Interview with D.L. Lang
Author of Midnight Strike
Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I was born in Germany. I currently live with Tim, my husband of 13 years, in Vallejo, California.
If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?
I am the daughter of an American soldier and a German immigrant. As a result of my dad’s military service I moved around a lot as a child, living in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. After college I moved to California, where I’ve been for the past 14 years, the last 6 of which I’ve lived in Vallejo.
What made you decide to write and publish your first book?
I wanted to be a writer since I was 11 years old. My first book was entitled Tea & Sprockets. I’d dreamt of releasing a book for years. I put out its first incarnation in 2004 just as a way of backing up all my poetry, and then continued to polish it. My earliest poetry started out as attempts at writing song lyrics, imitating the Beach Boys and the Beatles, and it evolved from there. This was the first of 12 poetry books.
How would you describe your books to first time readers?
My books are a mixed bag, so you’re sure to find something you enjoy. I frequently write about social and political issues, nature, and spirituality. I’ve written around 1,200 poems, spanning a wide variety of subjects. If there’s a poem you don’t like, just turn the page, and you’ll find something.
Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?
My topical poetry would be most likely to appeal to folks who lean to the left—those who pursue justice and peace. My spiritual poetry is informed by my involvement in the Reform Jewish community. That said, I welcome all poetry enthusiasts, and folks new to poetry. I’ve performed my work all across California in front of diverse crowds, for children and adults, at protests, at vigils, at art galleries, at county fairs, and at your friendly neighborhood poetry open mic.
What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?
That I have many more books to write. Just having the one book was an accomplishment, yet I continue to be inspired each year and feel motivated to keep on feeding my creativity. In order to write a book, you have to have patience and trust the process. It won’t be written overnight. You’ll miss typos, you’ll think of a better way of saying a phrase well after it’s published. At some point the book has to be done. Don’t let perfection keep you back.
If you could, what advice would you give to your past self before embarking on this journey?
While I’d wanted to be a writer since I was 11, as an adult I got distracted by making a living and exploring other interests, working in film, television, and various odd jobs. I didn’t start entering county fairs, hanging out with other poets, and performing my work to an audience until my 30s, which were the first steps to expanding my awareness of the art form as well as what lead to my becoming my town’s poet laureate. I also published the majority of my books in my 30s. While I wish I would have focused more on writing in my twenties than I did, I think having a more well-rounded life made me a stronger writer, so while I could tell my yourself, “Don’t wait. Don’t listen to people who say it cannot be done.” I can also say, “It’s never too late.”
How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?
Not too many poets get to be a household name. I’m grateful for each and every person who takes the time to read a poem of mine. Like all authors I’d like to sell more books.
What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?
I’ve little patience for the gatekeeping that often happens in traditional publishing, so I’m not as widely published in magazines as some of my contemporaries.
What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
I’m a practiced writer, and it flows easily and naturally as soon as I get an idea. I’m good at getting fired up about an issue, observing the world around me, and translating it to the page. I worked for several years as a document editor which gave me the word processing skills to make a book. I have a template that I add poems to, and I keep the formatting simple. The poetry should speak for itself. I gained skills by promoting a local musician online in my teens and twenties, so now I just apply those skills to promoting myself.
What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
I have a limited budget for marketing and submission fees. I haven’t found buying ads to be all that effective anyways. My books sell after performances, so I’d encourage all poets to step up to a mic, and involve yourself in your community. The book sales will follow.
When do you think you will write your next book?
I am currently about 50 pages into my 13th poetry book. My goal is to have it released by the end of the year.
Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?
Although I appear in a few anthologies, my poetry collections are self-published.