Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Beautiful Prospect

I've been following the work of Dwight Okita for a while now. He has blown me away with his lovely art, amazing websites and trailers, and I can't wait to read his book, The Prospect of My Arrival. I'm thrilled, therefore, to interview him here on Fresh Pot of Tea.

Q: You are an artist as well as a writer, and I think it reflects in your work: in visual imagery, for example. How do you feel your art influences your writing?

DWIGHT: Thank you, Alison, for seeing me as both a writer and artist. I've always loved graphic design and movies, as well as working with words. Sometimes I'm jealous that a painter can share his painting with a single glance; while an novelist hands a book to someone and it takes days, weeks, for find out the reader's reaction. The visual arts allow me some of that instant gratification.

I think my fiction is influenced by my visual background also because I started out as a poet so images are important to me. Whether I'm designing a website, blog or video -- or I'm working on a novel -- I'm drawn to quirkiness and beauty, humor and gravitas. Working on the book trailer for PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL was a terribly fun intersection of both the worlds for me as it incorporates text, still image, video and music. Here's the video for PROSPECT:

Q: Every writer has difficult times and days when it is hard to sit down and complete the day's goal. What keeps you going?

DWIGHT: I am motivated a lot by writing contests and deadlines. I've done ABNA, Strongest Start Contest, WeBook and Authonomy. ABNA is the biggest fish in the sea with a huge pool of contestants, a big publishing partner, and a thrillingly structured contest. For me, (with its Strongest Start contest) is one of the best places for developing new work. The sense of an audience of writer peers gets me going.

Sometimes if I get stuck, I ask myself if I had one month to live -- what would be the last book I'd want to write and leave to the world? I also enjoy reading and analyzing books to see what makes them work and not work. I also have a huge sign on my wall about 5' x 2' that says: WRITE.

Q. Could you describe your writing process for us? How did you fully develop your concept of an embryo investigating whether he wanted to be born or not?

DWIGHT: When I worked a job full time, I often wrote on the train in the morning or while walking over bridges. Now that my time is more my own, I tend to do a lot of writing and revising from midnight to 5am. I still like doing first drafts longhand.

As for the embryo concept, I did some research on the process of childbirth, the sensitivity of babies, etc. I thought a lot about what innocence is, what experience is. How it changes you. I thought about how to get my main character Prospect into the deepest trouble possible, reflected on the importance of preserving one's sense of wonder as a way to survive.

I like naming things. Projects start when I come up with a title. Then I start thinking about the book's ending which should be the most exciting part. Where is the book headed? Would Prospect choose to be born? I knew the ending would take place at a press conference. But I have written several very different endings to this novel. I remember agents and editors saying that they wanted a more dystopian tale. Some of that came into play -- the dark and the light. At the end of the day, I'm an optimist in hopeless times.

Here is the jacket copy for Prospect, which you can buy here:
A human embryo is allowed to preview the world before deciding whether or not to be born.  To help him make up his mind, he will be able to interact with the best and worst the human race has to offer.  From a retired greeting card writer to a conservative in an increasingly liberal world.  Standing in the way of progress are Trevor Grueling who wants to derail this bio-experiment...and Trish Mesmer, the spearheading scientist who has more hidden agendas than a centipede has legs. This quirky cautionary tale is served up with equal helpings of whimsy and dread, with just a dash of hope.


Thomas A. Knight said...

As a follower of Dwight myself, it's nice to see some insights like this in his own words. His art work is beautiful, and he has some of the best book trailers I have ever seen.

If you have the chance to work with Dwight in any regard, jump on it! He is truly an amazing person.

Great interview Alison.

Gary Hoover said...

Very interesting! Both the art and the writing. Thanks Alison and Dwight.

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of Dwight Okita! What a great interview!

Dwight Okita said...

Alison, the blog interview turned out great! Thanks for your support on Prospect. It's great that you included the book trailer too. And as of this week, my book can be ordered on either Amazon or Createspace (

Also thanks to Thomas, Gary and Connie for cheering me on.

Teresa Cypher said...

Great post, Alison. The book sounds very good--what an intriguing premise, Dwight! I find it fascinating that you still prefer to write first drafts in longhand. It seems that longhand would tap into the creative areas of the brain, being so much less measured and precise than printing or typing. And I have seen some longhand that harkens to true artistry. :-) You are the consummate artist, Dwight :-)

Jenny Milchman said...

I love this concept--and the way it makes sense of the enigmatic title. The book sounds very cool--definitely one I want to read.

Catherine Stine said...

Dwight's premise is very creative--I love author artists. I'm one too, and I think there's something quite fortuitous about that visual narrative connection.

Alison DeLuca said...

I agree, Catherine - Dwight brings artistic vision to his writing, adding extra layers to the story.

Lisa Zhang Wharton said...

ALison and Dwight, this is really a great interview. I get to know Dwight a little better and watch the beautiful trailor once again. I will feature his book in my blog soon.

Lisa Zhang Wharton said...

Alison, can you insert my blog in your Blog List?
I will feature your book soon.

Dwight Okita said...

Thanks for everyone's comments. Alison's blog is a very popular place!

Anonymous said...

Dwight and I have been in each other's iives for 18 years. Not only are we connected as close personal friends but we also share our Japanese culture which incudes the unique Japanese esthetic of simplicity and beauty. I believe his art/writing is so drenched in that esthetic. If you are familiar with the films of any Japanese directors, such as Mizoguchi for example, emerging will be similar themes and images that Dwight so skillfully evokes. They are timeless....Love, Loss, Longing, Textural and cinematic, yet, simply stated. Mariko

Dwight Okita said...

Mariko, thanks for your lovely post. And making the connection between my writing and my Japanese roots.