Exclusive Interview with
David E Navarro
When did you start writing?
I started writing poems at 8 years old. I already loved language and phonics, and I simply followed the patterns of Dr. Seuss books and nursery rhymes and other children's poetry that I had heard, and made my own poems of rhyming verse about Calumet Park and stuff relevant to me. In 4th grade (8 years old) one of my poems won the school poetry contest (grade school 1 - 8). Never had a 4th grader beat the 7th and 8th graders! Then at 10 years old I won another contest run by the Chicago Tribune newspaper and my poem was published in the paper. Aside from my early dabbling in Seussish and sing-songy rhyming verse poetry, at 13 years old I became fascinated with Robert Frost's poetry and his love of nature. Since my mom's family is from New England (I was born in Newport, Rhode Island), we visited Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island several times while growing up, so I got to experience Frost's world, and the world of another of my favorite most influential writers, that of Henry David Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts. Frost and Thoreau, along with Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickenson, Mark Twain, and Carl Sandburg, were my early writing influences and inspired me to share my love of life and nature with the world.
What makes writing your passion?
What makes breathing a necessity? For me, writing is my life-breath. I can't explain why I have to write or why it is my passion in this world, but it is. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than to communicate in writing whether fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or literature. I must write, I must craft word art, I must compose poetry, then I am smiling.
How long have you been writing?
Question on Elementary Math Quiz:
David started writing at 8 years old. David is now 61 years old. How long (in years) has David been writing?
61 - 8 = 53 David has been writing for 53 years. That's more than half a century. I hope he has learned something about writing in all that time that makes his books worth reading.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
It was fulfillment of a life dream. Probably somewhere around 13 years old I began dreaming of being an author and a poet. I was a bibliophile and practically lived in libraries and bookstores and every time I went to one I pictured my book on the shelf. I knew that one day I would be an author. Well, when it happened, glory be, what kind of ecstatic feeling do you think I had. I felt like I could jump over the moon on that day my first book arrived in my hands. I had this glow about me as I stared in awe at the book. And then I went back into the files of my mind and pictured that book on the shelves of libraries and bookstores.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I have a plethora of personae and characters I use. The story behind them is the story of life. We meet thousands upon thousands of people in life (at least I did, I made it a point to meet as many and all kinds of people as I could). I watched people closely, their mannerisms, dress, demeanor, passions, way of communicating, what they were into, skills, abilities, likes and dislikes, their presence, and more. All these things have been retained and cataloged in the files of my mind, so when I think about a plot or situation or theme I want to write about, I imagine what kind of person the main character should be and the kinds of people other characters should be, and I usually will have a person I have met in mind as a sort of core basis for a character, but then I will add whatever details I want to that characters personality based on the thousands of qualities I have recorded in my mind from the experiences of all the people I have met. The mind works by association, so when I have an idea of the setting, scenes, situations I will be writing about, my mind immediately suggests to me the kind of character this should be and draws out of my memory banks specifics and they come to mind in my imagination immediately and this character is "born" has "life of their own" in my imagination and so is almost like a real person to me, someone I just met.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Other writers. Hahaha. Just kidding. Writers support each other very well, and yet we are all competing against each other for readers. Not all the same readers, but certain overlap. And there are so many millions of books, we all have to compete for exposure, readers, an audience. And so, of course, we have to market or hire marketers to get our books out there and in front of people so they can make decisions and hopefully we pick up readers, and even better, fans. So it ends up NOT being a matter of what is the better or best writing, highest quality, most valuable (though that factors in) it ends up being a matter of who gets the most exposure, who's title and cover appeals or goes viral, who's "discovered" by the right people to propel an author to greater readership. Then of course, the writing is important and it needs to have value to continue to be relevant, but it all starts first with exposure. It's unfortunately a numbers game to get out there and get known, and that is the most frustrating aspect or most annoying to me because I know my writing and my books are literature quality and valuable, but I first have to get exposure and reach the right audience before that becomes known.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Writer's block is a myth. Okay, let's not go that far, because writer's do experience it, so it is real, but it happens only because writer's accept its pretenses and go along with it. So once a writer knows how to make sure it never rears its ugly head again, it dissolves and becomes the "myth" it should be. When I teach writing and poetry classes I always give the attendees my maxim for prevention of writer's block.
My maxim is: The input is the key to the output.
And then I go on to list out all the methods of insuring that you have adequate input so that the output is never blocked. You have to water it for it to produce. It's like a plant. You have a house plant and it gets all shriveled and dries up because it was never watered. If it is watered properly, it will flourish and produce flowers or fruit or new growth. We will always have something to write about if we are properly watering our brains.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
True, the writer's path is never easy. But what keeps me going is very simple. Refer back to question 2: "...For me, writing is my life-breath. I can't explain why I have to write or why it is my passion in this world, but it is. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than to communicate in writing..."
So what keeps me going is "I have to". There is no fulfillment or purpose in this world outside of writing so it wouldn't matter if I had no readers, I'd still write. So the only advice I would give to new authors is: Keep going. Just do it one step at a time. Be here now, in the present moment, giving your all.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Get on it dude, time flies and you will find yourself wishing you had done more and written more when you reach 60 if you don't get on it now.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I love them all, the good and the bad. I learn from suggestions and make adjustments to improve if necessary. But sometimes bad ones are from readers who didn't pay attention, didn't engage, and didn't really get into the book so their review is meaningless in terms of relevancy.
Bad reviews sell many books. It's a paradox, for sure, but many readers buy a book just to see if the bad reviewer had it right and to prove them wrong if they didn't. Strange, I know.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I'm glad someone really read the book, paid attention, engaged it, and got into it. And I'm thankful they took the time to write a review for others.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
More than one of my characters has been based on me, but just portions of me, not all parts of me. Because they are not 100% factually accurate none of them are literally me. So, I'm not going to tell which characters they are, I'm not going to reveal them because then readers will think all the character's actions are mine, but they are not me, only based on me. They also have some qualities that make how they act a little different than me.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The book cover needs to be appealing in today's market driven world. But in the long run, it's the book that counts.
Fast forward 10 years. Ask thousands of readers of the book to describe the cover. Most can't. Ask them to tell you about the book, most can tell you all kinds of things they remember about the book, the story, the gist of it. So what's more important in the long run? It's the book, the story.
But for sales and exposure you need a good cover.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I love to connect with my readers. I prefer expression through writing ALWAYS over verbal communication. I don't mind if I end up verbally chatting with a reader, but I can frame things in a better way if I can think about it and write it out.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Humbled and thankful.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I have always hated "favorite" questions because that is something that constantly changes and also varies with context. I have favorite poets, favorite sci-fi authors, favorite fantasy authors, favorite mainstream authors, favorite non-fiction authors, etc. But if you have to nail me down to one author that I admire in all situations and contexts, it would be J.R.R. Tolkien.