It is my distinct pleasure to welcome fellow author and Arkansan, Del Garrett.
What kind of books do you write and how many have you written so far?
"While the Angels Slept" is my fourth published novel. I write historical and contemporary fiction, which includes westerns, Victorian thrillers, and hard boiled mysteries. My Jack the Ripper story was labeled horror, but I considered it more police procedural. Some of my horror has been published, but those were short stories.
When is your next book being published?
That's "Texas Justice," which I hope to have finished by mid-April.
When did you start writing and what inspires you the most?
I've been actively writing since 1974 but didn't start earning money until after I graduated from Journalism school in 1979. I write to entertain myself. If I write a good book, it will entertain others. Naturally, I hope my books sell; but writing for the art is more important to me so long as I can cover my production costs.
Why did you pick the genre that you currently write in, and are you currently considering writing in a different genre? Why or why not?
I started writing "While the Angels Slept" as a romance, but the mystery kept getting in the way so I went with my muse. The book I'm working on now is "Texas Justice," which is a revised and expanded version of my first book, "The Goodbye Trail." That book won an Eppie finalist award in 2009 for published E-books. I've kept that as Part I and added "Tough Enough for Texas" as Part II. That story won first place in the 2011 White County Creative Writers Conference in the Westward Ho Award, so the volume is already a double winner. Those who have read parts of it say they can't wait for me to publish it.
Tell us about your creative writing process.
I started in this business as a journalist so research is important to me, as is knowing the outcome of the story before I start writing it. It's like taking a road trip to Disneyland -- I know where my characters start from and where I want them to end up; the book is all about how they got there and that's what I discover along the way. I base my characters on movie actors -- usually Harrison Ford or Tom Selleck -- what Christopher Vogler referred to as the reluctant hero in his book, "The Writer's Journey," based on Joseph Cambell's studies. By visualizing a character I'm familiar with, I create my own story without all the time-consuming biography and description. When I get the idea for a story, I want to jump right in and write it, not spend a month building a background for each major player.
Who is your favorite author, past and present, and why?
I've had so many -- Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Mickey Spillane, Richard S. Prather, Louis L'Amour -- I've read the great classical writers, but I write popular fiction so I read more along that line than say, "A Tale of Two Cities." Don't get me wrong, I love a good Charles Dickens or Edgar Allan Poe or Alexandre Dumas novel, but I'm thinking they were probably the popular fiction authors of their day.
Tell us, what is the central message of your current book and the target audience.
In "While the Angels Slept," Lydia Taylor starts out as a naive, young widow who is easily taken advantage of. She learns about herself as the story progresses and, in the end, she is the main reason the criminals are caught and she takes control of her social life as well. In other words, she deals with the problems of life, learns from them, and grows into her own person.
What do you hope your readers will walk away with after reading your book?
The idea that you don't run from life and its many problems. If this (pardon me) ignorant little nothing can come out on top, so can the reader in their own world.
If you didn’t become an author, what do you think you would be doing now?
I'm already doing it. I hold multiple black belts and teach Kenjukido Kenpo-Jujitsu self-defense to adults (www.kenjukido.com). My highest rank is 6th Dan master, and I've been inducted twice into the Universal Martial Arts Hall of Fame. I've done a bit of acting, which I got into to help me understand the process of movie making and screenwriting. In the military I had the opportunity to work with some undercover agents (No, they didn't give me a double-0 number). What I'd like to do next is old west re-enacting.
What’s the worst experience and best experience you ever had as a writer?
The worst experience has always been a rejection, but you take those in stride. If you can't take the heat, get off the computer. Writing teaches you to be careful in what you type. I sold my first piece of fiction to Louis L'Amour magazine. Within the story, I wrote about the weather and the season of the year and the end of the war ... and got the season wrong. I spent a good portion of my royalty check calling the company and asking them to hold the story until I sent them the rewrite. It's embarrassing to get the facts wrong, but admitting it and making the corrections was the professional thing to do. It was a sloppy mistake but it taught me a lesson to do the research and check it again and again and again before sending it to an editor.
The best experience is when a reader sends me a personal note saying they really liked my book. I got so many of those following publication of "Whispers in the Wind -- The Search for Jack the Ripper" that I consider that my best novel to date.
Where do you see yourself in five years with your writing and your life?
Assuming I'm still alive, I want each book I write to thrill me more than the one just previous. I still pay attention to techniques of other writers and I edit myself viciously, striving to tell a good story people will talk about long after they've finished reading the book. I just want to do more and better and never stop writing. I've spoken at several writers clubs and public libraries. I enjoy meeting with beginning writers and helping them overcome some of the confusion about how to write.
Where can people find you and your books on the Internet?
My home page is www.authorsden.com. I'm publishing both E-books and trade paperbacks on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble, and E-books on Smashwords.
I'm hoping to find an agent for my screenplays, so someday maybe Harrison Ford or Tom Selleck will be up there on the silver screen mouthing the dialogue I created.
My latest novel "While the Angels Slept"
Now available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords
You can find my review of Del’s latest novel, While the Angels Slept, here.