APEX Hour at SUU

2/17/22: Fantasy and multi genre author David Anthony Durham

Episode Summary

In this weeks show, host Lynn Vartan speaks with he acclaimed author of the Acacia series about his writing, his process, and the ability to span many different genres in his career. Enjoy!

Episode Notes

APEX Website

Episode Transcription

Dr. Lynn Vartan  00:00

Hey everyone, this is Lynn Vartan, and you are listening to the apex our on K SUU thunder 91.1. In this show, you get more personal time with the guests who visit Southern Utah University from all over, learning more about their stories and opinions beyond their presentations on stage. We will also give you some new music to listen to, and hope to turn you on to some new sounds and new genres. You can find this here every Thursday at 3pm or on the web at sau.edu/apex. But for now, welcome to this week's show here on thunder 91.1. Right everyone, welcome in, it's the apex hour. It's Thursday afternoon, and I am so happy to be here today, as always, and we've had another awesome day at Apex events. And I have author, David Anthony Durham in with me, welcome into the studio.


David Anthony Durham  01:04

Lynn, thank you so much. I'm glad to be here.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  01:06

Yay. I have just been so having such a great time exploring your work reading your books. And one of the things that just stands out is that you are a writer in multiple genres. I mean, let me see if I can name them all. And then you can let me know. So literary, Western fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction. Does that cover them? I mean, my goodness.


David Anthony Durham  01:34

Yeah, I guess you could add, I don't know if there's a subcategory there for superhero mutants, kind of that that vibe, there's that's in there, too.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  01:43

You just have the coolest. I mean, that's just the coolest thing ever, you know, and I want to get into all the different, you know, books. I mean, some of the titles that we've been talking about today are your Acacia trilogy, is a trilogy right now. And a Gabriel story and your newest book is The Shadow Prince. There are just so many things to talk about. But my first question for you, I'm always curious with I had with writers to ask the question. You know, when did you know this was what you wanted to do with your life? How did you how did you get started in writing?


David Anthony Durham  02:19

Wow, I haven't thought about this for a long time. But although I was a slow reader, and kind of reluctant reader when I eventually did, you know, discover the Hobbit and fantasy and suddenly was a voracious reader, like just just like that. It was probably shortly thereafter that I named my, my career. There's a journal that I kept in eighth grade. It was part of my English class, had to write something in it every day. And part of what I wrote in it were stories. Wow, okay. You actually just brought this back, it was memory. Yeah, there was stories about a kind of a race of people sized turtles. And I was not, you know, copying off Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I think was probably before that. We were in a fantasy setting, kind of warrior turtles. And, in particular, there's an entry in there where I say, this is yeah, this is eighth grade. That I want to be a writer. That's what I'm going to do when I grew up. That you forgot about that for a while. I have to admit that. Yeah. So that was eighth grade. By the time I went through high school, I was I was not the best, the best student there. And, and I rediscovered it about a year a couple years into, into my undergrad. And and then it went but it went to Oh, okay, wait, I knew this in eighth grade. I'm supposed to be a writer. Let me get serious about it. So I did.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  03:54

That is amazing. The journaling, you know, that's such a special thing. I remember doing that as well. And, and I think that that's just a great way. I mean, what a nice memory of that and that there were stories in it as well. So that's kind of your creative expression coming out right from the get go.


David Anthony Durham  04:11

I guess the thing that occurs to me as well is gratitude to that teacher for making me keep that journal. I might not have remembered I might not I might not have named by named my profession.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  04:24

Yeah. Well, fast forward to now you've you've done so much. I'd love to ask you what I know it's kind of jumping around but I'd love to ask you. And we've talked a bit about it, but what does it feel like to you know, write in different genres? I mean, is it something that kind of was a natural evolution for you? Is it something that you sort of are you know, standing on the hill proclaiming with a you know, I will be a multi genre writer, talk to me about the identity associated with with with being involved in so many different genres.


