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A GoodReads Interview with Author Dan McDowell

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

What’s your advice for aspiring writers? Dream big, be brave, and share your story when everything inside you tells you not to. Bizarre is okay, sometimes. Original is even better! That's what sets your creative identity apart. And, don't be afraid to break the rules of grammar from time to time. That's often where the art of writing becomes three dimensional.

How do you deal with writer’s block? Admit that there's no such thing. Step away from what you're working on and start something new or another activity you enjoy (your current project will still be waiting). What's interesting to me is that, quite often, a brief attention diversion is exactly what's needed before you can really get back in your groove. Never force it. Wait for the epiphany, it's coming.

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book? My upcoming title, Pool Man, will release in July 2022. I felt attracted to the idea of swimming pools and horror while at a swimming lesson for my daughter. Later that day, we watched Cocoon. Though the movie was nothing like the style or story I was thinking of, it was the spark I was looking for. The idea that an untapped goldmine was sitting tucked away in the troubled and unlit attic of my mind intrigued me, and I just ran with it. Whether it's the real deal or pyrite, that's for the reader to decide. Those attic lights came on and I hammered the keys until I couldn't anymore. First draft was a mess, but as time and feedback trickled in, I knew I had something worth pursuing, and that's when the project really got fun.

What’s the best thing about being a writer? There's no limit to imagination or expression in writing. There's no boundaries, no rules, only creative landscapes that stretch for endless miles. I love that. It's a place to escape, a playground that goes to the outer limits and beyond. I discover new places everyday. I have to make sure I don't remain in "these places" at the wrong times. The real world commitments are still there. What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book? My daughter had a set of multicolored spoons that disappeared from our kitchen. I'm convinced a serial thief has a collection in a basement somewhere. The bigger mystery is why. What are you currently working on? I have a dystopian psychological thriller I had written in 2020 called Truth or Consequences. I'm dusting that off and prepping it for release toward year end. It's separate to my Nightmare in Riverton series and introduces a new universe of stories, people, and situations to explore. I'm looking forward to sharing it. Can you tell us a two-sentence horror story?

His skin rots away as she stares. Folding him like a fitted sheet, the garage cooler beckons.

How do you get inspired to write? Inspiration is definitely seasonal for me. It's rarely cyclical or predictable. It's always the ordinary that leads me to the extraordinary. Sometimes, I'm scooping coffee grounds in a crinkled filter and something hits me-- that breakthrough, and then, it's time to hit the ground(s) running. Other times, it's a dream, a racing thought in the middle of the night, or some other moment or unique scenario that grabs my attention.

Who are your influences?

This is a great question. I am admittedly still becoming a better reader. It's not uncommon for me to read a book for its flavor and drop it half way. That's no reflection on the writer or the story typically, but instead my eclectic and seasonal taste. As an avid connoisseur of movies and television, I naturally gravitate to books that have been adapted. To name a few, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, Gillian Flynn, Dean Koontz, and Kurt Vonnegut. From a filmmaker's perspective, I enjoy the work of David Lynch, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Wes Craven, and Guillermo del Toro.

Anything else you want to say?

I'm energized to write and to chat about the writer's journey anytime. I encourage any and all interested parties to corner me and ask questions, I like to talk about it. Just make sure you have an hour or two set aside.

Favorite Bad Review on one of your books?

It reminded me of going to an ice cream parlor. You go in and see all these intricate and fancy flavors, but you wind up settling for plain vanilla. That vanilla is this book.

Bonus zinger:

From the very beginning it's ridiculous and sounds like a child wrote it.

Favorite Good Review on one of your books?

This is a scary fun read. The Shining meets Saw. Best character is "winner, winner chicken dinner" Creeper Joe the crockpot crackpot. This book was like a bucket of popcorn--gone too soon.

Bonus praise:

This very strange tale will take you to odd places, and introduce even odder people. From penthouse to basement, you'll explore the outer limits. Enjoy!

Dan McDowell is an award nominated author of the Nightmare in Riverton novel series. In 2022, Dan will be releasing the next installment in the series, Pool Man, and a dystopian psychological thriller entitled, Truth or Consequences. He and his family currently reside in the San Antonio, TX, area.

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