BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEW S DON LOCKE



1.How did you start out your writing career? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If, not how did you catch the writing bug?


When I was little I wanted to grow up to be either a major league baseball player or a cartoonist, preferably for Disney. If I wasn’t outdoors playing ball, I was in my room copying cartoons. Possibly my interest in writing began when I was in 4th grade. At recess I would organize a bunch of friends and come up with humorous parodies of TV commercials, which my teacher was kind enough to allow us to perform in front of the class. As I got older, I became more shy, and decided that if I didn’t have the courage to be the class clown, I’d at least be his writer, so I would sit next to the class clown and feed him lines to say out loud. Unfortunately, he’d only give me credit when the jokes bombed.

I didn’t take writing seriously until I took a screenwriting class in college and received praise from my professor. For the next decade, as I failed over and over at achieving any level of writing success, I cursed that teacher daily for convincing me that I had any talent. But by then, the truth was success didn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that I not only loved writing, but couldn’t see myself ever not doing it in some form or another for the rest of my life.


2. Some writers plot out what they are going to write step by step and others say they write by the seat-of-their pants; which style of writing best describes the way you write?

Early on, when I wrote spec sit-coms, a tight structure was essential, and I soon learned that if I didn’t know where the story was going and what the climax would be, I was in serious trouble. Without an outline, I would wander off into some tangential territory that might have been amusing, but would have little to do with the plot line, and so I would end up trashing those pages. A great deal of time was wasted. I find the same to be true when I write screenplays, novels or short stories. There’s just no way for me to get to Oz without a yellow brick road. A compass and map come in handy as well. Character arcs are closely tied in with story which in its basic three act structure needs consistent pacing along with set ups and payoffs and plot points if I expect to engage the reader or viewer. Once I have that outline, I can find room for small divergences as long as I feel the reader is willing to be slightly patient and go there with me.


3. What inspires you to write?

I think it’s knowing from experience that when I do sit down and put in a few hours with a pad of paper or at the keyboard, I’m on a high for several hours afterwards. Outside of chocolate, it’s my only other serious addiction. Regardless of whether I’m a competent writer or a lousy one, this is part of the gift of creativity that God has graciously chosen to give me, and the more I use it, the more I feel fulfilled, and the more thankful I am to Him for that gift.


What inspires you while you are writing?

I think there’s a mystery about inspiration that I don’t really want to investigate or ever fully understand. My muse seems to be my collective experience over my lifetime… all the tiny little events that maybe at the time seemed insignificant, suddenly rush to mind at appropriate times and weave their way into the tapestry of the story I’m telling. There was a time I hoped that I could find a particular classical composer and blast his music while I was writing, inspiring and stimulating me to greater heights of creativity, but the truth is I find that I do my best work either in the shower or in a nearly soundproof room without any distractions whatsoever. And because I can’t afford the water bill, and my wife encourages water conservation, the second method seems to be the one I tend to go with most often.


4. Can you tell me of two “Wow” moments you have had on your journey to being published and now afterwards? What made it a “Wow” moment for you?


I don’t come by “Wow” moments very often, and can’t really think of one before being published. But I have had one since. One Sunday morning when my wife, Susan, and I were coming out of the first service at church, I saw my son and his girlfriend approach with her mom whom I had yet to meet. She introduced herself and said that she was up the night before, reading my book, and that it changed her life, and that was why she was there at a church for the first time in years. My first thought was, “Wow! Are you sure it was my book you read?” Apparently, she related to the main character in a profound way, and it made her think.


5. What do you enjoy most about the writing process? Why?


It used to be the light bulb experience, when, what you think is a good idea suddenly pops up out of the darkness to surprise you. But now I most enjoy the rewriting process. I write my first draft of chapters/scenes out longhand. It’s generally horrible—dialogue is stiff and unconvincing, descriptions are lame and unclear. And then when I’ve nearly covered the pages with crossed out lines, additions and changes in columns and arrows shooting off in every direction, I copy onto new pages. I then transpose it onto the computer, changing as I go. Then I print out the pages and rework on the hard copy. I go back and forth until the marks are gone. I always have a sense that the finished product is far from perfect, but I know it’s the best I’ve got in me and so I let it go.


