Photo © Brigit Cann.
Dana Cann in the author of the novel, Ghosts of Bergen County (Tin House Books). His short stories have been published in The Sun, The Massachusetts Review, The Gettysburg Review, Barrelhouse, Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Florida Review, and Blackbird, among other journals. He has received fellowships from the Maryland State Arts Council, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Dana earned his M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, where he also teaches fiction workshops at The Writer’s Center.
What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?
I’m currently reading Crash Course, Robin Black’s essay collection about writing and life. My to-be- read pile is high and growing. At the top are Bill Beverly’s crime novel Dodgers and Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.
Where do you go to get inspired?
I go to the unconscious, uncontrolled, and uncontained parts of my memory: my dreams are vivid, strange, and inspirational.
What's something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?
The support I’ve received from friends and family for my novel’s release is beyond anything I could have imagined. Some traveled hundreds, even thousands, of miles to attend my readings. They showed up without telling me they were coming. It was like a surprise party. I’m amazed by their generosity.
Where do you write?
At home I seek someplace quiet, which is increasingly hard to find as my kids have grown older. I’m usually up before everyone, and write in the dining room. If it’s nice outside, I might move to the back porch. If there’s too much going on at home, I write at the library or a coffee shop; cacophony works when it’s not in my own home. Every few years I’ll get lucky and go away for a few weeks to an artist colony where I’ll get a ton of work done.
What/who makes you laugh? Why?
My family makes me laugh. It’s been fun to see my kids develop humor over the years from silly knock-knock jokes to sophisticated sarcasm. In terms of writers, George Saunders makes me “giggle like a schoolgirl,” as my wife has observed.
Favorite fictional character ever?
Quoyle from Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News is a wonderfully befuddled Antihero.
What do you want readers to know about you and your books?
I aim to write books with well-developed characters, striking language, and compelling plots. All three. I don’t want any one element to take a backseat to another.
What are you working on?
A couple of longer projects. The more promising one (for the moment) takes place fifty years in the future. A Christian, reality-TV star loses his faith amid the collapse of America.
"Ghosts of Bergen County is a tough, compassionate book by a writer with a keen sense of what makes us human, and what makes us, at times, wish we weren't. As a novel, it's excellent; as a meditation on grief, it's stunningly perceptive."
"Most novels set during the financial crisis never leave Lower Manhattan. But Dana Cann’s debut novel, Ghosts of Bergen County, flits between New York City and suburban New Jersey in the summer of 2007.... The result is a chilling, moving exploration of loss, doubt, and addiction."
—Chicago Review of Books (Indie fiction pick for April 2016)
"Perfectly balanced prose... Absorbingly written, this will appeal to readers of literary fiction as well as high-end mystery."