Dan is a writer with seven articles published in RC Jet International and one in Electric Flight magazine. He is a photographer with pictures published in RC Jet International, Fly RC, Electric Flight, and Model Airplane News magazine. His just completed his second full length novel, Luni327:Strangers at the Door, which continues the Lunar Age Series. He enjoys reading sci-fi and fantasy, following aviation and space events, and anything to do with Making, especially CNC machining and 3D printing. He loves to cook, hike with his wife, and fly RC Jets when ever he can.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I love to read and through the years I’ve occasionally had the urge to actually try writing something. But I always had a great job and was comfortable so nothing ever came of it. Then, a couple of years ago I was laid off. I put all of my effort into find a new job but just wasn’t getting anywhere.
I was reading a story one day and wasn’t very happy with it. The dialogue was stilted and full of grammar errors. I had several realizations that day. The first, was I had every confidence I could do at least as good a job as that author did and probably actually a do a much better job.
The second realization was, even though I didn’t like the book, the author still got paid. I had some experience writing magazine articles and that day I decided to parlay my experience writing for magazines into a full time career as a writer. The first book took a little less than a year to publish. The second is looking like it’s going to take six or seven months. I’m hoping I can do the third in about four months.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
I love technology. I love finding out what’s on the other side of the next hill. Science fiction typically deals with both those elements so I find it very satisfying to read.
3.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
My favorite thing about the book is it’s about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. So much of the science fiction I read these days have main characters that are far from ordinary. For example, the book I just started reading has the colonel in charge of the top special forces platoon on Earth as the main character. Even the lowest grunt in his platoon is very far from an ordinary guy on the street.
Don’t get me wrong, I love military science fiction stories. I also love stories where some kick ass hero goes in and rights the world’s wrongs. But I also believe variety is the spice of life and I equally love the stories where an ordinary person finds themselves in circumstances wildly beyond their norm.
That’s what I’ve tried to accomplish with my book, Luni327: The Journey Begins. Take some skilled but otherwise ordinary people and their kids and put them on a journey to live in one of the first Moon habitats.
4.Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
Here on Earth, he walks in and is kicked right out. Bryce Burns is fourteen so there’s nothing surprising about that. Where he lives on the Moon though, it’s a different story. He would have walked into Margarita Mamas, the only bar at the Northern Luna Habitat, with a delivery from CDB Farms. Kathy Hossenlopp, one of the six partners that founded the bar, would probably be managing the bar. She’d be delighted to see Bryce, especially since the delivery would contain some potatoes which just might be coaxed into turning into something alcoholic. The economics for a bar on the Moon aren’t very friendly to a bar owner. What little alcohol the bar gets from Earth comes in the form of powder which is always in short supply and mostly only affordable to the few well-heeled space tourist that find their way to the bar.
Which brings us back to Bryce and his delivery. The potatoes represent the future of the bar. CDB Farms has finally produced enough extra food for the Habitat so that some of the bounty can be set aside for fermenting. The other produce in the delivery will get turned into bar food which is something that goes a long way towards keeping the bills paid. So besides the fact that Bryce is a nice kid, Kathy will be nice to Bryce because his mom, Cheryl, the C in CDB Farms, is the boss at CDB Farms and it just wouldn’t do to get on the bad side of your only supplier.
Kathy will have a friendly chat with Bryce after he makes the delivery and then send him on his way. She’ll keep a close eye on things if one of those well healed tourist recognizes Bryce and wants to have a chat with him. The six kids that make up NLH High’s freshmen class are all minor celebrities thanks to the efforts of NASA’s publicity department. Bryce is perhaps the best known of the kids thanks to some additional exposure he’s had so every now and then someone recognizes him.
Kathy will allow a tourist to talk with Bryce for a few minutes as long as Bryce seems comfortable with it. If he looks uncomfortable she’ll intercede and shoo Bryce out of the bar, after all, it is a bar and she can’t have a kid hanging around the bar.
5.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
He’s a kid. He may be a smart kid and a little lucky but he’s not a genius and he doesn’t have super powers. He’s just normal. He has a crush on one of his classmates. Another classmate may or may not have a crush on him. He’s at the right place and the right time to see some interesting things and meet some cool people.
