Welcome, Mike. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I suppose that depends on the characters. Some of them I've infused characteristics about myself. Others aren't like me at all. I actually find it easier to take mannerisms, interests and experiences from people I know, and work them into different characters in my stories. I'll give you an example. In my latest novel, Love's Second Chance, there is a receptionist at a church, Janice, who loves plants. And when I say she loves plants, she has them all over her desk, is always pruning and misting them, and tells anyone who'll listen how they're doing. My wife is also a plant lover, though not to the same extent as Janice. She often visits local nurseries to see what might interest her, or go into our backyard to prune, plant, or pick the fruit of something there. That is the kind of thing that resonates with people, and so I borrowed her interest and incorporated it into Janice's personality. The more real things characters do in my opinion, the more they become real in the reader's mind.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I'm not sure how to define quirky, since we're all quirky in our own way, but one of the funnest things I've ever done was back in 1983. It was the year Return of the Jedi came out, and like so many other Star Wars fans, wanted all the answers the second movie left us hanging with. Rather than risk being told before seeing the movie myself, a friend and I went to the theater the day before and stood in line all night. Mind you, this was years before the Phantom Menace came out, where people waited in line for weeks before that film came out. I guess we were ahead of our time in that regard. Anyway, we had a great time talking with people around us, and even sang happy birthday to someone we didn't know. When the movie finally started, the theater erupted in fierce applause. Suffice it to say, it was a great time had by all.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I think writers are born as writers. Either they are or they aren't in my opinion. Writers have to write. They can't help it. I know that's true in my case since I had little interest in books or reading growing up. My interest was more in the area of movies and television. Since I'm a visual learner, that would make a lot of sense. As someone who enjoys stories, I found myself writing short stories from my earliest memories for my own enjoyment--that was the writer in me coming out despite myself. I never had any intention of getting them published, but I believe we are all born with God-given gifts, infused into our personalities for the benefit of others. Shortly after high school, I suddenly had the idea I could write a novel. That was truly a surprise for me, given my background, but thought I would give it a shot. It was a science fiction story based upon the premise 1000 alien ships were presently headed toward Earth for the sole purpose of destroying it, and we had little chance of stopping them. With that simple idea, I spent the next several months fleshing it out. As you can imagine, it was pretty bad, and I worked on it off and on for the next 28 years, honing down the story until it was in publishable shape. My perseverance paid off, and I eventually found a publisher for When the Sky Fell in 2009.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Oddly enough, I prefer to read non-fiction books over fiction. I have a love of history, and often find myself drawn toward important figures from the past. I am currently reading a book about
history, and the famous sayings of Abraham Lincoln.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
One of the temptations for writers is finding their identity in their stories. If people like what they've written, they feel validated as a writer. If people have a negative opinion of their stories, they feel rejected. It's only natural. I find it's good to have interests other than writing. As I previously mentioned, I enjoy all things historical. I am also married with two children, so that takes up a lot of my time. The best way to keep my sanity is knowing my self-worth is not tied up in my achievements, whatever they might be, but in my relationship with God. The things we do here will have an ending, whereas the things we do for Him will last eternity. The stories I write are meant to glorify and honor Him, and if I can touch another life for Him through my novels, then that's all the accolade I need.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
It's kind of a mix for me. There are times when they just pop into my head, such as Dana Rogers in my next release. It doesn't any particular meaning for me. It just sounded like the right name the main character should have. On the other hand, I have included names that manifest a character trait in some way, something the reader I hope would pick up on. For example, in my previous novel, After the Cross, you have four main characters (two protagonists and two antagonists) who are searching for the cross of Jesus, whom they believe may still exist. The central character in the story is Colton Foster, whose name "Foster" was used to show that relationships are important to him, and tries to mend broken relationships. The linguist he works with is Mallory Windom. Like the name "Wind" suggests, she is a free spirit, who plays by her own rules. Then you have the two villains in the story, the first being Demetrius Malotetnev. The beginning part of his last name, "Mal" literally means bad in English and other European language. The other villain is Vladimir Zarco, and any character with the last name beginning with the letter "Z" is automatically assumed to be evil, which he is.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Like so many others at the time, my family, the Devanys, emigrated from
in the 1850s. They eventually found their way to San
Francisco, and then to a small farming community east of Oakland called Dublin.
