Black Pearls Magazine Interview
Duane Lance Filer grew up in Compton, California and had one of the greatest, richest childhoods one could have growing up in an “inner” city. Duane’s dad Maxcy Filer was involved in the west coast civil rights movement, and during the late 50s, 60s and 70s Duane got to witness and was involved in some wild and crazy events during this important time in American history.
Since birth, Duane has possessed an extraordinary memory; an insatiable imagination; and a fascination with writing. He started writing in high school, through college, during his 30-plus work years, and into his present retirement. Duane’s funky writing projects and painting can be viewed at his website http://duanelancefiler.wixsite.com/duanelancefiler.
LISTEN TO DUANE FILER ON BAN RADIO SHOW
He reads from The Legend of Diddley Squatt: http://tobtr.com/s/10457297
The Legend of Diddley Squatt Intro
#PowerRead: LongTALES for ShortTAILS YA books for young readers & The Legend of Diddley Squatt by Duane Lance Filer. Excellent story telling skills! Read excerpt and hear BAN radio interview with Ella Curry- https://conta.cc/2qYZtFq
BPM: Tell us about your most recent, “Word Food for Doods.” Available on Nook or Kindle?
You can find an ebook at AuthorHouse, Amazon and it available on Kindle.
If women can have a “girls night out” and chic lit reading groups/lunches; what about a “Dood Food” happy hour? “Word Food for Doods” is a guy’s night-out buffet comprised of 3 short stories; 2 funky one-act plays; and 2 essays that sprout about important men banes. A plus for the ladies – these stories will help you understand your man’s warped mind.
Also there’s a bonus is the twenty-three eye-popping/old-school/black/white/brown illustrations that help bring flavor to each story; you will be amazed at how these old-fashioned pictures bring life to the characters.
BPM: Give us an insight into your main characters in “Word Food for Doods.”
“Word Food” clocks in at 25,244 words and 119 pages. To date, I have self-published eight books. My book published in 2017, “The Legend of Diddley Squatt – A Novella from a Brother Fella” – has received the most press and local/U.S. media attention of any of my books! I want readers to love this books just as much!
Here’s a brief glimpse of each story in “Word Food for Doods.”
1. “Kemal’s Last Laugh” – Three white, experienced mountain climbers receive a lesson in humility from some unexpected sources as they attempt to conquer deepest, darkest Mt. Kenya in Africa.
2. “Streople” – One day on the streets of downtown Los Angles and one can meet the strangest people, street people or just “Streople.”
3. “A Week in the Life of a Closet Miserable” – I wanna be a writer, but one week leads to the next, and every time I start to write…well…kids…the wife….sports…they all get in the way!
4. “The Tattle-Tale Grin of Kid Spade” – Tells the exploits of a black cowboy, Kid Spade the Blade, in the very wild, unfriendly west of Yall City.
5. “Jazz Junkies” – Recounts an important point in the life of band leader Hemp Leeks. Does he follow fame and certain riches or stay loyal to his original band mates?
6. “T.S. Etiquette (a.k.a. the toilet seat chronicles)” – An essay for men on how to avoid that age-old argument with your woman on whether the toilet seat be left up or down?
7. “Dedman Speeks the Hellcatcher” – Dedman thought he had caught it all – a sucker soul magnet….. but never caught anything till he caught the hell that often arises from marriage issues. Dedman Speeks will indeed be a “Deadman” who no longer “Speaks” should this story be published!
BPM: Is there a specific place/space/state that you find inspiration in?
For my three children’s books, I remember when growing up in Compton, CA in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s – loving children’s books and cartoons on Saturday morning T.V. The Jetsons was one of my favorite Saturday morning T.V. cartoons. Once again, I wanted to feature some black/minority kids in my writing because IT WAS NEEDED. I also remember asking my parents “how come none of the people in these books or on the cartoon shows look like me or any of my friends on the street or in Compton?” So, I reached back in my memory and thought of various popular cartoons, and then twisted some of the characters into remembrance into things that happened in my personal family with my brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. I think the world should show its diversity. Kids of color can now relate to characters like them – that’s important!
For my teen/young adult/adult books, I like to show how everybody has issues/problems/set-backs at first – but that you must remain positive and keep working toward your dreams and ideals. I like to show that there are folks in everyone’s life who reach out and will be there for the helping (teachers, mentors, baseball coaches, religious people, brothers and sisters) – all you have to do is trust certain folks.
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
That it is a compilation of various genres/formats of writing, i.e. 3 short stories, 2 one-act plays, and 2 “essays.” It is a funky gumbo of the written word for different types of media – books….the theater….and magazines. The only thing missing is a screenplay for TV and the movies – and I do have a couple of each which I will be presenting soon. I AM ECLECTIC – I LIKE DIVERSITY!
