Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Author Interview-Dan Walsh-The Homecoming

Dan thanks for taking the time to visit us today! I appreciate you answering these few questions. It will be fun to get to know you better. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been happily married to the only woman I’ve ever loved for the last 33 years. We have two grown children. We’ve lived in the same house in the Daytona Beach area for the last 25 years (we really like it there). I’ve also been a pastor for 25 years, but in the last few years God has allowed me to do something I’ve wanted to since the 11th grade…write novels. My first book, The Unfinished Gift, released last September and is doing very well. On the first of June the sequel released, called The Homecoming. My publisher, Revell, has signed me to write three more books for them. My third novel will come out next spring. I’m busy finishing up my fourth book now. For those who haven’t read my novels, reviewers often compare my books to Richard Paul Evans or Nicholas Sparks.

How long did you write before you were published?

As I said, I wanted to be a novelist as far back as 11th grade. Wrote some poems and short stories back then that, thankfully, have been lost to the sands of time. Life went in a different direction when I experienced a call to ministry. For the next twenty-plus years I only wrote sermons (wrote a lot of them). About 12 years ago, thought I might pick it back up again and actually got the idea then for my first novel, The Unfinished Gift. It’s a long story, but it became clear it wasn’t the right time to jump back in, so I set the book aside about halfway through.

Then three years ago, some things in my life changed (mainly, my children were now grown), and my wife urged me to start writing again. I picked The Unfinished Gift back up and finished it over that summer. To my surprise, after reading the synopsis and 3 chapters, two of the first three agents I contacted wanted to read the entire book. I signed with Karen Solem of Spencerhill Associates, and within a few months we had a contract with Revell.

Tell us about “The Homecoming,” the featured book.

I hadn’t intended to write a sequel after completing The Unfinished Gift, but two things happened. First, I realized I wasn’t ready to leave these characters behind; they had become like family. And second, I could see there was at least one more story to tell. This time, a love story. Recently, Colleen Coble called it, “One of the most touching and delightful love stories I’ve ever read.” When I read her endorsement, it made me very happy, because that was my goal.

The story begins with Shawn Collins returning home from the war to deal with the tragedy of losing his wife Elizabeth, the love of his life. Romance is the farthest thing from his mind. Katherine Townsend was the social worker in the first book who loved Shawn’s son, Patrick, as her own. Once Shawn comes home, she has no legitimate reason to stay involved with the Collins’ family. Then Shawn is sent on a War Bond tour for four months and Patrick needs a nanny. The book explores a series of adventures for Katherine, who has never been in love; and Shawn, who can’t imagine ever being in love again.

Is there any person who has been a strong influence in your writing journey?

Terri Blackstock has been a good friend and a strong encouragement to me, especially starting out. Both Colleen Coble and Deborah Raney have been a great help. My agent, Karen Solem gives me great advice, as well as Andrea Doering, my editor at Revell. Probably the voice that influences me the most, day to day, is my wife Cindi. She’s got great instincts and gives me incredibly helpful feedback (my editor loves the help she’s given me). From a writing standpoint, I’ve been influenced by best-selling author Richard Paul Evans’ books, as well as some of Nicholas Sparks’ novels.

What message(s) do you want to be clear to your readers?

The Homecoming is not primarily a message book. My first hope is that my readers will thoroughly enjoy themselves. I hope they’ll feel transported back to a simpler time when our country made a whole lot more sense and become totally immersed in the lives of these characters that I’ve come to love. I hope every reader says what Colleen Coble said when they finish the last page. On a more spiritual level, there certainly are some strong themes in the book about the goodness of God and learning to trust Him again, especially when your hopes and dreams have been shattered.

What are some of your likes and dislikes? Your hobbies, interests? Where do you like to vacation?

I like pizza. It is a gift from God. I like T-Bone steaks, medium rare. I love Italian food. I love every kind of seafood. I guess you didn’t ask, “What food do you like?” but it seems that’s where I go first. I like watching romantic comedies and Jane Austen movies with my wife. I like watching action movies with my son. I love hanging out with good friends. I don’t like how hard it is to lose weight. I don’t like how sore I get after a few hours working in the yard. I don’t like the direction the country has been heading lately.

