The inaugural subject of this series is Darren Patrick Long, who contacted me a while ago after reading some of my Digital Media Ghost blogs about the logistics, mechanics, and politics of self-publishing.
He’s come a long way in a relatively short period of time, which should serve as an inspiration for anyone else out there considering throwing his or her proverbial hat into this virtual ring, which often feels more like a three ring circus. The fact is, whichever path you ultimately choose, there will be benefits and obstacles specific to each, and even those will vary according to various other factors and influences, many of which aren't under your control. You know, like Life in general.
The only aspect you can control is the quality of your work, from writing tolayout to design to publication to marketing. Darren Long has carefully studied and embarked on each of these important steps as part of his own journey, and I think it adds to a quintessential portrait of the 21st century indie author. Today's literary entrepreneur is more than just a writer. He or she is in effect a small businessperson.
First, some basic background info:
Darren Long is an author, performer, musician, and singer-songwriter. Based in Nashville, TN, Darren has just introduced his first books published on Kindle--Dirk Daiquiri in: The Dancing Mai Tai & Dirk Daiquiri in: The Golden Chanteuse of Chinatown, and the latest story, Dirk Daiquiri in: Frantic in the Fog. Dirk is a private investigator in 1957 San Francisco, where Darren grew up starting in the late 60s. When he's not writing literature, he's busy writing and producing Exotica, Lounge and Surf music with his band the Tiki Delights, writing articles for the likes of Tiki Magazine, and building clocks from vintage record album covers and vinyl. Darren also performs for seniors several times a week. Besides spending time with his wife, Vickie, Darren enjoys cooking, history, reading, and is a JFK assassination buff. Website: www.darrenlong.com
Now, down to brass tacks…
Why do you write in a world where hardly anybody seems to read anymore?
I guess it’s all relative, because everyone I know, whether family or friends, seem to be big readers. Most prefer reading real books but a good number of them enjoy the Kindle ride, so I try and cover both these days as a writer. I even have a friend on our block who hits the thrift stores every week, and he has 2 or 3 books for me to read almost every week. In turn, I give him books I’ve read. It seems that in this age of 24/7 TV coverage and the internet, people crave reading books even more than usual, maybe due to the poor quality of most TV shows. I have to say when I first wrote any stories that I was more or less writing for me, hoping that down the road others might enjoy reading it. I really had no expectations.
What makes your fiction unique?
For one thing, I love history and nostalgia, so my private eye short stories featuring Dirk Daiquiri, for instance, deal with 1957 San Francisco. It’s a place I grew up in the early ‘60s and ‘70s. Other authors make a living showing, for example, the mean, dirty streets of Los Angeles, but I make a point of showing the beautiful side of San Francisco, which is more than just a backdrop; it’s an integral element of each story.
I probably would never write about a PI living in 2017, unless it dealt with time travel. I also love vintage movies and radio shows, and a main component of those is you never hear the F word, the violence is at an ‘acceptable’ level, and there’s just a hint of sex. So why read my stuff, you’re asking? Ha! That’s just me. I love the purity of the old school, and at age 58 I guess I am old school. Plus, being a bit old-fashioned, I like to think my parents can read my stories without severe embarrassment. So, basically my fiction is PG-13, something I think may be unique these days.
What are some of your influences?
My take on detective stories tends to come from the visual medium, meaning old classic films like The Maltese Falcon, the Thin Man movies, and especially the 1959 season of the great TV show, Peter Gunn, and even a hint of the 70s TV show with James Garner, the Rockford Files. I’ve read a few classics by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but I confess that I’m not a big reader of pulp or an expert on crime fiction. I tend to write my stories the way you would a screenplay, very visual, again harkening back to the films of the ‘30s through the ‘50s.
Why did you decide to self-publish, and how’s that going so far?
I’d heard the horror stories of authors going the traditional publishing route, getting rejected left and right. Or, if lucky enough to sign a book, waiting forever to see it published. I have several friends who published on Kindle, and that inspired me to take the plunge. I like the concept that if it’s good, you get feedback right away. If it sucks, you can only blame yourself. Having been a songwriter for 30 years, I know about the publishing world and the difficulties involved with it. I love the idea of writing something and getting it up on Kindle in a day or two. It cuts out all the red tape and frees you up to keep being creative - which to me, is the goal.
I’m doing OK, and I’ve been very encouraged by the feedback and sales so far. I know that I need to reach out more to bloggers and reviewers to really kick-start this thing, and I’m currently working on that.
What is next for you?
I’m currently writing the 4th Dirk Daiquiri story, as well as a book on our local Nashville Tiki restaurant icon, Omni Hut. I’m also mid-way into a fictional history novel regarding the JFK assassination in 1963. Also, I plan a volume 2 of my book ‘Life: Vignettes from the Journey,’ continuing to tell stories about growing up in California. Another project is a series of newspaper-like columns, in book form, about finding humor in everyday living, along the lines of Lewis Grizzard and Erma Bombeck.
Aloha, mahalo and good luck, Darren!
PHOTO: DARREN LONG