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SKATING ON THE EDGE with d.g.k. goldberg
By Scott Nicholson (Photo by Judith Johnson)

D.G.K. Goldberg has been writing in many different genres under the broad umbrella known as "weird fiction." She is also a prolific freelance non-fiction writer, using a variety of names and occasionally writing stuff that makes other people blush. She is a former psychotherapist as well, a job that comes in handy when dealing with the devils in her keyboard.

Her novel Skating On The Edge placed fourth in the Warner Aspect First Novel contest and was released recently as a print-on-demand paperback and e-book. Her novel Doomed To Repeat It will be released as a trade paperback from Design Image Group sometime in the summer of 2001.

Q: Can you tell us about the Warner Aspect contest, and the process that eventually led to the publication of Skating on the Edge?

One of my countless flaws is the inability to write a coherent synopsis. I have no idea why I can do things like technical writing and find my brain turn to something resembling sink-drain sludge when I try to write a synopsis.

I entered the Warner Aspect contest as part of a the goal-is-to-write-a-synopsis phase. After making it to the semifinal stage, I got a lovely letter explaining the manuscript wasn't going any further but that Betsy Mitchell would like to pass it along to Paul Witcover who was editing their new electronic imprint.

Well, I absolutely loved Paul's novel Waking Beauty so I was more bent than usual over the chance to have him take a look at Skating. Paul liked Skating, so they offered me a contract.

As a side note I might add that Skating might be deeply weird. Even (or maybe especially) people who really like it say that other people might not like it at all --- so it seemed like a good fit with the electronic and print on demand package that iPublish was talking about.

The most difficult part for me thus far has been the presumption people make about all print on demand, that it is vanity press, unedited, and that all print on demand arrangements are willing accept anything they are sent. I'm really grateful to the folks who have asked me what the deal is instead of going with those presumptions. Time Warner's electronic division is being pretty selective; they currently have Andre Norton, Michael Moorcock, and Alan Dean Foster in e-book and will be bringing out a never-before-published book by Steve and Melanie Tem that I'm literally dying to read.

Q: You do a lot of freelance non-fiction. How does that help or hinder your fiction writing?

The honest answer is: I don't know. I do know that writing fiction and writing non-fiction are very different experiences. I've heard the-worst-day-job-for-a-writer-is-writing over and over. I disagree. The more time and energy spent on learning skills the more anyone develops those skills.

Writing is hard work. Really hard. However, when I worked full time in mental health and routinely got up three times a night to deal with (check one or all of the following) deranged adulterous turkey farmers on cocaine, non-English speaking illegal aliens in full blown delirium, chronic schizophrenics who misplaced their souls and/or medication, and hysterics slashing their own flesh, I found it impossible to write. Hanging out with murderers, maniacs, and mayhem sounds like it would be great background for a writer, and it may well be, as part of the past.

But, I'm at the point of wanting to smack people when they get a wide-eyed "oooh" look and say (always in a breathy voice) "What great material!" It is not "great material" talking a suicidal person out of a weapon, it is damned exhausting work that doesn't leave you with much left over. I cannot think about it or process it in the detached fashion needed to write about it; being near the horrific, grinding alienation that drives people to get on a roof with a gun sucks all the energy out of me in a way that rendered me unable to write during the years I did it.

Doing non-fiction develops research skills, but I do understand that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story. A case in point is Hannibal Lector. He could not exist, pathology doesn't work that way. Having said that, I am not the least bit disturbed by the fictional construct. What does make me crazy is a duex ex machina bit in a story where some surprising "fact" is dragged out of the closet to explain the inexplicable. That fact had better be correct or the story is punctured.

Q: You are often classified as a horror writer. How would you describe your work?

I actually was kind of surprised to find myself being a horror writer, and I am not certain how writers end up with that label. I have no idea how to describe my work, and as long as the phrase "post-modernity" doesn't figure into it, I don't really care how anyone describes me.

I suspect that Skating and Doomed To Repeat It will seem, to a reader, to have been written by two completely different people. I don't think that will surprise anyone that knows me, and I hope it doesn't disappoint a reader who enjoys one and therefore picks up the other.

Q: Tell us a little about Doomed To Repeat It, your writing of it and the publication process.

Doomed to Repeat It probably comes from my obsession with the way personal and social history intertwines, particularly here in the South where time seems to be in a state of flux. It's about the ambivalent sexuality that seems to infuse southern twilight and the odd coming of age that seems to strike when people least expect it. For me, it was an effort to tell a story --- most of my writing doesn't because conventional stories offend my sensibilities unless they, like for example (and I'm not kidding or sucking up) the knock the air out of me like your story "The Vampire Shortstop" did (editor’s note- D.G.K. never sucks up), or some others: "Jeffty was Five" , Joanna Russ's piece in Dangerous Visions, a few others . . . but I'm going all over the place --- unless a conventionally structured story hits me so I feel something so intensely I am near paralysis I get a tad snide about it because life does not come in neat segments, I am far more fond of the 18th century picaresque novels or the postmodern work of Martin Amis or Douglas Adams, both of whom despite their absurdity seem to mirror life more accurately than structured novels with a clear beginning middle and end.

Well, I had this niggling feeling that I ought to try one of these beginning-middle-end sort of things to see if I could do it, and the core concepts of ambivalence, madness, and entropy had been rolling around in my brain for awhile.

I had had stories in three of the Design Image anthologies and I liked the product, I admired their production values, I love their cover art. I emailed Tom (Strauch, DIG editor) to check out their current guidelines and it seemed that Doomed might at least be something he'd want to read. So I sent him the first three chapters and a revoltingly inadequate synopsis, he asked to see the rest of it, and then offered for it.

Q: You've had a lot of appearances in the small press. Do you feel this hashelped you build some momentum and an audience?

I have no idea. I know that I learn something with everything I write and from every editor I work with, and there are a few kind people who follow my stories and that kind of humbles me.

Q: Any other novels in progress or making the rounds?

I am nearly finished with the sequel to "Skating on the Edge", halfway through another, oh, I suppose it's a horror novel, and struggling with a might-be-mainstream novel.

Q: What do you want us to know about you, and should we be afraid?

I am an intensely private person. I've had co-workers who after years don't know my age, marital status, number of kids, or any real demographic information. I resist telling people what or if I ate breakfast and I've gotten furious at my spousal unit for disclosing even trivial details about me.

I am quite capable to blurt out something totally bizarre about myself that sounds as if it couldn't possibly be true. It always is, and if I state it in a way that people doubt, well that's just protective coloration or Saturday night. Should you be scared? Only of yourself, no one knows what they might do given altered circumstances and circumstances are always subject to change.

Visit D.G. K.'s website


-- contents copyright 2001 by Scott Nicholson

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