Sure! So, I’m Dan Haight. I’m making a big change in my life: When my son was born in 2006, I decided it was time to start being the father my son deserved to have. It’s been a scary process to change my life like this but it’s also been very rewarding. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about the writing and publishing businesses. I’ve also learned a lot about myself.
Tell us about your latest book:
My latest book is Iron Mountain – it’s the second book in the Jim Westfield series, a story about a kid in the near-future that lives on a floating community. His family is missing, pirates are after him and the world is ending. Lots of hard science fiction, lots of action and lots of heart – hearing people’s good reviews about it has been very rewarding.
What do you have coming out in the future?
I’m going to be updating both editions of my books – they’re coming out in September. I’m doing this because I want to streamline both books and their associated material to prep them for being part of the larger series I am writing.
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?
I enjoy writing science fiction the most. It lets me play with new ideas, forces me to learn new things – it’s the best place to grow, if you’re a geek.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from daily life – I like to take real situations and say “Now how would you handle this if you were living on a floating community, for example?” Even simple things like getting food or doing your laundry can take on an interesting meaning if you have to do it in outer space. J
Do you ever base your characters on real people in your life?
I never base my characters on real people – that’d be unfair to them as well as to my readers. Characters will have attributes of real people I’ve met in life but I always try to make my characters as close to real people as possible. That means they have unique mannerisms, opinions and actions.
What authors inspire your writing?
I draw my inspiration from several places: old sci-fi like Heinlein and Bradbury. Western stories like L’Amour and Elmore Leonard. Fiction like Pahalniuk and Hunter S Thompson.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I like to read books in the sci-fi, thriller or Western genre. I also love modern fiction, stuff like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Caine Mutiny
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
Absolutely! Real life experiences, like the ones I write about in my Evil Plan (www.flotillaonline.com/evil-plan) definitely shape the kind of storytelling I like to do.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I have a day job and a family, so my time is centered around both of those things. My wife and I share a lot of interests so we travel, build things and experiment with our cooking.
What was your road to publishing like? Tell us about it.
Getting published is like being a parent – everyone wants the same thing but their story is always different. I’d say that after trying to sell Flotilla to a number of agents, I decided to go into the self-publishing world. It’s been a difficult process but very rewarding and I’ve had a ton of cool experiences along the way. I tell those stories during a panel @ Comic Con called “You Better Hope I Don’t Get Famous.”
Unfortunately, Jim’s discovery is now the least of his problems: the United States has suddenly come under attack from an unknown enemy and his father is taken away. Jim must race to protect the ones he loves from drug runners and pirates that will kill to keep their secrets.
Excellent question – I have no idea how I came up with the title of Flotilla. J I just remember writing the first draft and the name was just there. It wasn’t like I named the book, it’s like I discovered what it always was supposed to be.
Is your book a stand alone or a series?
Part of a series – but I also write other non-series stories – you can get them for free at flotillaonline.com
Do you read the genre you write for or do you prefer other genres?
Absolutely – sci-fi is my favorite genre to read. I also like non-fiction crime, Westerns and thrillers
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
Someone suggested a teenage Leonardo DiCaprio to play Jim in the movie and I can’t argue with that logic! I’m sure that’ll be a part of our discussion whenever we get to that stage. J
Have you joined any writer’s groups?
Sure – some online groups at Goodreads and Reddit – I find it’s easier to look online to find authors at the same stage I am
Have you won any awards for your writing?
I’ve won a lot of praise for being the hardest working author that many other authors know – hasn’t translated into an award but it’s nice to know that people like David Brin like what I do.
What is your preferred writing environment?
Hammering at the keyboard with some trance or jazz. J I can work pretty much anywhere but I need an ergo keyboard because otherwise my wrists start to hurt (all those years of bad posture are taking their toll).
How would you describe your writing style?
I try to keep my writing style fluid and interesting. I want the story to flow organically, giving you enough detail to imagine the scene well but paced to keep your attention. It takes some skill to know when to stop and when to start sometimes.
Do you have a careful plan when plotting your stories or do you just go with the flow?
I find that having a plan is necessary but following a plan isn’t. I use a plot outline where I write out a simple paragraph of what happens in that chapter. Then, as I’m writing the draft, I may or may not hold to the plan. It’s valuable to know how much you should be covering and it’s cut down on my writing time substantially.
With many publishing routes available today, which felt the most reliable to you when it came to the many choices?
I think the most reliable publishing route right now is self-publishing. Even established authors are going that route and even if I were to land a deal tomorrow, there’s no guarantee that the book will sell because I as the author am still on the hook to promote it. If the publishing house doesn’t promote it, as it does for about 98% of its titles, then I’m the bad guy because my book didn’t sell. Writing is a very arbitrary business but fortunately for authors, it’s really changed in the past 5 years. Anyone can write and become a best-seller now. You’re only bound by your own talent and ability.
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
I’ve *always* wanted to be a writer. I started scribbling in 6th grade and I never really stopped. I took a long break from writing until I was in my 20s and then, with the birth of my son, I knew I had to give it a shot. Even if I don’t achieve a huge amount of success, I still feel rewarded because I’m doing what I know I should be doing with my life.