Friday, December 27, 2013

Interview with Daniel Mark VanderMolen.

Full Name:
Daniel Mark VanderMolen
That’s a mouthful!  Do you ever get sick of spelling out your last name for people?
Have you developed a mnemonic for helping people to spell it?  Mine is: “B” as in “boy”.  “V” as in “victory”… R… E…
Jesus, you’re telling me!  Luckily the area I currently live in has a disproportionately large number of Dutch families, so most of the people I meet around here are familiar with how to spell Van and Vander surnames.  When I’m anywhere outside of West Michigan though it tends to be something of a comedy of errors.  Usually I’m just like: V as in “Victor”, A as in “Apple”…oh screw it, just spell it however you want.
*laughs* The only benefit is we can always tell when telemarketers or debt collectors are calling.
Yeah, call me Mr. Van Der Muelen on the phone and you’re getting hung up on.

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
No nickname, just Daniel. 

Grand Rapids, MI 

Current hometown:
Grand Rapids, MI

Favorite city and why?
Portland, Or.  I was born in Michigan, went to school in Chicago, IL, and then moved out to Portland for a while.  It’s such a great city to live in and experience.  The Portland Underground is really just one long, messed up love letter to the city.  Besides Portland, I’d say my favorite cities I’ve visited are Toronto and Washington DC.
I’ve always had a great time whenever I’ve found myself in Toronto.  Montreal’s a pretty happening city too.
Never been to Montreal, but I’d love to check it out sometime!  I’ve always regretted not making the trip up to Vancouver B.C. when we were in Portland too.  You know what they say: “So much Canada, so little time.”  (They say that, right?)
If they don’t they should.  It’s just as wide as America, just a lot more tundra and moose.  And everyone tends to be a lot nicer, even when they’re pissed.  “I’m sore-e but I’m really upset aboot this, okay buddy?”
Seriously.  I mean, when the members of your royal police force are known as “Mounties” you’ve got to have a sense of humor.  Being in Michigan we are just a stone’s throw from Ontario, so it’s a rite of passage for 19-year-olds to cross the border and go make drunken asses of ourselves in Canada.  They were always very amiable to our overall buffoonery.
Well you’re bringing in money so that never hurts.
Our end goal was always to do whatever we could to help the Canadian economy.

Birthday / Age:
March 21, 1983 / 30 years old.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Typical Dutchman.  6 foot tall, 175 pounds.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Like a mix of Woody Allen and Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory… but taller.

The first thing people notice about you is…
I tend to be rather skittish.
BOO!  Just kidding!  Howso skittish?
Do you remember the movie The Land Before Time?  I’m kind of like a human version of the character Petrie.
I do!  That must be adorable!
As adorable as being compared to an adolescent Pterosaur can be for a grown man.  Fans actually refer to him as “Panicky Petrie” on the movie’s official website, which kind of sums up my overall disposition.  Ah well, c’est la vie I suppose.  Might as well own it!

Sexual orientation?

Religion, if any?
I believe in Harry Potter.
As far as worldviews go you could do much worse.
I know right!  Good vs. Evil…an emphasis on the importance of universal love… wizards.  What else could you possibly be looking for in a worldview?  I mean, J.K. Rowling has sold something like 500 million of those books altogether.  If that’s not a religion I don’t know what is.
I think it’s more of a cult, but spot the difference.  Evil is punished, but rarely with death.  Good people die fighting for what they believe in.  I’d probably rather raise my kid on those books than The Bible.  There’s a lot less animal cruelty and genocide.
And incest.  Much less incest. 
The Old Testament is really kind of wackadoo when you sit down and really think about it.  Remember when Lot offered up his daughters to that angry mob of sexually charged fellas back in Genesis?  Super risqué, even by today's pop culture standards!  I don’t even think that storyline would fly on FX right now.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
Too many to name…
Alright then, Top Five superstitions and/or phobias.  Go!
1) Chronophobia  2) Aquaphobia  3) Mysophobia  4) Apiphobia  5) Phobophobia

