Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our new anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about Dave Pasquantonio in his featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
I’m fascinated by random “what if” scenarios. For this story, I thought about secrets and how secrets come to light after we die. What if we had a little warning before we died, and we could do some housecleaning to protect our loved ones from our secrets?
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
Death is doing its normal job—collecting the souls of humans who have died—but its higher-ups have rolled out a pilot program. Death has to start giving some humans a chance to clean up their messes before they die. Death isn’t happy about this, as it preferred the old way of doing things. Death is like any office worker—it’s hard to get used to new things when you’ve been doing the same job for a long time (and in Death’s case, a very long time).
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
Death will, reluctantly, have to start interacting with humans before it collects their souls. It’s going to hear many stories about secrets, and it really doesn’t care. Death doesn’t have emotions. But it does like dogs.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
This is light comedic horror. There’s nothing scary about Death except to Paul Halliday, whose soul Death has been sent to collect. Death’s lack of emotion plays against Paul’s initial fear (and later incredulity) to give some humor to what could be a pretty dark moment.
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
I’ve not yet met Death (but appreciate its understated sarcasm). I have, however, been a bored office worker and have taken part in my share of pilot programs. I’ve also had to design them—I was in Human Resources for years.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
Setting the fantastical in a mundane setting can be fun to read (and write). Protagonists and antagonists don’t have to be super competent—exploring weird ideas through the eyes of average folks is a great way to connect with readers.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
The part where Death interacts with the dog. Death can’t pat the dog, as Death has no hands, but it does make sure that the dog gets a cookie. Also, the dog has no fear of meeting Death—dogs are great character judges!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
Back in high school, I had fallen in love with National Lampoon’s “Bored of the Rings,” a parody of Tolkien, and I started writing similar stories full of sharp-edged humor, double entendres, and totally wacky situations. In my mind and to my friends, the stories were great—in reality, they were terrible. But they were my first attempts at putting imagination to paper.
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
I got rid of my writing space, including my desk, because I don’t want to need to be in a certain place at a certain time to write. I’m forcing myself to write and edit wherever and whenever, and I have one bag with a notebook, a few pens, a MacBook Air, and an iPad. I don’t need anything else to write. However, I do my best thinking with a dog nearby and classic rock pounding from the closest speakers. I tend to write short stories in my head, so when it comes time to type, the story is nearly done and I can spend time on the editing instead. Also, I love using Scrivener for long-form writing and would recommend it to any aspiring novelist.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
I love reading about author first successes and how many times they failed before they succeeded. Writing is perseverance, and because there are no barriers to entry, it’s also easy to give up. I’ve learned to fully embrace hearing “no” because that means I tried.
What font do you prefer to write in?
I like a good 12-point Garamond.
Do you have any writing blogs/vlogs/podcasts, etc. that you would recommend?
Lately, I’ve been listening more to non-writing podcasts. Brooks Jensen’s “LensWork” is geared for photographers, but the creative aspect is great for writers.
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
My least favorite words are the words I overuse during initial drafts—words like “so” and “just” and “like.” I used to beat myself up over them, but now I let them worm their way into my first passes and prune them later. My favorite word is “sarcasm” because my strongest protagonists use sarcasm like a switchblade.
Dave Pasquantonio is a freelance writer, editor, and journalist (and a stay-at-home dad) living just south of Boston. He is a board member at The Writers’ Loft, a nonprofit writing community in Sherborn, Massachusetts, where he runs critique groups for aspiring and established authors. His work for children and adult readers has been published in anthologies and online and print journals, and he’s written nearly a hundred newspaper articles and features. His first novel, The Matildas, was published in May 2020. He’s probably listening to classic rock as you read this. He’s at http://www.davepasquantonio.com.