Interview with Author and Filmmaker Justin DiPego
Wrongside Of A Working Man is a ground-breaking modern-day adult illustrated fantasy novel set in the contemporary world, in which Alex Cides wakes to find his wife has disappeared, his daughters fear him, and a mysterious curse has thrown him out of balance with the universe. Set in the underbelly of Los Angeles, Alex discovers that ten challenging tasks stand between him and a new start, or total destruction.
This modern-day mythic tale was written by author, filmmaker, and artist, Justin DiPego. A Los Angeles native, DiPego is the founder of DiPego Now Entertainment. Writer’s Life caught up with him for this exclusive interview.
Continue reading for an exclusive interview.
Could you tell us a little about your background?
At my heart, I am a storyteller. My father is a writer and my mother was too. With that in my DNA, I see writing as a job, but not a desk job. Stories must be sought out by experience and therefore almost everything is written. That means whether I was installing skylights in my years in the building trades, or training horses during my years as a wrangler and ranch hand, I have always been gathering stories.
What was the inspiration behind Wrong Side of a Workingman?
A lot of people will tell you they hate Los Angeles, but I love it. It’s a city of thousands of doors that conceal multiple worlds that many people never get to see. Back when I was installing skylights, I got to peek behind those doors and view some of those secret worlds, visiting as many as five homes and businesses a day across the Southland. As a way to visit an array of these hidden stories across a narrative, I conceived a modern retelling of the twelve labors of Hercules, that would take our hero on an adventure through the city, and uncover some of those stories.
How would you describe the book?
Wrong Side of a Workingman is definitely an adventure and modern urban fantasy. But when electrician, Alex Cides finds his wife is gone, his daughters fear him, he's lost his job and a mysterious curse has thrown him out of balance with the universe, it’s not just an adventure he must go on, it’s an exploration of LA's mythical underbelly and the cosmic forces that keep our reality in check.
What surprised you most about writing this novel?
That’s a great question. I did set out to write a modern adventure with mythic/cosmic overtones, but as the story developed I was surprised to find it exploring the nuances of living with chronic pain.
Is there a message you hope readers will take away from the book?
Themes of balance and equity run throughout the book, from a personal/interpersonal level, all the way up to a cosmic level. And whether you view the world through a lens of religion or spirituality or science, it all boils down to this: the measure of your strength (of a person, an organization, a country) is not who you can knock down, it’s who you can lift up.
You also have a film production company, can you tell us a bit about that?
On the film side, for most of my career, I’ve been a writer for hire, which means all my projects were under the auspices of other people. Then, on my YouTube channel, I sort of accidentally made a feature film about a DIYer (me) fixing up a 100-year-old haunted house. As that movie won some awards on the festival circuit I decided if I can do that by accident, I can do it on purpose. I started DiPego Now Entertainment as an avenue for me to expand my filmmaking to tell the stories I want to tell, and to gather a company of like-minded filmmakers to collaborate with.
Telling a story as a film is different than writing a book, do you prefer one medium over the other?
Film is my first love and most of my writing has been in screenplay form. That exercises my visual storytelling mind. As a filmmaker, I seek to tell stories that challenge expectations, creating adventures in mundane settings, a slice of life in a fantastic setting, or a peek behind the curtain to places that are normally invisible to the average person. But I love language and as a novelist, I get to do the same things, but also play with language and especially POV in ways that can enhance the storytelling as much as plot devices. I love dialogue and unreliable narrators. I really believe the opportunities and limitations of one medium are balanced out by the other.
Do you have any other projects you would like to share with us?
My last novel Seven o’Clock Man is another exploration of a hidden part of the city, in this case, a murder mystery set on LA’s Skid Row, where a possibly paranormal killer is hunting the homeless, and it’s down to one strung-out junkie to stop him. And of course, stay tuned for my follow-up to Wrong Side of a Workingman.
For more information on Justin please visit his website https://www.dipegonow.com/books.html