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
Never smoked a cigarette in my life.  Haven’t you heard what the Surgeon General has to say about those bad boys?  I do occasionally enjoy a tasty brew, although, now that I’m a father my rate of consumption has decreased substantially.  Fun fact, Grand Rapids was just named Beer City USA for the second consecutive year.
I’d be a lot more impressed if they actually changed the name over to “Beer City”.  What kind of name is “Grand Rapids” anyhow?
Well, we have a river that runs through the city and it’s called the Grand River.  And it used to have some rapids in it, which apparently were quite grand.  Unfortunately, at some point more about a century ago four cofferdams were set up to block the natural flow of the river, so in reality the city should probably be called something like “A Disappointing Lack of Rapids” or something.  True story though, there is currently a proposal going around to raise $27.5 million to remove the dams in the river and get the rapids flowing again.  Stay tuned!
I would totally make it a point to stop and send a postcard from “A Disappointing Lack of Rapids” Michigan.  Grand Rapids?  Not so much.  It just sounds like they’re trying to compensate for something.  Like, how awesome can Awesomeville USA be?  Probably not as awesome as advertised.
Unless it’s awesome in really ironic sort of way.  Like, everything there is really terrible and depressing, so the town’s citizens are saying things like, “The schoolhouse just got sucked down into a giant sinkhole with a bunch of 3rd graders in it... awesome.”  Then they roll their eyes and sulk away.  I bet that’s how Awesomeville got its name. 

Current occupation / Dream job:
I currently work as a Financial Specialist at Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids.  I also do freelance work for the Grand Rapids based marketing studio North Sea Studio.  I’ve always been enamored with entrepreneurship, so my dream job would involve owning a small business in some capacity.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Hang out with my wife Steph and baby girl August.  I love to read, watch movies, play sports (basketball and softball primarily).  I also spend a lot of my time writing.  In addition to my work on The Portland Underground I also write short and feature length film screenplays.
Why August?  Was she born in the month of August?
Nope, she was actually born in March.  That’s one of the first questions we always get when we introduce her to someone though.  We actually named her August because that is the month me and my wife got married, but people tend to assume it was either her birth month or the month she was conceived (weird, right?).  We figure it’ll either make for an interesting story that she’ll enjoy telling people she’s introduced to…or it will driver her insane and she’ll murder us in our sleep at some point.  Either way, should be exciting to see how it all unfolds!
My odds are on the “murder you in your sleep” option.  At least you didn’t make her middle name “Random”.  Because if you did, I’d help her plan her escape.
Tell me a bit about your screenwriting.  Do you write screenplays in the hopes of getting them optioned/purchased/produced?  Or do you do work-for-hire/ghost-writing?
The ultimate goal would definitely be to get a screenplay purchased and produced at some point, but that takes a lot of hard work and more than a little bit of luck to have that happen.  I’m more than willing to write scripts for hire in the meantime.  I’ve done scripts for TV commercials and whatnot in the past, which is definitely enjoyable in its own right, by my real passion is narrative screenwriting.  I tend to spend equal amounts of time working on short scripts (which I could potentially produce) and feature length scripts (which I would hope to option).
Yeah, screenwriting is a tough game and it almost seems like it’s more luck and who you know than solid talent that wins out.  One good thing is that you can translate any of your screenplays into short stories or novels and shop those around and hopefully use those to develop interest in the existing screenplay.
I have thought about going down that road before.  When I initially came up with the idea for The Portland Underground the goal was actually to adapt the comic into a feature length screenplay at the same time.  However, I quickly realized that it takes much longer to produce page of comic book script then it does to write the corresponding screenplay scene, so that idea was quickly scrapped.  Once we get done with the fifth issue of the comic though I hope to revisit that plan though. 

