Check out this author spotlight for David Dobson!
You can find all his links furthest down the page, and don’t forget to check out his books!
1. Hi! Welcome to my humble blog of all things bookish! I would like for us to start by getting to know you. Give us a short bio, please!
A native of Ames, Iowa, I love writing, reading, boardgames, computer games, improv comedy, pizza, barbarian movies, and the cheaper end of the Taco Bell menu. Also, my wife and kids.
In addition to my novels, I wrote Snood, Snoodoku, Snood Towers, and other computer games. I first published Snood in 1996, and it became one of the most popular shareware games of the early Internet. My most recent game project (other than writing) is Doctor Esker’s Notebook, a puzzle card game in the spirit of escape rooms.
I taught geology, environmental studies, and computer programming at Guilford College for 24 years, and I do improv comedy every week at the Idiot Box in Greensboro, North Carolina. I’ve also played the world’s largest tuba in concert. Not that that is relevant, but it’s still kinda cool.
2. To get to know you just a little bit better, I’d like to ask you some this or that questions. Answer 5 of these and explain why you chose this or that, or maybe an entirely different alternative!
These five seemed to provoke the most interesting answers.
Winter, spring, summer or autumn?
I’m an autumn guy. I don’t like heat, so fall always comes with relief. I also love the storms and the wind and the leaves and the shorter days as the world gets ready for bedtime.
Cat or dog?
Growing up, my parents were reluctant to get a pet. My dad was allergic to cats, and they thought (correctly) that my brother an I would be of no real help taking care of dogs. We did get a guinea pig when I was twelve or so, and we named him Steve Austin after the Bionic Man. He died the next day while I was at school, and my mom got our money back. We got another one shortly after, Lord Chester, who lived a longish life enjoying lettuce and carrots and peeing on the Des Moines Register. We had a gerbil or two later.
My wife was really into cats and dogs, so we got both eventually after we got married. Both our dogs were great, loyal friends and terrific with our kids, but the cats have always gravitated towards me and me to them. Our most recent one is Sadie, who we adopted as a rescue from the house of a deceased hoarder. She has a clipped ear and only three teeth, and the vet says she’s between eleven and seventeen, which is kind of like being between 30 and 85 in human terms, which isn’t too useful to know. She’s a sweetie, loves to sit on my lap, and plays like a kitten.
Tea or coffee?
Diet Mountain Dew, in strong computer programmer tradition. Plus, I can’t abide hot liquids like tea or coffee, and no soup for me. If they ever figure out Yellow #5 is bad for you, I’m really screwed.
Plotter or pantser?
Pantser, for sure, at least until the halfway point. I started my last book with only a hint of a concept and got maybe sixty percent of the way through before figuring it out. But by the halfway point, or sometimes a little after, I’ve usually thrown so many balls up into the air that I need to start catching them, and I need the book to go somewhere, so I have to cut back on adding new twists and start to make it all come together in a rewarding way. Then, in the editing process, I streamline and shape the whole thing so that it is more connected and interwoven.
Hero or anti-hero?
Hero, for sure. I enjoy complex characters facing difficult choices, but I need to have somebody to cheer for, and they can’t do something unforgivable, or they lose me. I almost can’t watch mafia movies.
3. When you look for books to read, what trope or type of story will always catch your attention?
I am a sucker for people put into difficult situations, trying to make the best of things, and trying to help others and maintain their morals, whatever they are. I also really like characters who learn new skills or grow into more power and confidence along the way. And if it’s not dead serious and grim the whole time, that’s a real plus.
4. What do you write? Tell us about your current projects and the latest happenings!
My Inquisitors’ Guild series tells the stories of a set of detectives in a medieval city, sort of a cross between epic fantasy adventure and a mystery or crime novel. Or maybe Princess Bride meets CSI. Each story is a separate adventure, and I change narrators between them, so the books all stand on their own and follow different people in the Inquisitors’ Guild and the world of Frosthelm. I also try to make them funny and warm and exciting, with magic and mayhem and bravery and loss. I’ve got a fourth story done and in the editing process. These are really fun for me to write.