One thing I enjoy most about writing in general, is that I’m never bored. If I’m at the doctor’s or just about anywhere with a few minutes to wait, I can pull out the paper that I have tucked in my back pocket at all times and start working. It’s the greatest luxury in the world.


6. How much of you is in this story? Please explain if yes.

Way too much, I suppose. David’s main dilemma is his sense of alienation from people. I don’t know how much my introspection and sense of disconnect has been a result of learned behavior or birth order or if I just showed up like this, but I, like David, do feel an uneasy barrier between myself and most everyone else—the difference being that my fence doesn’t exclude my immediate family as in David’s case.

I really do think that nearly every character I write has at least a portion of me inside them. It seems they would have to. Sometimes it’s a characteristic that I aspire to or one I find myself trying to shed by imparting those traits on an antagonist. It’s all very therapeutic. For instance, I don’t particularly think that sarcasm is a good attribute to display, but I find it surprisingly easy to lend cynicism to Maggie’s voice, adding conflict and even complexity to her character in The Reluctant Journey... It would be nice if giving away negative traits to some of my characters might help me to discard some of those behaviors in me.


Does this make it harder or easier to write about if it’s like you?


I think, for me at least, it makes my characters come off as more honest and more real, especially if I’m willing to be vulnerable.

7. What are you working on now? What can you tell us about your new project? When will this new project be out?

My second book, The Summer the Wind Whispered my Name, which comes out August 1st, is a prequel to The Reluctant Journey of David Connors. It was an opportunity to not only investigate the childhood of David, but to revisit my own youth. The novel deals with repressed fears and prejudices in a suburban neighborhood in 1960. Hopefully the story has the feel of The Wonder Years meets To Kill a Mockingbird. (Apologies to Harper Lee for mentioning her classic in the same sentence as my effort.)


Meanwhile I’m finishing up the third book in the trilogy, which picks up on Maggie’s character at the end of Reluctant Journey. Once again she gets sucked into someone’s personal journey, in this case, that of an elderly man in search of his first love.


8. What has been your happiest moment as a writer?

Years ago, I had a screenplay that was optioned and went into development with the actor Karl Malden attached to play the starring role. He invited me over to his house to go over the script. We sat in his modest den with the Oscar that he won for A Streetcar Named Desire peeking over his shoulder at me from a shelf. Karl proceeded to read the script to me, showing me exactly how he intended to play the character I had written. His enormous talent was equaled only by his kindness. The project fell through, but those couple hours that I spent with him remain the single happiest time that I’ve had as a writer.

9. What was your favorite scene to write in the Reluctant Journey of David Connors”? What was the hardest to write? Why?

There’s a scene when David first meets Maggie in the restaurant when she’s had a few drinks and is about to give up on her blind date, and the two appear to be so different in every way and yet the carpetbag manages to bond them. It was a fun scene to write because it dealt with the challenge of bringing these two very opposing forces together to venture out on this outrageous journey and to do it with humor and mystery and believability. Beneath the jabs and personal conflict, there was a tenderness that had to be conveyed—One that said these two individuals needed each other. In some ways this scene was also the hardest to write because if it didn’t work for the reader, nothing that followed would work either.


10. How did you come up with the idea for this book? It is such an amazing story.

Without giving away too much about the story, I think I wanted to write something in the vain of one of those timeless Capra movies. And I knew from the get-go that I wanted forgiveness to be its main theme. There’s a point early on in the book when, in reference to David saying that Maggie’s beginning to scare him, she replies, “Yeah, well, apparently I get that way when luggage takes me on a trip instead of the other way around.” And I think that was a starting point—a bag of some sort forcing an individual to go somewhere and do something. Then it was a matter of continuing to ask myself the “Why?” and “What if?” questions until all the answers came to me.

TOP QUESTIONS YOU WANTED TO ASK DON BUT WERE AFRAID; TO SO I DID!


