Welcome back, Darrel. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I’ve thought about that a lot actually. I like to write love stories, both historical and contemporary, but sometimes I wonder if penning a spy thriller or crafting a war saga might be more “manly.” When I was young, I wrote adventure stories based on the books I was reading back then. But in time my interests changed, and I attribute the change to meeting my wife-to-be and falling for her head over heels. Before we met, I was incomplete; afterward, I felt whole. And that is the theme I like to base my stories around: people who are incomplete finding wholeness in one another. Perhaps I’m just a hopeless romantic at heart because I enjoy watching romantic comedies with my wife, and I like reading Nicholas Sparks and Charles Martin’s novels. Love is the most amazing force on earth, and I enjoy writing stories where characters are changed by its power.
I like to see Christian men who understand the relationship between a man and a woman the way God intended it to be. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
There’s no question about it. The happiest day of my life was when I married my wife, Marsha. That was over forty years ago, and there have been many happy days since then. But our wedding day was a dream-come-true. I look back at our wedding pictures and shake my head in wonder that we were ever that young! But growing older together has been a wonderful experience too.
And with my husband and me, it grows sweeter every year. How has being published changed your life?
It has enriched it immensely and put me in touch with many wonderful people: my agent, Joyce Hart; the staff at Charisma House; my editor, Lori Vanden Bosch; the staff at Glass Road Media; fellow writers; and many others who have helped along the way. Letters and comments from readers have been particularly rewarding and uplifting. I feel blessed because of the encouragement and support I’ve received.
Since we write for the same publisher and have the same agent, my team is the same. They truly are wonderful. What are you reading right now?
I’m just finishing a nonfiction book entitled: Surviving the Taliban—the Incredible True Story of a Convert. It takes place in
Pakistan, in a
culture where Christianity is punishable by death. The protagonist, identified
only as The Poet, converts to Christianity and has to endure repeated
assassination attempts, the loss of his family and all his possessions, and a
life of being on the run. It’s a powerful story of how much a person will go
through in an effort to cling to his beliefs. It’s given me a chance to do a
lot of self-reflection. As soon as I finish the book, I’m going to read Charles
Martin’s novel When Crickets Cry. I
like a balance of nonfiction and fiction.
What is your current work in progress?
I’m excited about this one. It’s entitled Following Rain and is a story about the saving power of truth and love. When Paul Blakely, a successful investigative reporter, visits a
Seattle homeless shelter in preparation for a
story he’s researching and meets Raina (Rain) MacFarlane, a mysterious young
woman who is living with a painful past, he could never imagine the challenging
and life-changing experience it will become for both of them. As he uncovers
the secrets of her past, he makes an important discovery about his own life.
And so begins an unexpected journey that will challenge what they think they
know about life and love.
Sounds wonderful. What would be your dream vacation?
An all-expense trip to a tropical destination such as the Caribbean or
Maui would be wonderful! I live in Alberta,
and right now it’s the dead of winter. Days are short and the weather is
c-c-cold. I may write fiction but I can hardly envision my wife and I walking
along a sandy beach with the surf tickling our toes and the sun warming our
backs. Currently our life is snow, snow everywhere and nary a green blade of
I’ve had a couple of
vacations. They’re very nice. How do you choose your setting for each book?
I select an area that I’m familiar with so the novel rings true. The Anniversary Waltz was originally set in southern
Alberta, Canada, where I
live. When Charisma picked me up, I changed the setting to northern Montana (which is very similar to southern Alberta) so my American
readers could better identify with it. For my second novel, The
Return of Cassandra Todd, I chose Denver
because that’s where my two daughters and their families live, and my wife and
I have been there many times. Again, I wanted the novel to ring true to readers
who know the area. For my third novel, Following
Rain, I selected Seattle
because I want to move my settings around in an effort to appeal to more
readers. The only problem with picking Seattle
is that I’ve never been there. So my wife and I went on a working vacation and
spent time touring the city and talking to people and soaking up as much of the
culture and geography as we could. My wife is hoping I pick Paris
or Rome for my
My first Realms book was set in
Territory in 1885. It’s Maggie’s Journey,
and right now ebook downloads are FREE until February 12 in formats for Kindle,
Nook, Kobo, and Sony ereaders. If you could spend an evening with one person
who is currently alive, who would it be and why? Seattle, Washington
I would love to meet Paul McCartney. I’m a Beatle fanatic. I saw the Beatles when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964. I was hooked. Over the years I bought every one of their 45s and albums (yes, that’s what we called them back then), and I own probably fifty books on the Beatles and have read fifty more. I play their music regularly, especially when I ride my exercise bike. So I’d like to meet Paul McCartney and thank him for all the great music he brought into my life. I’d also like to talk to him about the creative process of pulling ideas out of the air, giving them shape, and fine-tuning them (no pun intended) into finished form. The only problem is, if I did meet him, I’d be so tongue-tied that I wouldn’t be able to string two coherent words together.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I have written hundreds of songs over the years, three of which have been professionally produced and played on the local radio. One song actually got some airplay in
Europe too. I think I made a
grand total of $13 in royalties from it! I don’t write songs as much as I used
to, but during my years as an elementary school teacher, I would always write a
special Christmas song for my fourth grade class to learn. Then we’d “go on
tour” and share it with the other grades. I also used to golf a lot, but I gave
up when my sons started beating me too badly!
