Sunday, December 19, 2010
Every character has a little bit of me in him or her. I draw on my own experiences, my own personality quirks, and my own emotional blueprint quite a bit. It's not so hard when I'm writing a male character with the struggles of most men, but when I write a female character I have to tap into that, ahem, feminine side of me (I say that very carefully) and it's a little more difficult. The most fun is writing the villains. I know that sounds awful and maybe even a little demented but that's when I can be mischievous and nutty. That's the side of me usually only my family sees. The scary part is when I have to write the dark side of a villain. I tread very carefully on that ice, it can be ever so thin in places.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I stutter and when I was child and teen my stuttering was very bad. Some sounds were harder to say than others and some situations just locked me up. Answering the phone was one of those situations. If I was home alone I'd let the phone ring until it drove me crazy (this was before answering machines) and then I'd answer it but nothing would come out. The caller would say "Hello? Hello?" then hang up and call again. And it would start all over again. If someone else was home I'd run for the bathroom when the phone rang. That way I could holler, "I'm in the bathroom" and someone else would have to answer it. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Weird. Quirky. And pretty sad when you think about it.
I'm glad you outgrew that, or that technology helped you. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I didn't always want to be a writer. In fact, all through school and college I loathed writing, hated anything that had to do with English or composition. September, 1998 changed everything. My brother-in-law was in a very bad motorcycle accident and found himself in shock trauma in a deep coma. Prognosis was not good. My wife and I visited my sister in the hospital and were just blown away. The shock, the pain, sadness. When we got back home I was so overwhelmed with emotions, questions, tears, that I did the only thing I could think to do . . . I wrote it all down. And that's when I fell in love with writing. It was like a switch was flipped in me. My entire life had been spent running from words because of my stuttering and here I'd found a way I could speak my mind and heart with perfect fluency. I'd found my voice. I haven't stopped writing since.
That's wonderful. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I mostly read in the same genres I write--suspense, thriller, supernatural, horror--but do occasionally wander outside that. I've read westerns, historical fiction (almost the entire House of Winslow series by Gilbert Morris), YA fantasy, southern fiction (Charles Martin). I've read Nicholas Sparks (and enjoyed it) and Dale Cramer, one of my favorite authors. I also enjoy Angela Hunt's work.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I stay grounded in my family. Besides my desire to honor God with everything I write, my family is the reason I do what I do. They are the reason I work so hard at this writing thing. At times it's hard to stay focused. So much is happening around us all the time. I wish so badly that we could drop everything, move to some secluded location, and start over. Slow down. Disengage. Maybe someday. It's been done before . . . or so I've heard. I keep myself focused by remembering who it is who gave me the ability and opportunity to write and why I write. When I'm tempted to give in or give up, when I want to quit on the next book, I remind myself what and who all this is about, and it's not me.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Surviving colon cancer. It's not an accomplishment I can take credit for, so many were by my side, primarily my wife. So many prayed and encouraged and helped where they could. They knew our needs before we even realized we had needs. And of course I couldn't have survived anything without my God and Savior holding me, lifting me up, wrapping his arms around me, and whispering love in my ear throughout the entire journey. I learned so much about myself and God during that time. Things I'll never forget.
We never really understand how much we need Him, until we really NEED Him. James and I learned that, too. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Boy, I'd like to say something cool like a lion or eagle or horse, but I think I'm most like a beaver. Don't laugh. I'm a hard worker, organized, scheduled, and am happiest when I'm home. I'm never "finished," always adding on or making adjustments, always doing something.
What is your favorite food?
Well, it used to be hot dogs but then I went and got colon cancer and the oncologist told me no more red meat and no more processed meat. So now I eat poultry and lots of vegetarian stuff. I think if I had to choose one thing I'd go with a Subway veggie sub. Man, it's like the best salad on a roll. Just a note: I also love anything Italian or Mexican. Chimichangas rule. Oh, and fettuccini Alfredo. Okay, I better stop. I'm getting hungry!
