So last week you read the review for Dick Hannah's book Toe the Line. Now get ready to meet the man behind the book!!
Author Interview!!!1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a native Texan who spent four years as a sergeant in an Army Airborne Ranger unit before coming home to become a technical writer and editor. I've always wanted to be a novelist so when not writing assembly and safety manuals I was home reading and writing mystery and thriller novels. Like most writers, I grew up loving to read and write. My first story, written in first grade, read like a Rex Stout pulp thriller but with less direction and absolutely no structure.
2. When and why did you begin writing?
I spent a lot of time on a fruitless quest to get my MFA in Creative Writing. I thought that with an MFA I would have the credibility and curriculum vitae to become a serious writer. My time would have been better spent actually laying pen to paper and writing, writing, writing. I didn't get serious until I was in my thirties and I'm only just now getting to a point where I'm comfortable with allowing the public to read my writing. I wish I had written more in my twenties so that I could have been a more developed and professional writer at this point in my life.
3. What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote Toe the Line shortly after moving home from Washington. I loved the Pacific Northwest and sorely wanted to stay up there. I had raced in several triathlons, marathons and adventure races and thought that Toe the Line offered me the perfect platform to provide an outlet for understanding racing and racers and to set it in Seattle as an homage to my time there.
4. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I've always raced in fun runs. I remember in fourth grade training for my first fun run, the Houston Zoo Run. Over the years I've raced in triathlons, marathons, fun runs, and races including the Army's Best Ranger Competition. Having run in so many different races I have a deep history and a lot I can impart to readers about the subject. Additionally, my brother is an idea generation machine. Thankfully he doesn't mind sending me many of his thoughts and plots. If I could keep up with his ideas I'd be on novel thirty of forty.
5. What do you think makes a good story?
I think what makes a good story depends on the reader and what's going on in that reader's life. My reading ranges from short, funny, light fiction like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series to thick, "committment" books like Oliver Twist or Les Miserables. Sometimes I enjoy lots of characters with deep inter-related plots and twists that converge at the end of the story, other times I like to know where the stories going and just enjoy allowing the author take me on that ride. I think in most cases though I would say that being able to surprise the reader is what makes a good story.
6. Can you tell us about any challenges in getting your first book published?
As an editor I know how poorly a writer edits his own work. Despite this understanding I struggled with polishing my work to the point needed for publication. Even now I'm not completely satisfied with Toe the Line. Thankfully the second and third novels are moving toward publication much more smoothly than Toe the Line and I hope that their subsequent releases are also less challenging. My advice both to myself and anyone else considering publishing their novels; even if you think it's edited, let an editor have yet another look at it.
7. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
If you enjoy Toe the Line you will love my next novel. Your patience will be rewarded. Secondly, if you like my novels be as proactive as possible in expressing that. Today's publishing world is changing constantly and quickly. New authors like me are slaves to word of mouth and reviews like those found on this site. If you like the writing, tell someone and tell another someone. That's the only way they're going to be able to keep producing those books you like.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Had you asked this question when I was a child I would have said Roald Dahl or Alfred Hitchcock short stories. As a teenager I would have said Dick Francis, Isaac Asimov or Stephen King. As a college student my favorite writers were John Grisham and Michael Crichton. Now I enjoy reading James Clavell's novels, Tom Clancy's works, George MacDonald Frasier and Ken Follett. But the books I most look forward to reading are books by Vernor Vinge. Vernor Vinge is able to create whole, believable worlds and never leaves out the twists and surprises. If you've never tried his work and you want a "commitment book", he's your man.
I am writing a novel that concentrates on the way that obsessions and conspiracies can undermine the lives and families of ordinary people. In this work I leverage my Army and Special Operations background and compared to my first two novels this one is far more complex and filled with intrigue.
The novel I hope to release in the next few months focuses on adventure racing in West Texas. A lot of Toe the Line focuses on imagery of water, swimming, and the rain that is persistent in the Pacific Northwest. I wanted to try the opposite approach with On the Edge and have the story focus on the West Texas desert. I think it will prove that I have developed as a writer. It has more engaging characters, more subtleties, and far more developed major and minor plot lines.11. Is there any additional info you would like to share with your readers about what’s next for you and your books?
Although I like my novels and think they fill an empty area in the marketplace, I am seriously considering changing from a first person, thriller cum mystery format to one that is third person and more genuinely a true thriller. Unless I find a substantial audience for this adventure racing series I would like to branch out and try new styles. Many people think I should explore using more comedy in my writing, but I'm a bit worried about trying that. That's a tough style to master.
And a couple more that are a bit unconventional :)12. What will your first thought be when you had learnt that you won a lottery?
"Wow! And I didn't even buy a ticket!"
Invisibility. I love sitting and watching folks walk by, thinking about what they might do and why. Invisibility would let me see more about folks without them doing things just because they know they're being watched.
14. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you/ Why?
Despite the fact that the actor Damien Lewis is a doppleganger for me, I would want Phillip Seymour Hoffman to play me. I doubt if he could capture me, but I think he's such a good actor that even if he didn't capture the true Dick Hannah, whatever he produced would be pretty wild and really well done.
I just want to thank Mr. Hannah for taking the time to answer our questions and for being so great to work with over the last couple of weeks! Authors like him are the reason I am enjoying this so much!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER OUR QUESTIONS! WE CAN'T WAIT FOR YOUR NEXT BOOK!!!
Check out Dick Hannah's Official Site HERE
Check out last week's review of Toe the Line HERE