Writerly Wednesday is pleased to have Clifford W. Dunbar as a guest.
Clifford W. Dunbar has published short stories, poetry, and novels. He works in the IT field by day and teaches some college courses in the evening. In his copious spare time, he writes.
He maintains a blog at cliffordwdunbar.wordpress.com to discuss his writing and whatever else comes up. He also welcomes emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. He lives in Miami, FL.
Caught in the crossfire between paramilitaries, drug dealers, rebel guerrillas, and the Colombian Army, US Army Private Jeff Thompson and Silver, his K9 companion, are forced to make their way through the jungles of southwestern Colombia to rescue a drug lord’s daughter held captive by rebel guerrillas. Silver, the product of a decades-old breeding project overseen by the American military, possesses supernatural abilities that are barely under her control. When Jeff is surprised by a payoff from the drug lord and seduced by his beautiful daughter, the US Army believes he has gone over to the other side and sends a Retrieval Team after him, with a powerful dog of its own.
“I just want to see Silver again,” the American said. “I want to see her fed and watered.”
“First you must tell me if the DEA will attack again,” Ariana said.
Thompson closed his eyes, as if he might fall asleep. He spoke so softly Ariana had to lean close to him to make out the words. “I don’t know. I’m not DEA. Jeffrey Thompson, US Army, Private First Class, 965-26-4381. Name, rank, and serial number. Now will you bring Silver?”
US Army? For a moment Ariana took pity on the American soldier. To die so young, so far away from home, and for what cause? There was nothing noble about making war on international market forces with a gun and a dog. That was just stupid.
“No,” Ariana said. “The men tell me that the dog’s eyes change color, and that she stirs up the wind and that bullets cannot harm her. Why would they say that?”
“How could you believe such nonsense?” Thompson whispered. “She’s just a dog.”
1. In three days, all power will go off, everywhere for a very long time. What will you include in your author survival kit?
I’ve lived through a few hurricanes, so this is not a new scenario for me. I will cheat and buy an electric generator and use it to power my laptop. I would also buy, and charge, lots of spare laptop batteries in advance. And of course I would load several hundred books onto my laptop’s hard drive.
2. Where did the idea for the work you are promoting arise?
The idea occurred to me when I was taking Comparative Psychology classes at the University of Florida. I had been doing a lot of reading about natural and artificial selection, and at about the same time I stumbled across some journals in the library that described animal psi testing. I put all this together and came up with the breed of dog I used in the book. I set the story in Colombia because it’s a country with a lot of conflict (good for a writer; not so good for the people who live there), and because I speak/read/write Spanish fairly well and had the opportunity to do interviews and other research on conditions there.
3. What do you like to read?
I grew up with Heinlein and Asimov and Burroughs. I still think Tarzan is the most wonderful character ever created. He inspired me as a child to learn the ape language (from the glossary), which later turned into a fascination with animal communications and a Master’s degree in Linguistics.
My current favorite author is Charles Stross. Besides science fiction, I’m a big fan of Tim Dorsey. I also enjoy reading popular books about the natural sciences.
Reading is life to me. I get very unhappy if I go for a while without a book in my hands (e-book or print; it doesn’t matter).
4. Tell us about the most exciting place you have ever visited?
The most exciting place I have ever visited is the place I have made my home for the past twenty years. Miami, Florida is a vibrant, culturally diverse city and I am very pleased to live here.
I was born in Lockport, NY, named for the locks boats pass through on the Erie Canal. We moved to Gainesville, Florida when I was 13. When I saw a seven-story building in downtown Gainesville, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m in the big city now!” Not long after that, we visited Miami and I knew that I was really in the big city then and that was where I would live after graduating high school and college.
I’ve been to lots of other places, both traveling for pleasure and for business, but Miami is home and my favorite place to be.
5. What is the most mundane, day to day, thing you can share about yourself?
I live in a dump. It’s a tiny efficiency nestled in the curve of an interstate off-ramp on a direct flight path to the Miami International Airport. I love the location on the edge of the Arts District but sometimes wish it weren’t so noisy. It’s only for a few more years, until I’ve met my child support and alimony obligations. At least the Wi-Fi is free.
6. What scares you the most?
Being boring. It’s a phobia I have. I don’t want to be boring to anybody. I particularly don’t want my writing to be boring.
7. Tell us anything but keep it G rated.
If you look in the back of Silver’s Treason, you’ll see a three-page bibliography of the books, articles, and web pages that I read as background research for the novel. When the book was published, I sent it to the authors of one of those references, Ray and Lorna Coppinger, who wrote Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution. Here is an excerpt from the e-mail they sent me in return:
“Thank you for sending Silver’s Treason, a neat story about a supernatural dog. I was always curious about what the dog would do next. You got the dog behavior down really well, I think . . . and you showed how closely you have paid attention to real dog behavior in the scene where Silver regurgitates for the soldier . . . if you hadn’t noted that the behavior was atavistic, a behavior gone in modern dogs but an ancestral trait present in modern wolves, you’d have “lost a wee point”. But you passed!”
I was very pleased to get words like this from two noted authors in the canine field.
Thanks Mr. D. for being my guest this week. Come back next week when Terri Bruce tells us about her newly released novel.
Don’t touch anything sharp.
All Writerly Wednesday guests can be found at http://writerlywednesday.com.