Dara Fogel is an author, philosopher and educator in the American Southwest. She holds a ph.d. in philosophy that she picked up along the way doing in-depth research for her magnum opus, The GrailChase Chronicles. She has a wide array of interests, including Subjective Reality, ancient and classical culture, theater, art, theories of history/paradigms, cognitive psychology, medieval and renaissance fairs, ontology and last but not least, science fiction and fantasy. She lives with her mother, husband, young son, two cats and a rat dog.
What inspires you to write?
Exploring the bizarre complexities of my own existence. I write to try to understand and share what it means to be a human being, who is forced to make decisions and live by the consequences of those choices. I write to try to explore and articulate the inner potential we all share. I believe we are all much more than just our egos/personalities. Like Plato, I believe there is another level of being that is the *real* world, and what we do in this one is but a mere shadow on the wall compared to what’s really out there/in there.
I also like to write about clothes. I love to play dress-up. I used to be an actress & costumer & have actually worn or made a lot of the period clothing described. Yes, I do know what it is like to make out in a bustle and 15 yards of fabric! 😉
Tell us about your writing process.
The Impossible Lover is Book 1 of a 6-part series I started writing back in 1992. Originally, the story started off seat-of-my-pants writing right from the heart during a tumultuous period in my life. but by the mid-90’s, I had started outlining using old fashioned index cards. I find that a combination of structure & inspiration works best.
I did do character sketches (actual drawings – strictly not for public consumption!), but not formal written ones until after I had a rough draft of the whole opus, some 1600+ pages. I have a little blank book with a painting of Mozart’s Queen of the Night from The Magic Flute on the cover (significant to those who have read the book) in which I have jotted down important details & ideas to remember, dating back to 1996. It’s almost full, but I still use it.
When I write, I often find I need to go through a process to invoke my muse, as it were. I usually have a specific soundtrack for each book, chosen from music that has the kind of feeling I want to write about. I am one of those weirdos who will put 1 song on repeat all day – especially when I am writing. It helps to have a candle lit in the room & good smells. I usually spend a fair amount of time thinking & re-reading previous work before actually settling in to write. But once I do get going, I usually write whole scenes in a single sitting.
When I have the leisure, I can crank out up to 10 pages a day, but I don’t have the opportunity to write everyday. Nor does the muse grace me with her inspiration everyday. But whether or not I write is really whether or not I feel inspired. If not, I edit or go do the laundry. I don’t try to force myself to be creative because that’s how crap is written.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Both. I have been with these characters for so long, they do seem to have taken on an independent life of their own. I know them very well, but once in a while, they do manage to surprise me.
It was curiosity about this phenomenon, along with some other peculiar occurrences that has fueled my sustained interest in the nature of reality & consciousness. If my own imaginary creation can take on a life of its own, then what is my ontological status vis a vis my creation? Am I god to my characters? It would seem so, as I create, destroy and alter everything they experience, regardless of their wishes or goals. So then, what does that signify for my ontological status in the “real” world? Am I a character written by some Cosmic Author? The narrative nature of my life would seem to think so: all the 1-in-a-gazillion chances, all the synchronicities, all the recurring themes and leitmotifs…. It looks like someone has put a lot of time & effort writing the story of Dara. And just as my characters are a part of me, I am a part of that Cosmic Author. And hence, I ended up at Subjective Reality.
What advice would you give other writers?
I would give the same advice that David Morrell, author of First Blood, Rambo and Murder As A Fine Art: Make your writing the autobiography of your soul. The odds of being a profitable author are so low, let your writing improve your life, even if you never sell a single book. At least you will have gained from the experience of writing, even if you never make a penny.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The week before he died, my father made me promise to publish my magnum opus. I did so, rushing into print with an edition that was only edited for spelling & grammar, after having let the manuscript moulder for about 10 years. I sold 6 copies, & 4 of them were to me & my immediate family, and 1 a former professor. I yanked it from publication, but its ghost still haunts the interwebs.
Last summer, I decided to revise & update it. So I split Book 1 into 2 book (it was already split into 2 parts) and wrote in scenes for a lot of glossed over parts, as well as introduced the Steampunk elements, which were already in the later books. I also moved up all the mystical experience stuff up from Book 5 into Book 1. As I was advised, if no one reads Book 1, they’re not gonna care about the big reveal in Book 5. I also tightened up motivations and got a bit more blatant about the underlying feminist theme.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think ebooks are the future, and old-fashioned publishing is being transformed. Epublishing has blasted open the doors for aspiring authors of all stripes. What should be interesting is to see if this increasingly democratic shift in publishing is going to lead to an increase of reading in the general population or not.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Alternative History, Historical Fantasy, Steampunk, Historical Adventure, Philosophy Nonfiction
What formats are your books in?