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November CSR Discussion Day: A Soldier's Guide to Single Parenting by Dodger



Welcome to our November CSR Discussion day with GA's newest Signature author, Dodger! Did you have chance to congratulate him before? If not, you can do so here, plus share a thought about his featured story, A Soldier's Guide to Single Parenting, or my interview with him! Enjoy!

What are you wearing (and no fibbing!)?

No fibbing? Okay. Only sweatpants and a t-shirt, which, like their owner, have seen better days. I just got up, and it's my day off, so I'm probably going to stay like this until it's time to walk the dog.

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate, but it's a close call.

What's something personal about you people might be surprised to know?

I'm ambidextrous.

What brought you to GA?

Reading stories by Dom Luka and Comicality. I became a member straight away, but it was a couple of years before I started writing and interacting.

What's one location you'd love to go to research for a story?

Outer space. Not too far out, though; I think the International Space Station would be a great setting for gay fiction. Imagine an unexpected attraction between a Russian and an American astronaut living in close quarters in an environment where they are constantly watched and monitored from below. Zero gravity sex presents so many opportunities for a writer.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding the right time. I suppose it's the same for everyone, but my brain shuts down the moment I get tired. I can't come in from work and write, and I can never get up early enough to get much done in the mornings. Unfortunately, work gets in the way, but it pays the bills, so it has to come first. That and commas!

If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?

Be patient, and don't start posting a story until it's completed and the best it can be—writing is difficult enough without limiting your options and putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. Also, pay attention to the basics like grammar and sentence structure, and never rely totally on spell-checking programs.

A Soldier's Guide to Single Parenting was a departure for you into a non-contemporary story at the time. What drew you to trying historical fiction as part of your setting/theme?

I've always been interested in recent history, particularly the seventies and eighties. Most people probably wouldn't consider the eighties historic, but our attitudes and lives have changed enormously since then, thanks mainly to technological advances. I love technology, but it's fun writing about a time before cell phones, GPS, and the internet. It creates more opportunities for intrigue and surprise when the characters aren't all interconnected by wi-fi and mobile networks. They have to figure things out for themselves instead of just asking Siri or Googling something.

Researching can also be enjoyable, but when you're writing about a period many of the readers have lived through, you have to get it right. 

Reading the story, I could both feel the fear David has and the utter confusion his dad is under trying to hold something together when he has no idea what he is doing. Readers described your writing as gritty and gut-wrenching. How did you craft such emotional scenes?

Writing from Jeff's point of view wasn't easy. He's a narcissist, a bigot, and a homophobe, and these are usually the traits of my enemies. However, I think it's important to try to understand your adversaries, and writing this story helped me to come to terms with certain but far less dramatic incidents in my own life. Jeff is not a bad person but a product of his time. He believes he's doing the right thing when, as you point out, he has no clue.

Under a tough exterior is a fragile man who turns to alcohol to cope with memories of the war and the loss of his wife. I felt sorry for him in the end, but he has some redeeming qualities, and Jeff's saving grace is his willingness to listen, ask difficult questions, and draw his own conclusions. Most people find this surprisingly difficult.

Can you share anything about your current or upcoming work with readers?

Now that the soap opera style Cockney Canuck is finally coming to an end, I have time to do other things. There are a couple of stories on hold that I want to finish posting, another historical drama set in wartime London, and a very Canadian story about a trucker. That should keep me busy, along with next year’s anthology and maybe even the secret author contest.

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8 hours ago, Headstall said:

An excellent interview with great questions and responses. I am a fan of Dodger, and in particular, this story. He's one of the good ones, and he's also a nice guy. :)  Cheers!

Thank you, Gary. :thankyou:

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3 hours ago, Valkyrie said:

I know The Cockney Canuck has been your baby for a long time, Dodger, but I'm glad to see it end, only so you can concentrate on your other work.

You're not the only one. I'm looking forward to posting the final chapter and marking it complete. As much as I enjoyed writing this story, it's a huge weight off my shoulders. 

Thanks, @Valkyrie for your support and @Cia for the interview.

Edited by Dodger
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