A lot of Irish immigrants ended up there, hence the town's name. They were one
of the pioneer families of that community, but over time they either died or
moved to other parts of the Bay Area. Over the years their historical importance
and contributions were forgotten, until I had the chance to write about the
town's history. This gave me the opportunity to tell everyone about the Devanys,
along with many other pioneer families who had similarly been forgotten like mine.
A few years ago, the city of Dublin
wanted to build a park that would commemorate one the pioneer families that
hadn't been recognized like some of the others. It happened to be near where my
Great-great-grandfather Michael Devany had his farm, and so they named the
park, Devany Square.
My family was honored by the mayor in the opening ceremony, and I couldn't have
been more proud of my heritage than on that day. Now the name Devany will be a
permanent part of Dublin's
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I'm a dog guy. They're loyal, protective, and can be trained to do all sorts of things. That's me in a nutshell.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Costco has a seven layer version that is the best I've ever had. My wife's apple pie, however, comes in at a close second.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
That's hard to say. There are so many obstacles every author faces. In my case, I would say it is different than for most writers. I enjoy the process of co-authoring, since I find it is extremely helpful collaborating with someone just as invested in the quality of the story as I am. But that also presents a whole other set of issues that need to be addressed. The creative process is very personal, and some writers have a hard time receiving negative feedback from another writer. But that is exactly what happened when Brandon Barr and I collaborated on our novels, as you would expect. We often had differences of opinion about the story structure or the way a sentence should be written, or the kinds of personality traits we wanted for a particular character. In the end, the overall vision for the story is what matters, and to make it as engaging as possible. That always trumps the other’s feelings about what to leave in or cut out, or the hundreds of other decisions that must be addressed along the way. Usually, when one of us shared our reasons for why we wrote a scene a particular way for example, especially when he felt pretty strongly about it, the other would usually defer to him, and then we'd move on. In the end, the story ended up being that much stronger because we both embrace the collaborative process.
Tell us about the featured book?
As I mentioned in an earlier question, the title of it is Love's Second Chance. As the name implies, it is a story about second chances, second chances for those who have experienced loss, and for those things we hold most dear. The story's central character, Dana Rogers, learns this powerful truth as she serves as the pastor's assistant at New Covenant Christian Church, the center of community life in the town of
Haven for the past two hundred years. There she has
caught the eye of Evan Johnson, a highly successful real estate agent, but the
tragic death of her fiancé has wounded her so deeply she vows never to open her
heart again to any man, including Evan. Despite her resistance he helps her work
through the pain of her loss, and for the first time in years, considers the
possibility she can love again. In a stunning turn of events, suffers a
devastating setback, one that threatens to undue everything Dana has worked to save,
including her budding relationship with Evan. New Covenant
Please give us the first page of the book.
Men, we make out stand here, I read, and then paused for effect.
"Oooh," a child in the front row said aloud, followed by, "that's cool."
"That's right," a boy of eight next to him echoed, "you give it to those redcoats."
A mixture of snickers and muted laughter filtered through the classroom.
"Now, now children," Miss Honeywell said in a firm voice while she rapped the desk with her knuckles, "we promised Miss Rogers we'd be on our best behavior. It's not polite to talk when someone else is reading."
The room fell silent in an instant.
I offered the class a soft smile and tilted my head. Many of the students picked up on my subtle show of empathy, and smiled in returned. It always warmed my heart whenever we connected like this, and never minded it when they unconsciously acted out or verbally participated in the story. Seldom do people have an opportunity to capture a child’s imagination, and I counted myself fortunate Miss Honeywell gave me that chance every other week.
I leaned forward. Men, we make out stand here, I read with the same enthusiasm as before, and then turned the page.
All thirty pair of eyes hung on every word.
Captain Gretham pulled out his saber from its scabbard and waived it in the air above his blue tri-fold hat. Behind him, a band of motley-looking soldiers, their coats torn and pants mud-splattered, formed into ranks two deep. Their steely eyes, witnesses of a dozen battles fought before this day, fixed on the swelling British lines across the grassy field two hundred yards away.
"I pray we see victory this glorious morn, for I call upon the Lord that Ye be with us on the side of righteousness against our most determined enemy." Gretham spun around and faced the men under his command, his breath visible in the cold morning air. "What say you?"
"Victory!" a voice cried out, followed by another, until everyone within earshot joined in with such fervor, one might mistake it for a church revival.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
The best way to find me is on my website: www.mikelynchbooks.com
I would also like to thank you for this opportunity to share a little about myself and my latest novel with those who follow you on your website. Keep up the good work.
Thank you, Mike, for sharing your book with us.
Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.Love's Second Chance
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