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Step one is putting together a good team.  Any apocalyptic event such as a Zombie outbreak will require collaboration to survive.  I’m an analytical person, so I can handle strategy.  My first step would be to find someone who can provide weapons and someone who is an expert in urban farming.  Then I’d find a building we could fortify and get ready to set up shop.
Coincidentally, I just took a smoke break and I remembered that I wanted to read a bunch of permaculture/survivalist material that I downloaded for my room-mate who is a bit of a prepper.  I want to integrate some of that stuff into the post-apocalyptic zombie-epidemic novel-length book project I’m working on.   You know, stuff like how to start fires and forage for food and prepare wild game, and construct an improvised shelter and whatnot.  I’m also going to be reading a bunch of military Field Manuals since I downloaded all of them.  I used to have a few from when I was working at an Army library during my discharge from the military and I’m looking forward to re-reading the MOUT (Military Operations on Urban Terrain) handbook and the “SURVIVAL” handbook.
You can be on my team!  I don’t have any of your fancy “survival skills” to add to the equation, but because I am so skittish I tend to constantly be on the lookout for anything even remotely dangerous.  I’m like a human alarm system.
Well that has its benefits too.  Someone’s got to be the Don Knotts of the team.
That’s so strange, I actually have business cards made with that exact slogan!  In the event of the apocalypse my plan is to hand them out to everyone I come across, and then with a sly wink and an elbow nudge say, “Let’s nip this Zombie outbreak in the bud.”

Weapon of choice:
Something with a long reach that you don’t need to reload.  Our main character Michael uses a War Hammer in the comic, but that might be difficult to come by.  A katana sword would be a good choice, or even something as simple as a baseball bat in a pinch.

Do you have any special skills?
I throw things into other things with great accuracy (i.e. balled up pieces of paper into trash cans).  Also, I can spin a basketball on my finger quite successfully.
I’ve tried to spin a basketball on the tip of my index finger a hundred times and never quite gotten the knack of it.  You are truly gifted. If I ever need anyone to spin a basketball on their finger I’m calling you… or The Harlem Globetrotters.  They seem like they’d appreciate the attention these days.
Spinning a basketball on my finger is a skill that took much hard work and dedication to perfect.  It’s the direct result of my love of playing basketball… combined with exercise induced asthma.  Lots of downtime spent standing on the sidelines wanting to play but not being able to breath. 

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I went to Columbia College in Chicago and got a Film and Video degree with an emphasis on screenwriting.
How does one go to college for screenwriting?  Is it just deconstructing screenplays, studying the formula, and practicing writing screenplays?  I’ve done a bit of screenwriting, but I never went to school for it, so I’m curious as to what the formal education in screenwriting is like.
The process by which someone DECIDES to go to college for screenwriting takes place after said person attends their local community college for four years without any sort of coherent sense of direction… and then realizes that there are colleges out there that will give you a degree in movie making. 
When you actually get to college and they start making you take classes it’s actually very similar to what you described.  Lots of reading scripts, discussing concepts, writing your own short and feature length scripts, and perfecting the ins and outs of formatting.  I often make light of my decision to go to film school, but it really was a great experience.  I paid a hefty price in student loans to attend, but I always say that if I can ever sell even just one script it will all have been worth it.
Well, I hope you sell more than one.  If I ever end up with more screenwriting work than I can handle I’ll try to push some in your direction, but since I’m working on none screenplays as of late I don’t have any surplus work.  Although putting out an ad on Craigslist as a ghost-writer can net you some small fish to bolster your workload.  I did that with some success.  It’s competitive, but if you draft a solid pitch you can land some work.  There’s a lot of massaging the client’s ego, and you’re almost always writing the client’s fantasy of being a movie star.
Client: “So okay, the main character is this lawyer type that’s awesome with the ladies and is having trouble with his girlfriend, but then he finds a duffel bag with a million dollars in it and everybody loves him for being so handsome and cool.”
Me: “Wait, you’re a lawyer…”
Client: “Do you want the money or don’t you?”
Me: “Yes… I want the money…” *goes back to taking notes*
As writers, it’s amazing what we’ll do for money isn’t it?  I do freelance copywriting as a part time gig, and I can be writing the most insipid b.s., but I’m still stoked to do so because someone is actually trading me currency to participate in an activity I do willingly and for free the rest of the time.  If I could get paid to be a full time screenwriter there’s a good chance my head would actually explode. 
If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
Ha! You’re kidding, right?
Glad I’m not the only one.  Most of the people I interviewed that went to college managed to turn that trick, but I never figured out how to make a go of it.  I managed to pay off $25K of the $40K balance before I got out by working full-time while going to school full-time, but after I got out of college life got a lot more complicate for whatever reason and the interest just keeps building up on the remaining balance.  We should ask Chris what the secret is.  I tried, but he said something about “Hard work.” And I was all, like, “Yeah.  I know.  That’s not working for me.”  Maybe if we drank his blood we’d gain his powers.  Just a thought.
Chris is a filthy liar!  He didn’t pay off his loans through “hard work” like he claims.  He used the proceeds from an illegal smuggling ring of Norwegian wet nurses that he runs in his basement to wiggle his way out of debt.
Also, I actually did actually drink his blood once and all I got was viral hemorrhagic fever.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
No pets yet, but we plan to get a dog at some point.

