Dyrk Ashton is a Mid-western boy who spent some time in Hollywood. He teaches film, geeks out on movies and books, and writes epic urban fantasy novels about regular folks and their troubles with gods and monsters.
His debut novel, Paternus: Rise of Gods, was a finalist in Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO 2016 and placed 3rd, behind those rotten talented bastards Phil Tucker and Jonathan French. Ashton’s second novel in The Paternus Trilogy, Paternus: Wrath of Gods, was released in July of 2018, and the final installment, Paternus: War of Gods, is coming this Spring, 2020.Short stories in the world of Paternus appear in Art of War: Anthology for Charity, and Lost Lore: A Fantasy Anthology. Another, “Berserker,” is free for signing up for Dyrk’s newsletter on his website, paternusbooks.com. A fourth short, “The Death of Osiris,” will be coming this Fall in the anthology, Heroes Wanted.
Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself! Oh, and please don’t mind the screams.
Thank you for having me! Those screams though… I’m Dyrk Ashton, former SAG/AFTRA actor and filmmaker, professor of film for the day job, and author of the Paternus epic urban fantasy trilogy. I live in NW Ohio and spend nearly all my time in front of a computer.
Say, you can live in the fantasy house/lair of your dreams. What would it look like?
Bag End! But sized for a human instead of a Hobbit. It seems so cozy, and there are lots and lots of bookshelves.
Who wouldn't want more bookshelves? Duh. So, what is your favorite fantasy creature then, and why?
I think it would have to be dragons. There are a ton that I like, but there’s something about dragons, of all shapes and sizes and levels of intelligence, that is always intriguing. If I were to choose one creature from a particular book or movie, though, it would probably be Terry Pratchett’s sapient pearwood chest. That thing is awesome.
Good choice. And while we are talking about fantasy creatures. The Paternus trilogy is full to the brim with mythology and mythological creatures. What was the hardest part about bringing all these cultures together?
It took me awhile to figure out how to connect them all and determine their origins, ages, and abilities. I’ve always been fascinated by myth, legend and folklore, and especially the challenge of coming up with a kind of unified field theory for all the myths of the world. It was a lot of work to create that theory, then determine how to incorporate it into a story that anyone but me would think was interesting.
I find these things interesting, but then I have a master's degree to prove it. Many cultures' legends and myths has similar elements. I like the idea of bringing them together and make them clash. Which author would you say is your greatest influence as a writer?
There are so many, that’s a tought question. Tolkien would have to be first, then probably Howard, Burroughs, and Zelazny.
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
Most of my inspiration comes from mythology, books, movies and TV, but also science and natural history. On a daily basis, I do listen to music. I wrote most of book one at coffee shops, but for book two, I’d say 90% of it was written while listening to the extended soundtracks of the LOTR films, front to back, over and over again. They just seemed to set the right mood in the background. For nearly all of book three, it’s been kind of new age ambient meditational music inspired by aboriginal, Native American, and Hindu prayers. I get spastic when I write, especially when on deadline, and it really does the trick.
Other than that, I have been known to make deals with Michael R. Fletcher, but no need so much lately since I’ve kidnapped all his doppels and make them write all my books in exchange for cheap whiskey and burnt grilled cheese sandwiches.
Well, I guess at least you don't starve them, so that's something. How can someone get their hands on a doppel? Asking for a friend...
No Timy, bad Timy! They must be beaten regularly with a freshly cut sapling almond branch, and I don’t think you have that kind of beastly cruelty in you.
I mean, I'm not called Terrible Timy for nothing, you know... But fine, let's pretend I'm a nice, innocent Asylum proprietress lady who asks questions. Here is the next one: How do you relax after a long writing/research session? Do you have any hobbies (writing not included :P)?
I’m pretty boring. I usually finish work or writing around 7 or 8 PM then have dinner in front of the TV. Then I go to bed and read for an hour or so. That honestely about as interesting as it gets.
You seem to travel a lot. What was the most exotic place you’ve visited? Did it inspire any of your work? How has that experience affected you personally?
All of my travel in recent years has been for cons, which I love to attend. As far as most exotic it would have to be Kandy, Sri Lanka, high up in the mountains. We’re talking tea plantations, jungles, ancient Buddhist temples, monkeys in the trees, elephants carrying wood in the streets, monitor lizards on the gravel roads, and crocodiles in the rivers. That was pretty magical.
That indeed sounds magical. Which character of your book do you identify with the most and why? Who would you like to live with in an asylum?
I can’t say I identify with any one more than others, since I think they all have traits of mine. If I were to have to see someone day in and day out, though, it would probably be Uncle Edgar. He’s calm, smart, and knows a whole lot about a whole lot of things.
Oh, yes, Edgar. That reminds me, we need to have a chat. Err, anyway, let's talk about SPFBO. This was your second year as an SPFBO judge at BookNest.eu. How did you find that experience? What would your advice be for those who plan to submit their books to the competition in the future (if there will be next year)?
I love doing the guest judging for SPFBO, and have been very lucky that all the books I’ve gotten to read have been pretty good. It will always be my SPFBO claim to fame, though, that I had Zack Pike’s Orconomics in my first set and put it forward as my choice for semi-finalist. When I submitted it to Booknest, I told them not to be surprised if it took the whole thing – and it did!
My number one most adamant piece of advice for anyone considering entering the contest would be have a professional editor and proofer go through it with a fine toothed comb. The biggest complaint, disappointment, and turn off, is a poorly edited or proofed book.
I can totally stand behind that piece of advice! You recently started a Kickstarter campaign seems to be skyrocketing. How does that feel?
It feels absolutely fantastic. I had no idea how it would go, and honestly expected it to be a long slog to reach the funding goal. I’m still amazed at how quickly it funded, and how fast the first two stretch goals funded as well. I really do have the best readers and support community ever, and that’s the best feeling.
Where did the idea come from to launch a Kickstarter to release hard cover copies of Paternus: Rise of Gods? Do you plan to release the other books in the trilogy with hard cover as well?
I’ve always wanted to do really nice hardbacks, but even at a good price for printing per book, buying hundreds at a time has been beyond my reach financially. Friends and author pals have been doing Kickstarters and encouraging me for a few years. I finally decided, with book three coming out on May 19. 2020, now would be a good time to do it, though I was most afraid of the time commitment and amount of work involved. Thanks to folks like Michael and Robin Sullivan and Phil Tucker a lot of those fears were assuaged. I can’t thank them enough for all their help. With the success of this one, I will definitely be doing one for book two in the near future.
That's awesome! Good luck with it! Now, this interview is nearing its end. While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
I’m choosing the The Lord of the Rings trilogy as one book (and Tolkien meant it to be one, so that’s my defense). I think that would keep me interested the longest, since I could make myself learn and extrapolate on the languages, and really dig into the histories.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
Yes. HALP! SAVE ME! HALP! I’m being beaten by a freshly cut almond sapling stick!
If you’d like to get in contact with Dyrk Ashton, you can find him
in his basement beating people with a freshly cut almond sapling stick on social media:
Check out Dyrk’s Kickstarter campaign to get a hardback copy of Rise of Gods and a lot of other awesome stuff!
You still have time to catch up with the Paternus books before the last book in the trilogy, War of Gods will be released in May. Check the books out by clicking on the covers, which will lead you to their Amazon pages.