Welcome to Up Around the Corner, David. Since this is your second interview, we’re going to take a little different angel. In any case, please refresh the readers with a little about yourself, your writing and your podcast.
Sure. I’m the author of the Dane Maddock Adventures- a series that’s a little bit Indiana Jones and a little bit National Treasure. I also write young adult fiction plus fantasy novels under a pseudonym. Since my wife doesn’t want to listen to me talk about writing, I co-host ThrillerCast, a podcast about reading, writing, and publishing in thriller and genre fiction.
I am guessing then, that your wife doesn’t tune in to your podcast. In any case can you tell us a little more about ThrillerCast? Why you started it, how you produce it, and what listeners might expect if they give it a try?
Definitely not. She supports the idea of me podcasting but thinks it’s incredibly geeky, which is interesting coming from a science nerd. My co-host, Alan Baxter, and I started ThrillerCast mostly because we enjoy podcasting and wanted to be a part of it, though we try to make it clear that we are authors who podcast as a hobby—not podcasters who happen to have written books.
Our goal with ThrillerCast is to introduce readers to a wide variety of subgenres that have common “thriller” elements. We cover everything from hyper-realistic thrillers to Neil Gaiman-style urban fantasy, and we interview authors from all those different subgenres. A typical episode begins with discussion of something current in the publishing industry and announcements of any new releases that might be of interest to our listeners. We then take a break, after which we’ll either have an interview or we’ll take an in-depth look at some aspect of the craft of writing. Make sure to listen all the way through the closing credits because we almost always have a blooper or outtake at the end!
Your wife is a science nerd. Does her science interest(s) tie into her career? And do you avoid discussing her job as she does your writing and podcasting? Or might her geeky science interests and her career ever get reflected in the contents of your writing?
There aren’t many limits to what we’ll discuss on ThrillerCast, so her job garners the occasional mention, mostly in the context of, “I’m so glad I don’t have her job.” She’s a forensic scientist in the DNA section of the state crime lab, and I’m very proud of the work she does. She’s actually answered questions for other authors on topics that relate to forensics. For me, the biggest impact her work has had on my writing is to teach me that it’s important to really know your stuff if you’re going to go into detail. She loves crime and thriller fiction, and is forgiving to a point, but gets rowdy when the author goes too far afield on her topic.
I can understand your wife’s perspective on accuracy. You write thrillers, packed with travel, adventure including some creatures and places that are ‘mythical’ or based on tales or legends. How do you deal with this, with respect to accuracy?
With actual places, I try to be as close to reality as possible. I’ve visited many of the locations in my books, but I still use
Google street view,
YouTube videos, and images from the web to refresh my memory about small
details. With the legends and historical backdrops, it’s fascinating how often
you uncover minor details that fall perfectly into place. It’s always a
pleasant surprise and the reader thinks you planned it that way.
I do, however, reserve the right to make minor alterations to events and details for the sake of the story, and I’ve taken to adding a note to readers reminding them of that. I’d rather them be annoyed with me for playing with reality than having them think I didn’t do my research.
You have a new novel recently released, Buccaneer. Can you tell us a little about it, and what research you had to do in preparation to write it?
Buccaneer begins on
, home of the legendary “Money
Pit.” As with most Dane Maddock adventures, we end up on a globe-hopping
adventure while battling secret organizations, fighting “monsters,” and
unraveling ancient mysteries. I don’t want to spoil the book, so I won’t get
too specific, but I researched: Captain Kidd, Oak Island Oak
Island, several locations on both
sides of the Atlantic, a well-known order, myths
surrounding a certain legendary figure, and several types of reptiles.
That sounds like quite an array of topics. How much time would you estimate it took to do the research for Buccaneer? Do you do much of the research for your novels ahead of time, most of it as you go, or is there a middle ground? And, as Buccaneer is your 5th Dane Maddock novel, are you getting more efficient/faster at it?
That’s difficult to measure. I’m always collecting links and information that might work for future novels. Once I’m ready to start, I spend about a week researching the historical backdrop, the MacGuffin (the object that drives the story) and the settings of the first few scenes. After that, I let the story take me where it leads and I stop to research as needed.
Buccaneer got off to a rocky start. I’m a discovery writer by nature, but I tried to research and outline the entire book ahead of time. It didn’t work, and I ended up scrapping a good chunk of the book and started over. Once I rebooted, it did go faster than previous novels. I know the characters so intimately that it’s easier to know how they will react in given situations. Also, as they become more “real” to me, they will sometimes take the story in surprising directions.
When you say you’re a discovery writer, does that mean you know where the story will start, the MacGuffin, and a few places it’s likely to ‘drive’ the characters? Do you know the ending, or have a good feel for it? Or is that part of the discovery process?
I know the historical backdrop, the MacGuffins, the enemy, the creepy creatures the heroes will encounter, and have a short list of cool places they might go, though I reserve the right to change my mind. I always know where they’ll start, and what the “inciting incident” that sets the plot in motion will be. I usually have only a general idea of how things will end. I figure, if I can surprise myself, I’ll surprise the readers. Doing it that way can sometimes mean adding or changing early scenes when I go back to work on the second draft, so I keep a running list of changes that need to be made when it’s time to revise. I never go back and make those changes before I finish the first draft, though, because who knows what other changes I’ll make along the way that impact those revisions? It can make the second draft a little more work, but it’s what works for me.
Can you tell the readers what you find the most exciting and the most frustrating as a writer?
I think nothing excites me more than to hear from a reader who enjoys my work. The idea that someone reads and enjoys my stories thrills me, and for someone to take the time to write and let me know is both a delightful and humbling experience.
As far as frustration goes, I think the “mushy middle” of any book drives me mad. There’s always the thrill of starting a new story, and the high of finishing it, but there’s always a point in the middle where I hit roadblocks, experience doubts, or both. It’s like the sophomore year of college, which I hated so much I did it four times.
A final two questions before we wrap up this interview. How do you push through roadblocks and doubts? And, what’s your favorite food and have you ever incorporated it into one of your novels?
It depends on the roadblock. If it’s a plot problem, a long walk or drive, or some kind of project around the house that lets my mind wander will usually do the trick. In those circumstances, I find it helps if I get the headphones out of my ears and just let my mind drift. If it’s more of an emotional or mental issue, I just plow on through.
I don't think I can possibly pick a favorite food- I like too many of them. Dane Maddock readers might recognize my favorite beer, Dos Equis black label, as Dane’s beer of choice as well as that of his crew.
Is there anything I missed or that you’d like to say to the readers?
I’m part of a new project called Thriller Central. It’s a reader-focused site for reviews, interviews, and news in the thriller genre. Check it out at www.thrillercentral.org
Thanks for the chat!
You’re welcome, David. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.
To learn a little more about David Wood and his writing, visit his website: http://davidwoodweb.com/`