Good morning, my fellow literary diners! As always, Fridays presents us a double course of delights, starting with a sit-down in the kitchen with the chef of today’s Starving Review, Fraudulent, Robert D. Spake! Let’s dive right in!
Please introduce yourself to my literary foodies!
Hello! I’m Robert D. Spake, my friends call me Rob. It’s great to be here, and thank you for inviting me to be interviewed!
Do you do any work outside of the writing kitchen? Any non-work interests?
Actually I’m a full-time freelance writer so I make my living by writing, which was always the dream. Being freelance I don’t get to work on my own stuff as much as I would like, but it’s an interest challenge to work from outlines and to different specifications rather than simply let my mind go wild. I also run a blog where I do reviews of various things, and write ups of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
As for non-work interests my biggest passion is movies, to the point of obsession (and/or addiction). I also enjoy playing tabletop games and am in the process of helping to open a board game cafe called Board in the City. I just got finished filming the video for the Kickstarter campaign this week so I’m hoping that will be a success!
What is your latest dish to be served up? Are there any past pieces of literary cuisine you think we should take a bite out of?
My latest release was back on Valentine’s Day, and was a book called Love at First Type: A Chronicle of Addiction to Online Dating. And yes, I chose the release date of that on purpose. It’s a look at my years of failure (and sometimes moderate success) on online dating sites as I attempted to find out what went wrong, and highlight some of the quirks of online dating. I have a few books available on Amazon, and I always try and urge people to check out my collection of short stories because I explore a range of ideas and genres in those.
What made you want to put on the chef’s hat and whip up your own books?
It just happened naturally. I wasn’t a prodigy or anything, I just always had a good imagination and loads of ideas in my head, and one day I started writing them down! After I started it snowballed and I just had to write, like it was a biological need to survive. There’s nothing more I like than creating a new world and seeing how it develops.
Do you have a genre of specialty or do you dabble? Why?
I dabble. I love exploring different ideas and mixing things up. I’m like that with everything I’m interested in, I have a curious nature and I like taking things I learn and adapting them in new ways. I also get bored if I write the same thing over and over again. I like pushing my imagination to its limits. Ideally I’d be writing comic books, plays, and screenplays as well!
Style! Every literary chef aspires to have their own unique one! What do you think sets yours apart and why?
Honestly? I’m not sure. I just started writing and I honed it over time. There was one point where I looked back at the first draft of my first novel and I thought it was absolutely horrible. Right now I’m still probably my own worst critic. I just try and write from what comes within, and hope that people enjoy it!
Even the best of us find inspiration is the dishes of others. Do you have any literary inspirations, heroes, and influences?
I think one of the best things any writer can do is look at the works of others and see what you like and what you don’t. I think in any field if you want to be good at something you have to look at what others are doing and try to learn from them. The Odysssey is my favourite book so that is a huge influence. W. Somerset Maugham is my favourite writer and I feel he has a similar view on human nature as I do, and Philip K. Dick is another big influence. I have a background in philosophy so I try to put some deeper ideas in my story as well. A lot of times I try to examine the meaning of existence and the purpose of life.
Let’s get into the meat and potatoes: the art and craft of writing itself! Do you have a preference of points-of-view when you write?
I tend to prefer third-person, but sometimes I mix it up. I find I write more quickly and in more of a stream of consciousness style if I write in the third person, but naturally I gravitate to third person so that’s what I usually stick with.
Sparse or wordy, how do you like your descriptions served up? Are you a Hemmingway man or do you like some saucy adjectives with your nouns?
Very wordy. I know sometimes I tend to go off in a ramble and get caught up in certain things, but that’s also probably an influence of philosophy, as philosophers tend to ramble on and on…
Picking off the menu of base literary conflicts, what’s your favorite and why?
Man vs self. I’ve always struggled with feelings of self-doubt, and I’ve always been my own worst enemy. I put this into my writing as it’s also a way for me to work through these issues. I think an examination of one’s own soul is important and I’ve always been drawn to angst, it’s why Spider-Man is my favourite superheroes.
What do you think is more important to your recipes, plot or characterization? Why?
As an instinctive answer I’d say characterization because if the characters are boring then I’m not going to be invested in a story, and I like my characters to drive the plot. Having said that it is dependent upon the type of story. With short stories, for example, I think the theme of the story is more important and the characters aren’t as important as you don’t spend as much time with them.
We all know that the first taste means the most! What do you do to get that first bite hook with your readers?
I’m a big fan of Watchmen and in that there’s a bit where it says in order to capture your readers you should start off with the saddest thing you can think of to instantly get their sympathy. Sometimes I try that technique, but usually I try and have an air of mystery about things.
The most important of questions: Cake or pie?
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring literary chefs out there, what would it be?
Read, read loads, read as much as you can from as many diverse sources as possible. You can’t create anything in a vacuum, and all the stories that exist are a writer’s greatest resource.