Our Interview with Daniel Peyton!

The Crystal NeedleImage of Daniel Peyton


My name is Daniel Jo Peyton. I was born in 1982 in Stillwater Oklahoma, home town of OSU. My life there was as basic as anyone living on the flat lands of the Midwest, baking in the sun, freezing in the winters, running from tornadoes in the between, and enjoying the vast expanse of life around you.
I grew up with an older brother who was more into sports than I, a father who was a pastor and also a human resource manager at a factory in town, and a mother who went back to college when I started first grade. I spent a lot of time with mom at the University, mostly in the music department. I loved being on stage and being around others who were as stage friendly as I. That eventually led to me joining a Dance company when I was in fourth grade. I was a large kid, still am, and I towered over everyone. But, no one could deny that I was an enthusiastic dancer. I tapped mostly, I tried Jazz dancing, and a little ballet, but soon enough I knew that Tap was my passion. I loved it. As I grew up, my friends, mostly guys that is, would ask me why I would want to be a dancer. That seemed so girly to them. My answer was always the same, If I want to be around half naked, hot sweaty men, I would play sports. In the dance school, I was one guy in a whole company of girls, all of which were very easy on the eyes. Of course, I was always first a dancer, but I didn’t argue with the side effects.
Also in fourth grade, I encountered something knew, writing. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Rogers, had us write for half an hour each day. It could be anything from poetry to catching up with school work. Just write. I started with some poems and tongue twisters, then I delved into novels. Okay, so my first novel was four pages long, and that was pencil on wide rule paper, but for a fourth grader, that was pretty good ( If I do say so myself). The story I remember to this day, The Adventures of Private Eye Peyton. A fan of the 80’s detective shows, I decided to try my hand at one. It was silly to say the least, but it started me on something that I couldn’t put down. I wrote, and I wrote. I wrote every time I got the chance. First on basic paper, the on a typewriter. Yes, computers existed, but they were pretty expensive at that age, and we simply didn’t need one. But, I didn’t care. I started off trying to write my own stories for my favorite show, Star Trek. To this day, I have written well over 9 novels about a cast of characters set in the Star Trek universe.
In 2001, my father got a job at a company in Morristown Tennessee, ( East Tennessee that is) and we up and moved out east. It was a culture shock for us, as we had lived in the flatlands for years, for me it was my entire life. Now, we were in the mountains of smoke and history. We settled in as best as we could. There I started my junior year of high school. After that, I went on to the little community college here in town for a while and decided that I wasn’t clear on a path for college just yet, and went to work at a Video Store. All the while, I continued to write.
After a number of years working for the video store, a new manager decided he didn’t quite like me and found a reason to fire me. It was devastating, but I found inspiration in it. I started to write a novel that was outside my normal genre, it would be pure fantasy. Using details of my life in both Oklahoma and East Tennessee, I constructed a simple, yet fun little fantasy that centered around a character based on yours truly. The book got published and is currently available, The Jalan Chronicles: The Eyes of Amaterasu.
This was not the success that I had hoped for. I did book readings, went to speak at schools, and eventually translated it into an ebook on Kindle.
In 2002 I joined the EGA, the Embroiders Guild of America. I like to stitch now and then and found friends among the ladies. In 2008, the president of our local chapter announced that the theme for the Share-a-Stitch convention would be Stitching Magic. I knew that they meant magic like Vegas, not Merlin, but I was inspired none the less. So, I started to craft a novel about all new characters set around a small, fictional town in New England called Featherville. The key Character was an old lady who happened to be a Stitching Witch. I let the story take a life all its own and started to write. It was a blast. For those who aren’t into embroidery, they will still find a fantastic story, ( If I do say so myself). Unfortunately, I found that publishers were uncertain of a book about magical stitching. Who has ever heard of such a subject? So, I decided to try and prove them wrong, and put it on Kindle.
Faith. I have faith in god and I have faith in my stories. I am a Baptist, which I found a plethora of in East Tennessee. I am still a dancer. After moving out here, I found little in the line of tap that I was accustomed too. But, I did encounter a person that has changed my life, a nice Japanese woman who introduced me to Okinawan culture and dance with the Miyagi Ryu School of dance and music. Since 2001, I have been training and performing classic and modern styles of Japanese dance all over the south, and even out in California.
I am still a writer, I always have been, I always will be. I trust in that part of me, as I know that God put it in my makeup before I was even born. My prayer is that my books elicit a little joy, a smile, even maybe a tear, in the lives of those who read them. And that, in a large nutshell, is me. Daniel Jo Peyton.
                              Bio provided by author’s site

It was my pleasure to interview Daniel! I found him to be quite engaging on many different topics. He has lead a varied and interesting life. So, without any further delay, please give a warm welcome to Daniel Payton.

1.What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?
Inspiration comes from just about anything. Music is one of the most crucial points of inspiration for scene work. Some characters are developed by borrowing the likeness of a friend and then altering him/her into a character. Though some characters, such as Elsabethe, are complete fabrication. When writing The Crystal Needle I was first inspired by my Embroiderers Guild. They held a stitching convention that had a theme of ‘stitching magic’. It made me consider the idea of writing a fantasy novel that involved stitching. While writing the book I listened to a lot of Copland and Gershwin. The moods and story within the music seemed to highlight the thoughts and moments of the book. Andante con Moto-Adagio by Gershwin set a dismal mood for moments of the book, while Appalachian Spring by Copland seemed to make me think of the moments of history in the book. I can honestly say that even Miley Cyrus inspired a part, when I wanted to put myself in the mindset of a girl in love I used Dream from the Hannah Montana Movie Soundtrack.

Last: I draw my characters. Well not all of them. But, I love to draw with a pencil. At times I have come up with a person that I want to write about. The picture gives him life and helps me know a little more about him for the story.

2.Are you an organized writer? Do you do things like take notes and make lists of characters? Or do you free write and work it out as you go? 

All of the above. I take notes, I free write, I brainstorm. Often I come up with the idea for the story, as long as I have an ending in mind, and just start writing. Then, after heading into the story, I keep a blank paper book with me that I scribble down notes in whenever a thought crosses my mind. Usually when I am traveling long distances I will have a really good thought for a particular scene and I will grab the book and jot it down. I also like an organic story. I know where the characters are, and I know where I want them to be in the end, but how they get there is undecided until it happens. I know the world they are in and put myself there to see what they are doing.

3.What is your normal writing day like? Do you write when you are inspired or do you have a schedule

 I do not normally have a daily schedule, though I tend to write late in the evening for about an hour. Yet, when I have a thought that I really want to get down and I am free to write, I will sit and write. Of course writing isn’t necessarily putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Sitting on your bed and thinking is writing. Pacing around is writing. Sitting for 12 hours in the backseat of a car is writing. So long as you are focused on the story and ideas, you are writing. I try to not let it build up too much before I do put finger to keyboard, or I might miss something. ( Or a nasty explosion ensues)

4.Who is your favorite author and how did they inspire you to write?

Charles Dickens. I love the way he can set a setting. You know where the character is and what he/she feels at that moment. If they are cold or hot. If they are angry or happy, you are not left wondering. I also love the how he can find unique ways to describe something, or someone. You know that place or person by the abstract way he introduced them.

Note: I don’t consider myself half the author he was. Charles Dickens is a master, I am an amateur.

5.It’s easy to see that you have a passion for writing but is there any part of it you don’t like? 

Editing. Okay, I love to re-edit my own work. Sometimes I seem to go through it too many times. But, what gets tedious to me is when I am handed the edited work and have to put that in myself. My chief editor hates using anything but basic pencil. So, for me it can be a bit of an eye-strain finding the marks and making sure that I don’t miss something.

6.Do you make time to read and if you do what are you reading right now?

 I try to read every day. What I have become interested in recently is reading bios. I love classic television and have been reading some of the older stars books that have come out recently. Betty White, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart. At this moment I am reading Jeanie out of the bottleby Barbara Eden. It is a well written work that has a good deal of first hand Hollywood history in it.

 7.How did you come to write about this genre of fantasy with the mixture of Japanese Folk lore and the Salem Witch Trials? Is there personal life experience in the writing?
I am a member of the Okinawan Kenjin-kai, I am a performer of traditional Japanese Dance and music. My hometown has a sister city in Japan and so I grew up with a lot of Japanese influences. Logically, this inspired me to bring that into the story. I am also the son of a history major. I grew up with a lot of history studies. When I started writing this book, I wanted to find a place in American history that I could put this, so I choose early colonial. Of course what I wrote is mostly fabrication. I studied up on bits and pieces to keep it believable, but it is in no way a historical fiction. It is just a fiction that has a little history in it.

Person life experience: The only personal part in this book is some of Joseph. I was a dancer too. I brought an ounce of that to put into him. Otherwise, that is as far as I personally go into this story.

8.Your books have been published with Amazon.com, Does this mean you see the publishing industry headed this way?
  I can believe that the publishing industry is heading toward the e-book market and Amazon is definitely the leader in that at this moment. But, they will have to keep up with the market. Blockbuster was the leader in the fledgling movie rental market, and once thought to be too big for its own britches. Look at it now, it did not keep up and is facing its own end. Books will never go out of fashion. How we get them and read them changes all the time.

9.Do you have any online sites where others can read more of your writings?

I have a blog that I try to keep updated weekly: http://thunderchicken-outofmyhead.blogspot.com/

10.Do you have any more stories in the works? What kinds of stories do you plan to write next?

I am in the process of finishing a new novel. It is a Christian fiction written in hopes of publication through Lifeway. I also have a series of books I have worked on for years based in the Star Trek universe. Unfortunately, that is a difficult genre to get into as a new author. And, I am writing some short stories for a game on Facebook. But, these stories are just fluff so I can get some writing in while I am editing the Christian Novel. ( I write all the time, even if I doubt anyone will read what I am working on.)

 11.Who would be your first choice to play Elsabethe from your book “The Crystal Needle.”?

Vicki Lawrence.

 12.If you could meet anyone from any time who would it be and what would be your first question?

Michelangelo. First question: Will you teach me to sculpt?