Don Calame is a distinguished author whose credits include "Call the Shots", "Beat the Band", and "Swim the Fly". He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 2006 movie "Employee of the Month" and has just finished writing the hilariously entertaining novel "Dan Versus Nature" in which two high school outcasts go on a camping trip to try and scare away Dan's soon to be father-in-law. (Read my review here). The book trailer may be found here.
Don has generously agreed to take time out of his busy schedule and answer a few questions for us here at Eyes and Books. If you are interested in reading his work, there are links to his novels at the conclusion of the interview.
1. What made you decide you wanted to write for a living?
I have been writing ever since I was eight years old. I remember one of the very first stories I put down on paper was about a hurricane that came through our town. I had an uncle who was blind but who loved writing and listening to what were then called "Talking Books." They were novels recorded on LPs and he would get them on loan from the library. Anyway, when this hurricane came through town - heavy winds knocking down trees, ripping off roofs -- I was very scared and my uncle told me to write it all down. Write the story of the hurricane. All the sights, sounds, smells. And so I did just that and it had this magical effect of diffusing the fear, calming me down. I've been writing in some form or another ever since.
But I guess what made me decide to write for a living was when I was in college and I took a film course and the professor spoke about the screenwriter. I didn't even know there was such a thing. Or never gave it much thought. But I love movies and I love writing so I thought it would be a great way to combine the two.
2. What is your personal favorite book?
There are so many. I love a lot of Stephen King novels, I love Ian McEwan's books, Amy Hempel's short stories, as well as anything written by Douglas Adams. But I guess my very favorite author is Richard Russo and my favorite book of his is The Risk Pool. I also can't wait until May when his new novel comes out.
3. When not writing or reading, what do you enjoy doing?
I love playing games with my wife, going for hikes, watching hockey games, catching up on television shows, playing with my dog.
4. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
It's pretty simple. You have to love reading. You have to love books. Read a lot and read widely. Beyond that, more specifically, I'd say, always try to write in the moment. That's the biggest trouble most people have. They try to write too big, too broad, tell the whole story at once. Instead of taking the tiny moments - the details of those things - and building a story with those moments.
5. Are there any words of wisdom that have meant a lot to you over the years?
I was very lucky as a child that my mom briefly dated one of the guys who writes the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. This was way before he ever had the idea for those books. But he was very much into motivational speaking and he always encouraged me - even as a ten year old - to write down my goals and dreams and never give up on them. It seems so platitudinous now but at the time it meant so much to me. To know I could pursue the things I loved and wanted to do. And it stuck with me, the encouragement.
6. In "Dan Versus Nature", Dan's best friend is a genius who has to always outsmart others. Was this character inspired by any one you know?
Throughout my novels I tend to take bits and pieces from people I know in life and use them as spices, ingredients, make a bit of a soup out of their traits, ticks, personality quirks. Charlie, however, actually came to me fully formed in the first chapter of the book. I could see him, hear him, knew what he was like. His germaphobic tendencies, however, do come from... ehem... maybe me a little, though not quite to his extremes.
I strongly encourage you to check out "Dan Versus Nature" and you can find links to purchase this book along with his other outstanding works, below.