I got an opportunity to talk to Dyrk Ashton author of Paternus and one of the most interesting people I had the pleasure to met. His career is extremely diverse so I had a bit of trouble to fit it all into the interview. Nevertheless, I think I did an okay job and you’ll all enjoy it.
If you’re interested to know more about him, make sure to check his links:
Q: How would you describe yourself to a complete stranger? What are your best/worst qualities?
Oh boy. “You’ll see me, ’bout 5′ 8″, scary bald guy with glasses, usually wearing some kind of crazy shoes.” How’s that? Okay, let’s see, for reals. I’m a film, fantasy and sci-fi book buff, a film professor, eldest of five kids, parents still living and married (54 years this year), grew up in the American Midwest but have lived in various places, traveled a bit. Best qualities: Hmm. Good listener, pretty observant, fairly intelligent (maybe), educated (not always a best quality), fairly gracious and giving (I think?), work on humility every day, not easily offended or angered? Worst qualities: Do not multi-task well. A bit OCD (and ADD, if that’s possible), selfish with my writing time, deep down lazy as hell, and I’ll put educated here too…
Q: If I’m correct, you first worked in the film industry. What was your biggest achievement regarding film?
I did work in film. Worked my way up from P.A. to production manager and producer on commercials and industrial films in Columbus, OH (believe it or not a lot of production goes on there). Then lived in Los Angeles for about six years. I got to do a lot of wonderful things, including producing some fun small stuff, but the biggest/best regarding production would be producing a spec pilot for television calledTiger Edge: Technopunk. It’s very low budget but great fun. Starred Michael Easton, currently of General Hospital and graphic novel writing fame. It never was aired or took off, but I had a great time pitching it around. Also, though, I produced a couple of short films that won some awards, Daedalus is Dead, starring Ami Dolenz, and Untitled 37, both written and directed by Michael Easton.
Q: You did a bit of acting. What was your best and what was the worst experience you came across as an actor?
Best would probably have to be getting cast in a co-starring role in a Sony picture called Rudyard Kipling’s The Second Jungle Book, Mowgli and Baloo(longest film title ever). It was shot in Sri Lanka and I got to stay there for 8 weeks. Worst, I don’t know, never really had a bad experience. Well, I guess that’s not true. I was cast in a commercial that was shot outside in a junkyard on one of the hottest days in that summer in Los Angeles. That sucked. I wasn’t able to finish out the day due to near heat stroke.
Q: From an actor to an author. How did that transition happen? What made you want to write?
I never planned on doing any professional acting, to be honest. I had a decent reel, though, because I was in a bunch of our own small projects from back in Columbus, and figured I’d give it a shot when I got to Los Angeles, while I was writing scripts and trying to get into production. I got very lucky regarding acting and got an agent and my SAG card pretty quickly. The transition was really leaving L.A. and production behind, going back to school for my PhD in Film Studies, then leaving a full-time tenure track teaching gig to teach all online. That gave me time to do what I really have always loved, which is write.
Q: Is there any specific reason why you decided to write fantasy novels and not any other genre? Can you tell how the idea of Paternus came to be?
Fantasy has always been my favorite genre, ever since I was a kid, with sci-fi and horror close second and third. I’ve also always been enamored with mythology. Like a total geek about it. I love super-hero stuff too, and what are the ancient gods other than the original super-heroes? So it came pretty naturally for me to write fantasy with mythological and crazy big action elements. The basic idea forPaternus was a combination of a number of ideas that had been rolling around in my little empty head for years and years, and when I had time to really think about it, they started to click together into what the book has become – which is nuts.
Q: You were a full-time teacher for seven years. Did you like yourself in that role? Was there a student who gained a place in your memory and why was he/she remembered?
I loved teaching on the college level. Unfortunately, there is a lot more to the job than teaching, and teaching is not valued as highly as research and publication. Then there is all the service work, paperwork, committees, student orientation, advising, politics… I was doing 60 and 70 hour weeks. Not ideal for me. I have a TON of students who I will never forget and will probably always be in contact with. Very talented, fun and smart people. Many of us are in contact all the time on social media.
Q: What would you say are the perks of teaching online?
Time, definitely. I can get in, do my work, and be done for the day. In the university setting, there are always a thousand other things vying for your time. If it wasn’t for the opportunity I’ve had to teach all online, Paternus would never exist. I’ve been extremely lucky in that regard.
Q: Considering your diverse life regarding employment. Do you think you’ve settled down or are there things you want to try out and see how they work out?
Great question. All my life, when people have asked me what I do, I’ve said, “that’s a good question…” You know, I’ve moved around and done so many things, you just never know where I might end up or what I might be doing next (I certainly don’t). All I know for sure is that I have two more books in the Paternus trilogy to finish. There are people who have read it, and actually like it, and want the second one NOW. That is a very cool feeling, something I’ve never experienced before. What happens after those are done, your guess is as good as mine. All I know for sure is that, for now, I am enjoying the hell out of not only the writing but going to conferences, meeting other authors and fans, learning the business, doing interviews, like this one… 😉
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Don’t think so, but thank you!
And here you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading the interview if you want to be interviewed or you know anyone that you find interesting and you want me to interview him/her, click on the button below to find out all you need to know!