As the rain pours today after a week of cold temps, and seeing this is Friday the 13th, I'm looking for a little Irish luck (and possibly an Irish lass to stroll by) as I pick up this week's featured author, William Doonan, and we transport to Kilronan which is on the Aron Islands of the west coast of Ireland. We're sitting in teh pub of a bed-and-breakfast Mr. Doonan dreams of owning. It also has a sitting room with fireplaces, conference facilities, and of course the obligatory gift shop.
Bring on the leprechauns!
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I am an archaeologist and a college professor. I live in Sacramento with my wife and my two little boys. I write mysteries, and I’m learning to speak Irish. I’ve been studying it for three years. And in another six or seven, I’ll hopefully speak it well enough to talk with some of the people who visit my imaginary B&B.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I think most people would be surprised to learn that I’m willing to do nude scenes if essential to the plot. Also, I collect antique 3D cameras.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as an international oil magnate?
I didn’t. I very much wanted to be an international oil magnate. But by the time I got to college, all the magnate classes were full. And I know what you’re thinking - sign up for a Saturday class because they’re never full. But who wants to do that? So I studied archaeology and writing instead. Maybe when I sell a few million books and make a few million bucks, I’ll give the magnate thing another shot.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I’d like to make a big pot of jambalaya and dish it out to Elmore Leonard and Vladimir Nabokov. Why? Because jambalaya is really good, especially if you use wine instead of water for the rice, and I think those guys would like it. I’d serve it with some beans and malt liquor.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
My characters are engaging, my settings divine, my prose delightful, and my books flammable. Deserted islands get cold at night, as do airports. You’ll need to build a fire.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
That’s a big question. I think I start with the characters, and then I move on to the setting. The plot kind of takes care of itself. Once I let the characters loose on an imagined landscape, they quickly figure out what needs to happen. I write nearly every day, and feel great shame if I miss two days in a row, and I do countless rewrites. Once I have the basic story down, I make sure it all makes sense and then I go back to add the verbs, tenses, punctuation, and capital letters.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Watch the first two seasons of The Walking Dead. Take notes on every scene you think worked, and every scene you think didn’t. Then cross off the ones that didn’t work and write your story along the lines of what’s left. Only don’t have zombies in your story or it will come out pretty much like The Walking Dead.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
“Be kind, and wear sunscreen.” Seriously, at some point you’re going to die, and on the off chance that there is an afterlife, do you want to spend eternity smacking yourself in the head wishing you had been kinder or worn sunscreen?
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
Thanks for asking. I’m working on getting the word out about American Caliphate, my new archaeological mystery. It was just published last week by Dark Oak Mysteries. Here’s a blurb:
Archaeologists Jila Wells and Ben Juarez are not thrilled at the prospect of returning to Peru; the ambush that nearly cost Jila her life still haunts her. But the ruined pyramids at Santiago de Paz hide an important document that would shock the Islamic world. Professor Sandy Beckham is assembling a distinguished team to dig quickly through the pyramid complex, following clues found in the diary of a wealthy Muslim woman who lived in Spain five centuries ago.
In the diary are details of an illegal expedition to Spanish Peru in three well-armed ships. Convinced that Spain was forever lost to Islam, Diego Ibanez intended to bring the word of Allah to the pagan Americans. Landing on Peru’s north coast, he learned that the fires of the Inquisition burned even hotter there than they did in Spain.
As the archaeologists brace for the ravaging storms of El Niño, Jila and Ben hurry to complete their excavations. But they’re not the only ones interested in this project. Other forces are determined that the document remain hidden. Should it be discovered, a challenge could be made under Islamic testamentary law to the throne of Saudi Arabia. And the House of Saud has no interest in sharing power with an American caliphate that might now awaken from a five hundred year slumber.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
Well, they’re certainly welcome to visit my Bed & Breakfast, but if they can’t find it, they can always reach me at www.williamdoonan.com.