Sep 7, 2014

Interview with Darren

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
While I enjoyed writing even as a young boy, it was the summer before my freshman year of high school that solidified my desire to write. The Ghostbusters came out that summer and when I saw the movie, I was amazed at how it made people laugh. I realized there were writers who penned the words that made the actors so good. I decided then I wanted to affect people with the written word. I went home right after the movie and wrote my own version of Ghostbusters II (obviously nothing like the actual movie) and from that moment on I pursued writing as a career. The only difference is, my writing career followed the path of journalism. Creative writing, while always something I enjoyed and wanted to do, came later.

Is being an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen? The best and worst thing about it?
Interesting question. Yes, since high school it was my dream to be an author but through college my dream also was to become a newspaper journalist. I did that for almost twenty years, and it meant a great deal to me. I still am a freelance journalist, but full-time I now work in government affairs on California water issues and teach college English. I guess the point is, writing in some form has always been a part of me. The best thing about writing is creating and sharing stories. Rather than address the worst thing about writing, I would discuss the most challenging part—finding a readership. I am really hopeful readers can discover my work and enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy the writing.

What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
I cannot remember the first thing I ever wrote, but I can tell you I first concentrated, largely in my twenties, on writing short stories, both fantasy and science fiction. The first book I attempted to write was a science fiction story about pen pals across the universe. I never finished it as I just didn’t quite have the writing skills to create a novel. I still think it’s a great idea for a middle-grade/young adult novel, and I would like to return to that story.

What made you create (your book)?  How did it come to you?
Like all the books I write, the story stems from an experience from me own life, and that one little experience becomes a part of my character’s life. That is how Guardian’s Nightmare started and I just built the story around that incident, one that dealt with a tough time I had after moving to a new school. The fantasy elements just came to be as I dove into the story.

Who is your literary hero?
Like so many other fantasy writers, J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoyed fantasy before his books, but his writing took fantasy to another level for me.

How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
The heroes in each book I write, including Guardian’s Nightmare, are very much modeled after me as a youth. I know my lead in Guardian’s Nightmare is a 13-year-old girl, but when I first wrote the book, the lead was a boy. It was suggested along the way that I change the character to a girl. I tried a few chapters with a girl as the lead and thought it worked. Still, I kept the same character traits in her as the boy character and those attributes (and weaknesses) were very much mine as a youth.

Describe your main character in six words.
Intelligent, scared, unsure, angry, brave (as the story develops), and a friend.

Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Well, the story takes place in San Francisco and only refers to another world (one that will be greater explored in book two in the series.

What scene was your favorite to write?
The final battle between my hero and the villain. Her courage really becomes clear then as she can no longer allow herself to give in to self-doubt.

What scene was the hardest for you to write?
Again, I would say the final battle just because there is so much happening at once.

What are you working on now?
My publisher is preparing book two in the series for 2015. I also have completed a young adult pirate novel tentatively titled The Birthmark Blade, and I am now editing what would be my fourth book, tentatively titled The Freak Condition. I have also started writing the third book in the Guardian’s Nightmare series.

Goals? Accomplishments? Improvements?
The main goal is to find a readership for my work. I feel like my work is just waiting to be discovered, and when it is I think it is the kind of writing young readers will enjoy. My work is meant to be fun and exciting—the kind of writing that will make young readers want to read more. If I can in some small way inspire young people to read that would mean so much.
As far as accomplishments, well, just having a publisher (a small independent publisher) believe in my work and want to publish it was an accomplishment. I would very much like to thank Divertir Publishing for giving me a chance.
Finally, I know I still have a lot to improve as a writer and I am going to work at continuing to improve my craft.

Are there any authors or books you recommend?
Again, if you have not read J.R.R. Tolkien, give him a try—even if you seen the movies. There are other books outside the movies that you might enjoy discovering. But even reading Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit is a much more fulfilling experience than the movies.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
That’s easy. Spending time with my family doing anything, whether seeing movies, playing sports, swimming, going to dinner or anything.