TAEM- In our August 1st, 2010 issue we first interviewed David Sakmyster (click on to see article) and recently learned that Dave has been quite busy indeed.
David in reading your bio it states : “David Sakmyster is an award-winning author and screenwriter who strangely finds himself at home amidst the icy upstate New York winters. He has over two dozen short stories and nine novels published. In addition to The Morpheus Initiative series about psychic archaeologists (described as “Indiana Jones meets The X-Files”) starting with the book The Pharos Objective, he has published the horror novel Crescent Lake, the suspense-thriller Blindspots and the historical epic, Silver and Gold. His screenplay, Nightwatchers, has been optioned for production, and when he’s not researching ghost sightings or fighting corruption, he’s currently at work on several other screenplays and novels. Visit him at www.sakmyster.com.”
TAEM-We have been truly amazed at the many works that you have produced at that time and since. How were you able to attain the stamina to do so?
DS- I would like to say that the writing muscle—if there is such a thing—is one that you have to continually exercise. But for me it’s like there have been periods of intense activity followed by droughts. Even in the downtime however, the creativity spark is still there, the gears still turning, and I’m always working on something, if only in my head. Some people say writers have to be writing all the time. For me it’s more like binging. I’ll have long periods where it appears I’m not doing anything writing-wise, but I’m really either clearing my head or dreaming up new plots; and then I’ll have an intense couple weeks or months when it all comes out in a fury of writing. I feel blessed to be able to do that, because you never know what life’s going to throw at you and there have certainly been times when I have been in no mood to write; but then the stress goes away, the inspiration comes back and I’m off to the races.
DS- I’m very cross-genre-oriented, but started with a definite love of the paranormal, spooky and thrilling. I always try to lace my stories with the extraordinary, and what I find fascinating is that although people normally think of the world as ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’, there are so many examples of unusual events occurring not only throughout history but in everyday life that I don’t feel like I’m writing about impossible things. I love research, and most of my stories are influenced by facts or aspects of other cultures people may not know about—things I’ve found just too fascinating to ignore. Like the concept of ghost marriages, or the long-held belief that an ancient lighthouse could safeguard an incredible treasure. So more than focusing on a genre, I really follow where inspiration leads, and then the story becomes what it is—whether it’s a horror tale about ghosts or possession, or it’s an action-thriller laced with ancient magic, or whether it’s a straight up mystery or a pure science fiction tale. The important thing I always find when I read good fiction, and what I try to do when I write, is that it’s all about the characters—what drives them and what challenges and experiences they face. And it’s the same whatever the genre, if you care about the people involved, you’ll stay involved, regardless of the backdrop of genre.
TAEM- Tell us about some of the books that you have written and the feedback that you received on them.
DS-Oh where to start…? I’ve written ten books (and counting), and like anything, the feedback has been varied and also, in this business I’ve found it depends a lot on marketing and exposure. You can’t get feedback on what people aren’t reading. So that’s been a big piece of it, and it’s been a learning curve, one I’m still riding and trying to understand in the changing industry. When I started writing, it was all about brick and mortar stores and trying to do conventions and books signings. Now things have changed so much, and it’s really about reaching the digital reader and getting those downloads and having people clicking and sharing and responding. It’s a whole new world, but exciting too. My Morpheus Initiative books certainly have done the best commercially, and received the most reviews and positive responses, but I’ve also gotten tremendous praise about other books, like Silver and Gold, which many have said to be incredibly moving and emotional, as well as epic and action packed. And Blindspots has been reviewed as an amazing page turner with a great psychological twist.
TAEM- Another venue that you have written pertains to the many short stories that you had written. Please tell us about this.
