Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Up Close and Personal with Daniel Carter

Daniel Carter, author of the The G-6 Chronicles, blends sci-fi and fantasy into a web of mystery that just can't be missed. Daniel is not only a writer, but a great manager as well, leading the pack of gracious and helpful writers in a Facebook group that I belong to. I have the pleasure of learning a litte bit more about Daniel, and I hope you enjoy my recent author interview.
Collette: Thank you Daniel for being here today. I'm so happy to be able to learn and share more about your work. Let's start with what age did you start writing?
Daniel: I started writing stories when I was about 12 or 13 years old. Me and my best friend would make up worlds and tell stories with us as characters in them. I didn't take writing seriously until much later in life. I was in my thirties when I decided to get serious and learn how to write novels. Proper form and what the publishers and editors were looking for. Such as point of view, active tenses instead of blah blah blah....OK I won't bore you anymore. =)

You have a long history in the arts. Can you tell us a little about that background?
My first passion had been to be an actor growing up in my teens. I found the thrill of doing plays to be better than any drug or vice this world had to offer. My first play was in high school and it was Diary of Anne Frank. I played Jan Dussell. (not sure of the spelling lol) Pronounced Yan not Jan. =) My hair was painted white because I was supposed to be an old man which caused a white cloud to often appear whenever I moved suddenly. Funny but it was a drama. I also did the musical Damn Yankees and I got to play the coach. The first song I ever sang was a quartet You've Got To Have Heart. I got runner up for my performance by the regional high school committee. Then I did a horrible play in my senior year called David & Lisa which was about 2 mentally disturbed kids who meet in an institution. I played David a neurotic, arrogant, obsessive compulsive boy who had a fear of germs and being touched. My after high school performances were The Word Made Flesh (small production), A Christmas Story (I played King Harrod on a shays lounge holding a mirror. lol) and the last play that I did I played Peter in the musical Through His Eyes a story of Peter after the crucifixion of Christ for an Easter production. I also helped write many scripts and skits over the years for drama teams as well as direct. Ooooh I can't forget that I also sing and play the acoustic & bass guitar. I know you said a little bit but I got carried away. =)

You are definitely multi-talented! Amazing.
When did you decide you wanted to write rather than act?
In my late twenties and early thirties my health had deteriorated. I herniated two discs in my back and was gaining weight at an alarming rate. Without going into all my health issues, and there were many, I was very limited to what I could do physically. I started directing more and helping with scripts and skits but couldn't put the effort into the acting that I really wanted. Now for the big ham that I am this was very difficult for me. However there is always a reason for the way things unfold in our lives if we are willing to look for them. In my mid thirties I began working on stories that included all my passions; Science fiction, fantasy, action, mystery, thrillers a touch of the paranormal.

Were you inspired to write by a situation or person? If so, who and why?
When I started coming up with these stories I'd tell them to my wife as we got in bed at night. She kept on encouraging me to write them down, write them down. When I realized my health wasn't going to allow me to do a lot of the passions I once had, I thought I should follow wifey's advice and look into putting them down on paper/computer. I had so many ideas and a long story line which was something I wasn't use to. I knew how to write a character's lines and how they should interact with each other but to write an entire novel length story was a different ball game all together. So I put my fingers to work and used the internet to learn how to write. I bought books on building plots and characters that were believable. Took me 4 rewrites of my first manuscript but it was well worth the learning.

It's great to have such a supportive spouse. Kudos to your wife!
Where do you get your ideas?
Most writers will tell you that they get things from the world around them and it's true. Every person draws from their personal knowledge however I had a more specific source. The Bible. My desire was to take all the spiritual aspects of what The Bible talks about and make it into a story that is relatable and fantastical all at the same time. Now I'm not talking about writing Bible stories. No I'm talking about the reality of what The Bible contains. Witches, demons, giants, ghosts, walking dead, fallen angels, angelic creatures in heavenly realms beyond what we can see. The first installment of The G-6 Chronicles is based off of Genesis 6 where The Bible talks about fallen angels (Son's of God) taking (possibly by force...ewe) the daughters of men and having an offspring called the Nephilim. They were the mighty men of old The Bible tells us. That doesn't mean they were good men just that they were powerful beings and probably giants. Goliath in The Bible is believed by many scholars to be a Nephilim along with his four other brothers who were even bigger than Goliath. OK getting sidetracked. LOL The ideas are endless and so fascinating to me because there is that plausibility factor.

