A conversation with Daron Carty (One Washington Diner) and Dakota Straub (Broken), from The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between
Daron: Good to be back, in more ways than one.
Dakota: Hey J.W., Daron.
J.W.: Have you two been formally introduced? Since you both come from different stories I figured you hadn’t met yet.
Daron: We’ve known each other for quite a while, actually.
J.W.: Really? How so?
Dakota: We first met in your subconscious, when you weren’t looking . . .
Daron: Then later we met at Linny’s wake.
J.W.: Linny? Oh, yeah . . .Buck’s wife from Requiem for Linny.
Dakota: Buck’s a real good guy—wish we all could have met under more pleasant circumstances.
J.W.: Believe me when I tell you I felt his pain. While we’re on the subject of feeling, both of you clearly have a deep connection to someone in your stories. Were either of you surprised by or frustrated with your situations?
Dakota: I can’t speak for Daron, but from what he’s told me I found his story fascinating. I frequently write human interest stories for my paper but was really surprised that I was assigned to ride with Slim, the guy who picks up the stuff that other people leave behind. I wasn’t fond of being in the searing heat of summer—we discussed a lot of other things that get broken but never once is it mentioned that I broke a sweat.
J.W.: Kind of a hygienic detail, and not really one that’s all that pleasant to think about.
Dakota: I can certainly appreciate that, but having me not only witness that car accident she was in, but having to see her , man, that was brutal. Talk about unpleasant.
J.W.: I was there with you as it happened. It was necessary to ratchet up the drama a couple notches. I don’t deny that it was unpleasant, but we showed how much she meant to you. I’m proud of how you handled it. Personally, I think you got a pretty good human interest story out of it.
Dakota: Well, thank you sir. You certainly gave me enough grist for the mill.
J.W.: Daron, how about you?
Daron: It was very ephemeral for me. I was increasingly frustrated that you wouldn’t quite give me enough to fill in the blanks. I mean, there I was, with this woman who was absolutely delightful, and instead of fully enjoying her company I was fed these bits and pieces of memory that drove me nuts. I knew there was more, but you kept that carrot-on-a-stick tantalizingly out of reach.
J.W.: I understand your frustration, but I can’t explain further without spoiling the story . . .
Daron: See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about!
J.W.: And what did you think of Eloy?
Daron: I never felt so calm in anyone’s presence before. I can’t say enough good things about him.
Dakota: Did we meet him at the wake? I don’t recall the name.
Daron: No, you didn’t. You’ll get your chance though.
J.W.: When was this wake that you keep alluding to? I don’t recall that being in either of your stories, much less Requiem For Linny.
Dakota and Daron: We all . . .
Daron: Go ahead, Big D.
Dakota: Haven’t you ever wondered what happens once you close a book. The characters in any story are given life and color through the words we’re described by. Imagination gives us form and an emotional connection to you. That being said, since the only thing truly separating us are pages, once given life by imagination we can travel most anywhere we please within the confines of the covers. We all got together to pay our respects to Buck and Linny. Lots of good folks in those stories of yours.
Daron: Jimmy and Patchy, what a great couple of kids. We made sure they returned home with plenty of leftovers.
Dakota: Good thing you gave them their own story, J.W. They easily would have stolen the limelight from any one else.
J.W.: The Run was fun to write. It was interesting to try and step backwards in time and try to remember what it was like to be a kid.
Daron: Oh yeah, before I forget again. Dakota and I wanted to ask you something.
J.W.: By all means, what’s on your minds—as if I didn’t know.
Daron: What’s up with the ‘d’ thing?
J.W.: What’s the ‘d’ thing?
Dakota: He’s Daron, I’m Dakota. His story takes place in a diner.
Daron: And let’s not forget Paper Doll . . .
J.W.: I think that’s all in your imaginations.
Dakota: We sprang from yours, though.
J.W.: True enough. There are a number of ‘d’ issues threaded throughout the stories, but there’s also compassion, love, empathy, regret, and a host of other things which we humans deal with our whole lives—not the least of which is something you two exhibited a fair amount of . . .Hope.
Daron: Okay, fair enough.
Dakota: You know, after speaking with all the other characters it’s easy to see how much we all relied upon hope and somehow, by different means, we had love to help lead us through our individual crisis.
J.W.: Couldn’t have said it better myself, Dakota.
Dakota: Well, you . . . never mind.
J.W.: Guys, I’ve one more ‘d’ concept for you—Done.
Daron: You mean, as in “finished”?
J.W.: I’m afraid so.
Dakota: Well that stinks on ice! We were just getting warmed up.
J.W.: Guys, it was a genuine pleasure to have you step off the page and come talk to some of my readers today. I really appreciate it.
Daron: I think I speak for Daron, and Buck, Linny, Jimmy, Patchy, and all the other characters, when I say I hope we get to personally meet a lot of other readers. Will we get to do this again sometime?
J.W.: Over and over again, each time somebody reads you.
Dakota: Folks, all three of us hope to ‘see’ you real soon. We’ll let the other characters in The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between know you’ll be headin’ their way. We look forward to it!
Daron: Thanks again, J.W.!
Dakota: Absolutely! I thoroughly enjoyed this.
J.W.: You bet, fellas!