My guest today is D. Alan Lewis. He is a native of
who now resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee with his children. He has been writing and
illustrating technical guides and manuals for various employers for over twenty
years but only in recent years has branched out in to writing fiction. Nashville
In 2006, he took the reins of a Novelists Group where he has been working to teach and aid aspiring writers.
His debut novel, The Blood in
was a finalist for the 2010 Claymore
Dagger Award presented to the best unpublished murder mystery manuscript. He
also has a number of short stories published as well as other projects in the
works. Snowflake Garden,
Anne – Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace. It’s always a joy to talk writing! Tell us about your recent (and debut) release.
D. Alan Lewis - My first novel is The Blood in Snowflake Garden was released by BeWrite Books this month.
The story takes place in 1965 in a world where Santa Claus and his home at the North Pole exist. Santa’s right hand man, Vladimir Volsky, the Premier of the North Pole has been shot and killed in a city where firearms are forbidden.
Enter Max Sneed, a retired North Pole Police chief who finds himself reluctantly drawn back into service to conduct the investigation. For Max, exploring the dark seedy side of the jolliest city on Earth is nothing compared to facing the demons of his own past. He is joined by a young British journalist, Robert Watson. It is through Rob’s eyes, that we see the wonders and short comings of the North Pole but also the turbulent events of the 1960’s as they are echoed in Santa’s city.
The men find that this is far more than just a simple killing. As the list of suspects grows, the murder becomes intertwined with cold war politics, corporate espionage, labor disputes and a growing civil rights movement that threatens to destroy everything that Santa has built.
Anne – What a fun premise! Timely, too. J How long does it take you to write a book?
D. Alan Lewis - When I started writing the novel, I really didn’t have an idea of what I was doing. I banged out the first draft in three months, but then spent the next few years editing and putting it down and then repeating the process until I felt comfortable enough to put it out in the world to see if a publisher would bite. My second novel which should be out spring or summer of 2012, took less than a year. So I see the first as a long but worthwhile learning experience.
Anne – Impressive. Most authors pen four or more stories before they achieve publication. Do you belong to any writer’s organizations, critique groups, and/or depend on beta readers?
D. Alan Lewis - When I started writing, I joined the Nashville Writer’s meetup Group. This group was perfect for me as a newbie since it had a great mix of other newbies as well as many published writers and folks in the publishing industry. This group host several meeting that deal with different genres. About a year into writing The Blood in Snowflake Garden, I took the reins of the Novelist meetup.
We meet monthly for critiques and talk. We’re basically a support group and share our success stories and the problems we face getting something written and published. I could never have gotten this far without the support and lessons I learned from them.
Anne – Agreed. I’ve always been impressed by how supportive and encouraging published authors are to newbies. How long did your journey from wannabe writer to published author take?
D. Alan Lewis - I had been thinking of writing for many years but after a divorce, I decided to take the plunge and start. That ‘getting started’ part is the hardest in my opinion. It was a long learning process. I spent four years from the first words to signing the contract. I know that some spend much less time, but for me it was time well spent, learning the craft. For others, four years may seem fast. I did have some lucky breaks.
Anne – It is fast. It’s not unusual to spend a decade, or two, before achieving publication! How many rejections did you acquire along the way? What kept you going?
D. Alan Lewis - I can’t even begin to count the number of rejections I got along the way. Early on, I would query agents and publishers with very little feedback from them. Looking back on them, the rejections made me re-examine the manuscript and fine tune it until it was perfect. Rejections are a dime a dozen in the publishing industry. It’s all a matter of using the rejections as a way of pushing you to do better rather than discouraging you.
Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?
D. Alan Lewis - As I wrote The Blood in Snowflake Garden, I fell in love with many of the characters. So much so that even though it was written as a single stand-alone novel, I really want to return and revisit the folks at the North Pole and spend a little more time with them.
As far as a favorite, it would have to be Max Sneed. In the novel, he is the retired Police Chief who is recalled by Santa to solve the murder. Max has a checkered past and many secrets, but is a man on honor. The man has the spirit of an adventurer and wit of a comedian. Intelligence and street-smarts made him stand apart from the others at the North Pole which is why he’s one of Santa’s favorites.
For me, Max is the perfect hero … even if that is the last thing he’d refer to himself as being.
Anne – He sounds like the right guy to star in a series. Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?
D. Alan Lewis - My advice would be to surround yourself with positive people. If folks are telling you that you can’t do something, then distance yourself from them and find those folks who are in the same boat. Find a good group of writers or aspiring writers that you can lean on for support. Never let a rejection get you down. And grow a thick skin … no matter how good you are there will always be those folks that you can’t please and who’ll give harsh critiques and reviews. Take what they tell you and use it to better yourself and your work, not as a reason to quit.
Anne – Sage advice. Especially about growing thick skin. If you could just snap your fingers and go, where would you visit, return to, or move? Why?
D. Alan Lewis - I have always wanted to visit the
British Isles. I think I could move there and be happy camper. I’d
hard to explain, but the differences between the charm and the history that
Anne – About a year ago I visited
, south of Battle , where William the Conqueror changed
history in 1066. History came alive for me that day, so I do understand. After that day I wished I'd paid more attention in school! Outside of writing, what accomplishment are you most proud? London
D. Alan Lewis - As a single father of four, my children are always first and foremost on my mind. Watching as they grow and sharing their victories and accomplishments is the best thing any parent could hope for, in my opinion.
Anne – Four? Wow. I’m surprised you get any writing done at all! Okay, moving on. You’re offering a print copy to one lucky reader. (US residents only.) What question would you like them to address to enter the draw?
D. Alan Lewis - The Blood in Snowflake Garden takes place in 1965 and echoes many of the social changes occurring in the United States at the time (Cold War politics, struggles for racial equality, and so on…) What year and what world events should be mentioned or echoed in a sequel?
Anne – I can’t wait to read the answers. Readers have until Thurs. Dec. 15 to respond. The winner will be announced Dec. 16.
One final question. Where can readers reach you online?
Anne – Thank you so much for dropping by today and chatting about your debut release. I wish you every success with The Blood in
Snowflake Garden. It's going on my TBR list!
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