A while ago, I had posted about starting a series of author interviews.
You will read about your beloved writers in two or three installments depending on the time and pain they have taken to withstand my wordy grill.
Today’s spotlight is on Dyrk Ashton, the author of Paternus.
Most of you have already read or heard about his superb creation, a fantasy novel set in urban/contemporary society but boasts of a base so rich and diverse in mythology that it’s often compared to American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I have read Paternus and strongly believe that the similarity between the two books ends there. The characterization, theme, writing style, every other aspect is completely different and Paternus deserves your attention on its own merit.
An adorable man, a fun and supportive friend, and a terrific author, Dyrk Ashton has delved into a range of professions as diverse as the races and lore in his book. A little giggly gossip says that he was in the film industry and having too much fun in LA before he answered his call and started writing about creation business. Oh, he also pursued a Ph.D. in Film Studies but that was before he brought the Gods down to us, mere mortals.
Dyrk has decided to buy some pretty dresses for his Firstborn and here’s how his Paternus looks in its new avatar.
Men and women, gentle or not, without further ado, I present before you, Dyrk Ashton.
Hi, Anindita! Thank you for having me.
[Believe me, the pleasure’s all mine.]
First things first, how do you pronounce your name?
Dyrk as in dirt, or jerk. Telling, isn’t it?
Do you miss your Firstborn’s old clothes? How’s the fresh brand working for ya?
Ha! You’re referring to the new cover 🙂 I loved the old one, but enough people told me it was too YA that it finally got through my thick skull. I think the new one represents the type and style of the story much, much better, and I absolutely love it.
How did you conceive the idea of Paternus?
I’ve always been fascinated by mythologies from around the world, and I had various and sundry disparate but thematically related ideas lying around for years with no time to do anything with them. When I finally found the time, I started bringing those old obsessions and ideas together, using my knowledge and love of long-form narrative television and film and good old fashioned fantasy to bring it to life.
How did you perform the extensive research needed for your book? Many lesser known mythologies…how did you handle the big data?
I have hundreds of pages of notes, as well as spreadsheets and databases full of information. I begin my research on the internet, then follow link after link down the thousands of rabbit holes to find what I want. Many of my ideas spawn from the research itself, finding something new and drawing connections. I also call on friends who have various forms of expertise, and I even go to the library — crazy, I know — but being in academia, I can find much of what I need through private databases, then go right to it on the shelves.
[I don’t think it’s crazy. Love libraries, don’t have enough here.]
Who should read Paternus? Why?
I’ve found that all kind of readers like it, older and younger, avid readers and not, fantasy fans and non-fantasy fans, but there have also been folks I was pretty sure would like it who didn’t. You just don’t know, so that’s a hard question to answer. I’d say if you’re interested in mythology and if you like contemporary/urban fantasy (or at least don’t hate it), and dig some crazy action and humor, this might be for you.
What are you working on now?
Paternus is the first in a trilogy. Instead of just writing the second book, though, I’m working on both two and three at the same time. There’s a lot going on in the story, and I feel I can do it better justice if I iron out most of the details in the entire story before completing Book 2.
How will it be different for the readers of Paternus?
It’s the same story, but even more amped up and pretty crazy. We’ll learn more about the characters, introduce a few more, answer questions left up in the air in the last one. I’m having fun with it, I hope readers will too.
[Ooo mama! Can’t wait.]
How did you feel when you completed the first draft of Paternus? It’s such a vast book with a huge amount of characters chosen from mythologies and lore of almost all over the world that I want to know how it impacted you. Were you satisfied or did you jump into corrections and alterations right then?
Paternus was a huge undertaking for me. It took nearly 4 years to write. A lot of that was research and outlining and re-outlining and more research, but this was also my first book. There were actually a few “first drafts,” some very different from earlier ones. The very first one, though, yeah. When I first printed the whole thing out for a read through and held it in my hand, that was a really strange and wonderful feeling. For better or worse, I could say, “I made this.”
Which was the hardest scene to write in Paternus?
Definitely the hospital scene. Handling all the multiple characters in different locations, many also viewed through three different sets of security monitors. That was a spreadsheet scene for sure.
What is the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Being the sequel, it’s keeping track of all the things I know I have to address and continue to keep in mind, from the first book.
How did you choose the artist and the new cover? Would you like to share the process with your aspiring self-publishing friends?
I’d been considering rebranding with a new cover for awhile. The artist for the first cover I found through placing an announcement on DeviantArt. Amazingly talented artists there, and most extremely affordable. For the new cover, though, I saw the artwork for Michael R. Fletcher’s Ghosts of Tomorrow and asked him who he used. He gave me John Anthony Di Giovanni’s contact info and it went from there. Amazing artist, and even better, he read Paternus and loved it, which helped a lot and is a rare and wonderful thing.
What would you like readers to look for or notice in your book(s)?
I think maybe the humor. Not just the funny bits, though I think there are a few. The whole story is told a bit tongue-in-cheek.
Was there anything, in particular, you were trying to accomplish with this book, as far as style, perspective, narrative approach?
I don’t know if it’s a reader’s phase I’m going through, but I’ve begun to feel hemmed in by the super-tight third person POV that most fantasy is written in today. I also find most first person frustrating, requiring cheats and conceits that bother me. Again, I think this is just a phase. And I say that knowing very well I’ve read books like those recently that I loved. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to write a book I wanted to read, and that included regarding story as well as style and perspective. I want to read something different. I like the new and even experimental. So I chose a looser POV, third omniscient, free-indirect at times. I also have enjoyed present tense stories I’ve read in the last few years, and there isn’t much of that at all available in adult fantasy. So I did that too. I also wanted to try a kind of urban fantasy we don’t often see in adult fantasy. There’s a reason writers don’t do those things, though. They aren’t standard, they aren’t what people expect, and there are plenty of readers who just plain don’t like them. That’s okay with me, though. I like it, so I have no regrets. And, thankfully, there are readers who also like the (clearly crazy) choices I’ve made.
How would you describe the theme of your book, Paternus?
Ultimately, I’d have to say it’s about family, myth-making, and storytelling. But also human perception and memory, I believe. Steven Kelliher, author of The Valley of Embers and The Emerald Blade, wrote something I think made a strong statement about this, in better words than I could, “Paternus is a story about stories, the truths, and lies that nest in the heart of them, and the consequences they leave behind when they die.”
What would you most like readers to take away from the experience of reading your books?
Hmm. I hope they feel like they’ve experienced something big, and almost real. Like walking out of a movie theater, perhaps. I like to learn a little something from books. Not so much philosophy, though maybe a little, but about places, history, science, little things like that. Those are things we don’t get in epic fantasy. Hopefully, readers feel that way. Mostly, though, I hope they had fun.
[It’s big. It’s huge. In fact, The new cover justifies the magnanimity of Dyrk’s work. I believe a re-read is in order. If you want to check my review of Paternus, go here. Dyrk was the first ever author to offer me an interview after I threatened to torture him for information. He is still a terrifyingly fun and adorable. Try his book and you will know exactly how much. Go meet him in his usual haunts. He always responds.]
Today’s interview ends here. Tomorrow, we will be back with some more questions on marketing, personal scoop, and pants…
Oh, before you vanish, Dyrk, how can readers discover more about you and you work?
The most about me and my writing are on my Paternus Books Media website. It also includes links to bloggers reviews of Paternus, as well as, I think, all the other interviews, including podcasts, I’ve done to date.