Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Part One of Confessions of a Reviewer’s long-awaited interview with the incomparable, Dallas Mullican!
We have long been fans of his writing, and in particular, the Marlowe Gentry series. In fact, this interview was supposed to happen last year until, well, read on and you will find out.
In tonight’s part, Dallas will tell you everything about himself in general, his writing, his influences, his music and he laments about not having any hair left.
Tomorrow night, Dallas will tell you all about the Marlowe Gentry trilogy, and in particular, A Coin for Charon and The Dark Age. After that, he will face the dreaded Ten Confessions.
This will all be followed by Confessions’ review of A Coin for Charon on Wednesday and our review of The Dark Age, on Thursday.
There really is nothing else left to say other than, go grab some nibbles and a drink and sit back, and most of all……enjoy!
CoaR – So tell everyone a bit about yourself in general. Who is the real Dallas Mullican?
DM – I’m a mystery, inside an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle. Seriously, I’m pretty boring, a hermit, I rarely step outside. Reading, writing, movies, etc. anything that avoids the sun, insects, and people.
CoaR – Dallas Mullican, is that your real name or a stage or pen name?
DM – My full name is William Dallas Mullican, Jr. After my dad passed away and I began writing, I decided to pay honour to him by using Dallas rather than Billy.
CoaR – I have to ask you about the music. You were in a prog metal band for twenty years, meaning you have done the two jobs I would most like to do in the world. What was that like?
DM – Amazingly wonderful and frustrating in equal measure, much like writing. My first, somewhat successful band, Outrage, was a thrash band akin to Anthrax and the like. We toured regionally and did okay. Later I co-created A Lower Deep, still thrashy, but more versatile with progressive elements. We toured more and wider, put out five CDs, and got to play with some bigger named bands. That was awesome, but we never managed to get over the hump. Being in Alabama where there was no metal scene at all made matters difficult. We couldn’t build a base to work from. The advent of the internet being more widely used helped, and gained us some recognition around the world, but failed to supply the funds needed to go any further.
CoaR – Did you rub shoulders with any greats during this time?
DM – My first band played with Intruder many times, one of the second tier of thrash bands. They were on Metal Blade. We played with Helstar, Intense Regret, and few other notables from the day, including a great show with Nuclear Assault.
A Lower Deep played with Circle II Circle, Zak Stevens from Savatage’s band, Theocracy, Halcyon Way, and some others from the underground prog scene. Two near misses – we had tours lined up with Evergrey once, and Circus Maximus another time. Evergrey had to cancel due to customs problems, and CM cancelled their North American tour to support Symphony X in Europe. Can’t blame them for that, ha.
CoaR – Why give it up or what happened to end it?
DM – Frustration and life mounted to kill the drive and joy. Twenty years spent working our asses off, like with many bands, eventually came infighting over direction and what we should do to progress. I decided to find a creative outlet where I didn’t need to try and get along with four other guys.
CoaR – Would you ever go back to it?
DM – No, that ship has sailed. I enjoyed my time in it, even with the frustrations, but I have no desire to go back to it.
CoaR – I can empathise with this one but, ever wish you still had the hair?
DM – Ha, I do. I miss my hair often. It was half way down my back at one point. Headbanging isn’t the same without it.
CoaR – OK on to the writing. Why writing? Why decide on that as a career?
DM – I received BA degrees in Philosophy and English, Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature, I always love to read and write. I wrote all the lyrics for my bands and they were aimed at literature and philosophy without exception. I have an internal need to be creative and I like the solitary approach that writing allows.
CoaR – Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?
DM – My first novel was seat of my pants. Though it had simmered in my mind for many years, I found during the editing process the story was too meandering. With A Coin for Charon, my second attempt, I did much more outlining — chapter outlines, character bios, research notes. Setting up a basic road map that allowed me to know where I was headed, but also not being so restrictive to hamper creativity or spontaneous ideas worked better for me. I continue to learn and find new ways to streamline this approach.
CoaR – How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?
DM – I have a photographic memory, or close to it. I tend to come up with most of my ideas lying in bed trying to sleep. I see them like movies. I simply have to write down the main points. Normally, it’s three or four main events that happen in a chapter. With the main elements clear, I can find a flow and fill in the details surrounding those main features. As for ideas saved for later projects, I do write those in a file.
CoaR – Can you tell us if any of the characters in your books are based on people you have come across in your life or maybe even yourself?
