David Drayer Explains His Life As a Writer
(Pictured above: Local Author David Drayer talks about his life as a writer at Clarion Rotary.)
Drayer’s journey from Rimersburg to earning a BA from Pitt to an MFA from the University of Iowa to living and working all over the United States has helped generate a unique perspective in writing his books.
Drayer has five published books, including his latest, a Novella called Attraction which was recently optioned by Paperclip Pictures for a film adaptation.
Last week Drayer talked with the Clarion Rotary Club about his life as a writer and his travels throughout the country.
“I grew up in Rimersburg and writing and storytelling are extremely important. This sort of discourse has driven me. When I was a kid, I think I just wanted to be rich and famous and that was supposed to have happened by now. So, I’m a little disappointed about that, but I have done a lot of cool things. It has opened my mind, opened my life in so many ways that passion drives me; it keeps me curious.
“As a writer, you pretty much have to know a little bit about everything. That’s kind of funny because when I set out to be a writer, I wasn’t going to go to college. I thought high school would be enough.”
Drayer didn’t have an interest in college or the money for it. However, he started in a community college in Pittsburgh, and as soon as he started attending classes, he quickly realized there were some pretty big holes in his knowledge. Community college opened his eyes and it was a “fantastic” vision.
After one semester, he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh for a BA degree and then earned his master’s degree at the University of Iowa.
Since then, he has been living the life of a writer.
“It’s been just a great thing and given me a lot of perspectives. It gives me empathy when I write fiction. I always try to write through the eyes of the character of whoever I’m creating and try to create them as honestly as I can never with an agenda.”
Drayer told Rotarians that he has always had a day job to allow the writing. Jobs have included substitute teaching in local schools, construction worker, English professor, landscaper, ghostwriter (and written about ghosts), corporate trainer, actor in plays and movies, pool cleaner and property sitter in the Hamptons, and instructional designer.
According to his official Amazon biography, “Drayer has a penchant for impromptu, open-ended motorcycles trips, long hikes, and good food.”
The many day jobs continue to follow him throughout his life. He recounted one job that he held after getting his MFA in Iowa.
“When I got my master’s degree, I didn’t have the money to leave Iowa, so I had to work harvest season. I was wondering if this was a premonition of things to come.”
One of Drayer’s wildest adventures was making the movie Sammyville in Oregon. He co-wrote it with a friend and played a lead in the movie. Sammyville is a real place nestled in the backwoods of Oregon. Sammyville, the movie, is a story told against the backdrop of this real-life outlaw town.
“Sheriff Sam Horrell ‘owned’ Sammyville in 1999, and no one comes or goes without his permission,” according to the movie description. He is judge, jury, and executioner; in his own words, he is “the Law” in Sammyville.
“Sam was thrilled that we were going to make a movie about him after we tracked him down. He questioned why a couple of LA guys wanted to make such a movie, and I told him we weren’t LA guys; we were Rimersburg guys. We hung out with him after that and got to know him.”
The movie plot involved a dedicated social worker looking for a kidnapped child. She tries to enlist the local sheriff and doesn’t get very far. Then, she meets up with a young man whose parents entered Sammyville many years ago but never came out.
The movie was played on Netflix at one time and can be purchased online.
Drayer’s first book, Strip Cuts, was published in 2000 and is so far his bestselling book. The book spans seven years in Cherry Run, Pa., beginning with and centering around Seth Hardy, a young man struggling to come to his own despite a dreaded nickname and low expectations of those around him.
“I do miss the physical bookstores like the Book Nook in Clarion where the book sold out many cartons. All of my books have done really well, but getting them out there and making a living as a writer is extremely difficult.”
A love story that challenges definitions of love. When struggling writer Seth Hardy accepts a teaching position at a college championing his novel, he discovers he has a gift for inspiring students. None more than Kerri Engel, a brilliant but troubled young woman determined to get her professor’s attention. What follows is an intense, sensual affair that is as tender as it is shocking and all consuming.
A Noble Story
The narrator of A Noble Story is a man whose dreams have faded and who zombie-walks through meaningless workdays, drinks himself to sleep each night, and keeps company with the ghosts of his past.
Wayward Son: Travels and Reflections
What are the things you will never regret doing? This collection of blog posts and newspaper columns of the Leader-Vindicator was written during his time back in western Pennsylvania and while traveling around the country.
Attachment is a 2021 self-published Novella recently optioned by Paperclip Pictures for a film adaptation.
According to Drayer, Attachment is a psychological horror story, based on a story of a disembodied spirit attaching itself to a person, a story which had been in his mind for years before he put it on paper.
“I once dated a woman who told me she knew someone that had happened to. I thought she was kidding at first, but she was very serious,” Drayer said.
“I started doing some research, and it turns out many people believe this happens. As a writer, my mind was reeling. I interviewed mediums and people who claim to have experienced such a thing.”
Drayer still has strong family connections with Rimersburg, but he may again have to leave for LA if Attachment is produced, to work on the movie. Options are often made with no guarantee that the movie will be produced and said he isn’t quite ready to break out the champagne glasses, but he is hopeful.
Whatever happens, we can rest assured that David Drayer will keep busy.
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