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Author Interview: Roger Danchik

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Roger Danchik, author of Viila and the Doomsday Affair.

FQ: I really adored this excellent, humorous, and odd quest to save the world. Where did this idea come from?

DANCHIK: The idea originally came from wondering what really happened when Moses went up to the Mount to meet God. He had to go up twice with the terrible incident of the golden calf in between. It just didn't seem right that he would be given the same thing two times in a row. So of course, I had to research it and why read the Bible when you have a wild book called Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg. These are the legends that the Bible left out, according to me and apparently Ginzberg, and are so wild that they really sparked my imagination. I've often thought that there are stranger things in our mythology and history than can be found in our imagination. Hamlet thought so too.

FQ: Do you have a particular favorite character in this wide array of interesting personalities that you have created?

DANCHIK: Well, of course I am totally in love with Viila. I wish I could meet her in a bar when I actually dressed up and shaved. She had her start in an unpublished short story about hunting monsters in the hope of finding one strong enough to kill her. She suffers the anguish of life, if there is such a thing. She is and has everything but feels she has nothing.

FQ: I know that the Book of Truths is one that is prophesied by Daniel in the Old Testament. I must admit though that I love Rabbi Kef’s version and all of the little “quotes” from his book at the beginning of some of the chapters. Do you think that Rabbi Kef’s version is one that should be written and published (hint, hint)? I bet it would be fabulous.

DANCHIK: Of course, Rabbi Kef’s version should be published. No offense to Daniel but he didn't spend years and years as a mouse captured by a demon and tortured by the original cat from the garden of Eden - that experience can change your worldview. Also, not that there's any information about it, but I'm pretty sure Daniel never slept with a demon.

FQ: I am guessing, from some of the stories and information in the novel, that there must have been some research involved. How hard was it to take the factual information about various things and turn it into something so full of humor that you then passed on to the reader?

DANCHIK: As I mentioned above I had great source material: the imaginations of hundreds of holy men trying to understand the Bible so it makes logical sense. They created wonderful stories. As a shameless writer I simply borrowed and tried to make my own. If borrowing source material offends anybody out there, please yell at Shakespeare, not me.

FQ: I cannot tell you how much I love the “About the Author” section at the end of the book (and I highly recommend it to every reader). Sounds like a pretty fun and amazing background. And I have to ask seriously - what was the best part of these adventures for you?

DANCHIK: I love being a part of any creative process. I was always aiming for a position where I could have more input and solve problems. That's why I loved touring with rock'n'roll in the early days before anybody really knew how to do it. Also, working in the movies where every day brought a new challenge and of course, there were always beautiful young people around who thought I knew something...

I have to admit that for the last few years of working in the movies I mainly walked around, told jokes and annoyed the teamsters.

It has been an amazing life and I'm surprised I'm still here but I don't necessarily recommend it.

FQ: I think it is pretty amazing to have your book compared to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a book that is in my opinion one of the best ever. How does that make you as the author feel?

DANCHIK: That comparison came from a reader and I was amazed and flattered, flattered, flattered. Did I say I was flattered? I didn't like the movie that much but I loved the books.

FQ: With a background in theater and even having written a play, do you miss that time of your life and/or do you see yourself ever returning to the theater?

DANCHIK: I've written a ton of plays, a musical (unfinished of course, thank you ADD) and except for my children's plays and a reading or two they haven't had any production. I feel like I was always a little too far out on the edge for a normal reader. I'm always astounded that any reader doesn't like my work as much as I do, how did they miss it?

I have a podcast of a play I wrote called It's Hard to Be Creative When You're Dead, which was supposed to be finished about a year or two ago and last I heard was languishing in a friend’s computer in the Midwest.

The best theater experience is performing for children. They're the best audience, talk back to you, have great believability and really enjoy the conflict.

FQ: The cover artwork for Viila and the Doomsday Affair definitely makes for an eye-catching cover. Was the creativity behind it all your idea or did you work with your publisher?

DANCHIK: The cover art is amazing. It was created through a relationship between me and the artist from Atmosphere Press. It absolutely follows my belief that if you're doing something creative go for it and don't worry about the critics.

The artists were entranced by the idea of an almost conscious, self-motivated battle beard, as am I, which is where they got the idea. I do remember after seeing the first draft of the cover, I had so many notes that I got a little yelled at by return email. But any artist always rises to the challenge and not only did they rise, they nailed it.

FQ: Can you tell us what is next for Roger Danchik? Will there be any more adventures for Viila and the group or are you heading for a different type of project?

DANCHIK: Well, someone has hinted I write a book about Rabbi Kef, his Book of Truths and his adventures, so maybe that will be next. I find it very difficult to both be a published author—which is wonderful—and then go back and be a creative person. I'm hoping to get the writing bug in my head pretty soon. Because I've always thought, if you'll excuse the double negative, that people who write cannot not write. It is a solitary, obsessive obsession and I am so pleased to have it.

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