DM – All my characters are either aspects of myself or someone I know, or conversely, the opposite of myself or someone I know. I might add ticks and traits from people or even characters from movies or books, borrowing from as many sources as possible, blending them, in order to create characters that are unique, but relatable and real.
CoaR – I have to address the fact that your books disappeared for a while. Was that solely because your original publisher folded? What did that feel like?
DM – That was a huge set back. So many promises broken. New to publishing, I didn’t understand how shady the business side of things could be. I felt pretty demoralized, and it came at a time when I was having some health issues, so not fun at all.
CoaR – How much work did you have to do to find a new home for them?
DM – I lost a year working out legal issues with the old publisher and dealing with the health issues, but once I licked my wounds for a bit and began to feel better, I started networking and things came together fairly quickly.
CoaR – How did it feel when Mark Parker and Scarlet Galleon picked them up?
DM – I knew Mark for a while and knew he put out some beautiful books, but he had done primarily anthologies before. I was impressed with the great authors he worked with, so when he suggested the idea of us working together on my solo works, it was a great fit. Mark and his team at SGP are passionate and really put in the work. I’m happy to be with them and look forward to releasing many books in future.
CoaR – Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?
DM – I see distinct periods in my formative years through modern influences, all having some effect on my writing, and how I view writing. Early on, it was Stephen King, Robert McCammon, and Clive Barker, primarily. Into my late teens and early twenties, I became more influenced by the classics—Milton, Poe, Falkner, Marquez and so many more. Poets like Emily Dickinson, TS Elliot, Robert Browning, etc. Later, philosophers took over as my main influence. Many of the Existentialists such as Sartre, Camus, Nietzsche, the writing styles of Kafka, Dostevsky, Kierkegaard. In that last several years authors like Steven Erikson, Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, Thomas Harris, Jonathan Kellerman, have all put their fingers in my brain and left something behind.
CoaR – What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?
DM – The initial drafting by far. I have to make myself just write beginning to end, without stopping to edit, or I will spin my wheels forever. The editing process polishes it up and fills in holes, so the rewrite can get everything in the proper place, with the proper pace and tension.
CoaR – What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?
DM – As most who write I assume, I want to make a comfortable living by writing. Very few manage it, but that’s the dream I work toward. Beyond that, I hope readers enjoy my work and maybe take something from it that informs and enriches their lives in some way.
CoaR – I have compared you to John Connolly and his Charlie Parker series before. That is probably my favourite series ever so for me that is a big compliment to you. How do you feel being compared to people like that?
DM – I don’t mind it at all, and I’m humbled any time someone sees merit in my work comparable to great writers, of which I’m striving to become one. When I was singing in bands, any comparison to a singer I admired served to make me feel as if maybe I could actually do this, ha. Same with comparisons in writing.
CoaR – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
DM – Chatting with friends, watching movies or the handful of TV shows I like. I enjoy video games sometimes, as a diversion. I spend time with my daughter, a college senior, when she can fit me in. And I still love to read whenever I can.
CoaR – What’s coming in the future from Dallas Mullican?
DM – The third Marlowe Gentry book entitled October’s Children is coming out early in 2018. The first book, Blood for the Dancer, in a fantasy trilogy entitled Aamon’s War is with the publisher and should also see release next year, along with The Music of Midnight, a lit fic stand-alone. Beyond that, write and write, hope to build a base of loyal readers, and continue to play the fool for your entertainment online.
Well, unfortunately that is the end of Part One of the interview.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night when Dallas will tell you all you need to know about the first two books in the Marlowe Gentry trilogy, A Coin for Charon and The Dark Age.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
After spending twenty years as the lead singer of a progressive metal band, Dallas Mullican turned his creative impulses toward writing. Raised on King, Barker, and McCammon, he moved on to Poe and Lovecraft, enamored with the macabre. During his time at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he received degrees in English and Philosophy, Dallas developed a love for the Existentialists, Shakespeare, Faulkner, and many more great authors and thinkers. Incorporating this wide array of influences, he entices the reader to fear the bump in the night, think about the nature of reality, and question the motives of their fellow humans.
A pariah of the Deep South, Dallas doesn’t understand NASCAR, hates Southern rock and country music, and believes the great outdoors consists of walking to the mailbox and back. He remains a metalhead at heart, and can be easily recognized by his bald head and Iron Maiden t-shirt.
And for more about Dallas, visit his site or find him on social media: