I had wanted to interview David for quite a while. He has always been supportive of my writing, and I wanted a way to give back to him. We don’t write in the same genre, and he is not a member of the Black Rose Writing publishing group. We got to know one another because we belong to some of the same Facebook groups.
His answers to my questions were thoughtful and thought provoking. Like me, he uses his education and background knowledge to craft his work. He isn’t from an educational setting, however, though from his answers, it sounds like he’d welcome the opportunity, especially at the post-secondary level. But for the time being, I’m happy he is writing, and I hope you enjoy our conversation.
What was it that made you decide you had a story to tell and to become an author?
Because I had been devising stories and characters since I was a young kid, and I wanted to share them with the wider world. By the time I became an adult, becoming an author seemed like a much more obtainable goal than anything else I wanted to do with my life, and I have largely worked towards that goal since.
As an author or writer, what sets you apart from others?
The most obvious thing would be that I have written extensively about animated cartoon characters as if they were sentient beings. Being a fan of animation and a published non-fiction scholar of its history and practices has given me a rather unique insight into how to approach the potential existence of animated cartoon characters, in “their” worlds as well as “ours”, and I have tried to apply that in much of what I write. My interest in animation has also led me to write much anthropomorphic (“furry”) and superhero fiction, since those literary genres are also depicted in animation often.
What genre do you write, and why?
I’ve tried to be one of those writers who can write in any sort of format if given the chance. I do not restrict my reading to one genre or form, so why should my writing be like that as well?
If you were to name one or two books that you deem unforgettable and that had a major impact on you, what would they be, and why?
The Call Of The Wild by Jack London influenced many of the paths I would take as a fiction writer. Likewise, Leonard Maltin’s Of Mice And Magic first got me interested in studying animation as a scholarly practice, and it’s a text I regularly return to in my research.
What authors do you read regularly? Why?
London and Maltin have been mentioned. I have also read and been influenced by several different writers, including Robert Bloch, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Marshall McLuhan, Northrop Frye and G.K. Chesterton.
If you were to have dinner with 5 individuals living or dead, who would they be and why?
Martin Luther King, Jr.- because I admire his courage and eloquence; Edmund Wilson- a writer and editor of great eloquence who has shaped much of my approach to culture; Craig McCracken- maker of some of the best programs in the history of television animation, and an influence on me as both a fiction and non-fiction writer; Franklin Delano Roosevelt- the best President America ever had; and Lester Pearson, the best Prime Minister of Canada ever had.
What is your writing routine? When you write, are you a planner/outliner or are you a “pantser”?
I save “pantsing” for shorter pieces that are not very elaborate. Otherwise, especially with longer works, I tend to be a planner.
When writing, how much do you read? Do you read in or out of your genre?
I read steadily, for both research and pleasure, both in and out of my genre.
Is there something you set out to do, but somehow, it didn’t work out for you? (In terms of writing, or something else you felt was important to you at the time?)
I have long wanted to be an instructor in the history of television animation, which is the scholarly area I specialize in, but, as of yet, no opportunities have been given to me, although I still hope for the best.
What tips would you give to new or even experienced writers?
Submit your best work all the time, after reflecting on an idea long enough to make sure it will be feasible. I learned from my first rejection messages from editors that they have no time or patience for anything that is presented in a sloppy, non-professional way.
How do you handle a negative critique?
I look for what can be positively drawn on it. If, for example, I get called out for having unrealistic characters and plotting, that gives me a potential opportunity to work on those for the next go-round.
Is there a type of writing/genre that you find difficult to write? Why?
So-called “mainstream”, or non-experimental literary fiction. As my personal experience of the world is more limited than some other authors, I can’t really develop anything semi-autobiographical or anything that doesn’t have a fantastic underpinning very well.
How important are the elements of character, setting, and atmosphere to a story, and why?
They are central to a story. Without them, a story is not convincing at all, and a reader will reject them immediately.
Do you see yourself in any of the characters you create? How/Why?
Not immediately. A lot of them are not of the same species or gender as I am, so that comparison can’t really be made. However, I have occasionally drawn on my own personal characteristics and my experiences as a university student for some characters in what I write.
Is there an unforgettable or memorable character that will not leave your head, either of your own creation or from a book you’ve read?
My regular series character, Jefferson Ball. She was the first character I dreamed up as an author and I have remained loyal to her ever since. It almost seems sometimes that she commands me to write about her- or else- even when I’m uncertain about whether what I write about her will be accepted at all.
Tell us about your most recent book.
How did you come up with the concept?
Orthicon came out of the now increasingly distant politics of America in the 2000s, when the U.S. was driving itself crazy with the aftermath of 9/11. The arrests of and pointless detentions of so many so-called “terrorists” were something I found rather distressing. There were genuine criminals among that bunch, but so many of them were only guilty of being in the right place at the wrong time.
Oddly, I found a parallel in this situation with the way the American media has used or misused the genre of television animation, as I’ve explored in non-fiction. Animation has often erroneously been written off as a genre “just” for children, as its long residency on Saturday morning network schedules has seemed to confirm rather than deny. It has been affected by prejudicial words and deeds over its history in ways that continue to impact its content. The advent of streaming has only increased this marginalization; even though some exceptional programs have been produced in this fashion, streamers tend to use animated programs only as bait to lure children into asking their parents to subscribe to the services, which is something, as a devoted animation fan, I resent.
So, keeping these two things in mind, I thought: If the U.S. government were to decide that animated cartoon characters were “terrorists” based on unjust accusations, and tried to exile them out of their native lands as they did to the “terrorists” in real life, what would happen then? The narrative answers this question.
How did you come up with the title?
The name comes from the Image Orthicon Camera Tube, a device used in early television broadcasting (They were known as “Immys” for short- and this ultimately led to the name of the leading prize in TV- the Emmys). Orthicon struck me as a name both that could be used as the name of a distant place and as a gathering of diverse people and beings on a temporary basis- like a science fiction convention (since many of them use the suffix “-con” as part of their official names).
From your book, who is your favorite character? Who is your least favorite character? Why?
Favorite: Cadmium, the deceptively weak-looking but very wise Dalmatian puppy. Of the characters, she was one of the first to emerge in full, and about the only one who managed to be exactly the way I had originally conceived her when I finished the final version of the story.
Least favorite: Sam Snead, the U.S. consul in Orthicon, although much of the story is told through his words. A self-centered, egotistical careerist jerk of a kind I don’t like. But, on the other hand, the previously existing fictional character who inspired him was very much the same, so I got that right.
I hope you found the interview interesting, and I hope you check out his work. To find out more about David, here are some links you’ll find helpful.
Facebook author group (David K. Perlmutter & Friends): https://www.facebook.com/davidperlmutter.22
Substack (David’s Newsletter): https://substack.com/profile/10684878-david-perlmutter
Medium Author Page: https://dkperlmutter.medium.com/
Vocal Author Page: https://vocal.media/authors/david-perlmutter-tg9au0160
Orthicon on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Orthicon-David-Perlmutter/dp/B08QRYT5QB
Orthicon on Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/orthicon-david-perlmutter/1137157562?ean=9781777256128