Sunday, December 19, 2010

DARLINGTON WOODS - Mike Dellosso - Free Book

Today I'm welcoming fellow Strang author, Mike Dellosso. So Mike, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

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?

I choose names very carefully. For me, and in my mind, the name has to match the character. You know how you look at someone and think "she looks like a Jane," or "he looks like a Mark." I do that with my characters. I try to use common names so the stories don't get dated by names. Names are like trends, they come and go, but there are those that stay familiar throughout. Those are the names I go for. Last names are the toughies. Fortunately, my day job is with people so I have a wealth of surnames at my disposal. Again, I try to choose something that matches the character and isn't too "out there."

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 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.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

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 6 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. Here’s a link.


Annette W. said...

I read another book by Mike and would definitely be up for another!

Maureen said...

Wanted to read more...thanks for the teaser!

Linda Kish said...

Sounds interesting. Please include me.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Robyn said...

This sounds like a wonderful and introspective read.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com
I live in the midwest

CarolNWong said...

I am intrigued about the man not accepting that his son is dead. It reminds me that my mother used to tell me about my aunt receiving letters from her husband days after he died on Normandy Beach. Because they came after the notification she still beleived that he was alive for a while.


barbjan10 said...

Mike Dellosso is a fascinating person. Without a doubt his novel is certain to be fascinating. I know I would like to read his writings. Thank you for the giveaway and the chance to win his well written book. I hope I do win.

Blessings of Joy,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Linda said...

Mike sent me. And I'm glad he did! I've only read one book of his, but would love to read this one! Please enter me!

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Jillian Kent said...

I'm such a Dellosso fan. I've been hooked since reading Scream. Not only is he a nice guy, he's a great writer. I have a feeling we're going to see a lot more great and provactive writing from this guy.

Jackie S. said...

I would love to read this author for me! Please enter me from GA. Thanks!!!

Patricia said...

Nice interview. I find all this interesting as I go to church with Mike and his family. I have yet to read one of his books - I don't like to be scared. But I'm beginning to think I'm missing out on something! Thanks for the did what it was supposed to do!

Katy said...

I have never read a book by this author, but I'd love to start! :-) Please count me in.

~ Katy from Florida

Susan Elizabeth Ball said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Elizabeth Ball said...

My heart is thumping wildly in my chest after reading your teaser. The book sounds interesting, and terrifying.

Susan Elizabeth Ball said...

My heart is pounding in my chest after reading your teaser. The book sounds interesting, and terrifying!

Anonymous said...

This sounds intriguing! Thanks for the giveaway!


Warren said...

I'm a big fan of Mike's writing. As an aspiring author myself, I always love to read more about a writer and his habits.

I would like to be entered in the drawing, I'm from Illinois. wjuhnke at hotmail dot com

kristen said...

I'm hooked! Please enter me:)
Kristen from Washington State

Brenda said...

Wow what an interesting first page I wanted to read more!

dancealert at aol dot com

earlymorn23 said...

This book sounds interesting--in fact VERY interesting. Please enter me in the drawing.

Thanks & Merry Christmas.

Dawn from Virginia.

Reggie said...

Having loss 3 good friends to cancer and gaining a new friend after supporting her spiritually and mentally in her battle and subsequent victory over breast cancer, I am interested in reading Mike's allegorical writing of this evil disease. Please sign me up. reggiegreenleaf at msn dot com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the interest, folks! Of my three books, Darlington Woods is my favorite. It's so personal to me. When I read it over again I was surprised at all the symbolism that worked its way into the story without me even realizing it while I was writing. Must have been a subconscious thing. It's a story that's suspenseful and scary . . . but isn't life? I hope you enjoy it. And Merry Christmas!

B. J. Robinson said...

Enjoyed reading about how Mike came to be a writer. Like Mike, I think all my characters have a small part of me in them or a small part of my mother, who now makes her home in heaven.

Ellen said...

Awesome interview! Love the teaser and now I need to read the book!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Please enter me in the drawing. :)
Ann Lee Miller
Gilbert AZ

Amy said...

It was interesting to read your interview. I would love to win and read your book!

karenk said...

please count me in...thanks :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love the premise and the deeper reason behind this book. Please enter me.


Judylynn said...

Please enter me in this giveaway - Thanks! (I am in Tennessee)


Ginny said...

I'd like to enter. I live in Michigan

Nancye said...

This sounds like an interesting book! Please count me in!

Nancye from Kentucky
nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

rubynreba said...

I'd enjoy reading this
Beth from Iowa

Anonymous said...

Please enter me.

Wendy from MN
ebeandebe at gmail dot com