Todays interview is with Christopher Dahl who is a 42 year old ex-rugby player from the Bronx. He went to Fordham University and then got a Masters degree in teaching high school English (basically). There were no options in life for him other than being involved with words, writing and books -- nothing else mattered besides beer, sports and women. His writing topics -- like all things he enjoys -- are bold, bloody and excessive spectacles. On a dreary intellectual note, he believes that words are the threshhold over which humanity must step in order to move from the concrete to the abstract.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Christopher Dahl: Yes, it was a story about my father. I found a picture of him in his army uniform, so I grabbed some paper and wrote a story about a brave young soldier saving New York City from a sea monster. I cut up a shoebox to make my first cover. I also cut up the picture to make my first graphics. (This was before PhotoShop). My mother found it and was astounded that I could spell "illustrated". I was about seven years old.
Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?
Christopher Dahl: The only other thing I ever thought life with any serious aspiration was a soldier, but it turns out I cant follow orders well -- so i decided writing was the way to go. The inspiration was seeing my father's first ghost-written book about he first home computers, circa 1976. I just thought it was so cool to creae something with all those symbolic words in it and tell other people news, information ... whatever. So, my old man.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?
Christopher Dahl: I love telling stories because they expose the truth. As I said, Ilike things bold and bloody; thus, I like to hit tough subject matter and hit a nerve. I like things that people will love and detest in the same breath; rebuke and acknowledge all at once.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a bit about your book Blood calls To Blood: The Story of Wyrd John and the main characters?
Christopher Dahl: Blood Calls to Bood is the third installment of the Death Row Stories series (www.death-row-stories.com) and is the most unique. John claims to be a witch, a lifelong pagan and a kind of modern sorceror. he is like a character from a King Arthur tale transplanted into the 20th century, which is te whole idea of the book: he just didn't seem to be understood. John Lived by the "old ways" and in the "craft". He literally crafted spells for vengeance and power -- very wild stuff in a cyber-age. I mean, I had never met an actual witch.
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the story for the book?
Christopher Dahl: The story is based on all of the letters that John sent me from Death Row in Raiford, Florida. He committed a rather heinous murder an ended up getting himself a spot on the Row.
Books & Writing: What attracts you in horror?
Christopher Dahl: Since i like my spectacles bold, bloody and excessive,these "horror" stories are just down my alley. Perhaps it's because my life otherwise is pretty middle-class: I teach high school, work out and cook dinner each night. Horro is my indulgence in what Abraham Lincoln called the "darker angels of our manger."
Books & Writing: I understand you have written a few other books so far. Could you tell us a bit about those? And are they all in the horror genre?
Christopher Dahl: I have the Death Row Stories (www.death-row-stories.com) which are based on the lives of killers awating the lethal injection. Robert bailey shot a cop on Easter Sunday. Loran Cole killed the nephew of Senator John Edwards. I have a book of their art. Night of the Beast is actually a paranomral investigation where I tried to solve a murder from 1977 using psychics and ... well ... all that stuff. My first published book, though, was jut about my exeriences as a high school teacher. Mostly, I deal in dark material. Honestly though, I''m just another English major from the Bronx.
Books & Writing: Are you working on something new at the moment?
Christopher Dahl: My mother had multiple personalities. My father found her journals and sent them to me. So i am working on vert weid memoire about my life as the son of a schizophrenic. At the risk of tooting my own horn, it will be fascinating.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Christopher Dahl: Writing is work. Don't sit around waiting for the finger of God to touch your keyboard. Don't limit yourself: write what you want when you want. After that beautiful initial phase of writing, clean it up and try to get a publisher. Keep a thick skin. You WILL be rejected but that doesn't mean you stink. Just keep plugging away.
Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?
Christopher Dahl: Jack Kerouac was the first author that got me inspired. He showed me there were no limits, no boundaries. He also demonstrated that if you wanted to be a working writer it may well kill you. On the other hand, he showed me that he would rather be a dead writer than a miserable retail manager. He showed me the green light that blinked at the end of Jay Gatsby's dock-- to strain a metaphor to breaking.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on the internet and read your work?
Christopher Dahl: Here are some links to some free content:
Books & Writing: Is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
Christopher Dahl: Please fell free to contact me any time you want to chat via e-mail. I really like talking abou books and getting published. Also, i would be happy to sign any hard copies if a reader wants to send me one. Just hit me up via any one of my sites.
Below is an excerpt from the book "Blood calls To Blood: The Story of Wyrd John"!
Kathleen and I often walked to the forest that bordered my father’s property. Some of it belonged to him but the majority did not. Being far from the coast there were hills, rocks, and streams. The nearest town was or 8 miles away, so we were in the rural area, but not exactly too far from civilization. It was enough outside the city that nature held on by tooth and nail, but just barely. Even so, we took refuge there and sometimes we could get away deep enough to find the innocence we looked for, undisturbed by the hum of tires on asphalt roads or tractors in the field.
One day in July, we took such an excursion walking, talking, and sometimes remaining silent; going from one patch of blackberry bushes to another. It was summer. I was 14. She had just turned 20 and we had all the time in the world. After stopping for lunch, we had packed up and we took our return trip by taking another route, breaking new trails just to see what we would find.
Exiting the undergrowth, we came to a broad clearing, dappled with sunlight and silent. Partially buried in the leaves of the past autumns we saw a rack of antlers were sticking up. I immediately was drawn to this curiosity. Kathleen by my side, I reached to pick it up, but she grabbed my arm. Shaking my head, she said, “No that belongs to Herne and a if you wan it, you have to trade something you value for it.” The tone in her voice told me this was important, so we left it there and continued on our way back. She told me Herne was the god of the forest and animals who lived there. Herne’s symbol was the stag as well as the bull, a now-extinct bull called an auroch. He is also called Herne the Hunter, and by other names. The druids called him Hu Gadarn and others called him Cernunnas.
I listened and learned but Kathleen usually left me wanting more and forced me to search out more answers. She told me about other gods and goddesses, some Celtic, some Germanic, and some Norse. “Blood calls to blood.” We are the children of the Gods and, as such, Gods in our own rite yet to mature into our full potential. When we pray or do rituals, we honor them but do not bow down to worship them. I absorbed this. She continued to explain to me that all religions, once stripped of the trappings of man, society and various influences are, for the most the same, except each group of people carry their own distinctive understanding and connection to their teaching, religion and beliefs. “Blood calls to blood.”
I thought about this and I knew that I wanted the deer skull and antlers. I also knew I wanted to come up with something of value … but what? For weeks, I thought about it, going through my stuff, trying to come up with something a God would find acceptable as a trade. Kathleen had left me to move to Danville, Virginia, leaving me to find my own way in all of this. By the end of July, I had made my choice.