David Anthony Durham  04:58

Okay, Well, I wouldn't say I, you know, stood on the hill and proclaimed it. But I do remember, when I ended up with the agent I have, I still have now Slynt Harris at ICM, I said, you know, we're doing my first book, and we're talking about my, my future, my career going forward. And I said, what I'd like to do is, you know, write these literary novels, and also, you know, maybe throw in, you know, a fantasy series at some point, and, and, you know, just be able to kind of balance and kind of go between the two. And he kind of went, Yeah, I'm not sure that, that that would work. Because at the time, you know, there's a separation in the genres. And it's not something that people did that frequently. Or some writers who would do it would do it under different names, actually. So I, you know, but okay, well, we'll see. But the idea obviously, stuck with me. And, for me, it's, it's not the the best way to build a career in terms of establishing a name for yourself and a particular readership. Right. But in each case, as I've moved, I have probably lost some readers in the process and gains new readers as well. And, for me, it's, I do find inspiration in all in so many genres. So it makes sense to also to write in them, I get excited about picking up sort of a slightly different toolkit, different reader expectations, and, and kind of problem solving the way through a new genre, it keeps it interesting.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  06:39

Well, I'd love for you to go into a little more detail about that, because I'm super curious about those toolkits, and about those reader expectations. I mean, I mean, I know these are generalizations, of course, but can you talk a little bit to you know, what, what that means in terms of fantasy versus, you know, historical or Western or, or young adult or whatever. Can you talk about what some of the toolkits might be and different techniques? And then also, what different expectations are like, what do you how, how, as a writer, do you look to those audiences? What differences are there?


David Anthony Durham  07:18

Well, it, it's interesting that in some ways, I, I look at them the same, except that, so one of the big changes from my early days of writing very literary fiction was that my emphasis was all on character, and character development and literary language and this structure of sentences, all of which is, you know, it's great. And I love a good literary novel. I would say, though, that my MFA program, you know, kind of looked down on plot and drama and things happening. And that's when I, when I ventured into my first published novel that that scaped Gabriel story that kind of pulled me into because it's set in the West, I needed to read some westerns. And I think somewhere in there, as I began writing that novel, and was into into it a little ways, I actually remember I remember the day that I had a whole bunch of ideas like stuff was going to happen, and they were going to be horse race horse, like chases, and, and it was going to cover various states in the country, all this drama. And when my wife came home, I told her, you know, I had all these ideas today of where this novel could go. But, you know, stuff happens. And I was kinda like, puzzled. I was like, Can I do that?


Dr. Lynn Vartan  08:45

And I kind of write plot.



And my wife was kind of awesome, and all things said, Well, it sounds like you want to great, do it. Yeah. So that that was that was one thing. And I was aware, when that novel got published, how humbling that experience was, like, instead of feeling like, hey, you know, I've, I've, you know, I've conquered the Western. It was more like, wow, people are gonna be reading this now. And that kind of fired up a belief that I had to make sure that I was delivering for folks. You know, like, early on. I, the novels were very serious. And they were very issue oriented. And I, that was important to me, but I needed to remember to entertain, and to you know, to value people's time when when they're spending it with with your words. So make sure there's good story there. So that's not exactly a toolkit. But that breakthrough. It had to be important because it's the breakthrough that got me into print. And that's continued.


Dr. Lynn Vartan 10:00

Well, another question that that leads to what that what you were saying is, do you have someone specifically in mind as a reader? Or is it a general? Or is it yourself? Or is it? Who do you think of when it? Or do you think of someone when you're writing?


David Anthony Durham  10:22

I think of someone in between this perfect reader who also likes to read across genres, and likes to be entertained, but also read works, that in some way or another, engage with questions of, you know, what it means to be human, and how best to live and to live our lives. And it's not so much what I think of, I wouldn't even say that between the adult genres, at least, that I, I really feel like, I need to, like, have an entirely entirely new readership, I always want to be bringing along some of the folks who read my earlier books, and hopefully adding new ones, new readers to it. Like, as much as you can look at my books, and by description and go out there, they're kind of, they're quite different. I would say there are themes that kind of weave, you know, right through all of them. I don't know that the the things that I write about in terms of ancient history and warfare, in a novel, like pride of Carthage, are all that different thematically than how I approach it in a novel like Acacia?


Dr. Lynn Vartan  11:31

What are those themes that are most important to you in terms of your, your personal statements?