My hobbies and interests? I love to read. I love to write…a lot. Even though I’m starting to earn money from book sales, it doesn’t feel like a job to me. I like to play golf, but I’m terrible. I love to fish with friends who have boats. As far as favorite vacations…it’s hard to beat the times we’ve spent on cruise ships in the Caribbean (although I’d love to see some places in Europe with Cindi).

Tell us a little-known fact about yourself that readers may not know.

In 6th grade, I won the school spelling bee that included all the 7th & 8th graders. The best/worst part was that the last two people left standing were me and my older brother. I loved beating him but hated it at the same time.

Also, I sing at least as good as half the folks who get kicked off American Idol in the early rounds.

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

Mondays and Tuesdays are my writing days (I’m still a pastor). I’m definitely not a regimented guy. But a typical day would start with my quiet time, interrupted when my wife hands me a perfect cup of coffee (not exaggerating). Then a light breakfast. After, I check for any email from my agent or publishing team. I’ll wait till later in the day to read the rest. During the morning, I’ll write in our living room. We’re in our 50’s, so it’s a quiet house (it is nice). After lunch, I like to write outside. We have a private backyard, and I’ve got 3 spots where I love to write.

I usually start by reading the last chapter I’ve written, polish it up a little, then write from there for as long as it keeps flowing. I don’t have set word goals. The day ends when Cindi says, “You ready for dinner?”

How long does it take to write my novels? I’m finishing up my fourth one now (my 3rd will be out next spring). I guess from start to finish, I’m averaging about 8-9 months.

What are you currently reading?

Recently finished “Rooms” by my friend Jim Rubart (highly recommended). I’m now reading a wonderful book by fellow Revell author, Sarah Sundin, called “A Distant Melody.” Next on my list, is a novel set in WW2 by Andy Andrews, called “The Heart Mender.”

Do you grow flowers or vegetables? What are your favorite plants?

I don’t grow anything. I mow…and weed whack and sweat. My wife Cindi does wonderful things when her back isn’t hurting. My friend Deborah Raney has a wonderful blog that highlights the gardens of many authors. Here’s the link to our courtyard, one of the places I love to write: http://novelgarden.blogspot.com/2006/10/dan-walsh.html

My favorite plants? I love palm trees, of all kinds.

What are you writing now?

I’m finishing up my 4th novel. The working title is “The Book Nook.” It’s another Christmas novel, set in 1980, about this nearly enchanted little Christian bookstore owned and run by Art and Leanne Bell. The day after Thanksgiving, Art collapses at the store and is found by a homeless man. It’s the busiest shopping time of year but Leanne needs to stay by Art’s side, as he clings to life in the hospital. Her son Rick, a CPA in Charlotte, reluctantly agrees to help. He cancels his skiing trip and drives south to Seabreeze, Florida, his old hometown; a place he thought he’d left for good ten years ago. Over the coming days, he is re-introduced to the mother he’s ignored and the step-father he’s rejected, as he listens to a host of charming and eccentric characters, whose lives have been forever changed…at The Book Nook.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I love to correspond with my readers. They can visit my website at www.danwalshbooks.com, then go to the last button on the menu bar and click “Contact Me.” They can visit my blog at http://danwalshbooks.blogspot.com. Or they can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/authordanwalsh.

And thanks for spending this time with us, Dan. We wish you much success.

Thank you, Wanda, and thanks to your readers, for helping to get the word out about The Homecoming. Hope they find it a most enjoyable summer read.
This was just a wonderful interview. I really look forward to Dan's next book. Sounds like another winner. Thanks again Dan!


Unknown said...

I this this guy sounds really neat. I would like to read his books...I am a huge fan of love stories. =)

csthankful said...

What an awesome interview. I have great respect for a man who says he is happily married to the only woman he has ever loved. PTL for that much committment. His books sound fntastic and I am anxious to get to read them. Really enjoyed this. Blesings, Connie Sue

Prolucker said...

That was a great interview. You have to admire a person who has a marriage that endures 33 years of life's tests and trials and still be a happy one! -Lex

Trinity Rose said...

I enjoyed this interview.
I think Christian author are some of the greatest people. :)

Dan Walsh said...

Good morning Wanda and friends,

Really enjoyed the interview with you, asked me some great Q's. My wonderful wife (whom I just talked about in the interview), just handed me a perfect cup of coffee, as she does every morning.

It's time for me to finish up the sermon for tomorrow, something else I love to do.

Hope you all have a wonderful day.

Dan Walsh