It is my pleasure to welcome and introduce to you author Walter Danley. Read my review of his first novel, The Tipping Point,here. Walter Danley has been living an interesting life, highlights of which you can read on his website noted at the end of this post. Even so, Walter claims his proudest accomplishments are his five grown sons. He credits the wonderful influence of their stepmother, Christopher Norris, Broadway, film, and television actress. Walter and Christopher were married for eighteen years during the boys’ formative years.
Walter kindly obliged me with an interview and offered five books to give away, so don’t be shy about leaving him questions or comments. He looks forward to it. Now, let’s move on with the interview.
Walter, I appreciate your agreeing to this interview. To start things off, please tell us a little about yourself.
Lynn, that could take all the time you have scheduled for this interview because I spent more than four decades in the business of commercial real estate investments. Now, I have the ability to write suspense thrillers rather than to live them! My home is in the Lone Star State of Texas. I love it there and, maybe it’s the air, I write better there. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I didn’t mean to say that my writing is better in Texas, what I intended to say is that my demeanor is more inclined to the craft of writing in the Texas Hill Country.
It’s good you have a place that positively affects your writing. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you? or discouraged you?
The first time I tried retirement, back in ’86, was a great opportunity to start to write. Speaking of conducive atmospheres to write, that was one of the best. My partners and I had just sold our investment business, (there were forty (40) different businesses under the firm’s banner that we sold in 1986), CBS had just green-lighted my wife’s TV series, TRAPPER JOHN, M.D., for another year and we had a lovely home on the beach in Malibu. It was then I decided to write The Great American Novel, walk our Golden Retrievers on the sand and fully enjoy the good life. The euphoria only lasted for two weeks, then a pal called me to help on an apartment acquisition … and I went back to work. Sorry for that long first question answer.
On inspiration, I’ve always been a voracious reader. Five-hour plane trips across country and hours waiting in airports make reading a necessity. But my inspiration comes primarily from the great writers of suspense and thrillers I like to read. A good story, told by a great story-teller, will always been inspiring to me.
Fortunately, no one has discouraged me from writing. Friends and family, even ex-wives have all been super supportive, and I really do appreciate that.
As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books?
As I said earlier, I’ve always been a voracious reader. On my list of authors whose books I will stand in line to buy, the DLG’s are some of the best, the Double Letter Guys. You know them better as Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, Patricia Cornwell, Ken Follett, Clive Cussler, and the never to be forgotten, Dean Koontz. I’m thinking that to boost my writing career I might change the spelling of my name to Waltter Dannlley one day soon. All of my favorites were penned by the DLG’s.
Interesting idea! I am considering a pen name myself, but haven’t settled on anything yet. I already have the double n’s. Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer” or “I can do this”?
Several weeks ago an interviewer asked me your question with a little bit of a twist. She said, “What made you think you could write a novel?” The question was one I’ve never been asked before, so it took a few beats to sink in. What I told her, and bless her heart for publishing the answer, was, “I never considered that I couldn’t write a novel.” Enough, already. Let’s get to your next question, Lynn.
Do you have a motto or Bible verse or quote that you try to live by and that helps to keep you on track?
My grandmother, Pearl Danley, will turn over in her grave that I don’t have a favorite Bible verse, but I do try to live by a quote from Mark Twain. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Yes, that is a good quote to remember. Have you ever written or published anything before your novel, The Tipping Point? If so, what do you remember about your very first time to be published, how did that happen?
Lynn, not in the sense of your question, but yes I did author a Continuing Education Course for the University of California. It was called, CREATIVE AND UNCONVENTIONAL FINANCE and I taught that course to real estate agents and brokers on several of the UC campuses for many years. Not the same as having your novel published, but close to that feeling to have 70 – 80 professionals in your audience for eight hours.
That’s surely a confidence builder! What inspired you to write The Tipping Point?
Annie Six, my Golden, did. In Malibu, walking the dogs on the beach I would be outlining in my head the book that twenty years later would become THE TIPPING POINT. I’d speak to myself, a line or describe a scene, and Annie would bark twice if she liked it. That was one really smart dog. Some of the characters and situations are modeled after events that actually happened over my career. What I was trying to figure out on the beach with Annie and Sun Dance was how to knit together the different stories so there would be a logical arc for the characters and the story.