David Anthony Durham  11:39

With both the like, I think I think of the Hannibal novel and and Spartacus novel, they're both novels, where you kind of know what happens, like, in neither case do they don't when things don't go well for either of them. And I think that my approach to those is to, to look at, at all the desires and aspirations. And, you know, many, in many case, you know, misplaced notions of national pride and greed and everything that lead to, to those conflicts. And to, to take characters through that, ultimately, it ends up being about the cost of all that, all that war, all that damage. Yeah, that those themes are definitely there in those novels. They also inform acacia, you know, I, I didn't go into a fantasy, with the notion that this is going to be about the forces of good and the forces of evil, and which, you know, is the Dark Lord, when or does the, you know, the, the good, the good guys win? Because I never I've never seen the world as as that as that cut and dry. It's complicated. And there are, you know, going into into any of them, I've always wanted to tell the stories kind of from both sides, basically. So, yeah, yeah, that's there. It's, it's an exploration of the cost of the damage we do to one another. But also, you know, both Hannibal toward the end of his novel. So there's a scene at the end of pride of Carthage, where Hannibal has returned to, to Carthage, and he has been away from his family and from from his, his children, as well. And he's lost the war, and it gets over. And he, he's returning to the city. And he goes, and he sees his son and kind of motions for a son to come to him so that he can, we can greet him. And his young son gets to him, and, and cries, because he and then what what Hannibal, my Hannibal feels is it as if he has brought home all of all of the death and the violence and the horror of war. And that his son, you know, doesn't know him. And that, that kind of realization is is, is the type of thing that is woven through through a lot of my writing.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  14:14

That's amazing with some of these characters, particularly with Hannibal, and Spartacus, who were, who were real people, historical figures. How do you, we talked a little bit about this in another session today, but how do you sort of inhabit them? And so maybe you could talk a little bit more about that. Of course, there's the research, but I'm more interested in how you, how you glean from them, how you glean into them, I guess would be the way you know, and really get inside them.


David Anthony Durham  14:47

Yeah. It's not always easy. In the case of the Spartacus novel, for instance, it took a long time. You know, I obviously I knew the events and that was fine. There's a story to tell they're just totally events. But if I didn't connect with a character and feel like I understood my my imagined version of who he is what he aspires to, why he does the things that we know that he did. I needed all that to make sense to me. So part of that process is, it's not so much something it's done from, like, ahead of time, I don't I don't sit down and and like, map out.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  15:28

This character is this way. He thinks this how he feels Yeah, right


David Anthony Durham  15:32

It's much more about putting myself kind of right there on his shoulder, walking into a scene, and having him interact with people. And out of that, out of that process of almost having, having him walk me through it, and many other characters, that's my approach to a lot of my point of view characters, they walk me into their part of the story. And that that includes just filling in the filling in the gaps. Yeah, imagining and being feeling free to to know that. I don't know that a word that I wrote is anything that Hannibal actually said, right, you know, it's, um, but I'm not trying to do that. I'm trying to believe in this version of Hannibal that hits all the all the the the moments and events it needs to, but in a way that has resonance and feels feels true to me, at least a fictional truth.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  16:27

Yeah, I love it. Well, I want to play a little bit of a piece of music here. But then when I come back, I really want to get a little bit more into talking and thinking about characters and I have some other questions that though that that conversation just spurred from me. So as I was picking music for this, it was really interesting. I always try to kind of come up with some connections but you know, who knows this first one we've been talking a lot about world building and so I don't know I was looking for things that that might be interesting in a world for me and I've been really into this artists Sudan archives, and this song is called Island moss so check it out you're listening to KSUU you thunder 91.1. All right, everyone, welcome back to the APEX hour. This is Lynn Vartan, that song that you're just listening to was called Iceland moss by Sudan archives. As always, if you're interested in hearing the music that's played on the APEX hour, you can go to Spotify and there is a Spotify open playlist called, played on APEX hour. And you can check out all the wide variety of songs that I've played in the shows over the years. So I'm in the studio with author David Durham, he is the author of the acacia series, Gabriel story, the Shadow Prince and many other things. Welcome back. We were talking before about characters and about inhabiting characters. I have another question about characters. And I'm asking it because in our conversations, and meals and such over the past couple days, you have said a couple of times, you know, for me to fall in love with this character. And, you know, I love that concept. And I wonder is that is that it? Is that it for you? You you, when you especially with your maybe protagonist or point of view characters? Do you have to in order to unlock them for yourself? Do you have to sort of fall in love as it will with them? I mean, figuratively?


