I was recently fortunate enough to interview DW Skinner -Dan Skinner – about both his photography and his writing
Dan is well known to those of us in the LGBTQ writing community for his beautiful cover art and erotic photos that capture the imagination. I asked him a couple of questions about what makes him tick.
Thanks so much for joining us Dan.
Susan: You’re a very fortunate man to most of us in that you get to photograph beautiful, sensual men in different settings and poses, something which we all are envious of. And then you get to go off and write wonderful stories of your own as well. How do you balance out the writing part of you with the visual art of photography? Do they feed each other or do the pictures feed the writing inspiration?
Dan: They do feed each other. Most of my books actually started out as ideas for a shoot. For example my gay fairy tale, The Art Of The Heart was first plotted out to be a graphic novel that I would shoot. Then as I reread it a few years later I thought, with the right words it would be a fairly decent little story. Memorizing You is written almost like a screenplay. Each scene is extremely visual and self-contained. For example, the kiss in the garden, or as I call it “the raspberry kiss” is written in such a way that every sentence could be shot as a photograph. The same way with the scene where Ryan teaches David to swim at the country lake – the scene that gave the novel it’s name. I picture the things I write as if they will be photos I’ll take.
Susan: Your photographs are erotic, sensual, tender, sexy and downright inspiring. You decided to make your business creating wonderful gay book covers and while you were told this might not be the best thing to do, you did it anyway. And made a huge success out of it from what we can see. Are you still happy you chose this path? I think your pictures probably answer this but I’d be interested in your views so many years later.
I’m very happy I did it. It was a self-assuring choice because I wanted to do something that I hoped would help affect change in the way that people viewed same sex romance. For years, we had to tolerate parts of society trying to paint us as being ugly, unnatural, alien or strange. Not like them. So my intent with the same -sex romance photos was to show the beauty, grace, elegance and reality of love as it really is: without gender. It’s hard to fight the beauty of love with ugly words when it’s portrayed with a delicate reverence. I also wanted to show its erotic aspects so the passion could be seen and felt with the same connection to real life. I’ve actually had straight men who say they have no homosexual inclinations whatsoever, but my photos have attracted them with their emotional aspects. That made it very worthwhile.
Susan: You did a wonderful frank, inspiring and absorbing interview for ‘Burbujas de Deseo’ in 2014 which I really enjoyed reading. http://www.burbujasdeseo.com/2014/03/gay-love-dan-skinner-photos/
You mentioned that that you thought the MM fiction genre was a fledgling and coming into its own- what do you think now about the veritable explosion of this genre since then into perhaps not mainstream fiction but certainly a more acceptable and popular reading?
Dan: I think it’s going to continue to grow until it’s as mainstream as any other book. Viewpoints are changing so rapidly that I think same sex heroes and detectives and police dramas or whatever will become as generic as the others. It’s a matter of time now.
Susan: This is a question that people are asked and sometimes don’t know how to answer. If could do one thing differently from the past, what would it be and why?
Dan: I can answer it easily because it’s what I tell my young friends: don’t doubt yourself.
Susan: You photograph with passion; and you write with passion. You have a unique style when it comes to telling a story. It’s obvious you love what you do. What advice can you give out there to other potential photographers trying to make it, or writers trying to get their voice across in the genre? Is it enough having love and passion for what you want to do-or-do you need something else as well?
Dan: Be yourself. Write with your own words. Don’t try to be fancy. Tell a story. If you’re a photographer: make the photograph own your viewpoint. It’s just another method in telling a story.
Susan: Tell us a bit about any future books you have on the go- what can we expect from Dan Skinner in the near future?
Dan: I’m an oddity. The novel I’m working on now is a sci/fi/horror novel that pays homage to the classics. So don’t expect the blood and guts fest that most horror novels have today. I love a good story. This will be something that people who like paranormal romances and shifters and werewolf stories will like; it will have the sweeping romance of a Beauty and the Beast, and it will be the morality tale that the classics used to have. I like to do things that take people someplace else and let them see things with a different perspective…and if it makes me feel like I’ve had a good ride..then I think I’ve done a good job. I think people will enjoy it.
Susan: Now some silly questions to get to know the man behind the writer/photographer…
Who would you fancy – Loki or Thor?
Loki. I love cerebral characters. I feel like I could talk to him for a week and never get bored.
Pasta or pizza?
Haha. You shoulda added one more choice. I actually eat neither of those.
If you could wake up tomorrow in someone else’s body, who would you pick and why?
Dylan O’Brien because he would be gay for a day and he’d maul Tyler Hoechlin and then we’d have the Sterek pics that wouldn’t have to be photoshopped.
Jazz or Rock?
Have you got a favorite quote? What is it?
Peace is not the absence of conflict from life but the ability to cope with it.
Fancy hotel on the beach or cabin in the woods?
I’ve seen “Cabin the Woods”… Fancy hotel please…lol
If you had one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
What’s your biggest character flaw?
It’s one I will not change.. I’m very trusting.