|Dan Walsh and wife Cindi|
Anne: Today's interview is with one terrific author, Dan Walsh. If you've read anything by him, you will know what I mean. I reviewed one of his books yesterday, a murder mystery/suspense called When Night Comes. If you want to read the review, click HERE. Now, Dan, this inquiring mind wants to know--what gave you the inspiration for When Night Comes?
Dan: I actually got the idea for this book back in the mid-90s and made it the subject of my first, unpublished book (I wrote it way before The Unfinished Gift). The book was unpublished for a reason. It was over 600 pages long, the plot moved way too slow and was overly complex. But I loved the concept and felt the story itself was solid. I’ve always loved studying history and have often spent time trying to imagine what it would be like to go back in time and see historic events firsthand. During one of these day dreams, I got the idea for this book. It has elements of time travel involved, but it is definitely not your typical time travel book.
Two years ago, I pitched the story to Revell. They loved the idea but felt that it stretched my “Nicholas Sparks” brand too much. Last year, I decided with all that’s happening in the publishing world, and this new shift toward indie books, it was a good time to dig it out. I rewrote it last summer, taking advantage of all the things I’ve learned about writing since the mid-90s.
Anne: We must be related; I did pretty much the same thing with mine (started writing it years ago). You're well known for writing romances, and though this has that thread, I wouldn't call it a romance. Is there a reason you added this genre?
Dan: I guess the main reason I wrote When Night Comes as a true suspense novel is that I love to read and write in both genres. And now I have the freedom to. I’ve always loved suspense novels and most of my readers can easily see I include a great deal of suspense even in my novels where the romantic thread is more pronounced. But traditional publishing houses rarely allow their authors to write in more than one genre. The belief is that readers only want to read one kind of book (or want you to write one kind of book). But I’m not like that as a reader. Usually, I go through seasons where I want to read a certain kind of book for a while, then I’ll shift to another kind of book. Judging by the response to When Night Comes, and the sales, it would seem I’m not alone. My plan is to write both kinds of books in the days ahead (I’ve already roughed out a sequel).
Anne: I'm happy to hear that--I'd love to read the sequel too! I love the character development in this book. Do you do character sketches before you begin writing your manuscripts?
Dan: I don’t. Although a lot of my author friends do. For them, it really helps if they get to know their characters fully before they start to write. My characters come to life more organically, I guess. As I’m developing the story, I’ll get a good sense of the main characters, but I don’t really know them well. Somewhere in the first 50-75 pages they come to life for me. They move from shallow 2D made-up characters to real 3D people. Once that happens, I go back and make any needed changes in the first part of the book, then continue to write the rest of the book letting them be who they are.
Anne: Ditto here yet again. One thing I'm always curious about: Are you a panster or a plotter?
Dan: I guess my writing has elements of both, but I definitely lean more towards a “pantser.” I do take the time to create a detailed synopsis (maybe 4-5 pages). For me, that’s where the story gets created and the main characters begin to emerge. I think the whole thing through, even the ending. But it comes out as more of a story than an outline. When I can answer the question, “what’s the story about?” in about 10 minutes and have you on the edge of your seat when I’m done, I know I’m ready to start writing the book.
Anne: Hm. I'll have to try that. How long does it usually take you to write a complete ms?
Dan: Since I started writing full-time in 2010, I usually finish the manuscript in four to five months. It takes about another three or four weeks to clean it up. I don’t do a quick first draft, then go back and do a major rewrite. I clean up and edit as I go, so that when I’m done it’s really about ninety percent ready to go.
Anne: You've written fifteen novels (if I counted right); which is your favorite, and why?
Dan: Since I spend almost six months on each book, I get heavily invested, even emotionally, in the story and the characters. It’s pretty hard to pick out one that’s a true favorite. Guess it’s kind of like asking me which of my kids do I like best. But if I had to pick one, it might be The Reunion. Since its release, it’s had over four hundred customer reviews on Amazon, the overwhelming majority are five stars. I especially love reading the ones written by military vets or their families. I wrote the last fifty pages of the book in tears and it seems most readers are impacted the same way (it’s a good cry, though, not a sad one).
Anne: Would you like to tell us about what's next on your publishing plate?
Dan: I’ve just finished the first book in a new trilogy, called Rescuing Finley. These books will be more on-brand with my Sparks-type novels, but will include a great deal of suspense. Finley is a dog. A dog will be a main character in each of these 3 books, but they will also include love stories and lots of relational drama. My wife is a certified dog trainer and an expert in dog behavior (seriously, she could have her own TV show). She will be helping me get all the dog parts right. Finley is a shelter dog who winds up rescuing the female inmate who trains him (a former meth addict) and the Afghan war vet who adopts him (he is wrestling with PTSD). And they might just fall in love.
I’m not sure of its release date yet, but I hope it’s in 2015. I’m exploring whether to release it as an indie book or sign with Amazon to publish it (why the release date is still unclear).
If Readers want to find me on the Internet:
Probably the easiest thing is just to visit my website, check out my homepage. There are buttons there to connect to my blog, send me an email, or follow me on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest. They can find me at: http://www.danwalshbooks.com.
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 15 novels including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery, and When Night Comes. He’s been a finalist for six Carol Awards and won three, the winner of three Selah Awards, and three of his books have been finalists for Romantic Time’s Inspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers International, Dan writes full time in the Daytona Beach area. He and his wife Cindi have been married thirty-eight years and have two grown children and two grandchildren. You can find out more about his books or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Pinterest from his website at http://www.danwalshbooks.com.
Anne: I don't know about the rest of your readers, Dan Walsh, but I am totally impressed. Thank you so much for being here today, and may God give wings to your fingers!