PW: In “Catfight” there are numerous instances of things in nature being described as beautiful or awe-inspiring. How often do you get into nature to appreciate its beauty, and where do you go?
DM: Great question. I think love of the natural world is at the heart of almost everything I write, even this crazy story about a man who ends up killing cats for sport/money.
When I was younger I decided to travel around the world and for the most part did so for about ten years, taking any odd job in or near National Parks, and eventually on small expedition cruise ships that spanned the globe. I made it to all seven continents doing this, and those travels instilled this awe-inspiring love of the natural diversity, energy, and potential menace each environment offers.
When I dwell in a setting for my writing, years worth of stories from traveling start to find connections to that place, and this is how “Catfight” came about. On Greyhound bus heading west when I was sixteen, I sat next to a dim-witted, slot machine repairman with scratches up his arms and neck from a cat climbing his body. Years later in Colorado, a drunken friend went on a rant about the kinds of fights he’d get into, yelling in a crowded bar, “I’ll fight a hundred cats at once.” Then there were those years of seeing the workers on those ships, pent up, in a male dominated culture, hit the shore with this manic starvation to get everything they needed from life in a twelve-hour shore leave. All these elements came together in this story where I tried to put Lance in direct conflict with the problems his environment produces, hence, a bunch of out of control oil rig workers betting on him killing over thirty cats in ten minutes!
I no longer do the traveling I used to, but there is something in almost any landscape I can find that calms me, makes me feel at ease, and I wished that for my character, Lance, a man I wanted to place in situation that pushed the limit of where redemption can come into play. Writing to me, even crazy stories like this one, becomes a meditation on the beauty of the world inclusive of its oddity, and frequent insanity.