What is your favorite animal?
A velociraptor.
You should try to get a pet velociraptor.
They’re adorable when they’re young, but I hear they can get to be a handful when they’re grown.

You know, I think I read that somewhere too!  I’ve always assumed I could successfully tame one though.  You know, that whole nature vs. nurture thing.  As long as I keep our kitchen aptly secured I figure we should be good to go.
And don’t invite Jeff Goldblum to your house.  Dinosaurs hate Jeff Goldblum.
But he’s so lovable in a neurotic sort of way!  Have you seen him on 7 Minutes in Heaven with Mike O’Brien?  It’s one of the funniest things ever in the history of ever.  If you haven’t seen it you should Google it.  Right now.  I’ll wait.
I did.  Totally worth it.
But then I got distracted by the one with Christina Ricci… because Christina Ricci.

See, told you!  Dinosaurs be-damned, I’d invite that guy to my dinosaur island anytime.  (Whoa, that kind of sounded like some bazaar euphemism, didn’t it?)
Anyways...yes, Christina Ricci.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
People who take any excuse to tell you their sob story.
My vehicle died last fall, so I’ve been taking the bus to and from work.  On every bus there’s some crazy fucker, and they always sit in the first seat at the front of the bus, and every bus ride is like a flash theater performance of the show “Intervention”.  It’s always, “I just got out of jail, and I’m in rehab and the mothers/fathers of my children are causing me problems, and I’m not making enough money on disability to support my drug habit, and ‘Oh shit! I’m on the wrong bus going in the wrong direction!’, and does anyone have a cigarette?”.  That’s why I always bring headphones and have a decent variety of songs on my cell phone… to drown out the tsunami of insanity that I have to deal with every time I take public transit.  I always want to say, “Can you pull the plug on the crazy for, like, five fucking minutes?  Because you are the reason that people hate taking the bus.”  The one time I finally did exactly that, when an argument started between two crazy women, and one of them kept arguing with the other after the other had gotten off of the bus, I received a round of applause from the other not-as-crazy commuters.  The worst is when there are two scumfucks on the bus because they always know each other.  It really brings out the Travis Bickle in me.
Yup, headphones are definitely a godsend when taking public transportation.  I lived in Chicago just when the whole iPod thing was catching on, so I spent many an eventful evening riding the train, ear buds in, watching the insanity that is the Chicago L at rush hour unfold in front of my eyes.
That’s sounds like a decent idea for a story.
Copyright pending.
Duly noted.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
Favorite: Pizza with smoked mozzarella cheese and apricot chipotle sauce.
Least favorite: Tapioca pudding.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
I’m a huge Vonnegut fan, so I’d have to say: “No Damn Cat, No Damn Cradle” from Cat’s Cradle.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Is the birth of my child too cliché?  She really is a cute little bugger.
It’s totally not too cliché if that’s your honest answer.
Well, the birth of my child AND season one of LOST (best show in the history of network TV for a while, then they kind of jumped the shark towards the end there…)
Well, if you’ve seen the first season of Twin Peaks, then I can respect that statement.
I’ll probably get ostracized for saying this, but I haven’t seen all that many episodes of Twin Peaks.  I despise David Lynch with every ounce of my soul...
You’re dead to me now.  But I’ll run the interview anyway.
I get that a lot when I tell people how I feel about Lynch.  I guess I don’t hate him with EVERY ounce of my soul... just a healthy 87 percent or so.  That dumpster monster scene in Mulholland Drive was insanely terrifying, I give him credit for that.  I just feel like sometimes he does batshit crazy things just for the sake of being batshit crazy, and that kind of annoys me.
I hope we can still be friends.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
My mom died when I was 14.  That was pretty rough.   Also, Jurassic Park 3 was also a bit of a downer… I was so excited for it!  Jurassic World had better be stellar.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Not in any way that is terribly noteworthy.  Just normal growing up stuff.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
(See previous answer.)

