Blaine Denton grew up in the Philippines, but moved to eastern Washington during his freshman year to study creative writing at Gonzaga University. He currently lives in Spokane with two cats that believe they are dogs. He’s been writing ever since he could hold a keyboard in his hands. He also hosts a podcast, Dento and The Robot, about figuring out adulthood and general good-personry with his best friend, the Robot. Blaine is also a teacher, which means he gets paid in chickens rather than money.
His first book, Second Thoughts, an exploration of the intricacies of relationships and reality itself, was released in January of 2014. Readers can also learn more at his website, www.dentoandtherobot.com.
I originally came up with the idea for Second Thoughts when I was watching an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. If you’ve read the book, you know that the main character is named after Bruce Wayne and that he has a voice inside his head named Alfred. When I started thinking of the story, the original title was What Would Batman Do?
In the interest of not being sued by DC, I modified the story and title quite a bit as I went on. Ultimately the story evolved into an examination of what it’s like to have that nagging voice in the back of your head, the one that’s always pointing out what’s wrong with other people. Except this voice is actually its own person.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
What I enjoy most about writing is how meditative it is. Writing is a chance for me to just get out of my head, and tune out the outside world for a bit. I love being able to immerse myself in whatever story I’m working on, and to create something that people can have fun with. When I was a kid, my parents stopped buying me books because they said I read too much. I had to resort to re-reading the same books over and over again, and I hope that one day I can create works that can do the same thing for other people.
What authors have had the biggest influence on your life and writing?
I’ve been a reader my whole life so there’s a lot of authors I know have influenced me, but Terry Pratchett of the Discworld series is hands down the biggest influence. I love his ability to not only weave pop culture references into classic fantasy plots, but I also love how… creative he is. He literally built an entire universe within his mind and brought it to life with its own lore and a plethora of unique characters.
How did your podcast come about?
Denton and The Robot’s origin story started way back in 2008, when I first started listening to podcasts. I always thought the idea was cool — just a couple of people talking about their passions. No scripts, no worries about what’s appropriate, just people doing what they love. I listened to countless shows, but it wasn’t until I stumbled across Smodcast (Kevin Smith’s show) that I began to get ideas. A big portion of Smith’s work is centered around inspiring others to be creative. He’s also very open about how the show started as a way for him and his best friend to stay in touch with each other.
Now, that didn’t make me get off my ass and do anything until I started listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast. Joe Rogan is actually a pretty smart dude, but when I first came across his show I only knew him as the Fear Factor guy. I thought if he could do it, then anyone could! So I called up my best friend and Dento and the Robot was born.
We’ve gone through many iterations of our show, but now we focus on a fun little game called the “Fill in the Headline Game,” and then we discuss what we’re doing to improve ourselves as relatively young adults in the real world.
As a relatively young adult in the real world, what are your primary self-improvement goals?
My goals for self-improvement are pretty simple, but they’re centered around “the most adult thing” I do in any week (which is a segment on our show). Really, I just try to stay reflective about my life and my choices so that I can honestly assess the direction I’m headed.
I strive to make sure that I’m always improving something about myself that week, whether that be my professional skills, diet, interpersonal relationships, etc.
What childhood memories make you feel most nostalgic?
This is a tough question because there are so many different answers.
First off, I miss my first dog, Trapper. He was pretty stupid and would regularly have his food stolen by neighborhood cats… but he was loyal and he loved me no matter what, so he’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
I also miss just being able to read for hours at a time and not having to worry about work, bills, and the outside world. There’s a lot of great things about being an independent adult, but I miss some of the freedom from childhood.
What would you do with your life if you knew you couldn’t fail?
It might be cheesy to say, but I’m kind of already doing it. I’m writing, teaching, doing martial arts and working on my podcast. I’m young and don’t have too much in they way of crippling responsibilities so I figure now is as good a time as any to pursue my passions, and my dreams.
With the way that technology has developed, it is so much easier to be a creative person and to try and reach an audience so really…. we can’t fail. If you make work that you enjoy and you put it out there, then eventually you’ll find people who appreciate it. If you have creative aspirations, then now’s the time to pursue them!
But… If I really knew I couldn’t fail, then I’d go buy a lottery ticket.
Who’s your favorite Batman villain?
Oooh, that’s a great question. I feel like the easy answer is the Joker, so I won’t say that. I really enjoy Mr. Freeze from The Animated Series — specifically, in the episode “Heart Of Ice.” His motivations there were just so well-developed and it hit all the cheesy elements with regards to humanizing him. I’ll try not to get too much into the episode since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who (somehow) hasn’t seen it. But he’s a pretty under-utilized villain, so maybe I’m just a fan of the underdog.
What would it take for you to call your writing career a success? Are you there already?
In an ideal world, I would love to make a living off of my writing. I would still substitute teach since writing only takes up so much time in a day but it would be awesome to have the freedom to only take the jobs I want. I’m not there yet, but I plan to keep working towards it. I don’t need a lavish lifestyle either, so it could be on the horizon.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I have a book in the second round of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest so I’m waiting to hear back on that. The novel is a sci-fi space opera called Emergence. I’ve also finished the first draft of my young adult novel called (for now) Outcast. I’m also working on the sequel to Emergence.
And as always, I’m working on my podcast Dento and the Robot!