Today I’d like to introduce author and blogger Dan Alatorre. For those of you who may not have had the pleasure of reading Dan’s blog, always filled with great authorly advice, and always entertaining in true Dan style, I highly recommend you take a moment and go visit him.
Dan is very inventive, always coming up with new ideas to keep his blogging friends busy and thinking. He often runs little projects for his readers to interact with, such as: reader participation on creating stories, sharing thoughts on everything writing he comes across, and recently he opened up a Youtube podcast, ‘Writers on task’ , where he interacts with other writers and again, shares great information with the added bonus, we get to listen to his humor in live action.
Besides all about Dan’s blogging, he is a successful and versatile author and humorist. Some of his books are based on funny stories about him being a dad to his little girl Savvy, some are children’s books, and Dan has also published a few cookbooks!
When I say versatile, I’m not kidding. Dan is also working on a book Poggibonsi, a hilarious Italian misadventure. But today, I’ve invited Dan here so we can all get to know a little more about him and I’m featuring his newest book launch The Navigators. This is Dan’s new sci-fi thriller. But before I go blabbing off more about Dan, why don’t we let Dan speak for himself below where he shares some interesting tidbits on his newest book, and some advice on writing.
The Navigators blurb:
A freak landslide at a remote Florida mine uncovers a strange machine to Barry’s group of paleontology students. Rumors spread about the discovery of a time machine, creating risks everywhere: a trusted classmate betrays them, and a corrupt school official tries to sell the machine to another university. When power company executives learn it may contain a unique fuel system that would put them out of business, possessing the machine becomes a matter of life and death. Now on the run, Barry’s team struggles to keep their amazing discovery – but using it has consequences more severe than anyone can predict.
The Navigators is a time travel story. If you could travel through time, where would you go?
That’s the real questions isn’t it? And since everybody – every reader and every character in the story – would have a different answer, it immediately sets up conflict. What if there’s only enough fuel to take one trip? Who among your friends gets to go? How do you decide that? And since each character has a different motivation, they all want to do different things – so each general idea the readers might think up gets covered. Go back and buy stocks that do well and make money? Or go see a religion get started? Or maybe something more sinister. Power corrupts, and a time machine is pretty powerful tool. Or maybe something more emotional and tender. My daughter never met my mother. So a person who played such a huge influence in my life will have no direct impact on hers. That’s sad. But me, I’d go buy stocks and make a bunch of money. I’m pretty shallow that way.
Are you a fan of time machine stories?
Not usually, no. Oops, I shouldn’t have said that out loud; it can’t be good for sales. No, they tend to have the same tired setup, where somebody goes back in time, or forward in time, and they have an adventure there and then come back. This is verrrrry different. The Navigators is my unique take on a time travel story, and readers are loving it. These graduate students accidentally discover a time machine, they don’t really believe it would work, and they have no idea how to use it. So they have to figure everything out, but before they do, word leaks and everybody wants it. The school tries to take it to sell off, other students try to steal it, the electric company wants its power source – and the kids are suddenly running for their lives. They do take trips in it, though, and that’s where we get to have some real fun. Plus I have some greats terrific twists you will not see coming. It’s a fun read!
Who is your favorite character in The Navigators and why?
Melissa Mills is the eventual heroine of the story, and she’s modeled after my six year old daughter for when she’s 22 or so – “Missy’s” age in the story. Missy’s dad makes a cameo, and he’s a powerful, intimidating lawyer, but his obvious love for his daughter gets the better of him. Even when he’s supposed to be scolding her for getting into this terrible ordeal, as soon as he sees her he breaks out in a big grin and gives her a massive bear hug and asks if she ate breakfast yet. “We have bagels. Did you eat?” Typical dad, you know? Like me. My little girl can do no wrong. Readers love Mr. Mills. Most of my critique partners sensed a similarity between him and a certain writer they know… But Missy is definitely my favorite character in this story.
How long did it take to write?
Four months is what Stephen King says a first draft should take, so I did it in four months, but I was only halfway through so I had to get some more time allotted. No, The Navigators was written in four months. Just under, actually. It was great fun because I was so enthusiastic about the story, I was knocking out three chapters a week at times. My critique partners were giving such good feedback it was hard not to be excited and keep writing. I think that enthusiasm created a real page turner. Readers seem to think so.
How do you give your characters different personalities?
I know lots of writers and it seems like each one uses a different method. Some even have pictures taped to their computer and a character bio. All that is good. I don’t do that. I have very distinct characters in my head, and they talk different and act differently from each other. One might be funny, one might be timid, but they all have distinct traits that recur. In The Navigators, Barry bites his nails, and although he’s the smartest in the group, he’s a dolt when he gets nervous. Missy flips her hair a lot but she takes charge when Barry gets hurt and the team needs her to step up. So by knowing these characters in your head – or taped to your computer – you’ll be consistent. Barry bites his nails in chapter one and also in chapter ten and chapter thirty-six. He doesn’t develop a new tic halfway through unless he’s developing a nervous system disorder, and in The Navigators, he’s not.
What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned about writing?
Write an outline. Too many people get stuck at dead ends or get writers block, and I believe an outline helps eliminate that. If you have a place to steer your story, you’ll get it to the finish line. Pantsers – people who write by the seat of their pants, feel very restricted by an outline, like it stifles their creativity. They shouldn’t think that way. It’s your story; if you come up with a better place to take it, go there. If you think up a better ending, use it. But at least you have an ending if you write an outline. I’m trying to convert pantsers, one writer at a time. So far I’ve converted none. But I’m trying! Maybe some of your readers will see the light. Convert! Convert, I say! See the light! Use an outliiiiine! Okay that’s getting weird now.
Thank you Dan for dropping by here today to visit, and for sharing some of your hilarious wisdoms with us as well as telling us about your newest book. No doubt, it will be very successful!
Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers. His new novel, The Navigators, is a fast-paced sci fi thriller that breaks new ground in its fascinating characters and truly unique story.
Get a copy of Dan’s book by clicking the link below:
The Navigators (global link)
Visit Dan’s Amazon author page
Visit Dan’s blog