Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Episode 27: Conversations Over Milk & Cookies - Daniel Dombrowski

Welcome to Episode 27 of Conversations over Milk & Cookies hosted by Kindle Ninja. 

Hi, Kindle Ninja here. You know, the ninja who occasionally stalks indie authors and invites them to Conversations over Milk & Cookies. 

What is this madness, you ask? It's my way of supporting indie authors, and now, publishers! We interact with them everyday, directly through tweets, or indirectly through re-tweets, but we don't really know much about them. Their personalities really don't shine through in 140 characters. 

Of course, that changed considerably when the Milk & Cookies segment was born. Since its inception, we've seen the funny side, silly side, dark side, and all other sides that these wonderful authors don't let show. 

Today, I'm having a conversation with author and publisher Daniel J. Dombrowski of 33rd Street Press.

Dan (we can call you Dan, right?) is running a Kickstarter for Nonlocal Science Fiction #1 through February 14th, and it’s a great chance to get limited edition swag and advance copies. He wants you to be  a part of something awesome!

Let's get to know Daniel in more than 140 characters, shall we?
KINDLE NINJA (KN):  Welcome to Conversations over Milk and Cookies. How do you like your cookies? Chewy? Crunchy? Crumbly? Something else?

DANIEL: When I was younger, my father was a regional distributor for Pepperidge Farms. We always had cookies around, but usually, if we got to eat them, it was because they were slightly beyond the expiration date. There’s this one variety called Brussels that’s two thin little crunchy wafer cookie with a layer of chocolate in between. When they get stale enough, they get pretty flexible, to the point where you can bend them around your finger without breaking them. I have cravings for those to this day, but it seems silly to buy them and let them sit around for a couple of weeks.

Hah! Fantastic! Good to know I'm not alone. I let cookies/biscuits sit around too. I’d assume I’m the person you’d want to drink Milk with, but who’s the person you’d want to have coffee with?
Either Isaac Asimov or Philip K. Dick. Both writers created such unique literary universes. I’d just want to see how their minds worked. I think I’m a little more similar to Asimov as a writer and how I edit – very precise and methodical and measured. But I aspire to be more like Philip K. Dick – funny, completely unique, and more than a little insane.

Writers are very interesting (and sometimes quirky) people with strange rituals. Have you met some of them lately?
I don’t know much about the rituals or habits of my writer, unfortunately, because we communicate mainly via email. I’m also working with several first-time authors, so they maybe haven’t had the time to develop many idiosyncrasies. I’m planning to do a series of podcasts where I interview each of the authors from the first issue. Hopefully I’ll get some good dirt there.

At the moment, I get to know the authors by their digital footprints. By far the most unique and weird (and I say that with admiration, not scorn) of the authors in the first issue is H. C. Turk. He’s an author, a musician, a photographer, and an artist. I don’t understand half of what he does or says, but he’s brilliant. His story “In The Days Of Still Pictures” is one of the standouts in the first issue for sure.

What’s your strange writing ritual?
I wish I had one. I’m entirely too methodical when I write. I sit down and just do it, and I’m rarely happy with any of it, at least on the fiction end. I think if I had some strange habit or ritual, something that put me more in the moment and freed up my head a little more, I’d probably be a little happier with the results. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

I suggest a ritual involving doughnuts. So, how do you feel about doughnuts without holes?
You need to have a place to put the cream or jelly! If you put a hole in the middle of every donut, you’d be limiting potential for deliciousness in a way that would be entirely unacceptable.

What’s the book you wished you’d published?
Foundation. Asimov basically invented modern sci-fi, and Foundation and all of the sequels and prequels are his masterpiece. I think the Nebula Awards named them the greatest sci-fi series of all time at some point, and I don’t think anything will ever seriously challenge that title. To have been a part of publishing that series would have been incredible. The original trilogy was first published as a serial in Astounding Magazine throughout the 1940s. It’s one of the reasons I want to make my own sci-fi magazine – to give writers a medium to throw out new ideas. You never know where it might lead.