David Anthony Durham  21:53

Yes. Especially with with the main characters, you know, I kind of use that terminology to that phrasing a lot, when I think of writing about Spartacus or writing about Hannibal. But it's true to some degree with with all the characters who at least when I write from their point of view, I need to be able to understand some of the main things about them, right, and to relate to those things. It's never as if I write a character, who is you know, who I can't, I can't understand aspects of who that person is. No matter even even when they're pretty horrible, there's, there's still some, something that that I can connect with, or that I can know to be wary of. So that's, that's important. And also, there's an aspect of finding of getting myself to a place where I kind of believe at least in in the zone of the creative process, I believe what they believe. And there, there was aspect of that, especially in in the Spartacus novel, there isn't where I had to do to kind of make up a lot about the religious worship of these ancient variations in particular. And that was interesting, because I have very little little to go on, at some names and some vague notions. But it felt important, it's going to be important to their characters, you know, what they believed and how that shapes the actions they take. And, and so in the process of like, okay, what, what would, what would the god, the god or the gods of these people? Would that what would that deity be like? And I guess the process of doing that maybe sounds a little weird, but it's not so much that I do it from the outside. It's more that I am kind of imagining myself into, into their mindset, and convincing myself at least temporarily, to believe what they believe. Writing about some some, you know, some ceremony they're doing. I can't, I couldn't write about it, if it didn't it to some degree, make sense to me. Right. Right. And so that, that's, that's part of it. And also even just the process of, of creating, creating the characters and their story and and how they move through a novel is fundamentally one of so in case of private Carthage begins with a foot soldier. And like, Okay, I this is gonna be a novel with a lot of different perspectives. A lot of different experiences, which I have not not been an ancient foot soldier. But when I put myself in his shoes, it's like, okay, why is he there? Yeah. What What drew him to be there? What is what does he need? What did he trying to get out of this? What's what's at stake for this character? What does he hope and aspire to? And all those things kind of get fleshed out? As I'm as I'm living in that character's skin, yeah, and that's, that's a fun, it's a fun part of the process. And again, it's very different than, than sitting down and like, you know, grafting out who a character is, it's more done in the storytelling mode.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  25:17

I love that. Well, let me go even more. And so I teach music. And one of the things that I like to teach about is the different kinds of learning like visual learning oral learning kinesthetic learning as you're learning a piece and getting gaining deep, deep learning of a piece of music, you want to try to access in almost different ways. So we've talked quite a bit about characters, I'd like to kind of expand that conversation a little bit to the world around them. And I wonder, do you sit and see them? Do you hear them? You know, what, what senses? Are there multiple senses involved in your imagination? As you are getting that stuff down on paper? Are you aware of that? I'm just curious about that, you know, especially when you're these one of the things we've talked about a lot is the depth of your world designing. And I just wondered about that part of it.


David Anthony Durham  26:17

Interesting. I guess it must be yes. A very multifaceted combination of, of Yes. of sensations and, and influences. I'm thinking of acacia now. And in that case, yeah, it's definitely it's kind of creating a whole world. Yeah. And, and in very different landscapes in, in this world, right. So I'm thinking about that now and going, Okay. In a way I kind of mapped that out in the, the opening, the opening portion of the book has a lone soldier. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  26:55

It's such a great opening, by the way, I love it. Like, it's great, I have an image of the hair so much and that, you know, I It's like, so it's burned in Yeah., anyway.


