Thursday 18 July 2013

Guest Authors Revisited - Dennis Danielson

It's another glorious day out there and it brings with it another author who has previously visited this blog. Dennis Danielson is the author of the rather excellent Paradise Lost: Parallel Prose Edition, an excellent read if you're new to (or even familiar with) John Milton's Paradise Lost. I first interviewed Dennis back in September of last year, you can read it here.

For those of you new to this blog you should know that I consider Paradise Lost to  be the greatest story ever told, you can find out why here.

What has changed in your life since we last spoke?
I’ve decided to go back to a university press (Cambridge) for the publication of my next book. This means a bit more prestige and a lot less money than “trade” publishing. But Cambridge are a fine outfit, and most importantly they wanted my book. As any author knows, that feels good and means a lot. (And, although the advance was small, I do have a contract.)

Have you learnt any new wisdom?
Hmm. MY wisdom is probably best judged by others. I guess right now my main piece of wisdom (observation, at least) is that men in particular often don’t grow old very graciously, although a man is never too young to think carefully about forming the habits that might allow him to do so. (This doesn’t apply just to writers! Also, it surely applies to women too. However, in my experience, they grow old more graciously than their male counterparts.)

Have you become a better writer? If so, how?
I’ve become increasingly aware that I have to write differently for different audiences. When I was young, this felt like hypocrisy, sort of like wearing different masks to suit varying occasions. But now I think that just as I talk differently when speaking (for example) to babies, students, and octogenarians, so it’s perfectly appropriate and not necessarily dishonest for me to adjust my tone, voice, vocabulary etc. for different target audiences.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m about 60% of the way through the book for Cambridge just mentioned, titled Paradise Lost and the Cosmological Revolution.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
Pub date is (as of summer 2013) at least a year off, so there’s not much information out there yet. But the book will show – I hope informatively and entertainingly – how deeply Milton’s epic was shaped by, and how intriguingly it responded to, the profound debates taking place in the seventeenth century about the shape and nature of our cosmos, the planetary nature of the Earth, and the possibility of space travel that at that time first burst forth into human imagination.

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