you?
Ummm... Michael Berryman. No he's too tall... Mike Cudlitz (Abraham Ford from The Walking Dead) because he's a tough guy and has hair. No... I think Brad Pitt with a shaved head. Because in spite of what a lot of people might think, and indeed what I used to think, he CAN act. And he's of course ridiculously good looking and this is a movie, so why not, right?
If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)
Oh I like your choice. Let's see... It would have to be celery and a praying mantis. Because it would be really creepy and cool looking but you could just snap off a leg and swipe it through peanut butter.hahaha
Dyrk's first Novel Paternus, contemporary mythic fantasy, was unleashed on May 1st, 2016. Find it on Amazon here.
Check out Dyrk's website: www.paternusbooks.com
And his Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/
If you are a Reddit fan, find Dyrk hanging out there - Reddit Fantasy, where he did an author's AMA in early March : https://www.reddit.com/r/fantasy
Facebook, Paternus Books Media
Big thanks to Dyrk for answering my often ridiculous questions and for some great answers! (especially the puppy one)
see you next week Wordy Wednesday fans.