David Anthony Durham  27:07

It's fun, I can look back at something like like that opening, and realize that, the process of writing that that scene, or that series of Scindia, that sequence is, is me getting on on this guy's shoulder, and having him introduced the world to me. So he begins in this really Arctic landscape, his people are in exile into the far north, and kind of describe, you know, what, what their fortress looks like. And, and then he proceeds to, to move down from from there into more of the heart of the Empire, and it gets warmer and get kind of more tropical. So he's, you know, losing the accoutrements that he needed to survive in the cold. And, and taking on, you know, moving into a different climate, and into different cultures, and all of that. It's like, it's kind of funny to look back at that now and go, Oh, right. I was I was learning what it feels like to move through this world by having him do it. I mean, he's, he's on a mission of assassination, but yeah.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  28:16

So do you, so this is such an interesting thing, because it's like you get inside the novel, as you're, I mean, you kind of are inside it, right? You're on his, on his shoulder, so to speak. And, and so when you sit down to write in a day, let's say, um, do you? Do you sit and see him? Do something and then write it? Or, I mean, do you see a complete scene? Does it happen? Step by step? What's that, like? 


David Anthony Durham  28:51

It's, it's confusing. There's, when I am really kind of deeply into into a novel. And that's a great, that's a great place to be I need to be deeply into a novel again soon. I need to be back there. It's, it becomes part of the fabric of of everyday, it so it's not just that I sit down at the computer. And at that point, I'm guided into their head. I mean, that's, that's one of the main times but once I'm really kind of in the story, it's aspects of it are playing out in my mind no matter what. So I will be there's not that much a separation between being in front of the computer with my fingers on the keys. Between that and, and washing washing dishes after dinner, because I can be there and something occurs to me like that. Something clicks into into place about what happens next in the story hour about why that happens next. And okay, this is gonna this might seem weird, but, but it worked. When I was writing the Arisan, it was it was a slow and novel, it kind of came to me slowly, it wasn't always easy. And, you know, novel number seven, I'm like, Oh, should be easy. I had to had to relearn how to approach it. Awesome. And one of those ways was they would I get a feeling when I knew I had reached a problem in the story, I wasn't quite sure what to do next. But I feel like, I'm aware that that the answer is it's kind of like just, you know, it's hiding somewhere, but I can feel the shape of it, I feel it, it's there, I just don't have it. So when I lived in Western Massachusetts, we were out in the woods. And there's a path, a particular bit of path behind our house in the woods. And when I had that feeling that, okay, there's something I'm always gonna get, I just, I would go out to that, that bit of path. And I'd walk really slowly. And I would just look down at the path. And, and it was as if I was looking for a small object on the ground. And when I did that, if I just walked slowly enough, and for long enough, I almost always found it.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  31:13

That's awesome. It's like a meditation. I mean, it's a moving meditation of sorts, you know? Yeah. And I mean, I completely get what you're saying about, you know, when you're deep into something, I think musicians feel that I know, when I'm learning a big piece, and I'm deep in the learning process the same. If I'm washing dishes, all of a sudden, I'll realize that it's playing in my head, you know, somebody once said to me, do you always hear music in my head? And my answer was, like, no. But then the for the next week, I started to kind of pay attention. And I was like, oh, yeah, it is always in my head. I just never really was alert to it or not. So that's, that sounds awesome. I mean, what a cool process.


David Anthony Durham  31:52

Yeah, I guess there are similarities there. And it is funny to think about how much how many how often the, the important revelations and, and plot details and or, the other thing is, there are a lot of occasions where I will have written something early in a book, and only figure out, you know, what that thing is and how it resonates with the, with the whole novel, much later. And that's, that can be a weird process to, like, you know, so it's like, four months later, and a couple 100 pages in, and it's like, oh, that that ring that he put on, you know, like, that's, that's, I just figured out where that came from and how that's gonna change the story.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  32:40

That's amazing, our mind is so, what a fascinating thing. That is.


David Anthony Durham  32:45

And that's, that, for me, only happens when I when I'm doing the writing, you know, as opposed to going, Okay, let me let me just think up, you know, all these important things that are gonna happen. Once I'm actually in the story, and living with it, that, that there are these connections that I didn't see before. I don't know that I could see them if I hadn't, if I wasn't spending them the mental time. Almost 24 hours a day.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  33:17

Yeah. So are you the type of worker, writer? Like, what's a typical writing day? I know, we all have many different kinds of days. But what's a typical writing day for you? You know, there's, of course that saying like, well, there's no such thing as the Muse coming and knocking, I knock her over the head and drag her along, you know, and so are you sort of wait for the spark or you get in regularly and then let the spark come through? How does that work for you?


