By Jeffery Doherty
I first met Dennis Mahoney at the Albany Book Festival where he presented with a display of pictures akin to encounters of the third kind. I didn’t know much about the ethereal man, and I wanted to learn more. I got to talk to Mahoney about his work, and learn more about the man behind the otherworldly poster board. He graciously answered my questions that ranged from his professional to personal life, as well as, shared about the storytelling group he is a part of, the Equinox Society.
Jeffery Doherty: Who publishes/has published your work?
Dennis Mahoney: My first novel, Fellow Mortals, was published by FSG. My second, Bell Weather, was published by Henry Holt & Co. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of work online, much of it in secret, and some of it at EquinoxSociety.com.
JD: Do you write for a living?
DM: I write full time. I had regular office jobs in my twenties, doing unwriterly stuff such as crunching TV ratings data in NYC, and then became a stay-at-home parent at 30. I started to make a living off fiction in my mid-30s.
JD: When did you start writing?
DM: Late high school. I was a floundering adolescent and started reading and writing because I was lousy at sports, and uncool, and not dateable. Books, and art in general, gave me consolation and self-worth. Four years later, I met my wife at a bookstore. The writing life paid off well for me way before any of my work was publishable.
JD: Are there are other authors you’d recommend be read?
DM: I wish I had a good answer to this, but I’m not up on current fiction at all.
JD: How grounded is your work in the ordinary world? Some of your work is fantasy based, yet your Book Fair display had a ‘encounters of the 3rd kind’ feel.
DM: Fellow Mortals was purely real-world. Bell Weather had light fantasy elements but was essentially a young woman’s coming-of-age adventure story. But everything I write, however strange on the surface, is connected to my emotional life. Oddly enough, the stranger work lets me explore real-world concerns more honestly.
JD: How would you describe your writing process?
DM: Whatever works. Some days I aim for a certain word count. Other days I’m time-based. As soon as any approach feels like drudgery, I change it up and make it playful.
JD: Any special rituals?
DM: My ritual lately: Pour coffee. Play music that hits the day’s creative nerve. Light my neon skull, light a candle. Pull one Tarot card and read about it. Meditate for twenty minutes. Read for thirty minutes. Start writing. I write in bursts: 25 minutes, short break, write another 25 minutes, etc.
JD: What is the focus of your writing?
DM: I aim for any emotional reaction. That might be as simple as surprise or amusement. My only real guide is whether or not I’m getting a rise out of myself.
JD: What do you do when you don’t write?
DM: I’ve been doing home improvement projects in our new house. I socialize a lot.
JD: Tell me about the Equinox Society.
DM: The Equinox Society publishes occult stories and art. It’s a small collective of peculiar people, exploring where the world and the otherworld mesh. I haven’t met most of them in person.
JD: How did it start?
DM: I don’t know. It’s been around for a while, mostly underground. I met Claire Maple online (someone put us in touch) and William Rook via snail mail. Eventually I became the society secretary. I manage their web presence and handle correspondence.
JD: From what I can tell, it’s a podcast. What’s the focus of it?
DM: The Ghostlove podcast is the story of William Rook’s first season in a haunted brownstone in Troy. I helped produce it with Nevertheless Media.
I was pleased to meet Dennis Mahoney, the Equinox Society secretary, stay at home father, and writer who travels through personal experience, as well as the very ordinary reality of the highly strange.