Everyone’s a critic, so they say. 😉 How long did it take you to write The Tipping Point? What, if any, research did you have to do? And how did you come up with that title?
Interesting questions you have there, Lynn. How long. The process of writing took about six months, but I had to interrupt the writing for the research. The story takes place during the year 1978 and ends in January of the next year. I had to rewrite many sections because things that today we all take for granted didn’t exist. Things like cell phones, for example. Originally, I had the FBI agent using a Glock 22 pistol. That particular weapon wasn’t invented until 1979 and the FBI adopted it as an issue weapon in the early 80’s. I had a wonderful section on DNA and it worked so well in the story arc. The problem is that DNA and the tests to identify it came about years after the story time.
What I didn’t do in picking the title was to research it. It turns out that Amazon has several books with THE TIPPING POINT title or sub-title. That was a mistake. On the other hand, I heard from one reader that bought my book, thinking it was the (slightly more famous) one by Malcolm Gladwell. He said that he was going to return it, but started to read it and liked the story very much and kept my book. Now, to answer the specific questions. Garth Wainwright, speaking with Tommy Shaw about the “why” of fraud and murder, calls the introduction of mind-altering drugs into the company the tipping point. He goes on to describe the dictionary definition (which I wish I’d not included verbatim) of a tipping point. I used that as the title as it denotes the arc of the story and the changes that take place with Wainwright.
It’s good you are paying attention to details for accuracy and the timeline. Did you write a little of yourself into any of the characters? Do you have a favourite?
I’m sure that some of the real me slipped into a few of the characters. After all, I was there when some of these events took place. It is like your children, you don’t have a favorite one over the others, but in the sequel, the character of Lacey Kinkaid, now Wainwright, will be my favorite for reasons that I cannot reveal here.
Now, that peaks one’s curiosity! Since The Tipping Point is book one of The Wainright Mysteries, how may books do you plan to include in this series? Or are there going to be only this one and its sequel?
I don’t have “a number” in mind for the series. After the sequel, I am going to try a different genre. A historical western with a fantasy twist is the untitled work which I am researching.
I understand The Tipping Point is being released in print, but can you tell us a little about your experience with releasing The Tipping Point as an E-book first?
In hindsight, I think that both editions should have been released at the same time. Just suppose you read print versions only. Maybe you don’t even have an E-Reader, but a friend tells you about THE TIPPING POINT and how much she enjoyed it. You check with your book store, and they don’t have it. They check and tell you that it is available in electronic format, but not in print. A potential reader is lost. What positive value that review may have generated is lost on all the readers who want a print book. A simultaneous release of both versions will avoid that mistake.
If you will allow me the courtesy of a small digression, Lynn, as you know, I’m about to publish the 2nd edition of THE TIPPING POINT, and the way that came about may be of interest to your readers. I was fairly deep into the sequel, INSIDE MOVES, when it dawned on me that for the sequel to work properly, a few things would need to be changed in the original story. Of course, I might have changed the direction of the sequel, but it made both books better stories to stay with the sequel storyline. My writer friends all told me not to go back and change the original story. After all, it was already published. It had already gotten some great reviews. It was already out there. What convinced me to rewrite the 1st edition was that I could use this opportunity to change something that was confusing to some readers.
In the 1st edition, when a new character appears in the story, I had them introduce themselves in the first person. When that scene concludes, the narrator takes over again in a third person point-of-view narrative. Each new character appears and speaks in first person. I stole this technique from F. Scott Fitzgerald. It worked really well for him, for me, not so much. The problem with having the POV moving back and forth is that I have many characters in the story. So now I had two reasons to ignore my friends’ advice and go ahead with the 2nd edition.
That is helpful to know. What is your writing time like? How do you find time to write?
I write best in the early morning hours. My Muse wakes me up before dawn when it’s still and quiet. On cool days (yes, we have some of those in Texas!) I take my laptop out to the deck where I can feel the breeze and smell the wild flowers. And I write. As the day gets warmer, I move back into my home office and write as long as the Muse will sit on my shoulder and the words flow. I’m trying to break a very bad habit I have during the first draft. My inclination is to correct and edit as I write. It slows the pace and interrupts the flow of the prose. My preferred method is to put the draft out as fast as I can type, don’t stop for spelling, or editing or anything, just keep pumping out the words. I’m getting better at that and I think that it helps with other aspects of the craft.
