D. Alan Lewis is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee who now resides in Nashville with his children. He has been writing technical guides and manuals for various employers for over twenty years but only in recent years has branched out into writing fiction. In 2006, Alan took the reins of a Novelist Writer’s resource in Nashville where he has been working to with aspiring writers.
I was wondering where you get your story ideas?
My story ideas can come from anywhere. For example, I recently re-watched the HBO series, ‘From the Earth to the Moon’. Afterwards, I ended up writing a time-travel story based around the Apollo 11 mission.
Most times, however, the original idea is never what the book or story ends up being. It may be a part but the characters and plotline take me in different directions. I love a good twist, so as I’m examining a good idea, there is always a need for me to find a way to turn the story on its ear.
‘The Blood in Snowflake Garden’ started off as a mental image of Santa being forced to testify before the House Un-American Committee back in the 1950’s. I found the thought so funny, that I decided to write a story just to have that one scene in it.
What is the usual process for your fiction writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’ve tried it both ways and it really depends on what I’m writing. For my novels and some heavily detailed short stories, I do write an outline in order to keep myself in line. An outline was a must for a novel as detailed as ‘Snowflake Garden’, where I had to keep up with the order of when the suspects were spoken to, when the clues found, and all the minor details that needed to be mentioned. For ‘The Bishop of Port Victoria’ and ‘The Lightning Bolts of Zeus’, I just sat down and wrote and made things up as I went.
Prior to writing, I’ve usually already thought on the storylines and know where to start and where to finish. It’s usually the journey in between that varies. They say that the characters will take on a life of their own, and it is true. Sometimes, a writer just can’t understand what a character will really do until they are doing it on the page as he types it out.
Once you have an idea that sparks your imagination do you research your idea or do any world-building exercises, or do you just begin to write and see where the Muse takes you?
Again, it depends on the story. If it involves real world events, places or people, then yes plenty of research. For example, I have a short story called ‘Anne Bonny’s Revenge’, coming out in an anthology from Pro Se Press, later this year. I read three books on pirates and specifically, on the pirate, Anne Bonny. Although the story is a fictional version of her ‘final’ adventure, I wanted to make it as historically accurate as possible. I did more research on that one 9,000 word story then I did on all three of my novels combined. But the result is a story that I’m very proud of.
Other works may be set in my own universe, so I just write and build the world as I go. ‘Snowflake Garden’ is set at Santa’s city at the North Pole. A place like that isn’t on the map. Some folks feel that world building is a chore. I see it as a wonderful challenge, a chance for me to jump in and just have fun with it. And seriously… if you can’t have fun as a writer, then why would you wanna write?
What is your daily writing like?
I honestly have no idea how to answer that. Every day is different with its own unique challenges.
Are you a full time writer? If so when did you make the decision and what factors led to the decision? If you are not a full time writer…Is your plan to one day being a full time writer?
I am not technically a full time writer, although it feels like it sometimes. My goal is to reach a point where I can write for a living without the troublesome need for a day job.
Can you tell us about your experience working with your current publisher? (Any other publishers?) (And/Or your self-publishing experiences?)
Tommy Handcock at Pro Se Press is incredibly helpful and straight forward.
While working with Allen Gilbreath at Dark Oak is like driving while having a fever dream. You may not have any idea how you made it to the end, but you know that you had a good time on the way.
‘The Blood in Snowflake Garden’ was released in February of this year. It is a fantasy murder mystery set at Santa’s city at the North Pole. But don’t think this is a cheesy, Tim Allen movie kinda story. It is a dark, gritty novel that is chopped full of twists and surprises. A friend described it as a Christmasy version of the movie, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’.
Can you tell us about some of your other writing and any appearances or signings that you have planned?
I recently had a short story included in Pro Se Press’s ‘Black Pulp’. My story, ‘Black Wolfe’s Debt’ is set in the early 1930’s and centers on an African-American detective named Dexter Wolfe, who has some very unique abilities. I’m especially proud of this story and to be included with so many talented writers.
Other anthologies that have come out this year which include my stories are Dreams of Steam 4-Gizmos, Midnight Creature Feature vol 2.
And I have several short stories coming out later this year, along with the two books, ‘The Lightning Bolts of Zeus’ from Dark Oak Press and ‘The Bishop of Port Victoria’ from Pro Se Press. And I’m editing 3 upcoming anthologies for Dark Oak, ‘Luna’s Children-Full Moon Mayhem’, ‘Luna’s Children-Stranger Wereworlds’, and ‘Capes & Clockwork’. These three anthologies should be out by year’s end.
As for conventions, I’m scheduled for DragonCon in Atlanta GA, Killer Nashville and the Southern Festival of Books – both in Nashville TN, and Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention in Memphis TN.
As an author what inspiration or advice would you give to a writer who is working to make the transition to Author?
First off, write and don’t stop till you’re finished. One of the biggest problems for new writers is that they write a few chapters and immediately start editing what they’ve done. The problem is that a new writer can easily get sucked into the role of an editor and become discouraged and never finish their book. There is an incredible rush as a writer types out the last words of a manuscript and realizes that you’ve done it… you finished a book. OK, so the finished first draft may need serious cleaning, but you’ve accomplished the first and biggest hurdle.
Favorite author… wow, there are a number. However, my all-time favorite would be the late, Douglas Adams. Although he is best known for the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, my favorite book of his is ‘The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul’.