There are many different paths you can take from that. Very clever, Daniel.
What is your writing process?
My first book I didn't have a writing process. That came once I finished The Unwanted. Each writer may have their own formula but this is what works for me. Once I have an idea for a story I start off with the characters. Who will they be. I create a document and do a profile for each of the main characters and decide what types of personalities they will be. Secondary characters I'll list out if I know them but most of the time I don't know they exist until I start actually writing. I also create a vague outline of what I want the story to accomplish. Here's an example of one of my other book ideas I'm working on:

Main character wakes up to find a strange woman calling out his name from his front porch. She is covered in blood and the police must come to take her away. The main character finds out later that the disturbed woman had killed her husband that night. Obviously the character is shaken to the core but when two more total strangers show up over the next week calling out his name on his property having committed murder the police begin to suspect he is responsible somehow. The man must clear his name and find the connection between these three people before it happens again. Go...
Then I start writing. I got the idea now the story is going to build and will take many turns before it is fully fleshed out but that's how I get started and my process for writing. If a subject needs to be researched I do that as I'm writing so it is fresh in my mind.

Tell me about ‘a day in the life of Daniel’ when you’re writing. What is your normal routine?
My routine has changed from time to time but mainly I do my morning rituals of breakfast, coffee, shower, get dressed. I have to make a comment here. I like to get dressed in comfortable clothes like sweat pants and t-shirt when I write. I need to be comfortable. =) Now here is where maybe I'm a bit different than other writers. Before I start writing I put on my writing music. I have a mix of soundtrack music that is instrumental only. The music is mystical and dramatic sounding and helps get me into the mindset of writing. I see my books as movies and probably always will. Once I've done my emails and checked the websites that I need to monitor I've hopefully woken up enough to start being creative. I put my headsets on with the writing music playing so that I can block out the world around me and I get to work. A little bit of advice I had heard years back was to make sure you stop writing when you know where you are going to start off next. So I'll read a page or two that I wrote the day before and then continue on.

I do the same thing with classical music.
You incorporate science fiction and faith in your stories. How do you balance the two?
One of the main issues often I hear from people is that God and Science don't go together but I disagree. The more I read up and do research on scientific discoveries the more they confirm that God exists and The Bible is true. Having said that my desire for writing The G-6 Chronicles was not to preach to anyone. I personally don't care for Christian books that preach to you in the middle of a story. Just tell me the story, don't preach at me. I'm a Christian and if I want to be preached to I'll buy a book that is meant to teach me on Biblical principles or I'll read The Bible. When I read a fiction story I want a story. Don't try and incorporate into the book your pastor's latest sermon that you found fascinating when your characters are flying through space being chased by aliens. Just tell me the story and let the plot and characters unfold. That has so much more impact to me than worrying about preaching. Lord of the Rings has some great Christian ideology and symbolisms within the stories but there isn't any preaching. Gandalf delivers a king from being possessed just like Christ did throughout The Bible. Fantastic symbolism but Gandalf didn't say to the king, "Now repent of your sins and turn from your wicked ways!" Sorry if I'm venting a bit but I feel passionately about this subject. My books have characters that are Christians and it has characters that aren't Christians. There is prayer that happens in the book but it is relevant to what is happening in the story. There is no preaching just storyline that may reflect how Christian characters may behave.

One of the classes I took in college contrasted and compared the differences between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Both friends, both traumatized by war, and both Christian. However, it appears as though C.S. Lewis is compared more heavily than J.R.R. Tolkien. I always found that interesting, and it's neat how you mention it too. :)
How did you come up with the idea of The Unwanted?
I needed a foundation story to set up The G-6 Chronicles: The Unwanted Trilogy. From my fascination with Genesis chapter 6 and the Nephilim I did some research on text and theologies behind them. The original text of The Bible hints at the fact that the fallen angels (Sons of God) had taken by force the daughters of men. The question is why would they do this? Angels don't procreate so how did the women give birth to the Nephilim. Genetic manipulation is a prominent thought behind this theory. Satan wanted to taint the blood line of Christ by introducing a half-breed generation into the world. The theory reeks of alien abduction stories I know. Anyways, this led to the whole idea of a modern day experiment where a vengeful genious is performing genetic manipulation on infants in hopes of creating his own hybrid human. Thus The Unwanted was born. Five unwanted genetic experiments that were meant to be killed are saved and raised into these extraordinary children.   

