Today, I’m welcoming one of the sweetest men from this virtual world of indie authors, whom I met and became friends with 🙂 Who can guess from where? That’s a million dollar question, and the simple answer: Twitter! Lol.
Dannie, can you please tell us something about yourself?
I’ve been living in Thailand for the past 8 years with my wife and writing full time. I have lived the Marshall Islands, Vietnam, Budapest and many places in the U.S. I am a Southerner from North Carolina but my home, when in the States, is now Houston, Texas.
I have two published books and another book ready to publish. I came to writing a bit late in life but once I started I couldn’t stop. I’ve always been a daydreamer and a storyteller so I guess I’ve just taken a long time to prepare for writing.
I have read your book In Search of a Soul, and I know you to be an adventurous sailor, a lover of the sea and a man of the world. What inspired you to write your books? Where did you get your ideas from?
My first published book, Tyler Hill’s Decision, was the fourth or fifth manuscript I wrote. Tyler started out as a story I wrote for my grandson to read when he is older. I am white and part Cherokee and my wife is Thai—this combination makes beautiful children. My kids suffered in their early teens from the cruelty of their peers in school. I tried to help them but didn’t really know what to do. They were continually asked “What are you?” meaning what is their heritage. I think it hurt me more than it did them.
So I wrote a story about a ‘mixed’ boy lost in the mountains. He is found by an old Cherokee man who helps Tyler get back to his family, but at the same time teaches him about the mountains, the Cherokee people and about life.
My second book, In Search of a Soul, started out with a bit of anger at agents. I had submitted a manuscript to several agents and I was told the writing was too simple—the vocabulary was not strong enough. I started In Search to show these agents that I had a large vocabulary, but it quickly turned into a poetic, soothing sea adventure. I’ve been happy to find that many women really enjoy it and like the protagonist that’s not your typical hero type and the strong female characters that help him along the way.
Men like the adventure of sailing alone across the ocean and visiting the islands of the Pacific.
The ideas for all my novels come from one or two specific events and then I just get out of the way and see what happens. For In Search of a Soul, two things started the book. One was a picture of an Afghan girl’s photo on the cover of a National Geographic from years ago. She had the most intense green eyes and they haunted me all my life. The other thing was—at the time—my oldest son was working with Navy SEALs in a war zone.
The book I am getting ready to publish, Outer World Prairie, was the manuscript that stated me on my life as a writer. It’s a Fantasy and it has taken a great deal of editing and rewrites to bring it to a professional standard. I wrote it in an easy to read, no dictionary needed style. It’s a story of a strong, stalwart, simple people living on a planet named Prairie. An old foe has found them and wants to enslave or kill all the people.
OWP started from my desire to read a Fantasy where the protagonist has a love interest as he and she help save their world. There are a number of love scenes but it very much an adventure as the two lead characters get others to fight with them to save their world.
Oh yes, I LOVE that Afghan girl’s amazing portrait. I went to see it at our local gallery, Birmingham Art Gallery when they had a Steve McCurry Exhibition over a year ago, and I have a book on his photography collection. A fantastic photographer!
Tell us about your favourite book/author?
I really have too many to list. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series was my introduction into Fantasy and I still re-read them from time to time. Wilber Smith is a great writer that tells his tales filled with descriptions of where the story takes place and his characters seem so real. He sets many of his tales in Africa in the 16th and 17th century. James Clavell is the writer that introduced me to Japan and China with his tales set in history. I have loved Asia and the people who live there all my life but Mr. Clavell painted a picture that stays with me.
Pearl S Buck is another that touched me in my youth with her beautiful The Good Earth trilogy that made me want to go to Asia.
Dannie, thank you so much for including Pearl S Buck in your list – she is one of mine too and I absolutely loved The Good Earth! Now you know why I named the Protagonist in my books Pearl 🙂
Do you have a routine for writing? How long does it take you to complete your first book?
I write early in the morning—often watching the sun rise. I will write for a few hours or all day depending on my muse. I take a few breaks just to relax my eyes but my brain never stops until the manuscript is written or I hit a point I need to put it aside until later. I try to write every day to keep me sane.
My first published book took me about a month and a half to complete the first draft. The book I am getting ready to publish was my first manuscript and took about 15 years to complete.
I admire your dedication and self-discipline, Dannie. I appreciate what you are saying: my first book took me years to write while the second only a matter of months.
What do you do when you’re not writing? What’s your favourite pastime?
My wife and I have a small farm in Thailand and I love the physical work of planting and all the things a farm requires. I also love to ride my motorcycle around the country and meet the Thai people. I do speak the language but it has taken several years to learn and I’m still far from perfect with it. I am an avid sailor—but haven’t sailed, except in my mind, for several years. I also love to read fiction and meet other authors.
You have picked a perfect location, Dannie, but learning Thai? What a challenge and what fun that must have been!
Do you use Social Media for promoting your work? Does it work?
I must say I am terrible at marketing—have been all my life. I think it’s a curse many writers are afflicted with. I want to write not sell. I am basically a recluse and presenting myself and my works to the public is quite frightening to me, but I do try.
I do use the social media and have found the one I enjoy the most is Twitter. I don’t push my books on readers but use a passive style of marketing. I try to make friends and then the word gets out that I’m not a bad guy and a pretty good writer. I am so surprised that I have made so many true friends from the social media—most I’ve never met in person but friends they are! Also I’ve met so many talented authors—such as you, Junying—and almost every one of these great writers try to help their peers with everything from marketing to critiques. But mostly they are friends I can talk with about writing and any other subject.
Does the social media work? Yes, it does. I am not rich from book sells but I have sold many more of my works through the social media than any other method I have tried.
It was lovely meeting you too, Dannie :), and I am with you 100% about making great friends and wonderful authors via Social Media.
Who, living or dead, do you most admire?
The last time I answer a question like this it caused me a lot of regret. So I will pick a few people who have made my life worthwhile—made me a better man and given me my greatest happiness. My wife of 35 years, Julee, my three children, Jason, Suginda and Daniel. My daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.
Wonderful! I promise that you won’t get into trouble this time 🙂
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished a great book by Junying Kirk called The Same Moon and I loved it! Great job, Junying.
At the present I’m reading a book by a new author, Natasha Slight. Guardians of the Grimoire. This is Natasha’s debut novel and I’m finding it a very good read.
My next book will be a recently published book by a wonderful friend, Zee Gorman. Snowdrops and Night Warriors, is Zee Gorman’s second novel. I loved her first book!
Thank you so much for your kind words and positive response to The Same Moon, and it’s wonderful that you’re supporting new indie authors by reading their works.
Do your characters talk to you? Have you ever used people you know as a character?
Well of course they talk to me—what a silly question and I talk to them. Is that normal? Actually I usually start with one or two characters. I start the tale and back out of the way. More characters come and introduce themselves and off they go with the story. I’m usually surprised where they take me.
Many of my characters are combinations of people I know or have met. I’m writing a manuscript where I am having a great time using my friend’s names. Not sure if these people will agree because some of them are very bad people—in the story.
How interesting! Don’t you dare using my name as a baddie 🙂
Here is a challenge: describe your latest novel within 140 characters, as in a tweet.
Outer World Prairie- Fantasy filled with adventure, love, a people fighting for their existence and a touch of magic. Come live with them!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Junying. It has been so wonderful getting to know you and call you friend. You are a great and talented author and an exotic beauty!
The pleasure is all mine, Dannie. It’s wonderful to have you here to share your adventures with us. Best of luck with your writing and enjoy life in terrific Thailand!
For further info on Dannie and his books, please go to: Dannie’s Website
You can also check out Outer World Prairie’s Preview