I’m thrilled to have Darrel Nelson on my blog today. I was privileged to read the manuscript for endorsement, and I loved it. I think you will, too. Welcome, Darrel. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I suspect most authors put a bit of themselves into each of their characters, good or bad. Imagination allows us to magnify the good and bad traits in ourselves and project them into our characters. But, naturally, our good characters take after our personal good traits as the author, while the bad characters are solely based on our imagined bad traits . . . right?
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
The word “quirky” covers a wide range of possibilities. But I would have to say that eating peanuts, shell and all, might qualify. Someone introduced me to this practice years ago, and I tried it and liked it. So when I go to Texas Roadhouse or some other restaurant that serves bulk peanuts in the shell as an appetizer, I pop the whole peanut in my mouth, shell and all, and chew to my heart’s content. Talk about fiber! (Disclaimer: No one else I’ve talked into trying it likes it. Just sayin’.)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I began writing stories when I was about ten years old. It seemed a natural thing to pick up a paper and pencil and write adventure stories. I read all the Tarzan books I could get my hands on, and so my early stories were jungle adventures. Later, I got into science fiction and so I left the steaming jungles of
Africa for the outer
realms of the galaxy. I created a character named Zip Carter, and, boy, did he
have some exciting, far-out adventures. I have no idea where those early
stories ever got to, but would it ever be a laugh to read them now.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I still haven’t figured out how I went from reading jungle adventures and outer space adventures to reading romantic fiction, but somewhere along the line I discovered that I liked reading stories about relationships, particularly love stories. I love the books of Nicholas Sparks and Charles Martin, both of whom write in the style I enjoy myself. Also, I love John Grisham’s courtroom drama novels. I’ve read them all, too.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I wish I could answer that, but l have already lost my sanity. I mean, I’m trying to break into the writing business, right? Okay, seriously, there are several things that have helped me. First of all, I have a wonderful and supportive wife and family (including ten adorable grandchildren) who mean the world to me. They help keep me grounded. Secondly, we are active in our church and believe that with the Lord’s help we can endure and rise above the trials of life. Third, I have been a schoolteacher for thirty-seven years, and being around the innocence and vitality of children all those years has helped maintain my faith in humanity.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
At first I pull the names out of a hat (not literally) and begin fleshing out their characters. As the story progresses, I might change my mind on a character’s name. For example, in The Anniversary Waltz, “Adam” was originally named “Shem.” But as the book progressed, the name Adam seemed to suit the character better. I know it sounds like I have a thing for Bible names—I mean, the main female character is named
Elizabeth—but not really. I settled on names
that seemed to “ring true” to the character. But here’s the funny thing. In
real life, I have a nephew named Adam and a niece named Elizabeth.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Convincing my wife to marry me. And that is an accomplishment considering what a shy guy I was. Still am.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
In both of my novels I include a scene where a bird (hawk and eagle respectively) is soaring gracefully through the air. So I suppose I would choose to be a hawk or an eagle. There is something about its freedom of flight, the majesty of its outstretched wings, the solitude of being (as described in my second novel) “a beauty mark on the face of heaven” that is appealing to me. Plus, as a boy I read every Superman comic book on the face of the earth and dreamed about being able to FLY.
What is your favorite food?
I love Canadian Chinese food. Wait . . . Canadian Chinese food, you say? Yep. Chinese food that’s served right here in good old
Canada. It’s a
little different than American Chinese food—I don’t know, they must use a
different recipe or something. I only know that my family loves it, and my
children who live in the States always request, when they back to Canada to visit,
that we all go out for genuine, authentic Canadian Chinese food.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My main problem can be summarized in three little letters: POV. That’s Point of View. I’ve driven my editor crazy with how I get into the head of each of my characters and share their thoughts and feelings freely, often in the same scene. I write in a stream of consciousness mode, and this poses a problem for the reader. It tends to give a “shotgun blast” of information instead of a pinpoint that allows the information to be unfolded incrementally.
I have tried to overcome this roadblock by keeping a piece of paper beside of my computer that lists the chapter number and the POV from which it’s told. As I write, I remind myself to focus on who’s telling the story and to be aware of not climbing inside another character’s head. I read each completed chapter about a hundred times to check it over, and then move on. When I go back and reread the book later, I still find places where I have been inconsistent. So the bottom line is—I’m improving in this area, but I still have a long way to go. It’s a tricky technique to master, I’ll tell you that. But that’s just my POV.
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Would you do me the honor, Miss?”
Adam Carlson stood beside his wife, Elizabeth, who was still seated at the dining room table. He presented her with a single white rose, which he brought out from behind his back. She held the flower close in order to savor its sweet fragrance. Adam extended a wrinkled hand and looked at her expectantly, the question lingering in his smile.
The living room was decorated especially for the occasion. A banner that read HAPPY ANNIVERSARY stretched above the doorway, and crepe streamers hung from the center of the ceiling, radiating to the corners of the room like the spokes of a wheel. Balloons were taped to the walls in clusters, and below each cluster was a hand-drawn picture that showed two stick figures holding hands, with the words GREAT-GRANDMA LOVES GREAT-GRANDPA printed across the bottom in irregular block letters. A brass floor lamp stood in the far corner, casting a warm glow throughout the room. A floral arrangement in a ceramic vase sat on the fireplace mantel, and a small pennant that was attached to a thin wooden stick protruded from the leaves and bore the message HAPPY 60th, written in glitter paint. A photograph in an old picture frame of Adam and Elizabeth on their wedding day sat on the coffee table, and an album containing photographs of past anniversaries lay open beside it.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can find me a www.darrelnelson.com. I invite you to check out my website and my blog.
Thank you, Darrel, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.The Anniversary Waltz: A novel
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.