Monday, December 14, 2015

David Drake

David Drake (born 1945) sold his first story (a fantasy) at age 20. His undergraduate majors at the University of Iowa were history (with honors) and Latin (BA, 1967). He uses his training in both subjects extensively in his fiction. Drake entered Duke Law School in 1967 and graduated five years later (JD, 1972). The delay was caused by his being drafted into the US Army. He served in 1970 as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Blackhorse, in Viet Nam and Cambodia. He has used his legal and particularly his military experiences extensively in his fiction also. Drake practiced law for eight years; drove a city bus for one year; and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1981, writing such novels as Out of the Waters and Monsters of the Earth.

Drake's new novel is Air and Darkness.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Drake's reply:
I'm reading Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough, a 1942 memoir (in Skinner's first-person voice) of the European trip the two young ladies took twenty years earlier when they were just out of Bryn Mawr. The decision to read it was a sentimental one for me.

One of my classics teachers at Iowa had done the same thing with a friend at what must have been the same time. I recall with pleasure her stories of being guided through the ruins of Knossos by Sir Arthur Evans, who had discovered the site. For an undergraduate who had never traveled, it was as different a time as Samuel Johnson's London would have been.

In addition to those memories from my youth, my friend Manly Wade Wellman was a great fan of the collections of myths and legends by Charles M Skinner. Skinner was a journalist, not a folklore professor, so his focus was on the story itself. That was also Manly's interest as a working writer.

Manly read one of his later mountain-set stories to me and Karl Wagner before he sent if off--The Dakwa. He'd taken it directly from Skinner.

When I recently opened my copy of Myths and Legends of Our New Possessions (1899), I saw that it was "affectionately dedicated to Cornelia Otis Skinner, our new possession." She was Charles Skinner's granddaughter.

I picked up Cornelia's memoir which I recalled being offered in a scholastic book club when I was 14 and in 9th grade. I'm laughing a great deal, but it's also a way back into a variety of warm memories.
Visit David Drake's website.

--Marshal Zeringue