Wednesday, June 3, 2015

InfoBarrel Author of the Week: Vic Dillinger

When I mentioned in InfoBarrel's forum that I wanted to do this series, I was hoping Vic Dillinger would volunteer to be interviewed. Instead, he suggested a few other writers. One of them was someone I already had in mind. So, I just straight-out asked Vic and he said yes.

Hey, does anyone else see the resemblance?

InfoBarrel Author Vic Dillinger Looks Like Actor Patrick Swayze
Left image provided by Vic Dillinger (June 3rd, 2015) | Right photo of Patrick Swayze by Alan Light (CC-by-2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The day after I joined InfoBarrel, I read Vic Dillinger's article Aileen Wuornos: Damaged and Deadly. Since I thoroughly enjoyed Charlize Theron's performance in the 2003 film Monster, I felt reasonably confident that I could muster up a meaningful comment.

Well, I was completely immersed in Vic's account of her life. It was nothing like any fluffy superficial film review. He presented a depth of research that didn't become clinical. I was amazed the way he maintained a human, personal perspective while he recounted her troubled life.

It was like fine dining, I savoured every paragraph and I hung on every word.

Since that first article, I've read several of Vic's pieces. One which had a lasting impression on me (for days) was his article Most Conspicuous Courage of the Indian Princess Spy, Noor Inayat Khan.

I'm ashamed to say I didn't know anything about this woman until I read his piece.

And rarely, when I read history articles, am I impressed with how women are depicted. Vic proved to me how compassionate and respectful a male author can be. It was refreshing.

On a Fun Note

Whenever spammers post in InfoBarrel's forum, I wait and see if Vic will 'tell them where to go.' I've adopted his catch-all phrase "jackhole" to describe them now.

Without Further Ado 

I present to you my interview with Vic Dillinger. I was pleasantly surprised that he answered all of my questions (even the naughty one).

Writing-related questions:

Q: Tell me, what you enjoy most about writing online?

A: Interestingly enough, while I like the creative process involving research and composition, I actually enjoy more the "building" of the article done in the upload process, integrating videos, working on doing the artwork (if that's what's included), regular images, etc., ya know . . . the layout process. I like the assembling. And, sometimes, when I'm done I'm amazed at how nice stuff looks (mostly).

I also like the fact that a lot of my material has been cited by people writing e-books and articles elsewhere; makes me feel good to know my material is credible and trustworthy enough for citations (one woman with a teaching site used a piece I wrote as a guide for a lesson on folklore and folk song history for her students).

Q: Okay, what do you dislike most about writing online?

A: A few things bug me. I hate when scrapers steal my stuff and in broken English try to make it look like some "original" work of theirs. I spend a lot of time on my writing; I don't think someone else who merely copies-and-pastes should be benefiting from my labors. It doesn't happen often, and I've been pretty successful in shutting most of them down, but it still irks me.

I also hate spinners and people who specifically write keyword-stuffed junk just to get views via the SEO process. They are not writers, they are hacks and grub worms. One can write a good, SEO-friendly article and have it be informative and/or entertaining without resorting to such lame tactics as unnecessary repetition of keywords or awkwardly contrived phrasing just to generate visibility on a search engine. Write well or don't write at all – the Interweb has enough garbage on it and doesn't need more of the same.

Another "dislike" is in researching online – trying to find quality source material is often very difficult and frustrating (which is why I am grateful that I have an extensive home library that provides me with much resource material). A lot of what is online is poorly researched, incomplete, or goes by hearsay or what is commonly believed about a subject (and presents that as fact). In some few cases, my work on a particular topic is what ends up as the most complete and authoritative on that subject thanks to the dearth of decent material available "out there".

My final annoyance has to do with the expanded role social media has in ranking of articles and other online content. Just because something is popular (with "x" number of "likes" or "re-tweets", for example) doesn't necessarily mean it is good. [Just Bieber is popular. Is he good? In a word, "No." In two words, "Hell, no!"] I've seen many "popular" pieces on a subject that are right there on the front page of a search result while something that is written ten times better with more "meat" in it is buried on page 4. That's because of social media – the sheeple don't always know what is good for them; hell, the masses will "like" damn near anything (read: Kim Kardashian).

Q: How did you end up on InfoBarrel?

A: I started writing creatively, for my own amusement, as a kid. Later, creative composition in high school was one of my favorite activities (in English or history classes, et al). Same in college. I had written several short stories back in the late 1970s through the late 1990s, and a novel (unpublished) in the early 1990s. I then wrote another novel in the mid Nineties, but only a few years ago bothered to do anything with it (it's a Kindle book now). Regardless, I always liked writing and the process of writing (whether it was pen or pencil on paper, a typewriter – for a few years – or today with a PC). 

An InfoBarrel writer (sound_foundation) got me started on IB, explaining what the site was about, how it worked, and how money could be made there. While it doesn't allow "total" creativity (you can't just write any old junk; it needs to be "content" writing which is far different than writing fiction) it does allow you to be creative within the parameters established. Thus, I can sometimes write comedic things that still fit the guidelines in letter and spirit as well as more serious and sobering articles.

