Dan Dinges, who earned his MBA from the University of Washington at Seattle, retired to write after careers in business management and education.
Shelagh: Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Daniel.
Daniel: Recently I moved to the Rio Grande Valley after a varied career in business, consulting, and management. Along the way, I earned degrees in economics and business. My life’s journey has taken me to virtually every state in the union. I have had long-term residences in Illinois, Virginia, Washington state, Alaska, and Minnesota.
Semi-retirement gives me the opportunity to explore interests, including writing, that I overlooked in the scramble for material success. I am also able to spend more time with my spiritual side and at this writing, am a member of the council of elders at my church.
Companion animal rescue is a passion for me. I am active at the local shelter in the areas of adoptions, breed rescue, and fundraising. We are taking an important step in solving the pet overpopulation problem in the Valley by opening a low cost, high volume spay/neuter clinic. I will be the director of operations during the startup of this organization.
My two boys have families of their own now. The eldest lives in Boston and is busy raising two sons of his own. The younger is also raising a family. A granddaughter joined us last fall. They are moving to Texas soon. I hope to see a lot more of both families in the future.
In my leisure time, I enjoy travel, golf, and long walks with my two dogs, who were both adopted from the local shelter.
Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish?
Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Daniel: Writing has always been a part of my professional life. As a consultant, manager, and trainer, I have often been tasked to use the written word to put across the results of my labors in reports using clear, concise, and complete terminology. The goal of a report is to make the complex understandable and actionable.
Get Out of the Way is my first attempt at writing for the entertainment of an audience.
I think that all good books try to engage readers on multiple levels. In this respect, Get Out of the Way is no different. It refers to a time of great social change that left many without a feeling of closure. To some, it seemed that the country shut the door on the mistakes and failures and went into a state of denial. The message of this book is one of hope for growth through retrospection and healing through reconciliation.
I also believe that the messages in books should be tailored to the work. At this point, I do not believe the subsequent works in this series or in future projects will be based on the same message.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Daniel: Get Out of the Way is the first book in a series about America in the last century. The series will tell the story of this amazing and in some ways frenetic period in our history through the eyes of Tom Daniels and his family. The kaleidoscope of sweeping changes the series will examine include: the integration of the western pioneers into an emerging industrial society, the assimilation of refugees from post WWI Europe, the Great Depression, WWII, the Vietnam era, and the post-Vietnam transition of America from an industrial power to a service-based society.
Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?
Daniel: My characters act naturally within the context of the story. I build profiles for each of them using a combination of available checklists plus some personal insights. One thing I do that may be unusual is to try to add a cast of archetypes from classical literature to each of them.
Actually, I see the War and the Draft as characters, or rather extensions of the Greek God of war and one of his henchmen as opposed to back-story. They are creators of action on the part of the protagonist.
Settings are not just places. They also add color and action to the story. In addition, they are important to the reactions of the characters.
Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Daniel: The way I went about putting together this story is similar to the way I learned to put together a consultative piece. The entire piece needs to work as a whole before the actual writing begins. I need to know where I am going before I start out. I use a top down strategy including storyboarding to plan how the action progresses. Each scene is a chapter or set of chapters. That way there is a blueprint to go forward.
This does not mean that the final product looks exactly as it did during planning. There are always changes in direction as the creative process evolves. Each new development needs to be integrated into the overall plan before proceeding. That way I avoid running into a dead end three quarters of the way through.
This process worked well for me, and I plan to go forward with new projects in a similar fashion. No doubt, experience will dictate modifications.
Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?
Daniel: I hope that I present a distinctive author’s “voice.” Voice is as telling to a writer’s identity as an author’s signature. My intention is to maintain it throughout my work.
POV follows from the nature and structure of the specific piece. For that reason, the POV of Get Out of the Way is first person. The result generates mixed consequences. On the one hand, the work is, as one critic stated, authentic, believable, and true to life. Another view, put forward in different review is that the work is a memoir thinly disguised as a novel. While the work depends heavily on historical events, critical parts of the book are purely fiction. This is intended to be an example of a relatively new genre known as Creative Nonfiction where the whole attempts to provide an entertaining yet insightful look at an important time in US history.
Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Daniel: A writer’s voice is a combination of a number of factors. The environment/upbringing of the individual is part of it. I do not know how it could fail to come through. I think my journey through life brings on a certain skepticism and challenging of authority that is perhaps indicative of my generation and evident in my writing.
Shelagh: Share the best book review you’ve received.
Daniel: Get Out of the Way was an amazingly enjoyable read. Written from Tom’s point of view, Daniel Dinges did a wonderful job capturing the spirit of a young man and his struggle to survive the war. Written from the first person point of view, Tom was a likable voice. His walk down memory lane brought to life his problems, fears, and struggles of his choice to enlist. His account was so lifelike, that I felt like I was there along with him throughout his two years of service.
I enjoyed Mr. Dinges’ captivating style of writing. I look forward to seeing more from this author and will be keeping him on my watch list.
– Theresa Dunlap, Library Thing & Just One More Paragraph Blog
Shelagh: What are your current projects?
Daniel: On the writing front, I am in the preliminary stages of writing the next Tom Daniels book.
I am also developing a work of speculative fiction set in the Southwest about 75 years in the future.
It takes place in a group of new United States territories located in what is left of Mexico. The Mexican nation succumbed to the onslaught of organized crime and invasion by an unlikely coalition of socialist and Islamic jihadist powers whose ultimate goal is the destruction of America. The remnants of the country petition for protection and the US really has no choice but to come to their aid despite the fact that it is itself on the decline.
Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Rest of the tour:
4/5 Pop Syndicate http://www.popsyndicate.com/books (guest blog, trailer)
4/5 Once Written http://www.oncewritten.com/#MeetTheAuthor (Meet The Author essay)
4/8 Curled Up with a Good Book http://www.curledup.com/win.htm (giveaway)
4/9 Incurable Disease of Writing Blog http://www.missyfrye.net/Blog/?cat=106 (giveaway)
4/14 Book Blogs Ning http://bookblogs.ning.com/group/bookbloggiveaways (giveaway)
4/20 Catch That Book Radio http://www.blogtalkradio.com/catch-that-book (podcast interview)