Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Author Behind the Story - Dan Walsh

We are less than two weeks away from Christmas. Seems like Christmas was just about two weeks ago. They say time flies when you are having fun. I'm finding as I get older, time flies if you're having fun or not.

We are in the Christmas season...my favorite time of year, and in the words of Tiny Tim, "It is the best time of the year!" So, who better to showcase this month than a dear friend, fellow author, and Christmas novel guru, Dan Walsh!

Dan, welcome to my Author Behind the Story series! Give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Dan Walsh? 


I’m first off, a committed follower of Christ, married to the only woman I’ve ever loved for 42 years. 2 kids, 4 grandkids, 2 Dogs. I was a full-time pastor for 25 years then began writing full-time in 2010. I have 20 novels published. Love what I do.

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?


I knew I wanted to write novels from the 11th grade. But I experienced a radical conversion to Christ in my senior year. Life took me in a different direction (called to become a pastor at 19), but I never left my love of fiction. In 2008, more as a hobby idea, I took up fiction writing with a Christmas novel. After submitting The Unfinished Gift to a few agents for publishing, one of them instantly signed me and had a book deal with a major publisher within 2 months. My writing career kind of took off after that. That book went on to win some major awards and led to more writing contracts.
After my 3rd book, my publisher made me a deal I couldn’t refuse, and I left pastoring to write full-time. This year I released my 20th novel.

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.

Favorite Song of All-Time: You Are So Beautiful (I always think of Cindi)
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): There’s a tie with at least 2 books about WW2.
Favorite Bible Verse: Isaiah 26:3 “Thou will keep him in Perfect Peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
Favorite Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life (watch it every Christmas)
Favorite Actor or Actress: Jimmy Stewart
Favorite TV Show: Treasure of Oak Island (a sucker for buried treasure adventures)
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (a perfect book to me).
Favorite Author (other than you): Probably Jeff Shaara (written some amazing history novels)
Favorite Sport: Oddly MMA (like UFC). I know I shouldn’t like this.
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Sadly, I’ve long since shed having favorite teams (too many spoiled millionaires with bad attitudes). (Agreed)
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: Creative Writing
Favorite Subject Now: History
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Longnecker (Creative Writing teacher in 11th grade)
Favorite Time of the Year: Christmas, hands down
Favorite Place to Vacation: Charleston, SC (we’ve probably visited this city 20 times).
Favorite Drink: Egg Nog
Favorite Food: Pizza (though I love the occasional grilled steak, medium rare. (My kind of guy...my two favorites as well, although I like my steak medium well with a bit of a char on it)


If your life was a story, and you were the lead character, what kind of role would you play?


I would be the best friend of the great looking leading man, who winds up getting the best girl in the movie, because she realizes what she really wants is a relationship with a guy she can grow old with, who actually has some depth. And besides, he’s not terrible looking.

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?

I’m pretty good at a lot of things, but seem to only excel at writing. I am (or was) pretty good at basketball, surfing, golf, graphic arts, public speaking and singing (not a half-bad crooner).

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?

Yes. After serving faithfully at the same church for 25 years, a young man I had been training to take over for me in a few years came up with a scheme to get rid of me, pulled a coup after his scheme was complete and sprung it on me. We were heartbroken over this betrayal, but I wound up choosing to resign quietly rather than fight his corrupt ambition (which would destroy the church). Fortunately, around the same time my publisher was almost begging me to write full-time (and willing to pay enough for us to live on). Suddenly, God had made a “river in the desert.” We now look back at all this as mostly a good thing (“What men meant for evil, God meant for good”). I LOVE what I do now and, really, have never regretted the decision to start writing full-time. Had this terrible thing not happened, I’m not sure I’d have ever left the ministry and would have missed out on all the fascinating things that have happened since.

And we wonder why people are leaving the church...But God is bigger than all that, as your story has proven.

Do you have a crazy, interesting, behind-the-scenes story about the publishing world you’d like to tell your readers without boring them to death with industry gobbledygook?

Maybe it’s this…I’m surprised at how often when authors/writers are depicted on TV or in movies, they’re almost always wealthy beyond measure. They are ALL full-time, treated like big-time celebrities, have book signings with long lines of people, own beautiful cabins where they write on a lake or river. To my great shock, after getting my first publishing contract (with a big name Christian publisher), I couldn’t believe how small the advance was. My agent said it was actually pretty high for a first novel. People in my church kept asking, “So when are you going to buy that yacht.” I’d tell them, the truth is, we didn’t get near enough to buy a yacht or even a small boat. Really, just enough to remodel our kitchen (with us doing half the work). Readers have no idea that these “TV/Movie Authors” only represent about 1% of all published authors. 95% don’t earn near enough to write full-time.

Now you tell me...Could have used this information about ten years ago. I was hoping for The Muppets' "Right and Famous" contract. Ha! 

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

Truthfully, I am nothing like some of the brave, courageous characters I write about. I wouldn’t do MOST of the crazy/scary/dangerous things they do. For example, I LOVED surfing when I was young. But I’d never go out in some of these crazy big way locations myself. On a trip to Italy in 1998, we were on the autobahn (highway) in a car that could easily go 120-130 mph (and we wouldn’t get a ticket). The fastest I felt comfortable driving was 100 mph. But if I have to choose something (and I’m not proud of this), in high school before I got saved, on a drunken dare I went streaking on the beach at night (streaking was a big thing back then).