BPM: How much planning goes into writing a book? How long does it take to complete one of your books?
I have tons of materials…possible screenplays…short stories…plays…that I have written since the 1970’s. I have kept all of the stories in my overstuffed desk drawer and file folders. If something happens on the news or becomes a trending topic – or a situation just moves me – I can pull out some of this material and start expanding on it. On some of my earlier work, such as the Diddley Squatt book, it is already set-up for a Diddley Squatt part 2 because of where I left off in the story. Or, sometimes, something new hits me and I jot down a few key phrases….. and BOOM – I have the idea/story for another book. I will then create a separate journal for this new idea and jot down storylines, possible characters/plots – as they come to me.
BPM: What advice would you give aspiring writers that would help them finish a project?
I definitely and strongly believe in outlining anything that I write (book, essay, play or screenplay, poetry – all of which I’ve written.) In my opinion, it makes writing, and completing a project, so much easier. I jot down possible chapters; possible characters; possible themes; possible plots – and start to shift these outline points into a timeframe I think will make the book interesting.
An outline is moveable; it doesn’t have to be exact, but it will help you move forward in your writing and you can complete chapters in a much easier fashion. Plus – if you get the calling and an idea what you want in a certain chapter – you can jump ahead and throw ideas/word/sentences/paragraphs into that chapter- they can all be unfinished – but you can return at a later date and complete that particular chapter.
As for finding the time to write, it’s easy for me because I retired in 2013 after a total 35- year work experience; 29 years with the State of California’s Public Utilities Commission. I’m truly blessed. My kids are grown and my wife, she also recently retired, likes to run around a lot and shop (which I have no problem with -go for it ??.) I do have a routine though:
1. Get up by 9a.m. and shower and clean the bedroom and do house chores.
2. Stretching! I have a bad back, so I spend at least 20 minutes doing back stretching exercises – or I will walk or go to the gym. I stretch every morning but must admit to walking or going to the gym between 2/3 times a week.
3. Come home, eat something,do any “honey-do’s” the wife has left for me. Then, I head to my little mancave in our garage I have named the “FFFunkLab (Filer- Family-Funk). I have my desktop computer, a TV, and all my books and music paraphernalia (drums, bass, keyboards, guitar, etc..) in the FFFunklab. I throw some music on and begin working on whichever project is pertinent at the time. I TURN ALL PHONES OFF IN THE MANCAVE WHEN I AM WRITING!
4. Sometimes in the afternoon I may gather up some writing material, go to the park around the corner – or a library – for a different perspective. I always have my trusty iPod and earphones with me – which has over 4,000 songs on it. I like to feed the birds or the pigeons. If the weather is nice, I’ll drive to the beach which isn’t far away – I’m lucky.
5. Come back home and, since I like to cook, will sometime cook dinner. Mt favorite is blackened salmon – yummy!
6. Spend time with wife, then if an idea has hit me on one of my writing projects – go back to the FFFunklab and make sure I jot down the idea or I will forget. I am 65-years old and going through what someone told me is commonly known to aging folks as “CRS” – which is short for “Can’t Remember Stuff (actually a curse word).”
Also, as in many of my ideas – ideas and scenes can come to you in a dream. Since high school, I’ve kept a journal of some sort and when I started writing I always thought to have some sort of paper/pen/journal next to my bed in case an idea woke me up and I needed to jot it down. I learned you must jot the idea down IMMEDIATELY that night in order to remember specifics about the thought/subject. There is no “I’ll remember to write it down in the morning” – no…. that doesn’t work – you will forget important details and why the thought came to you originally.
BPM: What genre do you find you write about most often?
I write fiction. I just love fiction. There is so much madness in the world- I like to write about happy, far-out, weird stuff and give the reader a break from reality. I like animals- and I believe that animals actually talk to us in their own language – but that the powers that being thought it would be too confusing if animals actually had a human language of their own – like Spanish, or French, or English. But believe me – they talk to us with their barks, moans, and actions.
Don’t get me wrong. I love reading nonfiction; especially biographies. While I prefer fiction, I usually always add some personal facts that I’ve experienced in my books. In my first book, Square Squire and the Journey to DREAMSTATE, I combine fact with fiction and called it faction. The book begins with real experiences of my childhood in Compton, CA; I quote my real elementary, junior high, and high school names- and actually use the real names of some of friends and teachers – although I don’t use my real name. Later in the book, I break off into fiction with the main character, Squire, inventing a “dream-state” that allows him to drift into a magical state of mind and create/ write his crazy stories.
BPM: Have you always been a writer? Do your recall how your interest in writing originated?