Q: Do you have any weird (or helpful) writing rituals?

A: Neither of these things are probably so weird or unusual but I always gotta have a cuppa joe while I'm working. And I also have a kind of "cart-before-the-horse" process for online writing. I pick a subject and then I dig for images related to it first. Or, I make my own artwork that may symbolize the overall theme. The text then forms in my mind around the images I've selected. I compose in my head before I set one word to the page, and most of what I end up writing is roughly 75% complete in my brain before it gets printed.

Other than that I keep a steno pad handy to jot down ideas as they come to me and I make sketches as needed or write down key ideas or notes.

And I'm a believer in total immersion – if I'm working on a particular thing I want as much data as I can get about it, and I "live" that topic for as long as it takes to get it written and submitted. I like digging for the more obscure sources where I can find them, or reporting from firsthand experience where I can. So, when I was writing about French chanteuse France Gall I bought a CD of hers in addition to listening to a lot of her material online so I could better know her and her music. Writing about murders I'll dig into newspaper accounts where warranted. Things like that.

And I always make sure to wear my lucky socks.

Q: Is there some topic that you'd like to write about but haven't (and why)?

A: I get suggestions occasionally from people about things they think I should/could write about. While some of the subjects seem interesting (and I have acted upon a few of those suggetions) I simply don't have the time for everything that people put to me. My own WIP file is huge: I recently posted a piece that I'd been working on since mid 2014!

I wish I were perhaps more well-versed in philosophical musings ("meaning of life" stuff, etc.). While I've touched upon such ideas as part of a larger subject I've never tackled a tenet of, say, Schopenhauer and analyzed it. I simply don't feel qualified to do justice to something like that.

Q: If you could change one thing about the online world (Internet), what would it be?

A: I'd make it so a minimum standard of literacy was a requirement to upload anything on the web. I'm sick to death of seeing material fraught with grammatical and spelling errors and poorly composed material.

Something that sent me through the roof a few years ago was a craptacular article written about The Entity Case. At that time, it was the #1 item on that subject; it was a total piece of garbage that looked as if it had, maybe, been written by someone who dropped out of high school in his freshman year. Misspellings, sentences that didn't make sense, random interjections, grammar problems – it was (and still is) a hot mess. And yet that was the "top" piece on that subject.

Look, an occasional typo or word misuse I can understand, but it seems the majority of what I read online, regardless of source (even from some of the more "professional" sites such as The New York Times), contains myriad errors. It's disheartening, to say the least. It's demoralizing, to say more. And it's disgusting that we find that level of incompetence so easily overlooked and acceptable, to say the most.

Mixer and Kitchen Utensils
Photo by Steve Johnson on flickr (CC-by-2.0)

Back to you and your work:

Q: Three articles you are most proud of?

A: Wow, that's a toughy. Though they comprise more than three, my faves are all those in IB's "Why I am Madly in Love with [insert name here]" series.

And there are at least a dozen more things I like a lot, but narrow it down to three specific individual articles? I guess I'd go with the piece I did on Ronald Edwin Hunkeler (the faker who inspired The Exorcist), the one I did on serial killer Aileen Wuornos, and a more recent article on the chocolate diamond scam.

Q: Where can readers find you?

A: Though I have owned the domain name,, for years I haven't bothered to start my own site yet. Nor have I really made any commitment to "blogging" – who cares what I had for breakfast?

So, for now, I can be found only on InfoBarrel, HubPages, and seekyt (where I recently pulled old material entirely and will be putting new material on again soon). I review things on Amazon. I'm also on facebook, Google+, redgage, and twitter. And, finally, I do bad art on DeviantArt.

Q. Just how sexy are you Vic?

A: Very!!

Q: Are there any other writers on InfoBarrel you'd like to see interviewed? And if so, are there any questions you'd like me to ask him or her?

A: I'm liking what I'm seeing from Leigh Goessl, so she would be a good one. Also, Moina-Arcee, he's posted some pretty good material, too. Just make sure to ask 'em their shoe sizes and how much I mean to them (tee-hee).


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Mmm, I like that setting. Although, on the beach (even with a blanket) is not ideal. Sand tends to get into places that you wouldn't think of.

    2. Sandy beaches--definitely not good places for getting foreign substances in delicate parts.

  2. I never got to comment on this but Vic is one of my favorites! I have to agree that I dislike the social media aspect of promoting article. If Google let the cream rise to the top, it would be unnecessary.

    1. Well I have Vic to thank for starting the ball rolling with this interview series. So I too, owe him. I used to have to look through 10 pages of garbage on Google; now it's 3 or 4 pages. Perhaps it's getting better? Thanks for dropping by and commenting Hannah. Take good care, Rose

  3. I loved this interview. I also have to say that I read the novel that Vic wrote and thought it was fascinating and thought-provoking. Great interview!

  4. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. For sure, Vic is one of the most fascinating people I've ever come across (or read the work of) online. I'll bet his book was hard to put down.