‘Writing Is an Important Part of Who I Am’

INTERVIEW

Author Duane Simolke is quite categorical when he says he will always be a full-fledged author regardless of how much or little money he may make from it. ‘I will always love writing and never think of it as just a hobby. It is an important part of who I am,’ the fifty-five-year-old writer, who holds a PhD in English from Texas Tech University, says, speaking to the Literary Tribune in an exclusive interaction. Currently revising a short story involving love and online bullying, Duane lets us know that he started making up stories about characters from TV shows or comic books he liked at a tender age. ‘I also made up additional lyrics to songs I liked. By my teens, I had started writing some of my ideas down,’ he shares with us.

‘Factual’ Fiction

Speaking about The Acorn Stories, which started as a few unrelated short stories that he wrote in creative writing classes, the author says that after moving to West Texas, he decided to set them in a fictional West Texas town. 

‘I added some threads between the characters and stories. That soon grew into a collection. By that time, I had already drafted a science fiction novel, Degranon, and a fantasy novel, The Return of Innocence,’ Duane explains, adding, ‘I later wrote a sequel to Degranon, which I am now following up with a spin-off. I edited the fundraiser The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer and wrote four of its stories. In another collaboration, author Toni Davis added some ideas that helped me complete the revisions for The Return of Innocence.’

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Plotter at Heart

Making it clear that he likes to plot out his stories in advance instead of flying by the seat of his pants, Duane lets us know that he has many ideas for the characters and plot. ‘Outlining helps for getting started. However, the characters take over once I start writing. The finished work tends to disregard the early notes and outlines, but I love the creative discovery that happens throughout the writing process.’ he says.

And since Duane studied literature in college and continues to read often, he avers that several writers helped shape his love for the written word. He also shares that he does not follow a writing schedule and that inspiration does not always hit at convenient times. ‘Sometimes, I think of scenes while exercising or trying to sleep,’ says the Texas-based author, who also understands Spanish.

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Words of Wisdom

On being asked if becoming an author was a conscious decision, Duane pronounces, ‘No, because I have seen myself as a writer for most of my life.’ And when questioned how he juggles writing and other tasks, he tells us, ‘Waking up early to write helps. Besides writing, I enjoy books, movies, TV shows, rock music, travel, and cooking. And though I focused on literature and writing in college, I later developed an interest in history.’

Be that as it may, when we ask Duane if there is anything he would like to tell budding writers who lose motivation if their works do not do well, he says that you never know what people will like or which of your works will strike a chord with someone. ‘Focus on the actual writing and on reading as much as you can. Keep learning and growing; never convince yourself that you have arrived and that everyone else needs to discover your greatness. Keep trying to improve your craft and find more readers. Network with other creatives and help promote their work so that you may learn from each other,’ he explains. 

And is there anything at all that he would like to change in the world we dwell in? ‘For people to not hate each other over differences or anything else. Be yourself, but also let others be themselves,’ he states, signing off on a thoughtful note. 

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PS: Author Duane Simolke’s writing captures individuality and diversity because he likes to express both. It is what a lot of people say they like about his work. However, he knows his purpose as a fiction writer is to entertain. The author says he uses his sense of humour and an interest in make-believe adventures to transport his readers into fictional settings but with characters that somehow remind readers of themselves and people they know.

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