From early on in Dustin LaValley’s recent collection, A Soundless Dawn, I spotted a suggestive trait. He mentioned the down and out, and homeless people beyond being a prop. The somehow invisible people rarely appear in fiction (aside from being a slumbering serial killer, or an early soft-target for a murderer because readers don’t mind a hobo death, or something to baby at a soup kitchen). The kinship appearance usually suggests one of two possibilities: first-hand experience, or second-hand experience.
“Almost all is based at least somewhat on my life or a brother or a friend so close he's considered a brother. The foster home had some great guys go through it, it also had some really fucked up times. By the time first grade came, I'd already seen a brother set the house on fire starting in the basement, lockdowns (my father was a corrections officer) due to missing knives, a tongue bit off, suicide... if I didn't live it I pull it from a brother's prior foster home or detention center or a friend's experience in prison or military, or law enforcement,” said author, Dustin LaValley.
Sinister Grin press is the publisher of this small collection of shorts and of the half-dozen or more of their titles I’ve read, this might be my favorite. It’s a more somber release than the often wild, even comical tales. It holds a vibe and aura of filth, thick and vast, and as for one story in particular, it’s an utter triumph (see review).
The stories in this collection are wildly varied, many of which falling into the realm of flash fiction.
“Never been able to sleep well, I may be up for three days and nights, and not wanting to waste those hours, I tend to write throughout the night. I've never been able to write during the day, too much to do outside... unless a deadline is approaching, I write mainly at night. I start about 10pm-12am and go to about 8am-10am. The micro-short stories take longer, being so short I rewrite the few lines until I'm more than happy. Sometimes they take weeks. Mostly, I'm writing six nights a week on any given project; short story, novel, screenplay...”
According to LaValley, short stories are novels “without the bullshit. None of the foofoo.”
“I write and read novels, but rarely have I read one that couldn't have been written under 20,000 words. That's the issue with my own, I write a 60,000-80,000 word manuscript and then delete 30,000 in foofoo. Now in the dark lit world, it's especially common. Too many times we've read the same novel, stealing or trying to fit in to a current trend and focus on the sale over individual voice or originality. Short stories give a greater opening to show yourself and what you're trying to accomplish as yourself, as an author that has a unique story. Too many seem to think there is no original ideas anymore, bullshit. Be original.
“Fuck word count, make every word count. Fuck that’s cheesy. I should write an Idiot’s Guide or something,” said LaValley.
Dustin LaValley has been in the business of writing for a while now and it hasn’t all been roses and it hasn't all been predictable. Perhaps that’s befitting for a writer of dark literature.
“I had a dude follow me and my date from an after party at a convention once. (I was a guest author.) He had some issue with my date and got mouthy. We ignored him, he called some buddies to back him up and about the time they arrived, we were walking into our hotel and stopped to talk to big Rob T., a former Marine, current bodybuilder. I guess upon seeing Rob T., they decided it wasn’t worth it and took off. That was, I think... Huntsville, Maryland or Gettysburg... not sure.
“First time I met Dallas (Jack Ketchum), he got a little too drunk and I spent an hour outside a party holding him up in my arms like a lover as he and another author talked about religion. That was crazy for me. D was and is a dark lit god to me, and to be there holding him... funny and surreal,” said LaValley.
Published in leather bound tomes by Thunderstorm Books, work appearing in magazines, including Decibel Magazine, a publication that doesn’t typically include fiction. Short films produced in Texas, and a feature film in pre-production as I type. Columns for Crixeo.com. LaValley is a busy creator and has three titles made recently available, or coming soon.
“A Soundless Dawn is a collection of dark, transgressive, short stories that are buffered by micro-short stories. In This Point of Stillness is a limited run collection of micro-short stories with Mercedes M. Yardley, coming from Dynatox Ministries. And the limited edition hardcover comic book, BEETLES!, illustrated by Daniele Serra, from SST Publications, is an homage to the horror and sci-fi films of the 1950s,” said LaValley.
Dustin LaValley was reached via email and I thank him for his time.