iUniverse talks with author Douglas Gardham, whose books, The Actor and The Drive In, have gained excellent recognition.
Please briefly describe your books for us . . .
The Actor is the story of a young man’s journey of self-discovery in overcoming the trauma of a personal tragedy in his life that he does by chasing a dream—a dream that’s not quite what it seems. It’s a story of love, hardship, persistence and overwhelming joy. The Actor reads like a thriller but its more than that. The Actor … can portray anything he can imagine.
The Drive In is a collection of short stories with a twist. The stories are about what goes on behind the doors and windows of the places a man passes on his drive into work. He’s passed these places many times over the course of his career but really knows nothing about them. And along the way you’ll find out what makes this particular drive in unlike any other.
Do you have any particular literary influences that have helped you develop in your genre, subject and style?
I credit Stephen King’s “constant reader” notes with influencing me the most in on becoming a writer. I discovered Stephen King in high school reading his novels The Stand and The Shining. My writing routine of 4 pages per day is a direction from him. Robertson Davies’ quote of writing being more about “diligence and discipline” I took to heart early on in writing. Add to that, John Irving’s words that you write a good book but edit a great one. All of these and more were important to me in becoming a writer. Other artists who have influenced my work include Ernest Hemingway “short sentences”, Rush “the craft of words and music”, and a long list of others including Leo Tolstoy, Ayn Rand, Scott Fitzgerald, Dennis Lehane, Jonathan Franzen, Tom Clancy, Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, to name but a few.
My bio reads “loves books, music and movies” that sums up much of what I like to do. I exercise on a daily basis and today am afforded a morning walk through the forest. I read a lot both new and old. I’m reading Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children right now. I have a wide range of music tastes but like the new electronic sounds of EDM mixed with heavy beat rock. I like the creative ways music changes. Movies are must and what a year for movies 2014 was with The Imitation Game and Birdman. The classics are amazing for great stories. Last but not least, I’m unbelievably fortunate to have married my best friend and have two wonderful kids with lots of support from family and friends.
What inspired you to write your novels, and how long did it take you to finish them?
The Actor was inspired by the movie Titanic in 1998. I was intrigued on how someone might get up from what they were doing and pursue a dream. I chose acting as I found it fascinating (and still do) and knew from my previous books that I had to have a subject that I wouldn’t eventually find boring .
I’ve written for most of my life starting in high school when I wrote lyrics and music to the original songs our band performed. Although I went to university for engineering and have spent most of my career in engineering, I always wrote. It fed my creative side. Writing continued into my twenties with short stories and several unsuccessful contest entries but I kept writing—primarily poetry and prose. In my late twenties, I started to think I might have a novel in me after reading Stephen King’s “constant reader” notes that accompany many of his books. That inspiration combined with the discipline of writing every day, have kept me going.
The Actor was my third novel length work after writing two books that went to the proverbial “nowhere land” of rejections from many agents and publishers. I loved the story of The Actor but always knew it needed something. After many years of writing short stories and rewriting my novel length works, it was during a trip to the west coast to take our daughter off to college that I came to realize I didn’t have a keepsake for the family of “my” writing. By some strike of good fortune, I found iUniverse while in the Indigo-Chapters website (our national book chain in Canada). Working with a couple of professional editors, I reduced the original 800-page manuscript of The Actor to the published 352-page novel that I love and couldn’t be more proud of. Now, I not only have a keepsake for my family but a novel I want the world to read. I like to say I not only transformed the story of The Actor but I transformed my life. It set me on a course that I didn’t think was possible in this lifetime. At this point, I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life.
We’ll be back with Part Two of Doug’s splendid blog! In the meantime, check out Doug on Daytime with Jeff Moore and along with a radio interview on The Ron Specker Show at KLTF Radio in Little Falls Minnesota.
He is available on social media at:
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