DS-I actually started my career with short stories. After winning a creative writing contest in high school, I was inspired to give writing a serious go, and I just kept at it. Over thirty short stories I penned in the next fifteen years, and I spent an inordinate amount of time polishing those ten-to-twenty page tales and then heading to the post office (before the blessed days of email submissions). Of course I generated stacks and stacks of rejection slips, and then came the rare and wondrous acceptance which made it all worthwhile. I wrote in all genres and again, just went where the ideas took me. I started going to writers’ conferences and met editors and other writers, and it was all fun—but frustrating as well. And finally, years later I looked at all those magazines (and some which were only online), and I really wanted to have all those stories in one place—which is why I decided to create a collection, and I’m very proud to have that published this year. So now, I’ve got all my favorite little tales—all those memories—in one book called Escape Plans, and those stories have new lives again, and can hopefully be enjoyed by a wider readership.
DS-One of my short stories (the one about a ghost marriage) won a national award, and at the reception ceremony in California someone told me the story would make a great movie, and asked if I’d ever considered turning it into a screenplay. I had no idea about that, but I said sure, I’ll look into it. And when I got home I bought some books on screenwriting and downloaded a couple dozen classic scripts, studied everything, and then got down to work. And I loved it. Screenwriting is a different art form, but exciting and fun—it forces a writer to get to the heart of the characters faster, to be lean and direct. That screenplay went on to place really well in contests and get me some interest from producers, who requested other scripts if I had them. So I wrote more. Then a break came just recently with a screenplay that someone I never even sent it to found a copy, read it and said it was just what he was looking for. So I have an actual option now, and am working with them on the next steps. It’s called Nightwatchers, and is an intense and spooky tale set in a remote trailer park. It’s got a great twist—and sequel potential. Hopefully it will begin production soon.
TAEM- We are currently running ads about your projects, The Pharos Objective and Escape Plans. Tell our readers about your current piece of work, Escape Plans.
DS-Escape Plans, as I mentioned, is a collection of my favorite published stories. It has an amazing cover and was published by Wordfire Press in July. Nineteen tales across various genres, Escape Plans includes award-winning stories and ones that were in major publications as well as venues that may not have had more than a few dozen readers, so I’m really excited to have all these stories in one place.
TAEM- What is the inspiration behind some of the stories in this collection?
DS-Each tale has its own origin, and some have very unique backgrounds. One story was very personal, influenced by my experience dealing with cancer, another drew on my childhood love of comic books; others were more straightforward in the sense that I read something that triggered a story idea—like the fact that there’s a cultural practice in Madagascar that involves bringing dead ancestors out of their tombs and throwing them a party to honor them… Another emotional tale evolved out of my attempt to understand the concept of reincarnation and what would happen if humanity became immortal. There are so many more influences, and actually for this collection I had fun writing a short introduction to each story where I discuss what inspired its creation.
TAEM- Who are the main protagonists in your novel The Pharos Objective, and do you continue with them in other books in the series?
DS-In the Pharos Objective, book one of the Morpheus Initiative series of three completed books, my protagonists are psychic archaeologists, remote viewers who can (with some serious limitations) see into other times and places. They are caught up in global conspiracies and deadly missions to places of ancient mystery. My plan was initially to end the series after three books, but I went on to write a couple short story ‘prequels’—one of which made it into Escape Plans. And now…well, inspiration is hitting again and I am going to bring them out of retirement for a Book 4.
TAEM- So what else are you working on and what can we expect next from you?
DS-I’ll be getting to that Morpheus Initiative Book 4 shortly but I’m close to finishing two other novels. One is called Jurassic Dead, a collaboration with a fine writer, Rick Chesler. Look for it in the fall (and yes, it’s what you think—zombie dinosaurs!). The other is a modern day thriller involving druids and a different sort of ‘man-made’ climate change that will threaten all of civilization. It’s called Final Solstice, and should be out for Christmas.
TAEM- David, we are proud to run the ads for these. Our readers can find your ads on our Homepage and in ‘Our Book Store‘ sections during our September 1, 2014 issue. We hope to hear more good news about your writing career in the future and know that our readers will love your new projects.