Who is this D.M. Cherubim Person, Anyway?
A Cruise Ship of Interviews
Sometimes people like to know the author behind the stories. I don’t much care for it, the part about being interviewed. I spent years asking questions of other people. But some people have insisted. And here’s what they asked me.
(If you’re looking for the true ghost story, the white heron tale, the horror of the humpbacked and one-eyed hotel bell hop or the story of the guys who tried to murder me about news stories I have written, you’ll have to read deep into the interviews, usually.)
Posted by Matt Posner on May 25, 2013 at 8:15 AM
This interview was meant to be posted over a month ago, and I dropped the ball on it — didn’t realize I had D.M’s answers. My deepest apologies. It is my pleasure to introduce to you a super fantasist, D.M. Cherubim.
Who are you?
Where do you live?
I know it well. I grew up there myself. How do you like it?
Talk about your writing.
Laugh. Cry. Dream. Your heart will never forget this book.
“J.K. Rowling fans… You’re going to LOVE D.M. Cherubim (thekindlebookreview.net)”
Readers’ Favorite just gave the book a silver medal, its highest honor for a 5 star review.
You know, I’ve already died, medically speaking (I redlined for more than a minute in the hospital, and had a near-death experience). I have some books to write. This is the first. You’ll find that though Mary Baker was written as a YA fantasy, it’s a good read that has plenty of food for thought for everyone who thinks they’re getting bored with hearing the same story. It’s meant to be entertaining, and you’ll find some funny parts. You might laugh out loud. Other parts might make you cry. But the story will certainly get you dreaming.
I love fantasy and don’t ever find it boring. But all of you who think you’ve read every type of fantasy book there is, this is the book for you. I don’t think there’s another book like this one out there.
You are writing about wizards, creatures and spirits. What makes this subject matter appealing to you?
Ummm. I think I’ll take the Fifth on that.
…O.K. Fantasy is never boring. In fact, that’s what people do when they’re bored. Fantasize.
Mary Baker and the Eye of the Tiger has some strong elements of fairy tale. Talk about fairy tales, their meanings both personal and societal.
I love fairy tales! Except when they scared me almost to death as a kid. (What about the old witch who tried to eat Hansel and Gretel, or the Little Red Riding Hood’s Wolf?)
Fairy tales excite the imagination. They also give you chance to think about what right and what’s not in the Universe. Is the Big Bad Wolf fair? How about the witch who gave Snow White the apple? How do you deal with that?
When I was in college (English Lit. major), we talked about how fairy tales are really allegories of life. It makes sense at that adult level, to think of it that way. But perhaps just as important is this: They’re great stories. You get interested in the characters. They’re lovable and hatable. Some are in-between.
I’ve often thought I could take just any old boring day here while I’m writing and make a fairy tale out of it. Here’s a typical thing that happens to me while I’m writing, something I sent along to a different interviewer:
“…Working at home is just about impossible. Everyone, and I mean everyone, thinks you have nothing but free time. I have never been so interrupted in my career as when I have been home alone trying to write a book. Even the Mormons and the girl scouts come to the door. When I ignore them, I get things like this: One day I was upstairs writing. I heard a sharp series of knocks downstairs. I ignored it (I have to, or I’ll never get anything written). I hear it again. I ignore it again. Then again, louder and longer. Exasperated, I walk over to the rail and look down, realizing this loud knocking seems to be someone at the sliding glass doors, not the front door. Then, there it is again. Knocking. Standing just outside the glass is a 3-foot tall white heron, glaring at his reflection in the glass. He was apparently attacking his own reflection (mating season in south Florida.)”
Now, here would be the skeleton of the fairy tale:
“A little kid writer lived in a crooked house. Every day, people came to get fresh-baked cookies from her. She grew so ornery about everybody demanding her cookies that she stopped answering the door. Then one day, she heard a loud knocking. Knock. Knock. Knock. She ignored it. Then she heard it again. Knock. Knock. Knock. She ignored it again. Knock Knock Knock. The little girl ignored it a third time.
Downstairs, the magic white heron of Algothoria was bringing her the best story anyone had ever written. Much like his cousin The Stork brought new babies. When no one answered, he hesitated. Then he turned and flew away, the book in a sling swinging from his long beak as he flew over the palm trees.
Which story hits you harder? This world is interesting, that’s for sure. But what moral of the story can we get out of it? Does opportunity knock? What if you don’t answer? What if the knock is the Big Bad Wolf?
The point is, fairy tales and fantasy are a way to discuss the real world in a framework that’s more understandable. You get the truth, or moral of the story, easier than you get it from real life. And you’re a whole lot more interested. Real life can seem boring.
Very well said.
