JD: Have to ask this question to kick-off seen as I’m a Big Fish fan: how’s it been since Big Fish and Tim Burton’s take on your book?
DW: So far, so good. Gotten married, gotten a job, two dogs, a house, flowers, friends who love me. Feel as if I am floating high above it all in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.
JD: Like Balloon Animals, there is an element of magic and the carnivale in your books, from Big Fish up to your latest ‘The Kings and Queens of Roam’. Where does that come from?
DW: I hate the circus, and freaks scare me, but yes, I write about that a lot. It’s a nice setting, full of interesting possibilities. Magic I play around at in the worst ways: stupid card tricks, even rubber hands hidden beneath a pillow, which isn’t magic per se, just juvenile. If I had to say something thoughtful I would say magic is a lot like storytelling.
JD: I see the words ‘comic’ and ‘poignant’ in my readers reviews. I see the same in your reviews, plus ‘tragedy’ and ‘comedy’ in both book descriptions. How do you feel about this tragicomic thing we’ve got going on?
DW: I feel a kinship, a brother out there I’ve never met, a harbor in a storm.
JD: Brother Daniel, your books tend to take place in rural areas as mine do. What is the attraction of that and its sense of place?
DW: I know, right? Small is better. Easier to get ahold of. It’s all there, wherever you are.
JD: There’s a strange off-kilter almost dream-like quality to all of your books. How do you explain that quasi-reality? I ask because I get asked the same question and I can’t explain why I suspend reality.
DW: I think reality is debatable, and in my books I just take that to an extreme. It’s these moments of difference — of magic — which allow us to see what our quotidian lives really look like. Maybe.
DW: Are you as tall as I am? I am the tallest writer around these parts: can you say the same?
JD: I’m not tall enough to reach the top shelf but I feel that I’m taller than you when you’re in my telly playing your cameo in Big Fish. Good question, tricky.
DW: Have you engaged in this sort of Q and A with other writers you have never met?
JD: Yes, Devotchka have a great tragi-comic quality in their music and Tom Hagerman has my book in his Kindle (that doesnt mean he’s read it). Actress Janet Varney also has my book on her Kindle ( ” “) In July I’m doing a back and forth with Napoleon Dynamite’s on-screen brother ‘Kip’ or Aaron Ruell who is reading Balloon Animals in paperback. Again, his work is special, both in front of and behind the camera. You’re the first writer. Humbling or what? Meeting the creator of the work is secondary for me, its what that person creates is what counts and takes on a life of its own.
DW: How old are you, JD?
JD: Depends on the day and time, D. If I’m looking after my two daughters ( 6 and 2) while my wife is away on business then my age tends to double. 38 to answer your question.
DW: Why do you write?
JD: It’s the only thing I’m anyway competent at … and I say that with honesty. It all began when I used to join the ítems on my mom’s shopping list with a narrative plot – the carrots were soon blaming the cauliflower for the murder.
DW: What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
JD: I’d like to be a crane operator, one of those wrecking-ball cranes. I’d get up close and personal with those who have done me wrong in a previous life.
DW: What do you think of the film I just made?
JD: It’s got a haunting quality … but fire the casting agent. This Hermit crab in question clearly wants no part of this fiasco and wants to live up to its name. Never work with Hermit crabs, Daniel, you should know that by now. How ’bout a lobster? Now there’s a crustacean that loves the camera and is photogenic to go with it.