An Interview with Action-Adventure and Fantasy Author David Wood
Welcome to Up Around the Corner, David. Please, tell us a little about yourself and your writing:
I’m a father of two, teacher by day, author by night. Under my “real” name, I write action-adventure novels with a bit of an Indiana Jones flavor. Under my pen name, David Debord, I am the author of the fantasy series, The Absent Gods. When I need a break from writing, I coach youth sports and co-host the ThrillerCast podcast (No, it’s not about Michael Jackson) with friend and author, Alan Baxter.
Can you tell us a little about your action-adventure novels, and why you decided to author them using your “real” name, unlike with your fantasy series?
My action-adventure novels feature two former Navy SEALs who keep finding themselves caught up in searches for an artifact of religious or historical significance. I describe them as Clive Cussler meets National Treasure meets Indiana Jones. I think I chose to use my real name because deep down I feared no one but friends and family would read my books, and I wanted to make them easy to find. Fortunately, that has not turned out to be the case at all. By the time I completed The Silver Serpent, the first Absent Gods novel, I had gained a following in the thriller genre, and didn’t want to create any confusion. Consequently, I went with Debord, my maternal grandfather’s surname, to retain a family connection.
Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for the locations and artifacts in your action-adventure novels?
Locations are usually a mix of places I’ve visited and places I’d like to visit. I chose most of the sites included in Cibola while my wife and I were on our 10th anniversary trip to the American Southwest. As far as the artifacts go, it’s a mixed bag. The central artifact in Dourado was inspired by a single Bible verse I stumbled across. In Cibola, the artifact that sets the plot in motion was inspired by a brief article about the discovery of an old Spanish outpost, and I let my imagination run wild from there. The book in-progress is a bit different. It was inspired by a book on the psychology of killing, and worked backward, asking “what if” questions until I came up with a MacGuffin that could work for what I had planned.
You indicated, you’re a teacher. Do your students know you’re an author? If so, has your experience as a writer and published author in any way impacted how you teach—has it affected how you approach reading and writing in the classroom?
I didn’t say anything about it for a long time, but I kept copies of my first David Debord book in my classroom library. One day, a student picked it up and said, “Cool! My dad has this book!” I couldn’t resist admitting that I had written it. After that, the word spread quickly. Now most of my students already know about me before they get to my classroom at the beginning of a school year. I now co-sponsor the Authors’ Club at school, and the fact that I write seems to encourage and inspire my students. In the classroom, I think it buys me a little extra credibility in the minds of student and parents alike. I think being a writer actually made it harder for me to teach writing. It’s difficult to teach someone how to do something that you do so naturally that you don’t really know how you do it. It forced me to dissect the writing process and understand what it was I was doing. That made me a better teacher and also a better writer.
The student must have picked up your first novel in The Absent Gods series, The Silver Serpent. What is the series about and what age range would enjoy reading it, and your action-adventure novels?
In The Absent Gods, I explore the concept of what happens when the thing you want most in the world, and the fate for which you are destined, are at odds? The story begins with the classic motif of the dissatisfied young people in a remote village who get caught up in what seems to be a traditional quest story, but it soon becomes much more. The book is geared toward adults, but teens would enjoy it as well. The same is true of my action-adventure novels.
Taking a wide view of writing and being a published author, what is one bit of advice that you would like to share with other writers, especially those early in their career or seeking to get their first novel published?
Being a writer is both a wonderful endeavor and a lonely one, and it’s important to have a support system. The internet makes it very easy to connect with other writers. Depending on where you are in the process, you might want to join an online critique group, meet other writers who are seeking representation or publication, or self-publishing. Just don’t make the mistake of spending all your time online visiting writing-related sites, listening to podcasts, and not actually getting around to writing.