Thank you for this interview! I’d like to know more about you as a person first. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I see a lot of theater. I sit in the sun and squint. I eat cheese. And ice cream. I get depressed sometimes. Or lethargic. I take walks and listen to people and write down fascinating quotes or interact with strangers in parks and subways and busy New York Streets. Sometimes just to get a reaction. I like to take the Staten Island ferry. I play board games. I make fun of my friends. I edit and edit and edit all my sentences and overthink most things. I love to watch movies. Why aren’t there more heist films? I love buying vinyls and thumbing through the racks of old soul and funk records. Sometimes I combine these things and take the ferry when it’s sunny outside and I’m really sweating, eat an ice cream cone after I’ve just seen a movie and eaten spicy noodles and shopped for a record and just read a play while the ferry charges towards the Statue of Liberty.
When did you start writing?
My uncle recently reminded me that I wrote three “books” by the time I was I think eleven. My first book was a memoir. Which is hilarious. The second was about a girl who gets bullied in middle school because she’s adopted and the third, The 3 A.M Huddle, was about a boy who plays with his baseball cards after he’s supposed to be sleeping. My dad was convinced Bob Dylan was part of our family so I grew up listening to a lot of Bob while other kids were singing lullabies. But I started to seriously write in high school. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s and writing became an outlet. I wrote my second play, Fields Of Sacrifice, based on an Andrew Carroll book. Unfortunately, when I was on the cusp of further independence, taking my driver’s license permit test, I found out one of my best friends, Nick, was unaccounted for after the fire erupted at the Great White concert at The Station nightclub. Foam sound insulation caught fire after pyrotechnics were set off. I remember watching the news footage, almost paralyzed with fear, which showed that any escape was nearly impossible, and there near the front of the stage, was a boy who looked like Nick. Nick was the youngest of one hundred people who lost their lives in Warwick that night. My friends and I lost a gentle friend in the most horrifying way. For his funeral, his mother and father gave Nick a “Graduation” with the motto, “Do Not Fear To Hope,” a line Nick had written in They Walk Among Us, his play about three guardian angels passing on messages of love and hope. My mom liked to say every time she came into my room after that, I was writing volumes and volumes of stream of consciousness poems and songs. I guess I’ve always channeled my pain and put it on paper. I remember thinking all of a sudden I had to grow up with the absence of one of our best friends. So, I’d sit there after school, just writing and writing and writing. And then I’d come down for dinner when Dad’s meatballs and spaghetti was ready.
The rest of Daniel’s interview with I’m Shelfish appears HERE