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
2011 Underdog Portland Red Rubber Showdown kickball champions!
Providence has a kickball league and whenever I hear about it, I always want to be a part of it because I am fucking amazing at kickball.  But it’s almost entirely populated by ironic hipster types.  You know, the kind of people that get mustaches tattooed on the insides of their index fingers?  Yeah.  Those types.
Those are the worst types…did they all ride tall bikes to their games?  I friggin’ hate those unholy contraptions!  I always want to push people on tall bikes over and yell, “Bet you wish you would have been closer to the ground, hippie!”
The league we played in while we were in Portland definitely had that specific demographic covered, but for the most part it was just people looking to have fun in an ever-so-slightly competitive manner.  I used to be something of a sports nut in my heyday, but I’ve definitely moved squarely into a beer league softball and kickball phase of my life.
I used to love bicycles and now I hate them and I blame hipsters.
We’re about to make fun of tall bikes in the comic.  Should be right up your alley!

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
What do you do?
Ann Coulter.

How did you get started doing what you do?
You mean writing?  I guess I don’t know, it’s just always something I’ve loved to do.  I started writing screenplays when I went to Film School, and screenplays lead to writing comics.
How is writing comics different than writing screenplays?
The main difference is the pacing, specifically as it pertains to visuals.  Screenplays tend to work in way that is more linear, with a fluid narrative.  When you write a comic you don’t have time to include all of the ancillary details that can sometimes go into a film, you need to decide what part of the action is really important and focus on that. 
The Portland Underground was my first attempt at writing a comic book, and there was definitely something of a learning curve.  When I go back and look at the first few pages  of issue one I can tell that my pacing was a bit off initially.  I wrote it like it was a storyboard for a script; I wanted to include every shot from every scene.  Luckily, Chris is seasoned vet when it comes to comics, so he was able to help me adapt my style.  I still have moments when I go on very dialogue heavy tangents and he sends me friendly little reminders like, “SKIP TO THE ACTION YOU STUPID IDIOT!”
That’s crazy!  I can’t imagine trying to work in a medium of writing that’s even more stripped down than the screenplay format.  A friend of mine invited me to work on some comic book / graphic novel scripting and I’m interested in giving it a shot, but I’m much more happy leaning in the other direction and adapting my screenplays into novels.
I’d say give it a shot, it’s definitely a nice change of pace.  I’m probably overselling the difference between the two styles a bit, but learning how to prioritize what goes on the page did take some work.  Having a talented artist like Chris to work with on the project was a huge help though.  Turning it into a truly collaborative effort was a boon for the process and for the final product. 

