The second day of this tour will feature the author of Darkness Follows, Mike Dellosso. Please welcome him for an interview!
NA: Welcome, Mr. Dellosso! What drew you to write Christian suspense?
MD: Ever since I was a kid I loved suspenseful stories. I think partly it's because I have a short attention span and get distracted easily. I needed something fast-paced and gripping to keep my attention. So when it came to writing my own books suspense was just a natural fit for me. I write Christian suspense because it allows me to write the story I want infused with the message that's been put on my heart. I want my writing to make a difference, to impact people on a deeper level than just a good story.
NA: What is unique in The Hunted, Scream, Darlington Woods, and Darkness Follows compared to other suspense stories?
MD: What makes my stories most unique is the message behind the story. Yes, the stories are fast-paced and thrilling. I get so many emails from readers saying they read one of my books in one sitting, they couldn't stop turning the pages. But the thing I get the most reaction about--and the thing I find most humbling--is the message intertwined with the story. Somehow, I'm able to weave a faith message into the story without losing the pacing and without coming off as "preachy." I thank God for that because for me, that's what it's really all about, giving the reader something to take away from the story.
NA: As you look back on writing those books, what challenged you the most, and how did you get through it?
MD: The most challenging thing for me is writing under a deadline. I'm pretty obsessive about deadlines so I put a lot of pressure on myself to meet them. Pressure and creativity don't go well together. I can get pretty stressed as the deadline grows closer, especially if I'm behind schedule or stuck on a certain part of the story.
NA: Which character was the hardest to write? And which was the easiest?
MD: The leading ladies are always hardest because, for me (and most men), getting inside the head of a woman is a near-impossible ordeal. I always second-guess how I write the female lead in my books. Surprisingly, the easiest characters to write are the villians. Writing their character is like following the path of least resistance. I let my inhibitions go and just have fun making them as creepy and tormented as I need to. It's a solemn thing, too, knowing I'm dealing with some dark issues and vile things. I don't take it lightly and make sure to protect myself while I "get inside" an evil person.
NA: If you could be any character in your books, who would it be?
MD: Either Mark Stone of Scream because he has the coolest 1973 Ford Mustang or Sam Travis of Darkness Follows because he lives in my dream home outside Gettysburg (it's a real place). Also, both of these men struggle with real issues that I myself struggle with (and, I'd venture to say, most men) and found their faith in God to carry them through. I admire that so much.
NA: Do you have any personal connection to or knowledge of the Civil War?
MD: For my full-time job I do homecare physical therapy and work in and around Gettysburg. I'm always taking shortcuts through the battlefields and will often stop there to eat my lunch. It's a beautiful area surrounded by apple and peach orchards, fields of wheat and corn. Rolling hills. And Gettysburg is a very quaint, attractive town. I'm not a Civil War junky, though, that's my uncle's thing. Several of my friends are big fans of the War too, especially the battle of Gettysburg. For Darkness Follows I did a lot of research and talking to my uncle and friends.
NA: I could tell you put a lot of good history into it. If any of your books were made into a movie (or each of them), would you have any preferred director(s), actors, composer(s), etc?
MD: I've always seen Mark Wahlberg or Ryan Reynolds as my leading man and Zooey Deschanel or Amy Adams as the leading lady. I'd love to see M. Night Shyamalan direct Darlington Woods. I think he'd do a really good job with it.
NA: Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?
MD: If anyone follows my blog these may not be a surprise because I've been open about them and have written often on these topics. But if you're new to my writing and to me as an author this will be a first. One, I've stuttered my whole life and continue to struggle with the speech impediment. It's one of the reasons I turned to writing, to find my voice. Two, I hated writing and anything related to English in school. I didn't start seriously writing until I was 26. Three, I'm a three-year colon cancer survivor. The toughest thing I've ever had to go through.
NA: Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, Frantic?
MD: Sure. It's about a disabled boy with a special gift and the maniac who thinks he's God's agent to protect the boy . . . at all cost. An unsuspecting stranger is sucked into this boy's world and caught in the middle of his nightmare. Frantic is the fastest-paced story I've written so far. It's unrelenting and will leave the reader feeling . . . well, frantic. The book is due to release February 7, 2012.
NA: That sounds exciting! Apart from Frantic, do you have future book plans or ideas?
MD: Yes, A Thousand Sleepless Nights is due to release in October of 2012. It's a story unlike any I've written before and that both excites and terrifies me. I'm about a third of the way through it and having a blast. I'm even trying something new with the way I'm writing it. I'm not at liberty to say anything about the plot yet but more information will be forthcoming as it's release date draws nearer.
NA: Do you have any advice to those wanting to write suspense?
MD: Yes, finish what you start. I talk to so many people who have partial manuscripts but no completed ones. There's a lot to learn in working your way through an entire story and the sense of accomplishment is a great boost. Suspense is all about the pacing and tempo of the story, but don't forget the characters. People read books to follow other people. The story is nothing if it doesn't have engaging real characters.
NA: It's been great to have you! Do you have any final words for our readers?
MD: Sure, please visit my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/mikedellosso) and "Like" it. I run a lot of contests from there where you can win free books and keep up with what's going on in my world. Also, if you've read one of my books, I'd love to hear from you. Go to the contact page of my website (http://www.mikedellosso.wordpress.com) and drop me a note.
Check out Mr. Dellosso's website!
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