That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen. It's time for another episode of FAN-tastic Friday where yours truly asks a member of my followers all the hard-hitting questions you want to know (and even some you don't).
Today's guest is witty, charming and more fun than watching your life-long nemesis get off a rollercoaster and puke all over the guy she's crushing on. Please help all of us here (just me) at Passions on Paper welcome DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude! *loud cheers and obnoxious whistling from crowd*
GL: Thanks so much for being here, DL. First I'd like to congratulate you on reaching 300 followers on your blog! That's amazing. I'm expecting to reach that particular milestone in a few days myself. *looks over at sidebar, decides to ignore the damn elephant in the room & presses on* For those who aren’t yet followers of Cruising Altitude (for which I’m positive they will be rectifying soon after this interview) can you tell us why you chose that unique title for your blog?
DL: You really think it’s unique? Cool! Anyway, about two years ago I was writing my first novel (which currently is collecting dust on a shelf) and my MC for that story just so happened to be a semi-popular blogger (yes…its fiction!). The blog plays a significant part of the story and thus needed a snappy title. The MC in the book was at a point in his life where he had risen above the turbulence of raising a family and survived climbing the corporate ladder, settling into his twilight years. Cruising Altitude became a perfect metaphor for where the MC was with his life, so it became the name of the blog in the book. At the time, I was using a combination of Facebook and Myspace to blog with, so a couple months after I finished the book I decided to create a proper blog. I debated many, many, many different titles utilizing author/writing themes, but in the end, I decided to transition Cruising Altitude from fiction, to fact. I’m really happy I did to!
GL: I think it’s perfect! And I hope you dust off that old novel someday, too.
DL: I plan to!
GL: Great! You’re a mystery writer. Is that primarily what you read when not penning your novel like the mad man you are?
DL: Primarily, yes, but not exclusively. Mysteries have always been my first love. It began with the Encyclopedia Brown series, moved quickly to The Hardy Boys, then onto more mature offerings such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Ross MacDonald, PD James, Rex Stout and Agatha Christie. However, my reading taste covers the entire literary spectrum as I’ve found that good writing transcends genre.
GL: Well said, my friend. What is the thing that fascinates you most about writing? Alternately, what’s the most frustrating?
DL: Hmmmmm…good question. I would have to say the opportunity to manipulate a reader’s emotion. That is what a good book does to me. I want to make my readers smile, laugh, cry, hold their breath, spike their blood-pressure, and ultimately lament the turning of that final page. To do that I’ve realized that as a writer I must make two things happen. First, they have to care for (or hate) the characters as much as I do. That means creating realistic, multi-dimensional players who come alive on the page. Second, crafting a compelling story around those characters that challenges the reader’s intellect.
The most frustrating? Definitely the technical aspect of writing. Dangling participles, split infinitives, comma splices, these are my stumbling blocks. Every time I write I curse my inattention in school all those years ago!
GL: *Starts to panic* What in the heck is a “split infinitive”?!? And there are participles that dangle? Do we want them to dangle? Crap! *note to self - write personals ad: Fun, female writer seeking editor for new best friend & confidante…*
Sorry, I just needed a moment there. Where was I? Oh - Without giving away any of your high-concept ideas, can you tell us a little about your Work-In-Progress?
DL: Glad to. *scanning room for any agent-types* I’ve always been drawn to stories with ordinary people thrust into extra-ordinary circumstances, so at its core that’s what my book is about. My MC is a middle-age HR manager whose leads a comfortable life in the southeast, but he’s also part of a tight-knit group of old college buddies who jokingly call themselves ‘The Knights Who Say Ni’. When one of the Knights (who works for a private detective agency) is savagely beaten and left in a coma, the group rallies together to help find the assailant. Joining forces with the female owner of the detective agency, the rag-tag group follow clues from an old case to the doorstep of the nation’s capitol and find themselves smack in the middle of a plot to carry out the deadliest bio-terrorism attack in US history. It’s a story about testing the limits of friendship and undying loyalty. I call it, FALLEN KNIGHT.
GL: Shut UP! The Knights Who Say Ni? Monty Python and the Holy Grail is only one of my favorite movies ever!! “You must cut down the tallest Redwood in the forest wiiiiiiith…a herring!” *LOL* Okay, I have to stop there – I could quote that movie for hours.
Seriously though, your book sounds great. I’m a pretty hard core Romance reader, but that plot sounds awesome! I also love the title you’ve chosen. It’s perfect.
DL: I’m kind of partial to it myself.
GL: You have a knack for putting writing advice into fresh and vivid analogies – like Black Ice and Riding a Scooter – that really help put things into perspective for other writers. Are you lying awake at night trying to think of these, or are you just that clever?
DL: LOL. The only thing that keeps me up at night is figuring out how to close that plot hole I left in the eighth chapter. :) For a good part of my professional life I’ve been an instructor/trainer, and it’s taught me how to figure out better ways to communicate difficult concepts. Part of being a responsible blogger is finding a way to give back to this wonderful community and fortunately I’ve been able to do that with a couple of these analogies. I’m no expert…at least not until I land an agent and get published…then every word turns to gold…right?! I have a backpack full of writing books just like everybody else, but sometimes a unique perspective from an obscure source can resonate with just as much clarity. If you have an idea or a different take on things, put it out there for other bloggers to see. If only just one finds it useful, then it has served a purpose.
GL: Lastly, despite being a Mystery Dude, if you could act as a Beta Reader for one Para-Rom author, who would it be?
DL: Hmmmmmm….tough choice. I’ve heard good things about Christine Feehan and J.R. Ward. Ewwww…what about Keri Arthur! Then there’s always Sherrilyn Kenyon. Decisions…decisions??
[*Big puppy dog eyes filling up with tears, chin quivering*]
Okay…okay…enough teasing. Of course I’d love to read the next best author (which would be you) before she becomes an icon. :)
GL: Really? I'm so flattered! That's a huge compliment that I totally wasn't expecting. *bats eyelashes innocently*
Well, I'm afraid that's all the time we have for today. Thanks so much, DL, for Cruising by Passions on Paper. (I'm so clever...I used the word "cruising" because of your blog title. How am I not published yet? Oh, right. I haven't submitted anything yet.)
Tune in next week when I'll be sharing a funny jingle I wrote for us wacky writers that's modeled after those goofy old Bud Light radio commercials, Real Men of Genius and Real American Hero! (If you don't know what I'm talking about, make sure you check them out on You Tube beforehand, so you get the full effect.)
Also, next week's guest on FAN-tastic Friday will be Nicole Ducleroir of One Significant Moment at a Time. Until then, I hope your weekend is filled with rainbows and pony rides!