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
It’s been said 100 times before, but to be a writer you need to write.  Don’t spend all of your time just coming up with ideas, actually put them down on paper.
All of the writers that I have interviewed that have managed to support themselves with their writing say the same thing.  “Writers write.”  That seems to be the first rule of writing.
It is, and it’s something that I struggle with still to this day.  Writing can be an intimidating process, and never-ending procrastination is often an easy way out.  I find that setting aside specific times during the week to sit down and write is what works best for me.  I need a routine in order to be successful.  Without that all I have is bunch of ideas floating around in my head that never make it down on paper.
I’m kind of lucky that I figured out how to procrastinate from working on my writing projects with more writing.  As I type this, I’m procrastinating on finishing a novel-length adaptation of a screenplay that I couldn’t get anyone to read.  I’m in love with the story and I think it would make an excellent film, but it looks like I’m going to have to make it into a book and develop a fan base for that and then hope someone comes sniffing around for film-ready stories and asks me to turn it into a screenplay for several thousand dollars so I can be all like, “What, this?  BOOM!” and just e-mail them the screenplay, cash their check and wash my hands of the whole thing. 
It sounds strange, but I enjoy that moment when I can finally wash my hands of a project too.  Some writers seem to have problems letting go of their work, but I’m the exact opposite.  I think that’s why I was initially drawn to screenwriting.  Once I’m done with my part of the process I love passing my story along to someone else to see what they can do with it.  That’s why I could never be a Writer/Director.  I would over-analyze my script for 18 hours a day, sleep for six, and then never actually get anything shot.
I can totally relate.  I work to try to get things completed and then I go into a little tailspin until I get up to speed on the next project.  I can’t not be working on something.  Usually two or three things at the same time.  That way if I get tired of or unfocused on something I can switch to something else and then come back to the first thing when I’m ready.  One thing I can’t do is force it.  I’m good at spit-balling ideas and fixing plot problems and improvising dialogue, because I do that all the time.  I’ll just be walking around my apartment making up conversations and scenarios which is why I think I’m naturally predisposed to telling stories and I make an interesting room-mate.  What I can’t do is force my writing.  I have to want to do it or it comes out forced and stilted.  Thankfully I never have to force it, and I’m pretty prolific when left to my own devices, but some days I’m just not feeling it so I work on something else.  What I don’t do is constantly revisit what I’ve written to tweak it.  I always call that “the hall of mirrors trap” because you can infinitely tweak what you’ve already written but that never pushes the project towards completion.  Write, then edit.  That’s how the process works.  If you really like tweaking, be an editor.  The world needs more editors.
I completely agree.  In fact, if I end up tweaking my stories too much they usually start to decrease in quality at a certain point.  There’s a fine line between revising your work and just making changes for the sake of making changes.  I tend to be an obsessive perfectionist, so at certain point it’s necessary to step back and call it good. 

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
The Portland Underground has been one of my longest and most satisfying successes.  Other than that, most of my creative work has been done in the world of film.  I made a number of short films guerilla style before I went off to film school.  Since then I’ve written and produced a couple of really successful short films.  One, which was called Spat, came out back in 2011.  That had a pretty good run.  Then in 2012 I reunited with the same director to produce another short film called Cadence. That film made the rounds on the festival circuit and won some awards.
Whenever someone says that they did something “guerilla-style” I always imagine them doing it wearing black berets and olive drab military surplus shirts with a week’s growth of beard.  Is it how I imagine it?
Oops, did I say guerrilla-style?  I meant gorilla-style.  Gorillas have no concept of money so all of their films have to be shot with zero budgets on a Handycam they bought at a garage sale.  That’s where that term came from I think.
See also “Teen-Ape”.
And also, “The Ape” by James Franco.

What projects are you working on now?
In addition to continued work on the comic, I’m currently working on a feature length, baseball-centric horror comedy about steroids, monsters, and knowing when to let go.  I don’t want to give away too many details, but let’s just say it’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before…
I have to admit that it sounds like you’re doing something different.  Although I started watching Eastbound & Down this week, so you might have your work cut out for you.
I’ve never actually seen Eastbound & Down, but I’ve heard good things and I love Danny McBride.  You think he’d be interested in signing on to my project?  If you can put in a good word I’d appreciate it!
You’ll probably love Eastbound & Down then.
As for contacting Danny McBride, it’s not like I’ve got the motherfucker on speed dial.
You could always try contacting him though.  You might be surprised what just asking can get you.  You’ll probably get redirected to his representation, but it couldn’t hurt.