How long did it take you to complete?
The first book took me a year and a half. I rewrote it four times like I had mentioned earlier. The second book Children of Anak I wrote in six months.

What kind of research did you use to develop your story? Plot, setting, etc.
I had to do some research for the different locations that the story progresses through. From Chicago, Oklahoma, LA, Virginia and then New York I wanted to know exactly where my characters were and what their surroundings were. Ranchers were another research topic for me. I did not grow up on a ranch nor have I ever been on one. So I needed to get a clue as to what I was dealing with. The main research was on the Nephilim and genetic manipulation. What is DNA, what degrees would a character need to have in order to know what they are doing. The history of Nephilim was the fun part though. =) Truly fascinating stuff and I could talk about it with you for hours but I'll spare you.

Was it difficult for you to write?
The first book The Unwanted was difficult only in the sense that I was learning and making major mistakes. I almost called it quits on many occasion. Children of Anak was much easier and flowed quickly. It was just a matter of finding time to write since I had a day job at the time.

Can you describe Nick, Leigh, and Janet in a few sentences? What are they like? What do they want? Goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
Nick is a sad man. He is so focused on his career that his wife left him. She even blames him for the miscarriage of their child because of the stress from the job. His brokenness goes even deeper than that so he loses himself in work. Throughout the story you'll find his one goal is to close this one case that has become the symbol of his failures.

Leigh's the kind of man you want as a father. Strong and loving, willing to give you the shirt off his back for a complete stranger. He is a private man almost to a fault. His faith and devotion are what keep him strong running the ranch and for Janet and the children. His desire is to help Janet raise these five children so that they can reach their potential and purpose in life.
Janet is a wounded woman. Death has been the haunting factor throughout her life. She has lost everyone she has ever loved in her life other than Uncle Leigh. Her daddy died when she was three and her mamma and aunt died in a car accident together. Years later she lost her husband of only a couple years in a plane crash. Her faith in the world and God is shaken. These five children are the turning point for her. A chance to rebuild a life filled with love and hope as well as a reconciliation with Uncle Leigh.

Who was your favorite character in The Unwanted? Why?  
As an author every character is a part of who you are, an extension of my personality so it's hard to pinpoint one character. But I'll try. Uncle Leigh was probably my favorite character and the closest to who I am. He personifies what I want to be in a man. Strong, caring, able to be a rock for others. He has his faults which I also appreciate. He loses his temper every now and then but he's my favorite in book 1 The Unwanted.

Who was the easiest for you to develop? Why?
Marcus was probably the easiest. He is strong willed and bull headed. All I had to think of was what was it like when I was a teenage boy and amplify it tenfold. lol Marcus is one of the main characters in book 2 Children of Anak and he goes through some pretty interesting things. No spoilers though. =)

Interesting little teaser. :)
Who was the hardest? Why?
Anna was the hardest. I had to get into this girl’s head more so than the other characters. Here is a little girl with wisdom beyond her years who has a direct link to God. She speaks to God all the time and He talks back. She can read every single emotion from the people around her. Her emotions are a rollercoaster at times because of the sensitivity that she has. Then you get into the prophetic dreams and nightmares. This is one complex little girl that is in for a rocky road ahead.

Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?  
I used some names of people I know just for fun but no one in the book is based off of anyone in particular. All the characters are either an extension of my character or quirks that I've seen over the years from interesting people I've met.

Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?
As you probably already guessed the answer is yes. All five of the Children are a personality trait of mine that I have expanded upon. Sampson is a big guy and soft spoken. A gentle giant of sorts. Zack is the outgoing "hey look at me" guy. Angie is the fun loving easy going giddy persona. Anna is the sensitive understanding type that sees more than she really wants to. Marcus is the impulsive aggressive side that wants to protect those around me.