5. What is your most recent release? Give us a short presentation, cover, and a link for where to buy it!
My sci-fi book, Daros, is more of a space opera, although it happens on one planet rather than many. It’s
set in the far future after humanity has expanded to the stars and then suffered through a destructive interplanetary war. All of that is in the past, though, and the few remaining colonies are prospering. The first main character, Brecca, is the daughter of a trader who’s always a little bit on the wrong side of the law. They end up making a stop at nondescript planet, but suddenly it’s invaded by unknown aliens, and they get caught up in that. The second main character is one of the aliens, a member of the invading fleet, but she’s a secret rebel in their midst. We see the story from both sides as the meaning and purpose of the invasion comes to light.
6. What real-life inspiration do you draw from, and what are your primary fictional sources of inspiration (books, authors, films, music, etc.)? Name a few!
Ever since I started reading the Oz books and Andrew Lang’s fairy tale compendia in elementary school, I have loved fantasy. As I grew as a reader, I branched out into heroic and epic fantasy, starting with tales of heroes like Conan and John Carter, set in places like Middle Earth and Witchworld. I also adored comedic fantasy, from Terry Pratchett to Neil Gaiman to a host of others, and my favorite tales were those where young heroes and heroines grew (or were forced) to play a role beyond their station, in many cases learning on the fly and making it up as they went along.There are so many great authors working now trying out new ideas, pushing the fantasy genre in interesting new directions (some of them full of sparkly vampires or brooding antiheroes with anime hair). Despite all that innovation, it is hard for me to resist the draw of the classics. I have enjoyed a lot of modern fantasy as well, from smaller indie authors to the current titans.
I also read a ton of science fiction as a kid, with Heinlein, Harry Harrison, Jack Chalker, Andre Norton, Ursula LeGuin, and many others among my frequent library borrows. I was the perfect age for Star Wars when it came out, a boy of seven, and I loved it so much. Although I love most of the Star Wars franchise and see all the movies and shows, I also came to love Star Trek and have watched all the series over the years. I really like Trek’s (usually) hopeful view of humanity’s future, something that I hope is reflected in what I write. I’ll watch anything fantasy or sci fi that comes along – I have a really low bar for movies. And I’ll always read whatever John Scalzi is doing.
7. What is your writing routine? If you have one, give us the run-down!
Now that I’ve left my teaching job, I’ve reverted to what I assume is my natural schedule. I’m not sure if it’s good or healthy, but it works. I sleep until I wake up, which is usually late morning, and then I do some writing in the afternoon, then some website or social media stuff, and then play some games or do some of my other stuff like game design or consulting work. After dinner and hanging out with my wife, I come back and do another hour or hour and a half, sometimes right away, sometimes after midnight, sometimes well after midnight. Except in really intense situations, like during a five-day power outage a year or two ago, I don’t like to write for more than an hour or 90 minutes at a time – I run out of planned out story, and I feel like I need to spend some time off doing other things, thinking up what will happen next, and how to connect it all together. So, when I’m going fast, I do maybe three hours a day of dedicated writing, but I’m thinking and plotting and connecting in my head a lot of the rest of it.
8. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice as you started out on the path to becoming an author, what would it be?
Don’t wait so long to publish, and write more often. I wrote my first book over a really long time – about fourteen years, on and off (at times very much off). Now that I’ve gotten into writing more or less full time, it’s rewarding and fun, and I can go a lot faster with more confidence.
9. Last but not least: where can we find you? Drop those links!
Book sales for Flames Over Frosthelm:
https://books2read.com/u/bOJaOK (audio and print accessible here)
Book sales for Daros:
Reviews for Flames Over Frosthelm:
Inquisitors’ Guild series page on Amazon:
Free Inquisitors’ Guild novella, Traitors Unseen:
Social Media Links:
Cover and promotional artwork