I don’t know... I’m a writer so I don’t do well with direct contact with other humans.  You think I could just email him instead?
Oh, I’d definitely go with e-mail.  Just calling him up out of the blue or showing up at his house or ambushing him in public would be pretty brazen.
Yeah... don’t want to go down THAT road again.  I still can’t legally come within 500 feet of Tom Hanks.

What are you watching?
Just finished the final season of The Office (much better than I expected!), about start watching Season 3 of The Walking Dead on Netflix.  Besides that, most of TV viewership is dedicated to sports (Detroit Tigers, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Lions, etc.).
Coincidentally, I decided to start rewatching the whole run of The Office starting last Monday, but I only got halfway through the second season before getting distracted by Eastbound & Down.  I have to agree that the last season of The Office definitely satisfyingly wrapped up the downward trend that the series seemed to slump into in its later seasons.  Have you read the comic series The Walking Dead?
I’ve read the first five or so volumes.  During my initial comic book tutelage it was assigned reading by Chris.  I really do enjoy both the comic and the TV series.  I’ve actually only made it through the first two seasons of the show at this point, but season three is next up on Netflix for us, and I’ve heard it’s stellar.  Everyone seemed pretty down on season two when it was on, but I actually dug it.  If I’m not mistaken, Robert Kirkman took on more of a role as a writer during the second season, which might actually reflect what I was saying about the difference in pacing between writing comics and writing for the screen.  Again, there’s that learning curve you have to go through when switching mediums like that. 

What are you listening to?
Whatever Pandora decides I should listen to.
I know a lot of people that use Pandora to program their listening.  I have way too much music to get through to leave my listening to chance.  I hear that Pandora sometimes makes some odd recommendations.  Have any memorable weirdness happen to you?
Oh man, I don’t remember what station I was listening to at that particular moment but there was one time when a Yanni song came up for me.  I mean, I’m sure he’s a very talented gent and all, but that definitely doesn’t fit with my typical music choices.  

What are you reading?
I’m rereading Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris.
I went on a Sedaris kick a few years back.  I forget which ones I read.  The one with the story about the Easter bell that ends with “A bell though, that’s fucked up.” 
I do believe that’s from Me Talk Pretty One Day.  Great book!  Probably my favorite of his.  I’ve recently fallen into a pattern where I pretty much only read horror books and humor books.  I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m sure there are some deep seeded psychological issues that come into play.
You could do worse.  You should check out Woody Allen’s books.  They’d probably be right up your alley.

I do enjoy Woody Allen!  He and Neil Gaiman are two of the authors whose careers I would love to emulate. 

Favorite author / book?
Oh man, I can’t pick just one.  How about my top 3? 1. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut 2. A Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin  3. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
Top three will do.
I used to the whole “Desert Island” thing, but I got too many desert island jokes so I pulled it from the survey because although I know everyone thinks they’re a fucking comedian and they’re trying to be entertaining I got sick of reading unoriginal variations on the theme.  Yes, I get it, “How to escape from a desert island for Dummies”.  Thanks for not being able to recognize a thematic apperception tool when you’re asked one.
As for Vonnegut, I’ve always been much more of a “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” guy.
“Everything was beautiful… and nothing hurt.”
That’s another one of my favorite quotes, and I love the drawing that goes along with it!  Vonnegut to me has always been more than just an author.  My mom died when I was a freshman in high school and I inherited essentially the entire Vonnegut library from her. In a strange way I’ve always been able to use his books as a way to feel connected to her even years after she was gone.
That’s truly beautiful.  When my mom dies I’m going to be left with Backstreet Boys CDs.  She has terrible taste in music.  I tried to get her to listen to some opera and when I tried to show her how to use the media player on her laptop, I noticed that she deleted all of it.  When I asked her if she deleted it she guiltily replied, “Well, I never listened to it.”  But she did manage to figure out how to use iTunes to download a song by Pitbull.

Does she also drink Bud Light?  So it goes...

Favorite band / song?
Song: Sink, Florida, Sink by Against Me!
Band: I don’t know if I have a favorite band, but no matter what mood I’m in I can always listen to Ben Harper.

