It can be rare nowadays when a writer can create something refreshing and new. William Dickstein is a local author from Las Vegas who has done that by creating his own universe through two art forms, short stories and comic books. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a local book fair and after being immediately engaged by the concept of Ch05en, I bought his first short story, read it, and became an instant fan. Here’s his story about what inspired him and what lead to his path of writing.
Are you from Las Vegas originally?
Yup! Born and raised with a brief, six month stint in Reno after high school. I love to travel but don’t see myself living anywhere else any time soon. I love it here.
When did you first start writing?
My on again, off again relationship with fiction started as a kid. I decided I wanted to try and really develop the ability to tell good stories when I was 20, though, so I have right around 8 years of solid, actual practice.
What sort of fiction caught your attention at that early age?
I always say that cartoons were my first love. It was really through those that I tracked how to tell a story and decided what kind I thought I wanted to tell as a kid. When I got older, and became a little more serious about writing, I started to pay attention to Palahniuk and Christopher Golden pretty heavily. Most people are surprised to hear that I didn’t start reading comics until about seven years ago, when I was twenty one.
What is the story of Ch05en about?
Ch05En is an expansive science fantasy universe. The premise is that mankind has mapped out a gene given the markers Ch-05-En that we realize destines people for greatness. Some people become CEO of a Fortune 500 company, others get superpowers. The stories within Ch05En are pretty eclectic, and the universe itself is very character driven. There’s a story about a pizza delivery driver whose mother is the world’s most famous supervillain and another about a superhero who is addicted to getting punched in the face. So there’s really something for everybody.
One of my favorite things about the first short story is the tone, what inspired you to take the tone in that direction?
I started writing Ch05En: Episode 1 in a group that some strangers from Reddit put together that followed along with Brandon Sanderson’s writing workshop videos. I wanted to be able to keep up with the weekly submissions, so I went with what was easiest, writing from first person, not caring if the character sounded like me at all. Then I ended up with some pretty significant edits before the final version was released, but the result was that Frank had a sort of careless, “this is my life now” attitude that a lot of people have told me comes off as dry humor. So, from a practical standpoint, I guess the inspiration behind the tone was making sure I didn’t take it so seriously that I couldn’t hit the deadlines.
Are there any other projects you’re working besides Ch05en?
I’ve done some ghostwriting since starting the Ch05En universe and I pick up some technical writing here or there when I’m trying to build a stake back up to make more comics. Other than that, no, Ch05En is all I’m working on right now.
What sort of stories have you ghostwritten? Can you reveal them?
I really can’t tell you the names, but I’ll tell you about one of my favorites. It was a supernatural young adult novel where the main villains were like those slugs from Animorphs but scarier. Totally outside of what I would have ever written on my own. I had such a rough outline that I was able to shape the characters into people I enjoyed writing about. At the time, the only downside for me was that it had to be written young adult, which curves a lot of the way you can tell the story. But even that ended up being a good thing because after I was done I realized it was a nice break from the way I normally approach a story. It won’t happen any time soon, but writing that book made me realize I’ve got a few original young adult works in me.
Where can people find your work online?
The best place is my author page on Amazon: