10 Questions with Daniel Stride
Daniel Stride has a lifelong love of literature in general, and speculative fiction in particular. He writes both short stories and poetry; his first novel, steampunk-flavoured dark fantasy Wise Phuul, was published in November 2016. He also spends a fair amount of time blogging, especially about the works of Tolkien, to a degree where he is probably better known as a blogger than as a fiction writer. Daniel lives in Dunedin, New Zealand, and confesses an addiction to chocolate.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
I'm from Dunedin, New Zealand (born in Greymouth, New Zealand). I came a bit late to writing original prose fiction—I had a previous background in academic writing, fanfiction, and poetry. These days I write speculative fiction stories, generally short ones, though my first published work was a novel.
2. What drew you to that particular genre?
Speculative fiction (generally some mash-up of fantasy or horror, with the occasional bit of science-fiction) has two major attractions—it enables one to go to town with creative and unusual settings, and also explore real-world issues in a potentially new and different way. Fantasy need not be just escapism—it can also be more real than real.
3. What’s your best known work?
My best known work is (curiously) a piece of fanfiction that I will never actually be able to claim credit for. My best known original work is my first novel, Wise Phuul.
4. What inspired you to write it?
In terms of Wise Phuul, the concept was originally inspired by an old 1930s short story from pulp author, Clark Ashton Smith. Smith's story (The Empire of the Necromancers) features a pair of necromancers who stumble across a dead civilisation, and revive it for their own ends. I got to thinking about how a more organised necromantic society would operate. The result was the Viiminian Empire, the setting of Wise Phuul.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, panster or somewhere in between?
I am a complete panster. It's probably a weakness of mine—while it encourages creativity, and springs delightful surprises on you, it also leads to dead-ends, which is itself a frustrating experience. I also Google as I go.
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
One of my short stories, An Extract from the Diary of Peter Mackenzie, was actually inspired by a strange piece of New Zealand railway trivia. Basically, the (now-closed) Kurow line of the New Zealand Railways ended at Hakataramea... and despite plans to extend the line inland, the extensions were never carried out. My story is basically a (horror) story about why this was the case.
7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?
I make a point of not writing personal material, or at least trying not to. I think creative authors should avoid autobiography whenever possible—the basic job of creative writing is to get inside the head of someone different from yourself. I have, however, been inspired by physical locations. The Dunedin Railway Station, for example, inspires the Kuolinako equivalent in Wise Phuul, and I have put copious New Zealand references in the setting too, in terms of flora and fauna.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
My favourite author is J.R.R. Tolkien, but I make a point of steering clear of following him too closely. Tolkien imitation has been done to death in the genre. Rather, my influences tend to vary depending on what I am writing. Wise Phuul, for example, sees the twin influences of Mervyn Peake (Gormenghast) and Clark Ashton Smith (Zothique)—in both cases, I find these tottering, decaying societies, and the associated themes, to be both relevant and interesting. I have also read enough classic sword-and-sorcery (Howard, Leiber, Moorcock, E.R. Burroughs, et cetera) that various influences show up in my more action-orientated stuff.
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
A two volume edition of St Augustine's The City of God. No, it's not light reading...
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?
A complete list of my stories, and where to find them: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/bibliography/
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