David Anthony Durham  33:51

Yes, I frequently feel that my answers to questions are so contradictory. Because it's kind of it's never one thing, I think, I mean, I absolutely believe that, fundamentally. I can't expect the the story the muse, you know, to come to me, I have to go there, I have to go and, and put fingers on the keys and begin to define my way into the story. And, and if I do that, then the ideas, the ideas show up, like, okay, you've spent enough time trying, here's, here's a nugget, right. Oh, okay, great. I have that now. And part is there can be days, or in moments or writing days that are like that. And as exactly what what I need. There are other days when things aren't going well. And, you know, it's sometimes if we're not going well, I stay there and I try to make it work. And maybe maybe something comes out of that. Or maybe I go you know what, it's not happening today. It's time for me to stop. And maybe the best way forward, is for me to walk away from the computer. Just now and do something else. And so that, so it's like, what works one day as part of the process might not work the next day. And it's kind of a matter of just knowing that one way or another, I'm going to I'm going to show up and try to do the work. And it'll be rewarded with for it. If I do that, do that enough.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  35:25

We got so quickly into such a great deep conversation that I feel like we should let anybody listening kind of have a little, you know, sort of the two minute synopsis of some of the books that we've been talking about, you know, I, I feel so comfortable talking with the event. Now I feel like we should share with people. So I know we've talked about the risen and, and we've talked about the pride of Carthage also. But I wonder if you might give us a little sort of yeah, the risen. What is it about? And we've touched on a little bit, but for anybody who might be like, I'm really interested in this guy want to get one of the books? What? So tell us about the risen?


David Anthony Durham  36:06

Okay, well, the risenn is kind of, in a way, it's a companion book to pride of Carthage both feature historical figures that were enemies of Rome. That seemed to be something that attracted me. And so the risen, it's about the Spartacus rebellion in ancient Rome. And it's, you know, he is he is the main character in terms of the main character of importance, and he has one point of view. But when I write a novel like that, I don't I never want a big story like that to be told from only one character's point of view. So they're actually 10 point of view characters in that novel. The idea being that any war doesn't, it doesn't just affect the leaders doesn't just affect the general, it affects everyone else in that society as well. So the point of views are everything from footsoldiers to count followers, children's point of views to older people's point of views. And it's a real mixture that I hope can't tell is kind of a People's History of the Spartacus rebellion. And so that's, that's what what that one is. And you know, pride of Carthage, similarly is a similar approach to Hannibal being the main focus in his war with with, with Rome, the Second Punic War, that was important, for he was important for Rome's history, he came so very close to defeating them. But when when as he failed, eventually, that was the conflict that allowed room to kind of solidify its control to the Mediterranean and become what it became. And as another one where I wanted to have lots of different points of view, and representation from different different parts of the experience. That's, that's kind of one of the ways I like to approach the bigger novels. I read a read a novel A while back, that was a first person narration of from animals point of view. And I was like, This is so limited. What about what about everybody else?


Dr. Lynn Vartan  38:16

Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. And then we've also spoken a bit about acacia, the Acacia trilogy, could you give our listeners a little bit of a snapshot of that?


David Anthony Durham  38:27

Acacia is an epic fantasy trilogy, set in a you know, it's a magical, fantastical worlds, it gets a bit more magical as it goes, my desire there was to create a fantasy world that represented the real world diversity that kind of looked at the the complex ethnicities of our world and the cultures that come out of that. And to imagine that into a fantasy space. So that was a big part of it. I was also inclined to look at the notions of empire and national mythology, any nation that we have a version of ourselves that that we tell that is maybe history but also has a lot of myths in there to validate things that we've done. So it's a novel in which the the the good guys you know, don't have a clean slate. And the apparent bad guys. Well, they're not you know, it's, it's more complex. Okay. Yeah. So I like those complications. But it's also a novel that or novel series that taught me taught me how to write fantasy, I guess. That's part of why it began lower magical. And it gets more fantastical as it goes. I think I got more comfortable with it. And, and also the world.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  39:56

That's intersting, yeah.