6.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
Writing books is an endurance race for most of us, not a sprint. On a good day, I can get about 2500 word done. The more important number is every day I write, I try to get at least 500 words down. Hopefully I can get more done but sometimes life gets in the way. That 500 words is only a fifth of what I can do when everything lines up but the point is things only line up occasionally. 500 words a day may be slow but it will get me there eventually and every day I write I know I’m making progress. Figure out what your minimum is and then stick to it.
7.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
For me the challenge is being okay with all the other things you have to do to be a successful author besides writing. What I’d like to be my highest priority is my writing. I really want to sit down every day and bang out as many words as possible so I can get that next book out as quickly as possible. The reality is I can’t do that. I need to promote the current book. I need to work out a marketing plan for the next book. I need to do research for the book I’m currently working on. So there’s days where I do a great job working on those things and I should feel good about the progress but I look at the word count for the day and feel depressed because it’s only a hundred words or so. When I have days like that I have to remind myself that everything counts. It all has to be done.
8.If you could change any one thing about your work, what would it be?
Sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake having Bryce be my leading character. I went with a boy because I’m a guy and once upon a time I was a boy. If I chose to write a book for market, it makes more sense to have the lead character a girl. Strong woman leads are popular right now. I think someone looking for that in my books will be disappointed by Bryce but will like Myra, Nina, and Ananyu.
9.If you could change any one thing about the writing industry, what would it be?
Being a writer is a lot like being a gold miner back in the gold rush days. You pay upfront for transportation out to the gold fields. You pay up front for tools, shelter, food, and a claim to work. Then you work your butt off and maybe if you are really lucky you strike it big. But if you’re just lucky, maybe you make enough to come out even and if you’re not lucky, you end up in debt despite the hard work you put into your effort.
As a writer, you pay any expenses upfront, work hard and take a risk. Then when you complete your work, you get to wait, usually months, before you get paid. For instance, I wrote a magazine article about an event back in September. I’ll get paid for it sometime within the next month when the magazine hits the newsstands. I published my first book on August 4th through Amazon, and I received my royalties from the first sales in August on October 29th. If I could change anything about the writing industry, it would be to make it be that services are paid when services are rendered like everybody else.
10.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Me being a published author of a novel today has a lot to do with the technological changes to the publishing industry that have allowed the growth of independent authors. That puts some limits on my advice to myself so if I could go back and talk to myself, instead of when I first started my previous attempts at writing, I’d choose to visit myself when I was first laid off.
I actually, very briefly, considered a career change to being an author but it was based on doing magazine articles instead of writing novels. A year after that, I decided to see if I could write a novel and then nine months after that I finally made the commitment to switch careers and become a full time author.
If I could go back now and talk to myself right after I had been laid off I’d tell myself to write a novel. It’s hard work, there’s way more involved to it than just putting words on a page, but it’s doable.
11.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
I have a desktop computer set up with two monitors. That lets me put up reference materials, if needed, on one screen and on my main screen I have Scrivener running. I really can’t imagine writing a book without Scrivener. The other tools just aren’t up to the task and maybe that’s why my previous efforts at writing never came to anything. The only other tool I have is a well-thumbed copy of Webster’s New World Dictionary that I keep sitting on my desk.
12.Describe your muse.
My muse is a night witch who wakes me up in the middle of the night when I’m sleeping soundly. She curses me with “What if?” and then fades off laughing. So then I lay there in bed trying to get back to sleep but my mind is wide awake thinking about “What if?” Sometimes, I just won’t have a clue and fall back to sleep. Other times, I may lay there for an hour and think of some key concept, that or I lay there for hours and build up a whole scene in my head complete with most of the dialog for the characters. Then I have to get up and drag myself down to my office where I can get it into the computer before I forget about it. If I’m really lucky, I can go back to bed then, lay my head down, and get some sleep before the alarm goes off.
13.If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
Michael Anderle would be my choice. He’s currently got his name on at least 96 books he either authored or co-authored. I’ve read some of those books and the stories are good so it’s not just a matter of quantity over quality. That’s all happened since November 2, 2015, which is the publication date for his first book, Death Becomes Her. If I could learn to bring out a book at even an eight of the pace he does, I’d be in really good shape.
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