Writers on Wednesday: Dan Bosserman
Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday, where we get to meet a wide range of unique and talented authors. This weeks featured writer is Dan Bosserman, a journalist from Boring, Oregon. Dan's unique answers to my somewhat generic questions really put a smile on my face and I hope that you enjoy reading them too ...
|Dan Bosserman (in Maroon shirt) watches as the Governor of Oregon signs a proclamation
declaring August 9 'Boring and Dull Day' which celebrates the pairing of Boring with a sister city, Dull
Tell us a bit about yourself …
I’m 71 years old (born nine months to the day after the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941). I was born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, but left there before I was old enough to remember it. My grandfather was a minister in the Church of the Brethren, a pacifist congregation; therefore, my father was a conscientious objector during WWII. The neighbors called me “Weatherstripping,” because I protected my father from the draft. Both my parents grew up in Peace Valley, Missouri—my mother in a log cabin with clay floors built by her father, a part-time newspaper writer.
In 1950 we moved to Oregon, where I grew up on an 80-acre farm, after my mother divorced my father and remarried. After high school I attended Bob Jones University for a year in Greenville, SC, where I lost my Christian faith, then joined the US Navy, which decided to send me to University of California, Berkeley, to become an officer. I quit after a year and went back into the enlisted Navy. By that time I was married. I’ve worked at various jobs since I left the Navy in 1963, often two or three at a time. I’ve been by turns a dishwasher, a breakfast cook, a stock clerk, a warehouse foreman, a trucking industry dispatcher, a telephone solicitor, a furnace tender in a lead foundry, a newspaper distributor, a state park ranger, a real estate salesman, a retail flower store manager, a used tire recycler, a garbage truck driver, an industrial radiographer (X-ray technician), a Continuous Improvement coordinator, and a part-time newspaper writer and editor. I suppose it’s only coincidence that while I was a state park ranger I regained my Christian faith and am now an active member of Living Way Fellowship of the Foursquare Gospel in Sandy, OR.
I’ve been married three times and divorced twice. My present marriage has lasted 38 years. I have five children by three wives, ranging in age from 49 to 26 (the children, not the wives). I still work in the X-ray department of Precision Castparts Corp., a manufacturer of large parts for jet airplane engines. I will probably continue working there until I’m at least 75, having made very poor provision for retirement.
My day job is really only to finance all the other things I’m involved in: Board of Directors for the Sandy Actors Theatre, where I sometimes act and/or produce; active participant in the Boring, Oregon, Community Planning Organization; worship team (blues harmonica) at my local church, where I’m also the head usher; algebra tutoring at the AntFarm, a local youth center; and newspaper work at The East County Gazette in Sandy, OR. Then there are the goats, Daphne and Tess, and the large garden on our property in Boring.
On my 63rd birthday, I began riding a bicycle to work—32 miles round trip every day, rain or shine. I logged 20,000 miles over four years before shoulder injuries forced me to abandon that exercise.
Tell us about your most recently published, or about to be published, book?
I’m about to sign a contract with Arcadia Publishing for a book about Boring, Oregon, for their Images of America series about small communities in the USA. This will be a collection of photographs (or other images) with about a 200-word essay concerning each image.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
The very first time I was published was in a one-time-only edition of a grade-school newspaper. The story was “Dick and Jane’s Revenge,” and told the story of the characters in unused textbooks coming to life in the wee hours of the night and performing pranks to make life hell for the wicked principal of the school I attended. That school had two rooms—four grades in each room, no more than four students in each grade. I was 13 years old in the eighth grade.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
My proudest achievement is almost always the one I’ve just finished at any given time—in this case a front-page feature in the newspaper I work for, called Survivor Damascus. It draws a comparison between the TV “reality” game show Survivor and the travails of a small local community that incorporated as a city only 10 years ago and now is about to decide whether it will disincorporate.
Overall, though, my proudest achievement (and probably best-known in the wider community) is an intermittent series I write as part of my regular On the Other Hand column, consisting of official reports from an undercover space alien—disguised as me—to his superior at the Institute for Galactic Studies. These reports profess to be observations on native customs and rituals on Planet Earth, but almost always get it wrong, confusing economics with religion with entertainment with politics with sexual fantasies, etc., etc. Along the way (if I’m successful in my attempts) I manage to make some subtle ironic or satirical (not to say sarcastic) commentaries on human society. Once a reader failed to understand (or I failed to make clear) that the column was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and wrote to the editor complaining that what he had read was obviously untrue. This gave me the opportunity to write another column on the uses of satire, citing Jonathan Swifts A Modest Proposal. For three months after that, I began each of my columns with the following caveat: WARNING: The Surgeon-General has determined that reading this article may subject you to statements that are not strictly true.
I have a stock response when one of my readers tells me he or she always reads my column: “Oh, you’re the one!”
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I have a fantasy story about a prophetic talking unicorn that can be seen and heard by only a limited number of people—the middle-aged hero of the piece and his precocious teen-aged daughter being the chief among them. And there is a collection of stories called Tales of Viet Nam, some of which actually are about the Viet Nam war. I work on these sporadically in tiny bits of time squeezed into the rest of my schedule.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
My ideal favorite place to write would be in one of the cabins at Olallie Lake in the Jefferson Wilderness Area, preferably on the front porch overlooking the lake, weather permitting. More realistically, I prefer sitting at the computer in the 12’ x 24’ office building we’ve had constructed in our back yard, 100’ away from the house.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
I prefer paper books, probably just from habit. I’m not very religious about my preference, particularly because I’ve never even used an eBook. My answer would be much like Aldous Huxley’s reply when asked for his opinion about the General Strike in England. “Nevertheless, they wanted my opinions. I gave them my prejudices….”
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
Aside from the Bible? Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
Please don’t judge us in America by our politicians, either left or right. I’ve been reading about Adelaide, and think I’d like to retire there—if I ever get time to retire.
You can learn more about Dan Bosserman here ...