Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview With Author Dan Walsh

Retired pastor Dan Walsh is a prolific and award-winning author.  His latest book, The Discovery, is already garnering great reviews. I thought you’d like to get to know him, so I’ve asked him to stop by Random Jottings today. Here's an introduction to this prolific and excellent writer.
          Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 7 novels, published by Revell and Guideposts, including The Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Discovery. For those who haven’t read Dan’s books, reviewers often compare them to Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and CWG’s Word Weavers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years and now writes full time. He and his wife Cindi have been married 35 years and have 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren. They live in Port Orange, FL where Dan is busy researching and writing his next novel. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter, or read his blog. There are buttons to connect to these on his website.
RM: Dan, you served for a quarter of a century as pastor of the same church. How did that impact your writing? Have you ever used situations or people from those experiences in your books?
DW: Richard, great to be with you. Thanks for the invitation. A great question. As a preacher, I wasn’t much of a theologian (although I always endeavored to be accurate), but I was always a storyteller. I spent a good deal of my prep time looking for illustrations that would help the truths from Scripture connect well with my listeners. I suppose that helped me as a writer. Also, I figured out once that my sermons averaged 6-7,000 words each. And I prepared these about 48 times a year. That and the solitude needed to study, probably laid the groundwork for my life as an author these past few years. As to your 2nd question…I’m sure I have indirectly, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable “exposing” folks in my congregation in the pages of my stories (at least not in a way that anyone would be able to make the connection).
RM: Since your first contract, you’ve had books released at a rate most writers would find hard to maintain. How many books do you have out now, and how many contracted for the future? And do you find it difficult to write them at that pace?
DW: I wouldn’t be able to maintain this pace if I wasn’t writing full time. When I was still pastoring, I could finish a book in my spare time in about 8-9 months, which is what I did in 2008 through 2010. At the end of 2010, based on an increase in my next contract, we made the decision to go full time (something we had been praying about for 2-3 years, just didn’t know the “when.”). In 2011, I wrote 3 novels; two for Revell and one for Guideposts. That was a little rough. It wasn’t so much the writing itself, but all that goes into supporting a book’s release, as well as the rewrites and edits. We’ve settled on a plan to write 2 books a year for Revell through 2013. That’s a much more doable pace for me.
How many books do I have out now? The Discovery is my 5th for Revell, and there’s the one for Guideposts, which isn’t available in stores, only through their book-a-month club. So that makes it six books in print now. My 7th is another novel for Revell, called The Reunion, which is ready to go, set to release in September. And I’ve just finished my 8th book, the first novel I’m co-authoring with Gary Smalley, called The Dance. It won’t be out till this time next year. I have 5 more books contracted with them: 3 more with Gary, and 2 stand-alones of my own, including one more Christmas novel.
RM: Tell us a bit about your latest book, The Discovery.
DW: This past week, Revell did a blog tour for the book, where about 70 bloggers in the US and Canada reviewed it (most were very kind). Maybe I’ll paste in a summary written by one of them.
Michael Warner inherits his novelist grandfather's Charleston estate upon his death. His grandfather’s books sold in the millions. Instantly wealthy, he and his wife quit their jobs, move to Charleston, and Michael settles in to finally write his long-awaited first novel. After moving into the home, Michael discovers one final gift from his grandfather—an unpublished manuscript.

As Michael reads the incredibly emotional final story from his grandfather, he is swept away by the intrigue of German spies on American soil, an almost impossible romance, and life in Daytona Beach during World War II. The more Michael reads, the more he realizes that his grandfather may have been keeping some secrets of his own.
RM: And I understand that one of your projects involves co-authoring with Dr. Gary Smalley. Is co-writing difficult or just different?
DW: Because of who Gary is and what he’s like as a person, thankfully, this project is “just different.” I’ve really enjoyed working with him, developing this first book, the series storyline in general and now, several months later, finishing up that first novel. I’ve enjoyed just getting to know him as a man and consider this opportunity quite an honor. I’m actually the one coming up with the basic stories and writing the books, drawing from some of the most recent non-fiction marriage and relationship books Gary has written. Gary wanted it that way. He said he loves the way I write and didn’t want me to change a thing, in terms of style. We hammered out the plot together and, as I write, I send him 2 chapters at a time. He sends me any thoughts or comments within a day or so, and I incorporate them into the story as I go. Then at the end, he goes through the whole thing, giving me one final list of comments to put into play as I polish it up.
RM: And, as I always ask, any final words for my readers?
DW: Great spending some time with you. If you have any follow up questions based on things I’ve said, or anything else, feel free to ask them in a comment. I’ll check in throughout the day and try to answer them as best I can.
 Thanks, Dan. I look forward to reading The Discovery, and hope my readers will check it out as well.


Mocha with Linda said...

I enjoyed reading this, as I do all of Dan's books. I know it takes time to write books, but as a reader, it's always hard to wait an entire year or more between releases, so I'm thrilled that you are able to release two per year!

Richard Mabry said...

Linda, It's a dilemma for readers and writers alike. It's tough to write a book in six months, but equally tough for a reader to wait a year between books. As the line from The King and I goes, "Tis a puzzlement."
Thanks for your comment.

S. Kim Henson said...

Great interview. Thanks. Also, I'd like to subscribe to this blog but I can't figure out how. Do you have easy directions for those of us (me) who are sort of techie challenged? Some blogs are so easy, just hit subscribe and type an email address but that's not working here. Thanks!

Richard Mabry said...

Kim, thanks for your comment. If you look along the right side of the blog, you'll see a tab that says "subscribe to this blog." When you click on it, you'll get a number of options to have each new post sent to you. If that doesn't work, for some reason, please email me at Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com and I'll see if techno-challenged me can fix it.

Dan Walsh said...

It's always fascinating to consider how much time and effort goes into the finished work of a published book, and how quickly it can be devoured by an avid reader.

I take 6 months to write my books, some authors 8-9 months, others an entire year. Oddly, our goal is that once a reader picks up our book they "can't put it down." We love it when a reader or reviewer calls our novel a real-page turner, or when someone tells me they read the whole book in 1 or 2 sittings.

But it's also a strange feeling to think all that time and effort can be consumed in a matter of hours.

What do you think about this, Richard?

Richard Mabry said...

Dan, I agree. I've been up against that problem, and it's been intensified recently. My first four novels came out at six month intervals. Having moved to a new publisher, my next book isn't due out until early 2013. After that, they'll be published at 9 month intervals.
It seems that no matter how quickly we write them, it's not quick enough--but for an author, the pressure to meet each deadline can be a killer.