by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine (May/June 2011 Issue)
Author David A. Ross has garnered quite a following not only because of his writing abilities but his desire to help others fulfill their literary dreams as well. After learning about him about a year ago, I was able to connect with the author early in 2011 thanks to Facebook and invited him to be a guest on the radio show and then Conversations Magazine. He accepted both invitations, and the result of the latter is the conversation you are about to enjoy here.
Joining me live from his home in Greece, Ross talked about how his journey as a wrter fulfilled the dream the wish of his grandfather, his novel THE VIRTUAL LIFE OF FIZZY OCEANS, the internet and the future of publishing and why you might have to wait a while for the next David A. Ross novel.
David, thanks for taking out some time to talk with us. Before we get into your
newest book, share with our readers when you first realized you had skill with words.
Thank you, Cyrus, for the opportunity to connect with your readers. I think I
have always had a way with words. I was a pretty precocious kid, and my father sometimes
became exasperated with me for talking too much. I was not the epitome of the child who
should be seen and not heard. Once I began writing at the age of eight, I taught myself
cursive before I learned it at school, just so I could write my stories faster than by
printing out the words. By the age of nine I had quite a collection of stories, which my
aunt kept until her death. Another interesting thing, that I learned much later, is that
my grandfather always wanted one of his children to become a writer. None of them did,
but I fulfilled that wish a generation later.
Looking back over your career thus far are you surprised that you have been able to
stand the test of time and changes to the publishing industry when so many have not?
Standing the test of time is a matter of love of the art, perseverance, and maybe
a bit of stupidity. I am a lifelong artist - not only as a writer but also as a musician
and a photographer. I'm fifty-eight now, so I guess there is no turning back. You know,
the years just seem to pass. Over those years I have watched many in the arts throw in
the towel - mostly to make a better living. To be committed, as I have, to writing, one
must be willing to sacrifice (to a certain extent) some of the material pleasures
available to those who do not work in the arts. Maybe that is a sad fact, nevertheless a
truth. However it has turned out on a commercial level, I cannot imagine having taken any
other course. I have no regrets.
As for the changes in publishing, I could not be more thrilled with what is happening
these days. The move from print to digital publishing has saved not only my career as a
writer, but many others, I suspect. Over the past thirty years, the large publishers have
moved from quality publishing, where they nurtured and developed writers, to bottom line
publishing. I think this has had a devastating impact on the literary arts. The door was
closed to many fine writers simply because they could not produce the type of economic
return that the big publishers were looking for. What developed, I think, is a void. I
can name no less than thirty superstar writers who were publishing their novels during
the 50s, 60s, and 70s - people like Mailer, Kerouak, Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip
Roth, Joe Heller and many more - but today you would be lucky to name two of that
stature. That void was created by the 'economic' rather than the literary model of
publishing. EBooks and open source publishing has changed all that, and I think we are in
for a literary renaissance something akin to what happened to music in the 60s and 70s.
Your book THE VIRTUAL LIFE OF FIZZY OCEANS manages to marry the real world that we have to contend with each day and the reality we are able to create and enjoy thanks to technology. Where did the idea for the book come from?
Quite simply. I have Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life, to thank for
the inspiration. That and the fact that a good part of my own life is lived each day in
the virtual world.
When it comes to technology and more specifically social networking, how do you
think it has aided in your connecting with fans and marketing yourself to new readers as
Again, it is an absolute necessity. Facebook, I think, is the greatest marketing
tool to come along since television. And it is interactive. I believe it accounts for a
good number of my book sales.
David, aside from your own career as a writer you have been cultivating other
literary talent as well. Why is that so important to you?
Simply because I can... As I said, I think there has been a long dry spell in
really good literature, and I also think the time is right for new writers to emerge. My
own voice is not the only important one, so I try to help others along the path. So many
really creative people are just waiting for a chance to be heard, and if I can help them
achieve that, I am more than happy to give my time, experience and effort to that end.
Could you give us an idea of what we should be on the lookout for next?
As far as another novel, I'm not sure whether or not I will write one. Usually, I
take at least a year off between major writing projects. The Virtual Life of Fizzy Oceans
took three and a half years to write. It also represents more than a million words
published for me. So I'm not sure anyone really wants to hear more of my particular brand
of lunacy. Right now I'm concentrating on publishing other writers. I take a lot of
satisfaction from that effort.
Thanks for your time and congrats on your success. How can our readers stay in
contact with you?
My door is always open, Cyrus. I suppose the best way is to 'friend' me on my
Facebook page: David A. Ross. Or anyone can drop me a message at: firstname.lastname@example.org