A trend right now is to write series novels with child and teen protagonists involved in magic. I am doing it myself, and I have been interviewing a lot of other authors who are working with such material (Wendy Walter, Marilyn Almodovar and Julie Cassar are three of them, and now you). What do you think makes this sort of story so appealing to writers these days?
I think we’re escaping the troubles of our time. Being a former journalist, I write with CNN on. I don’t want to have to find out we’ve been invaded when I go to the grocery store and there’s terrorists standing around with guns. The downside of this is the unbelievable daily battering of evil I see every day.
People feel helpless when they look at what’s going on on TV. In the last month, I’ve seen teens and young adults bomb the Boston marathon, a series of gruesome murders, and some weirdos trying to eat people alive in Miami (and the video shows the sickening twitching of the person being eaten because someone captured it on a cell phone). Plus all sorts of other murders, corruption, drug overdoses etc.
The attraction to fantasy is not surprising. Magic has always been a lure because it gives people in an out-of-control situation some control over it. A real person today could be fired at any moment from his job or get killed by an airplane flying into his living room. His wife hates him, his Dad is a jerk and he has no control over any of it. If you could use magic, could you cast a spell on your boss or wave a magic wand and set up an airplane repelling spell on your house? And is it wrong to want to do that? All of a sudden you are thrust from being some boring accountant at IBM into a rich world where people believe in honorable actions and you might be able to stop the evil from taking over your life.
Fantasy worlds also are a place where certain wonderful virtues that seem dead in today’s world (at least sometimes) are very much alive. Honor, chivalry, doing the right thing seem to rule everybody, except for the token evil being.
Tell an interesting story from your life as a writer.
I was working on this expose, a series of stories about this con artist from Australia who had come into Palm Beach, bought a $6 million oceanfront mansion without any cash (stock in sham companies) and was taking all kinds of investors to the cleaners. As I began writing about him, certain organized crime figures began leaving town, as did this guy. Just after, I started getting phone calls from various people, each claiming to have all sorts of enticing stories. One guy said he had a tip about a local famous realtor who had done time. Another had a tape about the same guy. A third just had information, internal documents, about an unrelated case. I met with all three at different locations. One of them was at a warehouse. I had a bad feeling before I went, and told my editor where I was going, which I didn’t usually do. I got there, and walked into a warehouse that was completely empty except for a couple of chairs in a corner. I couldn’t run back out because the guy was right behind me. To make a long story short, he explained it only cost $5,000 to have someone killed, and only $2,500 to have their legs broken these days. He suggested I needed to hire him as a body-guard.
I think I’ll put the rest of this tale in a book someday. The short of it was that he made a phone call, satisfied someone that I was going to lay off the stories, and I walked out alive.
Nothing this exciting has happened yet to me as a book writer. Except for the heron. And the Mormons.
Tell an interesting story from your non-writing life.
I was traveling in Europe a few years after college with a college chum. We were staying in three-star hotels so we could stay over there longer. Some of them were pretty old. Like 15th Century. In one of them, we were asleep, then something woke me up. I wasn’t a heavy sleeper, but I didn’t move. Was it a murderer? A thief? I could hear the guy, well, it was more like I was very aware he was standing right there, at the rooms’ door. My friend stirred but didn’t wake up. My heart was pounding. Was he about to attack me? Was I going to die? He moved so silently that I didn’t hear anything, but I was suddenly aware he was moving right past me. He had looked at me and was walking through the room. I tried to look at whoever it was without letting them know I was awake. Maybe he would just take our purses and leave. I saw a dark shape. I closed my eyes. He seemed to move past me. I tried to look again. I realized he was gone, but the door hadn’t opened. I realized there was no one there.
As if that wasn’t enough, in broad daylight I had a really interesting experience on the same trip. Bologna, Italy. I got bumped out of my hotel, and couldn’t find any open rooms anywhere. My friend had gone on ahead of me to another city. I heard there were rooms at a certain two-star hotel. I figured I could tolerate a dirty 2-star just for one night, and then leave town if I couldn’t find better. I walk in the foyer of this hotel, and I thought I was seeing things. The two people taking reservations looked like something out of a bad movie. One guy had a hump back and the other had one eye. The hotel was terrible, dirty, and I was in fear for my life the whole night. I jammed the chair up under the door knob and didn’t come out until morning. Then I left the hotel as fast as I could. I could hear footsteps in the hall all night.
Let that be a warning to all of you who are jealous of world travelers. I have more stories than that. They’re lying or staying at the Four Seasons if they’re telling you it was all wonderful.
What else would you like to say to close the interview?
You ask great questions. You could have a career as a journalist if book writing doesn’t pay well enough. Oh, that’s right. Journalists don’t make good money either. Oh well.
It has been a pleasure to have you on the site, D.M. I hereby appoint you Instructor of Journalism at School of the Ages.