1.Out of all the high tech gadgets out today; Please name (3) that have really impacted your life and why? Please explain.

The computer (and photoshop specifically) because it’s not only sped up my Tonight Show artwork, but thanks to the save key has allowed me to experiment more since I don’t have to worry about making mistakes. The DVR on my TV because it’s allowed me to never again have to watch anyone try to sell me something I don’t want. The FLASH DRIVE because of it’s storage capacity and ease of transporting information.


2.Given our current gas situation and the fact that we are getting less mileage for our dollar – what alternative resource would you rather use in the future? Lets Dream here!

Although the hovercraft from Star Wars would be very cool, I think I’d rather tie on my flying shoes, which are basically powered by our own imaginations. I also like the idea of magnetic boots, which we strap on before we step onto the magnetic monorail. I know that there are European trains which are powered by opposing magnetic force fields… why not boots?


3. If you had the opportunity to travel to outer space, where would you go? And why? If not, where would you really like to travel – given you have the time and the money?

Nothing about space travel interests me. Being propelled into the darkness inside a claustrophobic cylinder traveling at a gazillion mph with an enormous flame just beneath my butt would not be my idea of fun. I don’t mind the walk into town to buy a burger and fries.


4. If you could be a superhero to be for a day, who would you pick and why? (you could mix and match if you wanted – be creative you’re the author! Ha!)

Super Chicken because he has the catchiest theme song.

5. If you had to pick a “Reality” TV show to be on, which one would it be and why?

I’d pick the one with the least amount of viewers to minimize the humiliation.



6. If you found a magic lamp and the genie inside granted you three wishes? What would those wishes be?

I guess the obvious answer would be to wish for an endless supply of wishes, but if that was not an option…. 1) to know God’s will for me, 2) to do God’s will… 3) to experience all three types of love to the fullest. Ask me tomorrow and I may go for the dough.


7. Would you rather watch a sporting event on TV or in person? Please explain. Which sports events do you enjoy? Why?


The ultimate sporting event for me would be to watch the Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 100 years (this year) sitting in a box seat behind the third base dugout at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.


8. If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money); to do anything you wanted, what would you do?


Split my time between writing and painting and volunteer work.


9. What is the neatest place you have ever visited so far and why? What made it so neat, special, memorable to you?

Yosemite was pretty awe inspiring, but for my money, put me in a rowboat in the middle of the small, peaceful lake that my aunt lives on in northern Wisconsin, and I will be happy.


10. If had 24 hours to hang out with anyone dead or alive in the history of the world/ what 2 people would you pick and why? What would you do? Talk about?



These questions don’t get any easier, do they? Jesus would be the first one and I think what we’d do and talk would remain personal and private… sorry. The second choice gets a bit harder. It would be fascinating and educational to talk with C.S. Lewis. I would love to have a conversation with Charlie Chaplin about his movie making process or just have him do some pantomime for me. I’d like to let Van Gogh know that he did finally manage to sell a few paintings after he died. I would want to ask Michelangelo what was thinking when he was painting the Sistine Chapel or hear in his own words what Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. Or maybe I’d just choose my mom and dad and ask them to give me a hint about heaven.



Thanks so much Don for taking the time to do this interview. I appreciate you stopping by and letting us get to know you better.

Are there any last comments you would like to make to the ladies in my book club?

Thanks for putting up with my responses and I hope that if you do choose to pick up my first couple books that they are worthy of the time you invest in reading them. And if you have any questions feel free to visit my website at “donlocke.com”.

It sure has been fun letting us spend time with you and you answering some of my silly but fun questions inquiring minds just want to know. You were a great sport.Ha!

Blessings your way my friend!!
Nora :)

1 comment:

  1. Nora, I used to work with Don's sister and she told me about his novel and his writing process because she knew I was an aspiring novelist in the CBA market (still am LOL) We both retired from the school district where we worked. She just called me because she saw my picture pop up on your pictorial guest book to tell me about Don's newest book coming out.

    Now after reading this interview I see I need to get the first book LOL.

    I enjoyed the interview.

    ReplyDelete