David Anthony Durham  39:58

Another thing about that when the I like this, that there's the initial world, kind of the known world around Acacia. And but part of what happens is the this empire, it does have a trade across the ocean with basically an unknown entity out there. And I when I wrote the first book, I didn't know what was over there. And, and that was really part of what drew me into the second.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  40:27

So you didn't know, either. Oh, that's like a cool little inside, inside tip there.


David Anthony Durham  40:34

And that that's why there's a second book, cuz part of me is like, Okay, I'm going to looking at the globe, I can only see this much of it. But I'm going to turn it a little bit, you know, what's on the other side of the ocean? And then I get over there. And who are these people? Why are they participating in this trade? What do they want out of it? That's, that's a fun, a fun part of the process as well. So epic fantasy that hopefully reads a bit like it's a fleshed out world as if it's an epic, historical.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  41:07

Yeah, it does. It definitely does, for sure. Absolutely. Well, there's two other novels that we could talk about more, but two other novels in particular, that we've been sort of touching on here and there. And that is a Gabriel story, which is your first published novel. Right, right. And can you tell us a little bit about that?


David Anthony Durham  41:26

Sure. first published novel, not first novel, right, I wrote two that were unpublished, a little bit of of one of those became some of the key ingredients of Gabrielle story. It's a, I guess you could call it a Western, an African American western set in the 1870s. The family dynamic, which I initially wrote in a contemporary sense, is, is all kind of intact. It just the story became really different when I plucked it up in time and space, and moved it to Kansas 1970s. It's a story partly about homesteading, partly about a disgruntled boy who does not like his stepfather and chooses to go off on his own, and gets in a lot of trouble in the process, and comes to value of value a lot of what he left behind, and it's it's his journey, his circular journey out into the world, and then back to his family. Yeah, that's, that's that one I had, I've had a long history, interest in, in history, American history, and African American history. And I was very aware that in historical record, African Americans, they came west as they went north, you know, after post slavery, and I, I felt like there weren't enough depictions of them, getting to the west and trying to make participating in that part of American history. So I was excited to write about that. So a little bit of a of a family story, a little bit of historical desire, I had to to explore a topic. And then they came together in that in that novel. And then the newest book is The Shadow Prince. This is my, it's my first middle grade, fantasy so but younger than ya something that can be read by, can can be read to kids kind of throughout elementary school. And and then they can start reading it themselves into kind of middle school age. And in this case, it is It's ancient Egypt, but a magical Ancient Egypt, that's also a solar powered, Ancient Egypt. It's, it's meant to be light and fun. There are, there are a lot of kind of, well, there are a lot of gods of the Egyptian pantheon that are in it. And most of them and their traits are based on the the historical record. Because they were so interesting and diverse and shape shifting, and quirky. At least, there's a way of seeing them that way. And that that's how I envisioned it. The Shadow Prince himself is a a young boy, a 12 year old boy named Ash who competes with other other children who were born on the same day to be the bodyguard confident of a prince of Egypt. And when that person wins that competition, which is seemingly deadly, they get that role for life. And that's what he sets out to do. Nothing is quite as easy as he thinks. At the beginning, we learned some things at the end. But yeah, it was that engagement with with ancient Egypt, but wanting to do so in a fun way. And in a fun semi modern way because of the shadow because of the solar aspect to it. There's a technology that's powered by by this by the sun, as we have in our own world. But yeah, they did it first in ancient Egypt. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  45:15

That's so cool. Yeah, we steampunk fantasy. I mean, that's so awesome. Yeah, for solar power fantasy that's so amazing. All right, I have kind of a crazy question. If you could, you've written so many, just amazing characters. So developed. If you can become any one of your characters. Is there one that comes to mind that, and I mean, of course, I'm sure in a way you you have become all of them as you've written them. But I mean, like, this one kind of stand out, like, Yeah, I'd like to I'd like to do a stint as that character. You know, like, I don't know, is there any one of them?


David Anthony Durham  45:58

Wow. That's interesting.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  46:01

And I'm sure it would change depending on where you are in your life, you know, at different times, but right now, is there a particular character, either main character, or a side character or whatever that you if you could become a character? Who kind of turns you on in that way right now?


