5 Minutes with Daniel Ausema

Spire City

This is a chance to learn a bit more about Daniel Ausema. Season One episodes 7-13 of his Spire City episodes will be published by Musa on October 17th.

Daniel Ausema

 Website: http://danielausema.blogspot.com

 Twitter: @ausema

What I love most about writing . . . I love creating. Taking an idea and bringing it to life is, well, it’s why I write. There’s something inspiring and immensely rewarding in drawing strands of imagination out of the swirl of my brain and weaving them together in new ways. I also love words themselves, the feel and sound and tricky ways they can work. So writing combines those two things. You mean I get to sit here and imagine new worlds? You mean these slippery little critters we call words are there for me to just arrange however I want? Yes. That’s something I can get behind.

The toughest thing about writing . . . Editing.There are always so many new ideas waiting to be written. So I find distractions, like answering interview questions instead of tackling the next round of edits… I’m getting better at it, I think. At least, I don’t dread it as much as I once did. But still, there’s always that next story. And the one after that. And a poem to write in between.

If I wasn’t a writer, I would be . . . Probably a teacher. Probably not in a typical classroom, though. I used to do experiential education before my kids were born. I was a lead facilitator at a ropes course, working especially with high school groups. I was good at getting the kids involved, getting them invested in things that, with a less skilled facilitator, could have easily just come off as cheesy and forgettable. (I did some traditional classroom teaching as well, so I could see myself doing more of that as well.)

When I am writing, I listen to . . . Silence. When I first started taking my writing more seriously, I was home with our infant firstborn, and we were living in a fairly small apartment. So my writing time was his nap time, and silence was the key to keeping him asleep. Even after it wasn’t necessary, I’d gotten used to not needing any music. I don’t need silence either anymore—you learn to write despite the sounds of the kids playing their own make-believe games or doing their Wii games or whatever. Once in a while I’ll think to turn on my own music as well, but more often it just slips my mind as I start writing.

Favorite Novels: 

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. There are so many books I’ve loved, and even the recent list I posted on my blog of the thirteen most influential books felt very limiting. Give me a different time, a different place, and I’d feel a strong connection to a dozen others. But this is the one that I keep coming back to as a favorite. Thirteen novels begun, each in a different style and mode, each interrupted after the first chapter and never completed.

Favorite Sport Team:

Any team from Detroit/the state of Michigan. I actually follow sports more closely now than when I lived there. I think it’s my psychological way to keep some tenuous connection to where I grew up—I lived in West Michigan until after college and on the east side of the state for another few years before we moved to Colorado. But even now, I’d rather be out playing sports than watching them, so I mostly just follow the results and check in on the latest score (sometimes every few minutes in a close game) without actually watching the games.

Advice to aspiring authors:

Be curious. Be open. Don’t just shut down an idea because it seems too stupid or crazy or difficult or cliche or original or anything. But also don’t just blindly follow a new idea without pushing yourself to take that idea a little further. Great improv comedians will say that your answer to a fellow comedian should never be “No, but..” but always “Yes, and…” The same goes for writing. Yes I’ve got this crazy idea, and here’s where it goes from there… And then keep your wildly uncontrollable subconscious as open as you can as you set out to discover what comes next.


Spire City


Spire City is home to mighty machines of steam power and clockwork, and giant beetles pull picturesque carriages over cobbled streets, but there is a darker secret behind these wonders. A deadly infection, created by a mad scientist, is spreading through the city, targeting the poor and powerless, turning them slowly into animals. A group of those infected by the serum join together to survive, to trick the wealthy out of their money, and to fight back.


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