Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.
Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.
His latest release is the literary novel, The Feet Say Run.
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At the age of eighty-five, Hans Jaeger finds himself a castaway among a group of survivors on a deserted island. What is my particular crime? he asks. Why have I been chosen for this fate? And
It would be an understatement to say he has lived a full life. He has grown up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl. He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess. After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, finds solace among prostitutes while his wife lay in a coma, and marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her.
By turns sardonic and tragic and surreal, Hans’s story is the story of all of the insanity, irony and horror of the modern world itself.
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At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I think it started when I was very young. I was certainly a born daydreamer, and I suppose that translated into wanting to tell stories. I started trying to write in high school. Thankfully,whatever I produced back then it is buried far down at the bottom of some closet, forming its own strata - the paleozoic era, full of extremely primitive fossils.
Do you have a day job? What do you do?
I have worked in software for a long time. I received a substantial advance for my first novel, Lisa33 and did the old, “take this job and stick it,” with my day job. Alas, all things must pass, or at least some, including the money from my advance. There came a day when my wife and I looked at our finances and I realized I kind of needed that steady income again. These days I consult part-time and write part-time.
Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?
First, forget everything anyone has “taught” you about writing. Nobody knows. There is no assembly manual. There is not carefully marked trail. You must find your own way through the wilderness. Second, a novel is not just a longer short-story. You must have an ever-advancing plot-line, and you must make the reader want to find out what happens next. Many writing classes seem to work from short stories, yet the requirements of a short story and a novel and qualitatively different. Third, please please please, forget, “write what you know”! Worst advice ever. Write the type of book that, as a reader, you would most want to read.
What hours do you write best?
I have no particular pattern. I am neither nocturnal nor diurnal. I’m an omnivorous reader and a restless scavenger of a writer. Once I started writing The Feet Say Run it just became a compulsion. Whatever else I was doing, in the back of my mind I was thinking about how I needed to get back to my book.
Are you an avid reader?
I am, but I am also a pretty critical reader. I choose mostly literary fiction, book award winners, and I often find myself disappointed. It seems plotting and pacing and suspense and emotional intensity are lost arts.
What are you reading now?
Actually, I am going to contradict myself, because I’m reading a really wonderful literary novel right now, The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante. It’s book two of her celebrated Neapolitan Series, and it is completely engrossing and impossible to put down. I’m really thrilled to have discovered her.