1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
A: I have been writing since the age of nine, so an actual inspiration source is pretty hard to identify. Jumping ahead in my personal timeline, I remember reading a few pretty influential novels during high school – Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, Catch 22 and others. These books were highly stimulating and sent me along the path to future writing efforts. In college (1972) I entered a creative writing program and had some valuable one-on-one tutoring. I was introduced to authors such as John Fowles and Thomas Pynchon. I was also reading Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, John Updike and others at the time. In my thirties and forties I did a lot of traveling, crossing the ocean (Atlantic and Pacific) more than 30 times during a ten year period. I visited over thirty countries – many more than once – which was also a huge influence on my writing. Overall, the answer is many faceted, but in short I think I was born to write and hardly remember a time when it did not feel natural putting pen to paper, so to speak.
2. Please tell us a little about your book, “The Virtual Life of Fizzy Oceans.”
A: Ah, Fizzy Oceans, my dear friend! Fizzy is admittedly my alter ego. I think it is my best book to date, the book I have been trying to write for nearly 50 years, the one I always knew I had inside me that begged to come out. The novel spans centuries, reaching back into the past and also far into the future. It imagines a world where we can manifest our deepest dreams and longings instantly, where ideas (not money) are the currency in which we deal, where art and literature are highly treasured, where anything is possible. But it also imagines a physical world – our world – that is in danger of ecological collapse. Fizzy is a thinker, a traveler, an adventurer, an entrepreneur, an archivist. And she also thinks she has a few answers for what ails our world. Perhaps that is a bit presumptuous on my part, but I think that is ultimately a writer’s privilege. Ideas are indeed our commerce, so I take the liberty of making some rather radical suggestions toward solving some of our most challenging problems. I think Fizzy is not only a girl for all seasons, but perhaps ahead of her time. And yet, her own alter ego, Amy Birkenstock, is very much a real girl in the real world with some of the very real (and very common) problems of our time. The book is hard to capsulize, but I think it comes together once the reader can suspend his commitment to the literal and plunge headlong into Fizzy’s virtual (and quite metaphorical) world. The book took me three and a half years to write, and I am very, very proud of it.
3. Out of all the characters you have written created. Who is your favorite and why?
A: Obviously, Fizzy Oceans is near and dear to my heart. But I am also quite close to Doran Seeger in my Books XENOS and A WINTER GARDEN. He is a true seeker. Julian Crosby (CALICO PENNANTS) is a hapless and unlikely hero who finally musters the courage to salvage his life and his future. I value vision and courage. And there is one other as well: Hermes Hawthorne, a fifteen-year-old kid in my novel HOW HIGH THE WALL. Hermes is a real hero, and I really like genuine heroes.
4. What is your next book project?
A: Not sure. When I finished Fizzy Oceans a year an a half ago I was pretty convinced I would not write any more novels. I felt I had said it all, so to speak. But now I don’t know. I’m tossing around an idea I had 13 years ago that came to me while visiting the Island of Karpathos in Greece. I met some people there who literally acted out what I thought might be a terrific novel. (Talk about a Greek chorus!) All these years I’ve been thinking about it, and now, just maybe…
5. What is your favorite quote?
A: I supppose I have hundreds, but at the moment one comes to mind. It was uttered by Mark Twain when he was asked about his reaction to a negative book review. He said, “Who am I to disagree with the critic?”
6. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
A: My advice to an aspiring authir is simple: try to write something true and unique and meaningful. Don’t copy what others have done; it’s hollow. Tell the truth – your truth – even if it seems risky. The reader always knows when he’s being conned.
And thanks you so much, Stephanie, for allowing me the opportunity to connect with your readers and followers. Warm regards to all!
David A. Ross is a writer, editor and publisher. From 1984-1985 he was a columnist and contributing editor for Southwest Art Magazine. His novels include The Virtual Life of Fizzy Oceans, Sacrifice and the Sweet Life, A Winter Garden, Stones, Xenos, How High The Wall, Good Morning Corfu, and his award-winning first novel The Trouble with Paradise, republished by Open Books under the title Calico Pennants.
In addition to his career as a novelist, he was formerly the publisher of the small press Escape Media from 1992-2004. Currently he is the publisher of online literary and features journals including Moronic Ox Literary & Cultural Journal.
Thank you Daivd for this wonderful review!