 Dan is talking about this sci-fi magazine:

Nonlocal Science Fiction #1 is a sci-fi magazine for genre lovers looking for fresh, new talents. It’s a true partnership between a publisher and the authors, and it’s only the first step for what Dan wants to do with 33rd Street Digital Press. 

I know you’re a writer too, so, if you were to write your life story, what would be the title?
The Boy Who Refused To Be Normal

What’s the sci-fi book you wished you’d written?
American Gods by Neil Gaiman. World mythologies have always fascinated me, and the way that book ties the whole concept of gods, both old world and new, together to create this fantastically dark and twisted world blew my mind. I’m an old-school, golden age, hard sci-fi guy at heart, but that book is special.

Greatest sci-fi character of all time.
R. Daneel Olivaw. If you’ve never read Asimov extensively, you should. R. Daneel is there pretty much at the beginning, right at the end, and a lot of really interesting places in between. The cohesiveness of Asimov’s fictional universe, the fact that pretty much everything he wrote ties together in some way into this one giant timeline, is possibly the greatest sci-fi literary achievement of all time.

Sex and the City character you identify the most.  (hah! This is a curve ball! lol)
Ummm…who was the main one? Carrie? She was a writer, right? I think that was the framing device for the show.

Okay, you can be Carrie, and I'd be Samantha LOL. Book you’ve read because everyone has read it.
I’m working on Gone Girl at the moment when I have the time. I’m finding it very…self-indulgent. I’m not a big fan of extraneous description and back story that doesn’t add to the character or the narrative. Gillian Flynn is clearly a gifted writer, but if I had been her editor, that book would be about half as long.

What’s your favorite word?
Serendipitous. It describes my life for the past several months, and it’s just fun to say.

Least favorite word.
Till, when it’s used as slang for ‘until.’ I’ve ranted about this in several places. It’s in dictionaries as an acceptable usage, but I disagree. First, ‘till’ is already a word with several definitions (money drawer/box, the money in the drawer/box itself, turning up soil for planting, soil left behind by a melting glacier). Second, the actual word only has one L. If till is slang for until, you’ve lost two letters and added one. It doesn’t seem worth it. If you insist on using the slang, and it should only ever be used in dialogue unless you want to look like a hack, use a leading apostrophe and don’t add the extra L: ‘til.

If you were to create an energy drink for writers and publishers, what would be the ingredients? And what would you call it?
Philip K. Dick was famous for writing for days on end while consuming nothing but whiskey and potassium tablets. I’d bottle that and call it Dreaming of Electric Sheep or something. I don’t know how energetic it would make you, but it’s worth a shot.

What would you rather be doing now? (instead of answering these questions).  
Editing some fantastic submissions for Nonlocal Science Fiction #2.

 If a ninja were to challenge you to a duel of sorts, what weapon would you use?
That gun that Roland carries in The Dark Tower series. That thing would mess a guy up.

And who will win?
Probably the ninja.

What song would you be probably caught dancing to?
I won’t dance. Don’t ask me. My heart won’t let my feet do things that they should do.

If ninjas were to raid your fridge, what would they find in there?
Leftovers of whatever delicious meal my wife made the night before, chocolate milk, and lots of Coke Zero.

 What’s the first three books in your TBR pile?  
The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller, Neuromancer by William Gibson, and about a dozen submissions for Nonlocal that I haven’t gotten to yet.

Do you think I’m too nosey? ;)
No. You’re wonderful.

 On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you about life right now?
10. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing for the first time in my life, and it feels awesome.


Underwater or Outer space?
Outer space. Who wants to be underwater?

Puppies or Kittens?

Oscars or Grammys?

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Both. Simultaneously.

Ninjas or Aliens?
Both. Simultaneously.

Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed the milk and cookies.
I did! Thanks for including me!


  1. Awesome interview! Although the real curveball was Ninja's statement, "Okay, you can be Carrie, and I'd be Samantha."


    1. haha! Thanks for stopping by. Congrats to you and Dan on getting the funding for this project.