I have a treat for you today. Author and blogger Dan Antion joins us to share a bit about himself and his post-retirement avocation -- writing.
Dan grew up in the Pittsburg, PA area. He and his family now live in Connecticut, but his stories often include scenes from his early formative Pennsylvania years.
Prior to writing for the masses, Dan had a long career in technology as a systems developer. In his own words, "I made my living creating what wasn’t included by the architects and builders."
In addition to writing, Dan enjoys other creative endeavors: photography, making furniture, building cabinetry, and working in and around his house. He often shares these great loves on his blog.
Let's see what Dan has to say about writing. I sent him six questions, and his responses are below. His explanations and shares found a place in my heart, and I suspect the same will be true for you. Enjoy!
I wrote the books over a period of almost two and a half years. When it became clear that I was writing a series, instead of the one book I had planned, several authors advised me to hold off publishing any of them until I had three complete drafts. That proved to be good advice, since changes occurred across the timeline. The book I was planning to write, The Evil You Choose, is the second book in the series. On the advice of friends, I decided to write the backstory, and a stubborn character prompted me to write the third book.
When I was growing up, I had several friends who were misunderstood. Today, they might be recognized as “special needs” children, but that distinction didn’t exist. They were picked on and bullied by their classmates and often ignored by their teachers, except for Sunday School teachers. Some of them died, either from drugs or by suicide, before graduating high school.
I always wanted to create a story for them, and I wanted to recognize those Sunday School teachers. I thought about how little we know about each other while we’re growing up, and how little even today’s teachers know about their students. I wanted the story to make people think, "what if..."
Zach and Billy share attributes and experiences from my childhood, and from friends and family I knew as a child. I identify more with Zach, in that my father managed a bowling alley (he didn’t own it; he worked for the Post Office). Billy is a composite character, drawn from my childhood, many other people and some attributes that just worked for the story.
Zach’s adult career wasn’t mine, but it is one I understand well. Many of the family dynamics are drawn from my life. John Amstead is much like my dad, including his compassion for kids like Billy. He hired a lot of them as pin boys, and he helped them become better adults. He always had time for them.
There were so many things. First, I was surprised by how much research was involved in writing fiction. Then I was shocked by how much work was involved after the books were finished. I always thought writing a book would be the hard part. A more positive surprise is the degree to which people were willing to help me, and the acceptance in the community, which has been humbling and heartwarming. I follow many authors, and the Story Empire blog you write for, and I have been amazed at how much these authors are willing to share about the process and help with answering questions and again with promotion.
The next book introduces a few new characters. One, Rachael Todd is a recent journalism graduate who found work at a small newspaper in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is given some old stories to investigate, including several that chronicled the experiences of the characters in the second and third books. As the reporter digs into the stories, she uncovers a group of people who are working against her as she searches for the truth. Redemption, a topic you are familiar with, is a recurring theme, as is the notion mentioned in all the books in the series, that good and evil are not binary concepts—they exist on a spectrum.
I wasn’t planning another book in the series, but several readers told me they wanted to know more about what happened to certain people. Two of my good friends even suggested that they wanted to know more about a particular character. I’m hoping the book serves the dual purpose of bringing closure to the Dreamer’s Alliance Series and is a starting point for a periodic series of mysteries surrounding the reporter.
I love telling stories, and I love sharing photos of ordinary things. The fact that I can do both in one place is amazing to me. As much as I enjoy being able to do those two things, the part I enjoy the most is the amazing community. There are days when I feel my post pales in comparison to the discussion going on in the comments. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I consider them to be friends.
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Knuckleheads The Evil You Choose When Evil Chooses You