Our current featured author is Daniel Davison. Daniel was one of our final winners in our Twisted Fate Halloween Short Story contest with his entry The Demon in the Woodshed. Daniel is exceptionally talented in creating new folklore with vivid imagery and an inherent old-world feel. His latest fairytale The Locksmith of Pomerania is featured here especially for this holiday season.
The Locksmith of Pomerania
(A Christmas Tale)
by Daniel W. Davison
ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS EVE, a miserly old Prince lay dying in the depths of a castle high over a town in Pomerania, where tall-masted ships plying the cold sluggish waters of the north, converged to sell their wares. The Prince was so tightfisted that even now on his deathbed the only luxury he afforded himself was an earthenware cup filled with hot water. The Prince’s son had grown grey waiting for his father to die. Yet patiently he attended the old man, calmly standing by the canopied bed whose sheets and coverlet were moth-eaten and frayed.
“I doubt you’ll know what to do with your inheritance,” the old Prince said with a sardonic grin. It was so cold in the room that miser’s breath could be seen. His black teeth chattered. “But the treasure is all yours now, by right and by law.” With frail trembling fingers, he handed his son a heavy iron key. Then he turned away from his son and died.
The son—now himself the Prince!—looked curiously at the key, whose filigreed handle was shaped like a padlock. Without so much as saying a prayer over the body of his father, he walked briskly from the room and sped down the spiral staircase. He passed through corridors and galleries hung with tattered curtains and tapestries until he reached the vaulted Hall of Fortune, where the great iron-banded door leading into the treasury stood.
The riches of the realm were his!
Read the rest of this magical tale here:
Daniel’s original short story collection The Cave of Branching Tales and Other Fictions is a lyrical trip around the world, in and out of time. Available now on Amazon, this literary meandering through an old-world bazaar is a brilliant and unique addition to any library.
Daniel’s winning Twisted Fate Halloween Short Story can be read here:
About the author:
Daniel W. Davison was born in Indiana in 1971. He served in the U.S. Army during the 1990-1991 Gulf War and was educated at Indiana University and Yale. He lived in Cairo, Egypt, and Vienna, Austria, for a total of 7 years. Currently, Daniel resides in Maryland, where he spent the greater part of 2020 under quarantine in the company of his collection of books and movies. His short anthology, The Cave of Branching Tales, was published in 2015 and is available on Amazon.com. He is currently working on his first novel, a dark fantasy set in Weimar Berlin called The Infinite Wall.
Daniel was kind enough to sit down with Kismet’s very own Karrie Stewart to tell us about his life as an author, his influences, and just a little bit about what makes him the writer that he is.
What got you started writing?
I’ve always been a consummate daydreamer, as well as a traveler and voracious reader of non-fiction. While reading a book or visiting a museum, I will often slip into a “Walter Mitty” sort of reverie, imagining how the events I’ve been reading and learning about might have turned out differently had a dash of magical realism been thrown into the mix. My ideas get filed away for future reference or shelved entirely and forgotten. I can’t sit down and compose on the fly. Usually, when I do get around to drafting a work of fiction, the ideas have been fermenting in my head and arranging themselves into some kind of order for weeks, months, or years.
What authors inspired you and why?
I’m inspired by almost all the genres I read, be it a schlocky ‘50s crime novel, a Regency bodice-ripper, an Edwardian ghost story, or something a literary classic: I read Stephen King and Samuel Johnson—I just appreciate them in different ways.
If I had to identify the writers who’ve played a formative role in shaping my own writing, then John Gardner (Grendel, Freddy’s Book) and Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita, Pale Fire) would definitely top the list. Not only were they impeccable stylists, but they were also great teachers. And I have a special fondness for people who can teach. Gardner and Nabokov wrote critical works and/or books on the craft of writing fiction; in the case of Nabokov, these were more along the lines of monographs and lecture notes. I have found these “words of the masters” extremely inspirational and chockfull of good advice.
As for other writers whose works I enjoy and who’ve influenced me at a subconscious level, I would include the following: Jorge Luis Borges (Labyrinths, The Book of Imaginary Beasts), Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities, The Baron in the Trees), Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in a Time of Cholera), Mika Waltari (The Egyptian, The Etruscan), Marguerite Yourcenar (Memoirs of Hadrian, Oriental Tales); Milorad Pavić (The Dictionary of the Khazars, Landscape Painted in Tea).—There are, of course many, many more, but this list was turning into a catalog so I’ll stop here. Bottom line: I love reading and enjoy talking with other people who share this interest.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer but when I was younger, I could never imagine having the ability or dedication to string so many words and sentences together to form a book. Also, I felt that my writing in the ‘80s and ‘90s was inferior, unformed, cliché. I was daunted by the cleverness of people older than I who seemed able to express themselves so more clearly and eloquently than I could; so, most of the stuff I wrote back then, I either buried or burned (figuratively, of course).
Later, in my professional career, I found myself writing and editing quite a bit. Although in this case, I was writing expository prose, I learned to simplify my writing and boil my thoughts down into something much leaner and more precise. It helped clarify what I was trying to say. I personally don’t like authors who add scenes and dialogue simply to pad out a work and meet an arbitrary word count. I began to notice that a lot of the authors whom I had once found eloquent, were guilty of this very thing.
In my late 30s, I gained more confidence. I thought that maybe my writing style—maybe all the things that defined my identity had finally matured. If I dedicated myself to writing a short story—and I mean something over 1,500 words, not just a 500-word scene or image—”then,” I thought to myself, “maybe I would finally have the right to call myself a storyteller.”
I write because I enjoy it. I like experimenting with different storytelling voices and styles. The tale included here is whimsical, more like a fairytale. The Halloween story I wrote in October for the competition was more in line with the style of Clive Barker or Neil Gaiman.
So, going back to the initial question: When did I know that I wanted to be a writer? I’ve always known, but it’s only recently that I’ve gained the confidence to call myself one.
Name your three favorite books.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (which I count as one book since they’re bound in one volume)
Have you ever been published, if so where?
Yes, The Cave of Branching Tales, on Amazon.com:
Do you have music you listen to for writing?
I’m so glad you asked this question. I do listen to music while I’m writing. I often listen to a movie soundtrack or classical music that goes with the mood I’m trying to maintain. I actually listen to mood music while traveling or touring historical sites.
That’s the end of our interview with Daniel. We are looking forward to many other great stories from Daniel, especially any that continue to transport us to times and places