Author of “Countdown” (Hard Science Fiction)
What keeps you going when the writing gets hard? What brings you joy?
What keeps me going is the next sentence, the next scene, the next idea. If I’m not feeling it with one story idea, I’m pretty good about letting it go and trying something else. I’m not a professional writer, so I never have to spend time on writing that doesn’t interest me, but also I have very little time for writing so I want to make it count.
Hanging out with my wife and daughters brings me joy.
What are you working on right now? And which of your stories would you recommend to someone new to your work?
To be frank, I’m currently in a dormant period due to a family matter that’s making it impossible for me to write. I don’t know how long it will last. That said, I am kicking around an idea about a builder of robots with unpredictable personalities, which would be an exploration of my experiences as a father.
I tend to jump around in style and genre, so these three very different, relatively short stories would be a good introduction:
“Orientation,” a comic science fiction story
“Bartleby’s Preference,” a dreamy story that is the closest I have come to writing about my day job as a computer programmer
“Everything in Between,” a comedy/horror story I wrote for a contest this past Halloween. My first horror story, I think, but it was a lot of fun to write.
What are some of your literary influences?
One of my earliest influences was Edgar Allan Poe, and I’ve always been attracted to his dark, visceral stories. I fell in love with Dostoyevsky for a while, and if I could ever achieve his level of compassion and vibrant humanity, I would be very happy as a writer. Another big influence was Kafka, and I have spent a lot of my writing life trying and failing to recreate his personal, interior landscapes without slipping into navel-gazing. Then there is Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I don’t think I can ever write as funny as Douglas Adams, but I constantly aspire to the blend of humor and really big ideas I found in that book. Oh, and David Sedaris and Paul Bowles, to mention two very different short story writers that are dear to my heart. I’ll stop there.
What are you reading right now?
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who wrote the book while dying of cancer. If you have any interest in reading about the life of a neurosurgeon, I would also recommend Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. Kalanithi and Marsh were/are both neurosurgeons with backgrounds in literature, and both were/are excellent writers.
Was your process for writing the 5X5 piece largely different from your normal writing process or largely similar? What was it like working from a brief?
Largely similar. I’ve been working from a lot of prompts lately, and so I’m comfortable starting with an idea that is initially foreign to me. I’m always surprised and usually pleased by what results. The brief was more detailed than the usual prompt, but what really made it different was in knowing that the resulting story would be published in a compilation along with four other writers working from the same brief, which made me especially keen to write something I wouldn’t be embarrassed about.
You can read David Hammond’s story in Metaphorosis Magazine, “Making the List,” for free online.
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