Least favorite band / song?
Limp Bizkit for both.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Alive: Bill Clinton. Dead: Kurt Vonnegut. Fictional: Gandalf.
I get Gandalf and Vonnegut… but why Bill Clinton?
Did you mean George Clinton?
Nope, good old Bill!  I’ve been obsessed with national politics for as long as I can remember, and Bill Clinton was/is perhaps the marquee politician of our time.  I’d love to sit down with him and pick his brain about all sorts of things.  I’d probably lead with something like, “Honestly Bill, Monica?”
Dude, a blowjob in the oval office?  I’d even let a dude suck my dick if it meant I could say that I got a blowjob in the oval office and I don’t have a gay bone in my body.  I’d just be really vague about it.
Me: “Dude!  I just got a blowjob in the oval office!”
A Friend: “Really?  What did the girl look like?”
Me: “Uh… they were really nice?”

You think Linda Tripp would record that conversation too?
More than likely.  That’s fine by me.  I’d make an awesome president.  I’d be the most controversial president ever.  “Can gays get married?  Yes.  Next question.  Should abortion be legal?  Yes.  If you don’t want one, don’t get one.  Next question.  Prayer in schools?  If you want to pray, pray, if you don’t, don’t.  Next question.  Should we teach Creationism instead of evolution in schools?  Don’t be stupid.  The creation myth is a fairy tale.  If that’s what you want to teach your kids at home, fine, but Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny aren’t on the SATs and that bullshit won’t be on it either.  Next question.  Legalize marijuana?  Fuck it.  Why not?  It’s not like all of the money that we spend in drug enforcement and criminalizing marijuana is doing any good.  From now on pot is like beer.  The FDA has to regulate it if you’re going to try to sell it in stores and you have to be eighteen to buy it and you can’t be high at work if your boss says you can’t.  Oh, and while I'm at it, the legal drinking age is eighteen. If you can join the Army and vote, you can buy alcohol.  Next question.  No more questions?  Alright, I’m taking Air Force One and flying out to The Bunny Ranch to bat the cycle.  If anyone needs me, send me an e-mail.  Good night!” 
You’ve got my vote!  If you’re looking for a really twitchy Secretary of Defense give me a shout.
If I ever get to sit in the big chair I’ll appoint you with pleasure.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Worst: Golf caddy at a swanky country club.
Best: When I owned a Video Production small business.
When you applied for the job as a golf caddy, did you totally think it was going to be like Caddyshack?
Well, one could only hope.  Honestly, I’m not sure what I expected though.  I was only 14-years-old at the time, so the general concept that I’d like to earn some cash was the forefront of my brain.  Other than that I’m not sure I really thought it through.  All I know is that I quickly discovered that getting up at the ass crack of dawn to lug around fifty pound bags of golf clubs for stingy, rich, white guys who, for all of their immense wealth don’t seem to enjoy tipping, is no way to make a living.
Yeah, I spent last summer and fall working as a security guard at a yacht yard and the fact that I was making eleven dollars and hour, while my security officer pimps probably made just as much for hiring me out, while making sure that the owners of million dollar yachts weren’t bothered by the unwashed masses never quite escaped me.  But I did end up eating my weight in lobster and ice cream out of the restaurant’s kitchen before I got fired over some trivial bullshit, so fuck that place.
Me and a couple of my coworkers tried to go into the clubhouse to buy a soda after one of our first shifts and they wouldn’t let us through the door.  That’s when I knew that place wasn’t for me. 

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

About the Interviewee:
Daniel VanderMolen, is a freelance writer living in Grand Rapids, MI.  He attended school at Columbia College in Chicago where he graduated with a degree in Film and Video Production, with an emphasis in Screenwriting.
His latest projects include authoring the online comic “The Portland Underground,” as well as continuous work on both short and feature length screenplays.  He wrote and produced the short film “Spat,” which was based on the world of the comic.  He also recently produced the award winning short film “Cadence.”
The next project on his docked is the development of baseball-centric, feature length horror/comedy screenplay which will hopefully be completed in early 2014.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
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