Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest release.
Hi there – my name is D.H. Dunn and I’m a former US Navy sailor who now writes adventure fantasy from his house in Maine. Pretty much every word in that sentence makes me happy – I’m really lucky to be able to do what I do, where I do it.
My most recent release was Dragons of Everest, which released in January and is the third book in my Fractured Everest series. I hope to have two more books of that series out this year, as well as one stand alone fantasy.
Let’s face it, there are tons of fantasy books out there, and more are released every day. Why should someone take a look at yours?
Fantasy is a really broad category, which I think is awesome. No matter what type of story you are looking for, odds are there’s tons of fantasy books that will make you happy.
My stories have a heavy emphasis on mixing fantasy elements with adventure, character exploration, world building and a few elements I think are unique to me – like really unusual monsters and unexpected protagonists. I try to balance my stories having real stakes with a sense of fun and optimism.
I do find it hard to put my series in a genre beyond ‘adventure fantasy’. Grimdark, it ain’t. I need hope, I need fun, I need to escape into my stories. I love to read stories of gritty realism, but that’s not what I’m writing. But neither am I writing noblebright – there’s plenty of shades of gray here and no one’s survival is guaranteed.
I think if your readers are interested in fantasy stories with likable protagonists, unusual settings and a side of Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Stargate then they should check it out. Also, I have teleporting, fireball throwing Yetis. If you like that sort of thing.
What are the most prominent influences on your writing? How do you incorporate those influences without being derivative?
As I grew up in the early to mid-eighties, my influences reflect that time. On the fantasy side: Tolkien, McCaffery, Donaldson, Eddings, Weis and Hickman. I loved Katherine Kurtz and her Deryni series, which I rarely hear mentioned anymore but was wonderful. I also read a ton of horror (though I don’t write much of it), especially King, Barker, Straub and Koontz.
I’m not sure it’s completely possible to avoid being derivative of your heroes and influences, but I think the key is to make it subconscious and not intentional. I have never tried to write an Anne McCaffrey line or construct a David Eddings plot, but if you read my stuff I am sure the echoes of the folks I named above run through them.
What are the greatest difficulties facing you as an independent author?
For me, 100% the biggest challenge is getting visibility. I’ve gotten enough good and bad reviews to know that there is an audience for what I’m writing out there. The challenge is finding them, and helping them find you. I haven’t cracked the code on that, so my plan is to just keep writing and releasing, and hope time will solve the issue.
How much does your audience’s expectations factor in to what you write? Does this ever cause you to hold back from experimenting?
These are all great questions!
I’m only one year and three books into this, so I’m only now getting a sense of what it is people respond to in my stories and what their expectations on future stories might be.
I can’t imagine that would hold me back from experimenting though – going off the beaten trail is my bread and butter! I love it when I have an idea that makes me say ‘I wonder if I can get away with this?’. I pretty much never take those scenes or ideas out. I’d rather be bad than be boring.
I have a laminated sign in my writing office that says, “If your story is sincere enough, then nothing is cheesy.” That’s my mantra. I’m not afraid to go for it, but I’ll never wink at the audience while doing it.
Name one newer and one older book you have read and enjoyed recently. (“Newer” meaning from the past year or so, and “older” meaning written before 1980.)
I recently read James A. Hunter’s Veridian Gate Online and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was my first introduction to the Lit-RPG genre, and I found everything about it fascinating. The work he had to do just to build a game engine before writing about it! So cool! I can’t imagine writing one of those myself, but I sure enjoyed reading it.
I don’t read a lot of older stuff anymore. I do pick up one of Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books every few months and flip through it though. Very weird series, but very influential to me. Loathsome main character who I never liked or connected to, but probably my favorite world building of all time.
Any final words?
Just that this was a really nice opportunity, and I thank you for it!