Yes, I agree. Solid editing time can follow that instead of interrupting the actual writing. What other interests do you have aside from writing?
That would be wood working as the number one interest. My brother lived in Hawaii and I in Laguna Beach, CA. We both had woodworking hobbies, although Bobby was a far better craftsman than I. We had seen each other only four times in the forty years he lived on the island. When Bobby retired, he and Mary moved to Boerne, Texas. Four years ago, so did I and we were able to reconnect in this small town in the Texas Hill Country. We combined our shops into one of the best equipped and organized woodshops anywhere.
When the Muse abandoned me, I’d go to the shop over at Bobby’s house and build something, anything. It was an enjoyable diversion and usually would focus my mind on the work left in my computer. And I’d have a new table or cabinet or box. My brother passed away last year and his daughters sold his house. I had to move all the equipment and tools into a storage unit. My woodworking days are over, but I had three great years with Bobby that would never have happened if not for a woodshop we shared.
Now, in order to distract the Muse, I shoot trap and skeet. Breaking clay disks with a shotgun isn’t the same kind of relaxation, but it seems to work for me.
I’m sorry, Walter, about the loss of your brother. It’s so good you had those three years to share an interest.
How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals – daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?
I know that you are supposed to have specific writing goals and write them down, keep track of how you are doing the goals, etc. No, I don’t do that. It just isn’t the way my head works, I guess. I write as long as the words flow, sometimes without interruption. My record to date was one session of over 36 hours. Of course, the writing from the last few hours did require some very heavy editing.
Wow! That’s true binge writing. Do you have another project in the works? Any hints you can share with our readers about that?
Now that the editors have the 2nd edition, I can go back to finish the sequel, INSIDE MOVES. My publisher hopes to have that out for the holidays. I hope that a miracle happens and I can get the work done in time for that. I have also been working on a different kind of novel. The story intrigues me and the genre is new. It is not titled yet, and that is going to be an issue for the marketing department, but I describe it as a historical western with a fantasy twist. Most of what I have is a ton of research and file folders full of dialog and scene descriptions, but I know the story and am very excited about it. If I hadn’t promised a sequel in the WAINWRIGHT MYSTERY series to so many of my readers, I’d be writing it now. In the story, the Santa Monica (CA) Mounted Police unit agree to participate in the Bandera (TX) parade and rodeo roundup, 1,500 miles away. While in Bandera, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World, an accident to the Capitan of SMMP puts him into post-civil war Texas. The juxtaposition of a 2014 law man in 1873 lawless frontier town just sounds like so much fun!
Almost like time travelling, sounds interesting. I believe it will be written in its time. 🙂 Finally, is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be? Do you have any advice for hopefuls?
Writing is a hoot! I love it and after retiring I have the time and resources to do it. From those walks with Annie Six and Sun Dance on the Malibu beach, I’ve wanted to do this, but advice, no I don’t give advice. It would be presumptuous of me to do that. But I do have a suggestion for young writers. Read as much as you can, both literary works and about what is happening to the publishing industry. Stay on top of that news because it changes almost daily. Know about the business that you want to join. It is the only way to avoid drastic mistakes.
That is a very good suggestion. Thank you, Walter, for this interview and for offering copies of The Tipping Point.
Lynn, thank you for the opportunity to chat with you. If your readers would like to contact me, here is a list of places they can easily find me.
Facebook 1 and Facebook 2
Amazon Author Page
Smashwords–With publication of 2nd Edition, Smashwords will distribute this title
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.) All of Amazon foreign stores
Now, Readers, if you would like a chance to win a 1st edition copy of The Tipping Point (which is an adult novel) leave a question or comment here for the author. Tell your friends, too. Walter Danley has offered not one, not two, but FIVE e-copies of the 1st edition of The Tipping Point! Using the “random name picker” tool, at 6:00 PM EST on July 6, 2014, one name will be selected; July 7 one more name will be selected; July 8 the final three winners will be selected. An entrant can only win once, but one comment puts that person’s name into each draw if not selected. I will notify all winners and an e-copy will be sent to them directly from Walter after they reply to me for verification.
Please encourage a new author – LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS for him and you could win a book! And remember to check your inbox July 6, 7, and 8.
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