Writing. Culture. Politics. Wandering.
Welcome to the Desert of Man, blogging home to Science Fiction reader and experimenting writer Mack Meijers. From time to time I open the stage to other creative souls to shine a spotlight on them as human beings, their thinking and their work. This time the light shines on Chris Dietzel facing the Spotlight Questions and featuring THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE WORLD END.
Shall we begin?
Chris graduated from Western Maryland College (McDaniel College). He currently lives outside Washington D.C.
His short stories have been published in Temenos, Foliate Oak, and Down in the Dirt.
THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE WORLD END is his first novel.
The end of man was not signaled by marauding gangs or explosions, but with silence. People simply grew older knowing a younger generation would not be there to replace them. The final two residents in the neighborhood of Camelot, an old man and his invalid brother, are trapped in their house by forests full of cats and dogs battling with the bears and wolves to eat anything they can find. As the man struggles to survive, he recounts all the ways society changed as the human population continued to shrink.
THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE WORLD END is the haunting account of a man who has witnessed the world fade away. It is also a story about the power of family.
What was the challenge of this project?
I knew I wanted to use the diary format, but that creates issues with story-telling. It’s much more difficult to ‘show’ the story as it unfolds because everything is controlled by the narrator’s recounting of events, and a narrator isn’t likely to include things like dialogue. I had to find ways to work it into the story and still make the diary sound believable.
Where was the fun in this project?
Thinking of all the possible ways society would wind down as fewer and fewer people existed. I had so many possibilities that the world really created itself as I went.
What stories do you like to hear, create and share?
I love stories that inspire imagination. I grew up on the original Star Wars trilogy. What better example is there of a world that gives its audience endless amounts of possibility? It wasn’t even the lasers and lightsabers I liked the most, but all the characters in the background that seemed just as interesting as the main characters. It’s my dream to create that same type of world in my stories.
If you were a teacher, what would be your best lesson to teach?
You can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it. I know, it’s bordering on cliche, but it’s true. And I don’t think enough people remember that they can achieve their dreams if they never give up. Children especially need to remember that as they grow up.
What do you think is the best way to share a story?
A story has to be from the heart if its going to be effective. That doesn’t mean that every story has to be about the author’s childhood or real events, but it does have to be something the writer really cares about. My novel is about an old man looking back on a lifetime of watching the world fade away. On the surface, that has nothing to do with me, but underneath, it’s from my heart because I always worry about getting to the end of my life and having regrets. That kind of honesty is critical.
Do you think you could survive in the wild, on your own?
I really like to think I could, but I wouldn’t bet on myself. I tried to go ‘camping’ in my backyard last year and lasted less than two hours. A true outdoors-man would have cringed at me complaining about the rocks under my sleeping bag.
What is the highest price you have ever paid for a lesson, whether teaching, sharing or learning?
Every day I was sitting in rush hour traffic instead of following my dream of writing, I was paying the biggest price you can pay: I was wasting my life doing something I thought I was supposed to be doing rather than something I loved. Time flies by and you only live once, so wasting your time being unhappy is the worst thing you can do to yourself.
How do you get up every morning?
With music. A great song comes on, I think about sitting at my desk and working on a novel all day, and it’s easy to get out of bed.
What is the best thing a friend has ever done for you?
They believed in me. I’m a very positive and optimistic person, but even I have times when I get down on myself. When that happens, my friend is always there to remind me that I’m working toward my dream and that of course I will struggle along the way, but that I need to keep trying. Belief in someone is the most important thing you can give to others.
Have you ever failed? What did you learn from the experience?
I fail all the time. The important thing is that I almost never fail twice at the same thing. As long as you learn from your mistakes, failure can be a great tool. How else can you expect to become a better person and lead a happier life if you aren’t suffering through failures, learning from them, and then becoming successful the next time the same obstacle comes around?
What is the worst thing you have ever done for or to a friend?
For a long time, I didn’t know how to be a true friend because I didn’t know how to be supportive. When people look to you for comfort or reassurance and instead you offer them a snide remark or a cynical comment, you are letting them down.
Given the chance, how would you travel the world, where, and why?
I would love to be able to go from place to place without a schedule, just living somewhere until I have seen everything there is to see, then moving along to the next country. I’ve only been to Asia once, so I would love to go there again. I’ve never been to South America, so that’s also high on my list. I’m a firm believer that the more you see of the world, the more you grow. If you spend your entire life in one place, there’s an entire world of people, places, and sights you’re missing out on.
What place has technology in your life?
My home office is the one place I have technology. Other than that, I like to be as disconnected as possible. I didn’t even have a cell phone until fairly recently. For people like myself, who would rather read a good book than be on Facebook, having one room where I can be “plugged in” is a good compromise.
If your life was a book, who would you like to write it?
I would love for J.M. Coetzee to write it because he strikes me as the most honest writer out there and would present the story of my life in every painful and hilarious detail. He has such an amazing ability to make everyday life into a tragic and painful journey, to turn ordinary events into captivating scenes. He is a huge influence on the type of writer I strive to be.
It’s obvious now that the end of man won’t be signaled with mushroom clouds, an alien invasion, or a meteor, but with silence. Only silence, long and unceasing. We’ve always known this would be the case, however, it never seemed like the final day would really arrive.
My mother was fond of the saying, “All good things must come to an end,” a cliché that now makes me cringe. Yet, what was there to do about any of it? Nothing except to wake up each morning, go through the normal routines, and then go to sleep. Each day we were all a little older, a little closer to the end. And each day fewer people were alive than the previous day. That’s how it’s been for eighty years; it’s the way it will be at least a little while longer.
I see now that from the very start, my life has been leading to this: my brother and I alone, witnessing the end of man’s 200,000-year reign.
Thank you, Chris Dietzel, for your openness and your work!
Are you a creative soul with a focus is on the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Action & Adventure and Mystery & Thrillers, including their respective sub categories (Steampunk, Survival, Horror)?
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