The Magnolia Review: Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
Arthur Davis: My creative space is somewhere between my left ear and my right ear, and deep space.
I write from my laptop at home, late at night after work and on most weekends. When I am drafting a story I try and write 2000 words a day. I can do more, but if I do there is less there the next day to draw from.
At the end of the day I always leave something on the ‘table’ for my imagination to work with tomorrow.
TMR: What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
AD: My laptop. I don’t make notes or write anything down. I work through dialogue in my head until the character’s voices are clear and resonate. If you can’t imagine a character saying something, neither can the reader.
TMR: What is your routine for writing?
AD: I make time to write 3 to 4 late evenings and always on weekends. Even an hour a day is better than nothing.
TMR: How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
AD: I have been writing on and off for many years.
However, starting around 1990, I wrote 11 novels over the next decade.
I came to short stories comparatively late. As a novelist many of my early stories were between 8,000 and 15,000 words. I quickly learned that the market for stories in this range is limited, which led to many rewrites until I was comfortable in the 1500 to 5000, word range.
That retooling of my skill-set took over 2 years.
TMR: Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
AD: I don’t really have an intended, or ideal audience. I write to please and amuse myself. Writing brings joy into my life, and I am delighted to share it with the widest audience.
I write horror, dark fantasy, slipstream, science fiction, speculative fiction, crime, epic adventure, magical realism as well as literary fiction and have no particular market.
You could suggest the best plot or idea or character to me, and I wouldn’t know what to do with it.
I’ve written about 140 short stories, and submitted almost 100 in the last 5 years. Since 2012 over seventy tales have been published in 50 online and print journals. An additional 18 have been picked up as reprints. I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and inclusion in a Best Mysteries yearly anthology. Eight stories were included in a quarterly, single author anthology, that came out in 2016.
TMR: What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
AD: I don’t actually relate to inspiration in the sense you are asking.
I see the characters as they move through my imagination. It’s as though you turned on television and watched a movie you never heard of. If the characters and plot are compelling, you will probably watch it through. If not, you turn it off and walk away.
When I see characters move through space I watch and listen. If I have any ‘skill’ it’s listening.
I believe if you give your characters time and space, they will tell you a story that you could never have imagined.
Many years ago I attended a book reading in New York City where John Gardner and another author were presenting their latest novels. There was a brief Q&A when the reading ended. One of the questions asked, one that you hear very often was, “where do you get the inspiration for your stories?” A woman in the audience added, “do either of you have a muse?”
I sat in the back of a crowded Barnes & Noble on Broadway and 82nd Street in Manhattan and listened to these successful authors. Neither had a muse. They didn’t believe such creatures existed. My experience was different.
When the muse speaks, I write. When the muse whispers, a story rarely finds its ending and remains incomplete and wanting. When the muse is strident, the imagery is overpowering and I record what unfolds, never knowing how the tale will end until the last paragraph reveals itself to me.
I do not choose what I see, the plot or narratives that lead me on. I accept the gift given, without question or judgment.
TMR: What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
AD: I am a management consultant specializing in corporate planning and reorganization, and have been quoted in The New York Times, Crain’s New York Business and interviewed on New York TV News Channel 1. I have taught at The New School University, advised The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, advised Senator John McCain’s investigating committee on boxing reform, appeared as an expert witness on best practices before State Senator Roy Goodman’s New York State Commission on Corruption in Boxing, advised The Department of Homeland Security, National Protection and Programs Directorate and lecture on leadership skills to CEO’s and entrepreneurs.
When not working or writing, I am at the gym or speed-walking in Central Park or with friends or in museums, or attending lectures on most everything from science to modern art.
I volunteer for a number of causes.
I live and work in New York City. It’s all here.
TMR: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
AD: Listening to my characters tell me their story.
I’ve been quite fortunate and am very grateful for the support I’ve received from readers and editors who have taken my efforts to heart.
My favorite is a quote from the editor of a Horror magazine in 2013:
“Final Comments: Freaking BRILLIANT. “The Unwelcome Guest,” is one of the most interesting and funny horror stories I’ve read while on staff. Wow! I loved your story. You had me enraptured through the whole second half. I didn’t even want to stop and edit until I’d made it to the end!
I actually laughed aloud during several parts. That’s hard to accomplish. (I have a reputation for being a stickler.) Fantastic, marvelous job!
This story was flawless! Wonderful work. Thank you so much for submitting and I highly encourage you to submit again if you ever find yourself writing horror.”
TMR: What is your advice to aspiring writers?
AD: Stop overthinking, and write at least 500 words every day.
Nothing will make sense until it is ready to make sense.
No magic here.
Check out Arthur’s work in the issue, Volume 3, Issue 1.