Monday, July 7, 2014

Author Dean Carnby Talks About Magically Mundane Inspiration

Wednesdaymeter_1000The world is filled with endless possibilities when you have books and blogdom is a wonderful place to discover new authors and the vast adventures they offer through their stories.

I’m delighted today to welcome Dean Carnby, a ‘new-to-me’ author, here to talk about his latest release, WEDNESDAYMETER, a satirical urban fantasy novel for adults who have had at least one thankless, dead-end job before. 

First, here’s a brief synopsis of WEDNESDAYMETER:

      “An eggplant wails, a ladder breaks, and the guise of civility shatters.
      A professor of festival studies, a potato hunter, a deadly career counselor, and a part-time terrorist are struggling to retain their sanity in a magically mundane city. Their carefully laid plans fall apart when they meet Mr. Pearson, an everyman who suspects a conspiracy of evil polygons behind his company’s absurd practices.
      Theirs is a world in which people use raw produce and wasted time to alter reality. If it were not for the stringent safety standards on fruits and vegetables, the citizens would live in misery. Most live a life of willful ignorance instead, desperate to avoid facing the threats surrounding them. Festival season is about to begin, but the colorful banners cannot hide the tragic past any longer.”

Please join me in welcoming Dean as he talks about ‘Magically Mundane Inspiration.’

Despite their magical nature, fantastic environments often resemble our own world. The drama might be more subtle in real life, and real characters might hide it behind a veil of propriety, but it’s there. It’s at your workplace, it’s at the local kindergarten, and it’s even in your neighbors’ home. You know, the nice couple whom you would never suspect of hosting meet-ups for a pineapple-worshipping cult during each solstice.

Of course, your neighbors are probably fine. Most of them tend to be. There is only a small chance that they are plotting something heinous, involving a stepladder and a tray of empanadas. The important thing is that you will not know for sure until it’s too late. Inspiration works in similar ways.

Corporate life, especially at dysfunctional institutions, is a cornucopia of stories waiting to be told. Most people experience frustration or helplessness when encountering a bureaucratic organization. I welcome it as a chance to get new materials for my stories.

When someone nonchalantly mentions that you should screen future employees for being terrorists, you may begin to wonder how one goes about such a thing. It would certainly make giving feedback to candidates a bit awkward. It’s easy to refuse someone’s application for the lack of relevant experience, but what would the recruiter say on the phone if the applicant’s last employers were suspected of being fronts for sleeper cells? That’s an awkward call better left for the interns. They might fumble the issue and start a major international conflict, but it’s okay: they’re getting college credit for it.

On another day, you may find out that one of your coworkers harbors an unhealthy affection toward certain pieces of office equipment. Would you stand between a man and a three-step ladder? What if he were referring to it as the light of his life? I know I would nod, smile, and try to keep my interactions with that person inside my comfy aura of denial.

It’s almost magical how many things we can turn a blind eye to. There might be a steamy romance story unfolding at an otherwise boring workplace, and most of us could dismiss its signs as random, unrelated events. To others, it might spark a series of novels spanning thousands of pages.

Poor science journalism can also be inspiring. If newspaper articles about recent scientific studies were literal truth, we would live in a land where the laws of nature shift faster than you can say carrots. And you wouldn’t even have carrots, because one week, they would cure cancer, and the next week, they would be the literal root of our society’s moral decline.

Of course, researchers don’t usually suggest such bold claims. They prefer to say something reasonable and logically sound, which is a recipe for tedium. That’s when the miracles of a reporter’s misperceptions and biases come into play. A study’s boring abstract can become a headline you can scare little children into cleaning their bedrooms with. This is nothing short of magical, and it’s not the reporter’s fault: it’s simply part of the artistically inspiring ways humans act.

As box office results suggest, misery also makes for great stories. I consider dystopian elements fun, as long as they are plausibly inane. I don’t have enough faith in human competency to imagine an efficiently oppressive state like Oceania in 1984. Someone would present a squirrel to the upcoming despot, unaware that the poor creature had contracted rabies, and the regime would fall due to its arbitrary ban on vaccines. Or they might run out of guacamole, resulting in a violent, yet tasty coup.

In my book, WEDNESDAYMETER, thinly veiled power struggles make citizens’ lives gradually more absurd. Instead of adapting to a world filled with handy magical powers, these people opted for conserving as much of their unsustainable lifestyles as possible.

They have a great capacity to ignore unpleasant information, and use their willful ignorance to shield themselves from threats to their comfortable ways. They like to feel that their questionably significant roles are part of something grand and meaningful. It’s only natural to do so.

I wanted to see a mix of magical and mundane elements on the cover art as well. I approached a number of illustrators, but they were reluctant to create an image with a flying pineapple as its centerpiece. Some suggested focusing on more mainstream solutions, which would have done little to differentiate the story from others.

However, I found a talented and hard-working artist a few years ago. I knew I would like to ask Tyler Edlin for a commission at one point as soon as I saw his image of a Wookiee riding a battle squirrel to fight a group of Third Reich soldiers. My concept for the book’s cover seemed like a natural fit for his style.

The resulting artwork is an “exactly what it says on the tin” type of image. If you like what you see, you’re in luck. Alcohol, raining glass, unconventional fruit use, and the surreal cityscape are not only symbols: they actually play important roles in the book.

Dean, thanks for joining us today and sharing your insight in the magical mundane. I don’t think I’ll ever look at the workplace situation the same way again.

Now let me share a bit of background on Dean in his own words.

As a fan of science and fantasy novels since my childhood, I spend most of my free time learning about our world and worlds created by our imagination. I believe that everything can be made light of, especially the things we would rather not examine up close.

One does not have to travel to other dimensions and meet exotic aliens to live a life of adventure. Given the right framing, a battleship gray cubicle can be just as terrifying as a tentacled monstrosity. If you do not believe me, just look up which one drives more people to madness in actuality.

Links related to the WEDNESDAYMETER universe:

You can check out the book’s website and sign up for updates on future releases. The first three chapters of WEDNESDAYMETER are available as a free sample in epub, mobi, and pdf format. The sample contains no romantically inclined vampires or crafty zombies, but it may contain trace amounts of peanuts.

You can also follow Dean on Twitter to hear about any real life events resembling WEDNESDAYMETER’s world. Between the impending whiskey shortage and the rise of designer fruits, there’s always something improbable going on.

Thanks for stopping by today and visiting with Dean. Have you ever taken mundane events and turned them into a magical story?

*This post contains affiliate links.


  1. If one of my co-workers starts getting friendly with the office furniture, I'm out of there!

  2. The premise reminds me of movies like Brazil.

  3. Dean, thanks again for visiting with us. Your post definitely makes one stop and think about the mundane. Wishing you much success.

  4. I loved this post so much that I Tweeted about it!

  5. OMG what true delight is that!

  6. Mason - Thanks for hosting Dean.

    Dean - You're absolutely right that we can find inspiration just about anywhere if we just open up to the possibilities. Thanks for sharing the background of your novel; I wish you success.

  7. So much fun! Reminds me of Terry Pratchett and (ack!!!! Can't remember his name!!! - the author with the fantasy books consumed with great puns) Good stuff!

    1. Got it - Piers Anthony & his Xanth series! :)

  8. Wednesday Meter sounds like a fun book! Love the cover, too.

  9. Wednesday Meter sounds like a wacky book, and I like wacky. Great premise.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.