Are you still working on the trilogy? If so, what will your future projects entail?
Book 2 Children of Anak is due out soon by my publisher OakTara. We've had a delay due to the re-launch of the trilogy as The G-6 Chronicles: The Unwanted Trilogy. I'm currently working on book 3 Unholy Resurrection and am outlining The G-6 Chronicles: Spirit Walker which will be kind of a prequel to The Unwanted Trilogy of how the group G6 was founded.

Can you give us a glimpse into your next novel in the series, Children of Anak? A little teaser, perhaps?
Hmmm... Well I can tell you that the family has been torn apart. The children are being held at a military facility for testing. Nick's career with the FBI is just about to end but there is a role he will play that will be much more profound. New characters will be introduced. Sean Welken (Spirit Walker) the head of GSIX (Global Security from Interdimensional X's. X's is a term used to describe creatures from the 10 knows dimensions.) will be introduced. Linda Dreamer (Lullaby) who is a Child of Anak is also new. Along with her counterparts Mel (Trammel) & Myriad whom are also Children of Anak. Marcus finds himself lost both emotionally and spiritually. Revenge and lust become one of the main themes for book 2.

Excellent! Sounds intense.
Do you have an expected release date for your follow-up novel?
My publisher has not given me a date yet however it should be out within the next couple months. Hopefully in time for the holidays. =)

Tell me a bit about your cover art. Did you design your own?
The cover art was done by my publisher OakTara's art department but they worked off of my design ideas from book 4 Spirit Walker. I wanted something a bit more mystical looking. The idea of a lone figure standing in the woods had been the concept from the beginning. This new cover design has build upon that concept also.

Ok, switching topics. How about a little about you now? How often do you read?
I read all the time. At bed time I read before I go to sleep. I'm always looking for new fantasy and sci-fi stories. My problem is that I have the attention span of a cocker spaniel...SQUIRL!!!... Sorry... So often the story lines are too slow or even non existent at times. SQUIRL!!!...Sorry again. =)

Which genres are your favorites?
Science fiction and Fantasy are my favorites without a doubt but I'm open to other genres. Urban Fantasy looks interesting and Steam Punk sounds just too cool not to read. lol

Where can we find you online?
Blog: A Christian Man's Perspective  dlcacmp.blogspot.com
Website: www.g6chronicles.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1426531544
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Unwanted-Daniel-L-Carter/dp/1602902232/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280421389&sr=8-2
Other: Facebook Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-G-6-Chronicles-The-Unwanted-Trilogy/123047731058991

Where is The Unwanted available for purchase?

What formats are your book available in?
The Unwanted is now available in both paperback and e-book (Kindle & Nook).

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just want to say before we end that I am so very grateful that you've asked me here to share with everyone. I've had a blast doing this interview! Thank you! =)

Thank You Daniel! It was my pleasure and I'm happy to have you here. :) 

To enter the September eBook giveaway for a copy of Daniel's book, please visit: http://paradox-theangelsarehere.blogspot.com/p/september-bloggerthon-target-48-winners.html


Anonymous said...

Great interview, Collette. Fascinating stuff! Daniel's certainly a talented man!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris! =) Collette made the interview really fun and easy.


Collette said...

Thank you both! I find it so interesting to learn more about writers and how they work. Everyone is different, and yet many of us are the same. Thanks for taking part, Daniel. Chris, I can't wait to feature you next!

Betty Dravis said...

I'm sorry, but I missed the top that said COLLETTE, so I thought the ME stood for our clever Daniel interviewing himself in a most unique way. It wasn't till the comments that I realized it was dear, darling Collette interviewing him. I wish you had used your name before your questions... But I got it in the end, that's all that matters.

Wonderful interview. Great Q's and A's. Daniel, I can just picture you in the role of the white-haired man... See, even then you had your head in the clouds. What a riot!!!

Thanks to both of you for an enjoyable reading experience.

Hugs - Betty

Collette said...

Thank you so much for visiting, Betty. It's always wonderful to hear from you. I did go in and put my name in for you. Although I like to be so casual, you make a very good point :).

Daniel is amazing, isn't he? So talented. I love the idea of seeing him on the stage too.

Betty Dravis said...

Thanks, Collette, That's flattering... :-)

Yes, I'd love to see Danny Boy act, also. Meanwhile, I have to settle for reading his books. He's one of my very fave peeps in the entire CyberSpace.

Love you, too,

Hugs - Betty