My first short story was written for Mrs. Pierce’s 7th grade English class at Walton Jr. High in Compton. Then, at Compton High School, Mr. Alvin Taylor’s Black History class inspired me to write “what you know.” My next stop was at Cal Lutheran College (now University) where creative writing professors Ted LaBrenz and Dr. Jack Ledbetter encouraged me to continue to write my off- the- wall short stories. After college, I continued to learn the craft of writing at the Watts Writers Workshop in 1973-1974 (God bless Harry Dolan); the Open-Door Writers Program for Minority Writers at 20th Century Fox (1980-82): and the Institute of Children’s Literature.
BPM: Are you a musician? If so, how has that influenced your writing?
I’ve been fooling around with the bass ever since I heard Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone in the late 1960’s. I can pick out melodies and bass lines and I have some musician friends who come over to my “FFFunklab” (Filer-Family -Funk – my writing and mancave area, carved out of a corner of our garage in Carson, CA, where I write my crazy stories and play my funky music.) Music has DEFINITELY influenced my writing. Other than Sly, my other musical influences are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and the Talking Heads. I have hundreds of albums, and music is always playing when I write. Music takes me away…..I especially like to listen to Miles when I’m writing. I like to write, paint and play my funky bass guitar. Readers can see my books, paintings, and concert reviews at http://duanelancefiler.wixsite.com/duanelancefiler.
BPM: What do you hope readers take away from your various books?
That regardless of your birth circumstances – born black, white, or brown; rich or poor, big or small; male or female; in the north, south, east or west – YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHO YOU ARE AT BIRTH! It is left to each of us, once born and as we start to grow into ourselves, to ensure that we make the best of our lives. Nobody can live for you – you take the good with the bad and learn to adjust, and hopefully find happiness along life’s glorious journey.
BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
Once you receive that first batch of your first books- the thrill is unbelievable! It was a very positive experience in 2012.
After my first book, I had other books lined up and waiting and it was just the process of what should come next. I never gave up, and never will, with the idea that one of my books will break through and become popular. My dad Maxcy Filer, from Compton -would you believe it took him 48 tries before he passed the California State Bar before he realized his dream to practice law in California? Yes….my dad Maxcy took the bar twice a year for 24 years from 1967 to 1991- finally passing it on his 48th attempt in 1991. Persistence finally paid off – and I too will never quit!
I also love putting in the work. I retired in 2013, and I have this thing about me that I have to ACCOMPLISH something every day or I don’t feel right? Whether it’s going to the gym or practicing my bass, I’ve got to complete something each day. Writing gives me that accomplishment feeling the best. I like quirky stuff. I don’t like traditional. I’m drawn to folks who people may think weird…. we just have a vibe.
BPM: Was there an early experience where you learned that the written word had power?
I remember 1969. In my 11th year Black History Class, teacher Alvin Taylor gave us an assignment to read a book of our choice. I had read “The Fire Next Time” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain” by James Baldwin – my favorite author to date. So, while looking for a new/different book for Mr. Taylor’s assignment, I came across the title of a book “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” by an author named Sam Greenlee. THE TITLE JUMPED OUT AT ME! I ordered the book from the library and couldn’t put it down…it was different – and my mind was never the same.
Later, in college at Cal Lutheran, I happened upon “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson and me and my roommates where never the same! I became a fan of “gonzo” journalism (living/experiencing what you write) and that’s why I still talk to the squirrels when they visit my backyard.
BPM: What is one of the things you’re most thankful for as a writer?
Just to be able to write what I think and see. I love the term “writer’s prerogative.” My wife hates some of the stuff I write, and often tells me “why can’t you write or paint traditional stuff?” That’s when I know I’ve done my best ??. For writers I love Hunter S. Thompson, Ishmael Reed. For painting, as far as my far-out paintings- I love Basquiat and Jackson Pollock. For music? John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and the king Sly Stone. Also, as mentioned earlier, I like to escape. Writing lets me escape – and it is up to me what I write – I’m in control.
BPM: What does literary success look like to you?
I love that I have self-published 8 books in my lifetime. When I’m gone – I will at least have left something for some folks to remember me by. While I would love to have one of my books become hot and trendy – It doesn’t really matter. I’d love to make money off of some of my books; but if it doesn’t happen, I just say “Que sera, sera.” Should my books make any money, I would gladly give half of any royalties I receive for any of my writings to favorite charities of mine. I have all I need materially.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
My main next project is a screenplay that I’m working on, the idea provided by my son Lance and my daughter Arinn. I don’t want to divulge too much about it right now, but it should be completed in 2019. I’ve got tons of stuff I’m working on….as well as painting in my backyard and picking up my bass guitar every once in a while.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?