Sounds like fun. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
For some reason the refrigerator and the pantry keep beckoning to me. Now that I’m retired and work at home, they are soooo accessible. When I’m writing and get stuck for an idea, or the story isn’t working out smoothly, I find myself heeding the call. I wander into the kitchen and browse around, grab a snack, and return. But soon the refrigerator and the pantry start beckoning again. I overcome this obstacle by sometimes going to the library of the local university and selecting a quiet cubicle away from enticements and distractions. Or I simply force myself to remain in my chair. But then my legs start to get tired, so I need to stretch them, right? And since I’m stretching them, I might as well walk around. And since I’m walking around anyway, I might as well go into the kitchen and . . . You get the idea.
What advice would you give a beginning author?
Don’t quit your day job. And here I’m speaking from experience. I taught school for five years and then resigned so I could write the “great Canadian novel.” I worked on the book for two years and then sent out many, many letters to publishers. This was in the days before word processors, so each letter had to be typed individually. One publisher expressed interest but nothing came of it. And that was the end of that. I managed to find another teaching job, and I stayed in teaching for the next thirty-two years. During that time I wrote ten more novels, several of which were intended for the youth market. When The Anniversary Waltz and The Return of Cassandra Todd were finally signed by a publisher—after thirty years of trying—I retired so that I could write full time and enjoy the process a little more. On that note, another piece of advice: Don’t give up. It took me thirty years to find a publisher. How badly do YOU want to find one?
Tell us about the featured book.
It’s entitled The Return of Cassandra Todd. In a nutshell, here’s the plot: Turner Caldwell could never have imagined that the outdoor training and survival skills he learned at
, a summer youth
camp where he worked three years as a leader, would one day become so crucial.
When Cassandra Todd, the girl associated with making his life miserable in high
school, re-enters his life, little son in tow, and asks for help in eluding her
abusive husband, Turner finds himself entangled in a life and death struggle
that will require every skill he has in order to survive. The Return of Cassandra Todd
is a contemporary action/adventure love story that will keep readers turning
the page in a headlong rush to see how things turn out. Camp
Give us the first page of the book.
She lay beside her husband, listening to his steady breathing. A sliver of moonlight peeked through a gap in the curtain and illuminated his features. He lay on his back with his mouth partway open, his hair disheveled, a two-day growth of stubble on his chin. He snored softly but otherwise remained asleep.
She rolled onto her side and glanced at the clock. 1:27 a.m. After waiting to make certain her movement hadn’t disturbed him, she eased back the covers, her bare feet soundlessly touching the floor. She grimaced as the bedsprings protested her departure. Remaining still for a moment, she studied her husband. He continued to snore, and his silhouetted shape did not stir.
After tiptoeing into the bathroom, she quickly changed in the darkness, slipping into the clothes she’d purposefully laid out before going to bed. She rehearsed what she’d say if her husband unexpectedly came in and discovered her . . . dressed.
Then, with her heart in her throat, she stepped into the hallway as cautiously as though walking through a minefield and went directly to the bedroom next door. Opening the door slowly so the hinges didn’t squeak, she listened to see if her husband had noticed her absence.
All remained silent, except for the blood pounding in her ears. Exhaling slowly, she crossed the room and gently touched the little figure huddled beneath the covers. “Sweetie,” she whispered. “It’s Mommy.”
The little boy, only four, rolled over in protest to the interruption.
“Time to wake up.”
He opened his eyes and stared questioningly at her.
“Come with Mommy.”
“Where?” he asked. This was followed by an extended yawn and catlike stretch.
“We’re going on an adventure.”
“Shhh! We don’t want to disturb Daddy. Hurry and get up, but be very quiet.”
How can readers find you on the Internet.
My webpage is located at www.darrelnelson.com. Please check it and my blog out as well. You can post comments there and I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you, Darrel, for sharing your life and this book with us. When I read it for endorsement, I loved the story.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.The Return of Cassandra Todd - paperback
The Return of Cassandra Todd - Kindle
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