Bookmagnet Interview

I did an interview with the super-nice Jaime Boler at Bookmagnet.

Bookmagnet: Your writing has been compared to that of Stewart O’Nan and Richard Russo.  How do such comparisons make you feel?

Theodore Sr.
Theodore Sr.

Dennis: Honored, since I’m a big fan of both, and somewhat confused, as I don’t entirely see myself that way. I don’t mean that negatively or positively. I just don’t know who I’d compare myself to because I don’t really think that way. Take a parenting analogy: I try to raise a happy, well-adjusted son, but wouldn’t it be strange to compare my parenting style to that of more famous parents? “Mahoney’s fatherly lectures are reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt Sr.’s inspirational words to young Teddy…”

Read the full interview here.

Talking Box

denniswnytI did an interview about FELLOW MORTALS on WNYT-NBC the other day.

Prior to walking in the door, my heart was like a crazed sparrow flying around my stomach, but I calmed myself down with deep breathing. This actually worked for a change.

I sat and watched the news show unfold, and then they sat me in a chair during a commercial break and wheeled the big cameras over. I deep-breathed again. I was stone-cold comfortable for the first minute of the interview, and then I caught a glimpse of myself on the monitor and forgot to breathe altogether. But I managed to make it through and flubbed only a single word, pronouncing “guilt” as “gult”. All told, I think it went pretty well.

You can watch the interview here.

Drugstore Inspiration

Review_LogoA local reporter thought I contradicted myself on the subject of inspiration.

“Where did you get the idea of the neighborhood fire?” he asked, referring to FELLOW MORTALS’ central crisis.

“It just popped into my head one morning at the drugstore,” I said, “along with the general structure of the whole novel.”

Ten minutes earlier, I’d said that fiction writing—for me, at least—is a craft like any other, requiring discipline and practical skills. Writers are more like carpenters, with specialized tools and patient labor, and less like dreamy lovers frolicking with Pan in the moonlight.

“So which is it?” he asked. “The muse or the toolbox?”

There are so many lousy ways to answer that very good question…

Continue Reading at Barnes & Noble’s Discover Blog

Fellow Mortals Cover Design

I’m thrilled with the Fellow Mortals cover. It was designed by Charlotte Strick at FSG. The painting is by Jennifer Mehigan, whom I blogged about several months ago. I found Jennifer’s work online accidentally and showed it to my editor. She and the designer loved it, too, so they secured the rights and here we are.


Fellow Mortals is now available for preorder, even though it isn’t coming out until March 2013.

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Back from the Dead

I’ve been doing Fancy Writer Stuff and haven’t updated here in a while, but now I’m back and ready to blog the living hell out of this blog.

The aforementioned writer stuff was the line-edits for Fellow Mortals. This is where my editor does a fine-tooth read and makes final suggestions, mostly minor but often important, before the manuscript goes to production and they begin to galleys. The edits took me less than four days, so it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the major edits of several months ago. I love this kind of revision, which is mostly a chance to strengthen what already works. I’m ready to let the book go at this point, even though I’m sure to regret certain lines and find terrible shortcomings once it’s totally out of my hands.

We’re close to having a final jacket design, too. It’s been fun looking at the drafts.

Thanks to input from a friend, we now believe that Bones is not a Jack Russell/Boxer mix as we were originally told, but a Labrador/German Shepherd mix. Which means we’re likely to have a bigger dog than anticipated. He’s packing on a pound a week and continues to be 100% awesome. Be sure to follow the Daily Bones on Pinterest.

The pumpkin seedlings took to the patch like champs but had a slow, chilly week of minimal growth. I expect them to make better gains now that the weather is back to a sunny 75-85. If all goes well, I’ll be pollinating pumpkins by early- to mid-July.

I’ve written 5 chapters of my next book. Having a blast writing this one. I’m taking two weeks off to tackle odd jobs and hang with our son, and then I’ll be back to daily writing for the summer. Ideally I’ll have most of the first draft finished by the time Fellow Mortals is released next March. That way Mortals‘ reception, for better or worse, shouldn’t dramatically affect my work. Every published writer seems to suggest this: have the next one very far along or you risk freezing up in the face of public praise/dislike/indifference.

Melissa Mykal kindly zombified my author photo:

Fellow Mortals After All

My forthcoming novel was originally called Fellow Mortals, a title I chose because “fellow” is a good-sounding word that expressed the community vibe of the story, and “mortals” because the book is preoccupied with death and loss and moving on with our lives in spite of the specter of mortality, and also because an earlier version made explicit use of Greek mythology and “mortals” has a classical Greeky quality. (The singular “mortal” might have indicated that my book was a drugstore thriller, which sadly it is not.) Fellow Mortals was easy to pronounce and short enough to remember and fit the book, so win-win-win.

But then I had second thoughts because I cut most of the mythology (it started feeling to me like very pretentious first-novelist stuff), and my aunt and mother could never remember the title when friends and relatives asked, and, as the FSG publicity director noted, it sounded rather like something Cicero might have pronounced before the Senate.

I liked Pine because a lot of the book is set in the woods and there was the double-meaning of grief/yearning. But marketing worried it was too quiet and vague, and after weeks of batting around, oh, hundreds of unsuccessful word combinations that ranged from overpoetic to not-quite-right t “Dennis Needs to Step Away and Clear His Head”, my editor and her boss put their brains together and thought, you know, Fellow Mortals works great for this thing, and I found myself in total agreement.

So, to quote Cicero in a way that may or may not be relevant, “Saepe autem ne utile quidem est scire quid futurum sit; miserum est enim nihil proficientem angi nec habere ne spei quidem extremum et tamen commune solacium*,” and I’m calling the book Fellow Mortals and figure it’ll work out fine when hypothetical readers want to recommend it to their hypothetical friends.

Oh hey, I have an author site, too: Which is basically an old-timey splash page circa 1997 and seemed the best way to direct random visitors here to the blog, the book, or my contact info. Please LIKE it with the Facebook button when you have a chance.

My About page has a link to a giant high-res copy of my author photo, taken by John Oberlander of Oberlander Group, who’s a great guy and a talented photographer. We went for the serious-but-approachable, smiling-with-the-eyes expression, and I encourage you to download and deface my image in Photoshop. If anyone wishes to email their defacements, perhaps I’ll post a few for public enjoyment.

dmahoney at gmail dot com

* Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 3.6.14: “Moreover, often it’s not even advantageous to know what’s going to happen; for it’s wretched for a man to be tortured [by foreknowledge] when he’s powerless to do anything about it, and to lack even the last consolation of hope, which is available to all.”