I suppose Ray Stevens would have been proud (Boogety-boogety). :-) However, for me, I'm having trouble with the mental pictures (as he shakes his head like an Etch-a-Sketch).

Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?

It’s a toss-up between my first The Unfinished Gift and my fifth, The Reunion. But I also seriously love at least 4-5 more almost as much. I wrote the first book because this wonderful idea for a story came to me one Christmas (just days after once again watching It’s a Wonderful Life and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). I wanted to write a story that at least had the potential of affecting people the way those Christmas stories affected me. I think I achieved that with The Unfinished Gift. With The Reunion, I knew I was writing a very special story almost from the first page. I even cried numerous times while writing and re-writing it (but a good cry). It’s a book that seriously honors military vets (especially Viet Nam vets) and is a great family reconciliation story.

All of those are awesome books. As a writer, if you had one thing you would do over again, what would it be?

I would have left my publisher in 2012, not 2014 (when I did) to write full-time as an indie author. I had thought about it, but was afraid to make the leap. I almost had to make the leap in 2014, and after I realized, it opened up some wonderful doors (even financially), and I quickly regretted not doing this sooner. And…I’d go back to those early contracts with my agent and publisher and insist we get the e-book rights back to each book within 5 years.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on.

I’m writing what will become Book 1 of a new suspense series, something of a spinoff from my very successful Jack Turner Suspense Series (which has 4 books). This book, If These Walls Could Talk, could almost be Book 5 of the other series. Has many of the same characters and style and even located in the same location (mostly). But in this new series, we will more heavily feature Sgt. Joe Boyd, the homicide detective in the first 4 books. He’s been assigned to create a Cold Case Squad in the Culpepper PD. Jack Turner (and his wife, Rachel) will be helping him solve a case from 1964 (rather than Joe helping Jack, who was the main character in the first series). I’m about 20,000 words into it and hope to release it mid-March 2019.

Sounds interesting, not to mention an interesting twist on the main characters. 

Tell us about your writing day. How do you go about writing?

I usually write 5 days a week. Get up around 7-8 a.m. Start work about 9 a.m. I mostly do non-creative writing tasks and marketing stuff till around 12:30. Then I take a short break and shift gears to writing the next chapter in my book. My goal each afternoon is to create one “keeper chapter” a day.

If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be?

Maybe it would be Major Dick Winters, the true life WW2 hero of the Band of Brother series. Loved that series and read several books about him. What a fascinating guy. Don’t make them like him anymore.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus?

Either David or Paul. Probably Paul. I’ve always loved the epistles he’s written and what is said about him in Acts. In some ways, I relate more to him than the other apostles, because he wasn’t there during the 3 years of Christ’s ministry. His whole walk with the Lord, like mine, was dependent on the Holy Spirit and he accomplished so much, and suffered so much, for no other reason than being faithful. I’d want to ask him dozens of questions about his walk with the Lord (and what he meant by a dozen things he didn’t elaborate on in his writings).

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?

Hmmm, not sure. Maybe it’s this…if you love to read, DON’T just buy discounted or Free books. I get why they’re popular. But if that’s ALL you ever buy, you are literally dooming the authors you love from being able to keep writing the books that you love. The Bible says “a workman is worthy of his wage.” It takes me, for example, about 5 months to write a book, edit it and get it ready to release. I can only do this because MOST readers are willing to pay $3.99 to $4.99 per book. Authors and publishers offer books for Free (or 99 cents) as a way of introducing readers to authors new to them. If lots of readers ONLY read books at these discounted prices, very simply, the best authors will have to stop writing and do something else to pay their bills.

I'm thinking of the Ghost of Christmas Past here: Truth Lives! Thanks for that piece of advice. Isn't it sad that we (and I'm included in this) are willing to pay places like Starbucks three, four, five dollars and more for a cup of coffee or specialty drink, yet to pay that much for a book is somehow considered highway robbery because "once I've read it, I'll just give it away, or it will just sit on my shelf." (Compared to what happens to the Starbucks coffee after you're done with it, isn't a book a better deal????)

Dan, it has been a pleasure having you on my Author Behind the Story Series! We wish you the best on your writing endeavors. And keep us updated in the comments section on how your book being turned into a screenplay is coming along (I won't spill the beans here!).

Also, Dan, if readers wish to connect with you and your writing, how best can they do that?

Readers can connect with me the best by going to my website homepage. From there you can sign up for my newsletter, or look toward the bottom for Buttons that will take you to my Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads pages. That link is www.danwalshbooks.com . If you want to check out my books, click on the Books tab on the Homepage.

Also, here are the Amazon links to my two Christmas novels pictured above:

Keeping Christmas - https://amzn.to/2ovEhCQ

Remembering Christmas - https://amzn.to/2wAzOT4

Oh, and one more thing. My book, Unintended Consequences, is free today and tomorrow (Dec. 12-13) on Kindle as part of a holiday giveaway! So, don't miss out on grabbing Book 3 of my Jack Turner suspense series.

Awesome! 

Until next time, Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year! 

Kevin




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