David Anthony Durham  46:18

Well, I have to go with what popped in first, yeah, that's Mina Mina Curran from the Acacia trilogy. She it's almost like a yes, I wrote her. Yeah, but the notion of you know, what would it be like to be this kind of amazing strong, feisty, wonderful warrior kind of person who who sees an awful lot and comes to her own in a very different setting that she was raised in finds power in a variety of ways and actualizes that. So that that's what comes to mind. Yes, I wrote her but it's like you know if I could actually be her i How would what would that be like? 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  47:08

That's awesome. Thank you for that. Well, I'm gonna play one more song and this song I chose purely for the title which is called Build A Better World I don't know that they're thinking about fantasy worlds per se. But I just thought that that would be kind of a fun a fun way in in the context of what we're talking about here if I can get it there it goes and guess is built about a world by London electricity you're listening to KSUU thunder 91.1. Alright well welcome back everyone that was build a better world by London electricity, you're listening to KSUU tunder 91.1 This is the apex hour. And I am here with David Anthony Durham and we are just about to close our our with our favorite, favorite question of the whole day, which I asked all my guests, which basically the question is what's turning you on this week? But before we get to that, I want to make sure to mention your website, can you tell our listeners where they can find out more about you and any social media that you'd like to share anything like that?


David Anthony Durham  52:25

Sure. My website is just my name at davidanthonydurham.com. And that's that's the main resource. I am on. I'm on Facebook, Twitter, though not not, I'm not that proficient at Twitter, but they're an Instagram as well. And all just searching by my name. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  52:49

And you can find the books anywhere. And there are audio books of almost everything right?


David Anthony Durham  52:54

Yes. Yep, there is everything's available on audio. And, and all the books remain in print. And certainly available online. Easy to find, if not in your local bookstore. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  53:08

Perfect. Alright, so now to our last question of the day, and that is what is turning you on this week. And it can be anything it can be a book that you're reading, or a magazine or a TV show or movie or a favorite food or we've had it can run the gamut. So David, Anthony Duran, what is turning you on this week?


David Anthony Durham  53:29

Oh, there are two things that that come to mind. One is that I've just handed in the the, the, the draft of the second Shadow Prince novel. So continuing that story into a series that really excites me. And the other thing is, it's something I've been doing semi secretly last couple of years. It's it's it's writing and being involved in in TV. Not stuff that I can really talk about at the moment frustratingly, but I have been involved with a number of developing shows, shows and that process of working collaboratively with being in a room with people just talking right through the day about what what's the story and who the character is and, and you know, what's the best version of this and, and bouncing ideas off each other not being afraid to throw out ideas. I've been amazed each time I've had one of those experiences that the end of the end of the week end of the session. It's like there's all this stuff there's there's a show on the board and it all make sense. That has been exciting writing scripts has been exciting and it's cool. It's it's still storytelling, but it's doing it with different tool tools. And that's, you know, maybe that's part of my you know, it's going into a different a different format. But that keeping it interesting and trying something new is exciting. And and they pay pretty well too.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  55:01

Well, I know it's super secret, so I'm not gonna ask any questions about it. But I will look forward to the opportunity to have you back maybe when things are a little bit more pronounced, and then maybe when we're getting ready for premieres.


David Anthony Durham  55:17

One of these days, I love so much fun actually talking about these projects.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  55:22

Well, David, thank you so much for your time. I again, for our listeners out there, check out the books. I mean, what if you want to just get immersed in so many different worlds and different genres. It's just, it's just awesome. So it's been a pleasure to learn about your experience. So thank you so much for being here/


David Anthony Durham  55:39

And thank you for having me. It's been great.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  55:41

Awesome. All right. Well, that's it for us, everyone. We'll see you next time. Thanks so much for listening to the apex hour here on KSUU thunder 91.1. Come find us again next Thursday at 3pm for more conversations with the visiting guests at Southern Utah University, and new music to discover for your next playlist. And in the meantime, we would love to see you at our events on campus. To find out more, check out suu.edu/apex Until next week, this is Lynn Vartan saying goodbye from the apex hour here on thunder 91.1