So am I, and I just got up from eating lunch. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Oh, easily finding the time. I used to write in the evenings and it drove my wife crazy. I was writing when I should have been spending time with the family. I didn't see it until she called the computer "the other woman." Ouch. Message received. Loud and clear. That's when I started writing in the mornings. It's the perfect time. Everyone else is sleeping and it never interferes with something else and never gets bumped on the family schedule. Holidays, weekends, even vacation, it doesn't matter. Who wants to do anything at 5 a.m.? That's my time. And when you love what you're doing you don't need a day off. Granted, I do take some days off and there are times when I go to breakfast with a friend at 6 a.m. but those days are very rare.
Tell us about the featured book.
Darlington Woods the first book I wrote following my battle with colon cancer. It's about a man who loses his wife and son but refuses to believe his son is really dead. He's convinced he's still alive and to be found in a town called Darlington. With the help of a local waitress, he finds his way to Darlington totally unaware of the horror that awaits him. There he must face his own fears like never before if he's ever going to find the truth. The story is so personal to me because it has so much symbolism in it. It's an allegory of my battle with cancer and fleshes out the fears and I had, the questions, the struggles, and ultimately the triumph. Darlington Woods is every person's soul, where light and darkness meet.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Darlington Woods, northern Maryland
The screams were everywhere, piercing the darkness like spears. Surrounding him. Closing in. Mixing with the wails and torturous moans of the other men.
Asher Wiggins ran pell-mell through the woods, blindly rolling over saplings and crashing through clumps of honeysuckle. Thickets pulled at his clothes, left jagged trails of blood on his skin. His bandaged face throbbed in time with his quickened pulse.
And still the screams grew closer.
To his right, Jerry hollered then went down in a complicated crash of crunching leaves and breaking sticks. The sound that followed reminded him of a pack of rabid dogs in a feeding frenzy.
Only it wasn’t dogs. Far from it.
He came to a ridge where the ground sloped downward at a sharp angle for thirty yards or so, bottomed out, then rose on the other side. Lungs working furiously to keep the oxygen coming, heart in his throat, Asher stole a quick look around. To his left, in the distance, he heard Abe trip on a fallen limb and hit the ground hard. He knew it was Norm by the sound of his wheezing. Within moments he heard them attack—he didn’t even know what they were. The sound of Abe’s piteous screams for help sent chills racing along his nerves.
Asher turned and pushed himself down the slope. He stumbled mostly out of control but somehow was able to keep his feet under him. At the bottom he looked up and saw a dark pulsating shadow at the top of the ridge. It was them.
“God help me.”
One of them let out a terrible scream, like a woman in great pain, and they all responded similarly.
Without thinking, Asher turned and started climbing the opposite slope. His legs burned, and his lungs were on fire, but adrenaline kept him moving.
“God help me, God help me, God help me . . .,” he said over and over as he climbed, finding purchase with both hands and feet, grabbing onto saplings and branches where he could.
The gauze covering half his face—a hastily assembled bandage—was soaked with blood and working loose. It dangled like a lame wing.
Behind him he heard the crash of the horde as it charged down the slope, screaming and hissing.
Faster he climbed, clawing at the ground, pulling himself forward and upward. Finally at the top, he ran a few feet and stopped. He could go no further. His legs felt boneless and every blood vessel in his body beat in sync with his rapid breathing. His vision blurred, and his chest tightened.
Asher tried to breathe deep but his diaphragm spasmed and refused to cooperate. The woods started to spin around him, and he collapsed onto his back. The bandage peeled away like an old scab and left his wounds open to the air.
He could hear the horde coming up the slope now. But there was nothing he could do. He looked up with his one working eye, past the limbs, past the leaves, and found the early morning sky. It was just beginning to lighten with the dawn of day. He’d been in the woods all night.
His last thought before closing his eyes and accepting what may come was a passage from Scripture he’d used in a sermon recently,
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
Wow! I can hardly wait until my copy gets here. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My blog/website is http://www.mikedellosso.com/. I'm also on Facebook and Twitter. Also, just Google Mike Dellosso and you can't miss me.
Mike, thanks for sharing with us today.
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