I Am a Ghost continues the story that began in the first book, following the lives of a community of monster hunters.
I caught up with Dave so I could ask the really tough questions nobody else was willing to ask. Unfortunately, he outright refused to tell me what he's bought me for Christmas and where it's hidden. Um . . . and he wouldn't tell me his address so I could do a proper search of his house, either. Because of this, I was forced to ask a bunch of other questions on my Plan B list. Here's what Dave had to say:
ER: Did you have a favorite book as a child?
DR: I read a wide variety of books growing up. For a while, I was on a Hardy Boys kick, and then there was my Terry Pratchett stage. I think my favorite books were a series of "choose your own adventure" books call Lone Wolf. Every book in the Lone Wolf series allowed you to carry your weapons and such to the next book. I died most of the time, but it was fun to go back and try over and over again. I liked them so much that I even took Lone Wolf as my CB handle when I was into running around St Louis County with a CB Radio in my car.
ER: What was the first thing you wrote that you showed someone else?
DR: I was never big on showing my work to anyone, except when required to do so. My grammar and spelling stink to high heaven so I was always a bit embarrassed to show anyone anything I did (I just fixed 3 typos in that sentence). However, the story I developed has been brewing for over ten years and I finally had to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. My first inspiration to become a writer came during a college creative writing class I was required to take. I wrote a story about a sniper who put his life on the line to save a group of villagers, and then escaped into the deep woods. My fellow students thought it should be a book and I started working out the details of my overall story. Now, I still have horrible grammar, but I have a proofreader and a great editor.
ER: [Stops patting self on back to ask another question.] Do you prefer quiet when writing, or can you ignore everything around you when the mood strikes? I know you have little boys, so that can certainly factor in.
DR: I can ignore everything but my kids, especially when they are in my ear yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” If things are too quiet, it throws me off. I have to have music or something in the background. My wife always makes fun of me, because I actually do some of my best work while I have a lot of background noise.
ER: Do you write linearly, or do you write scenes as they come to you and then put them in order later?
DR: When it comes to actually writing my books I write linear, but I have notes of different scenes I want to play out. The way I create my stories is that I actually start with the ending and then it is up to the characters to get there. Each one of my books leads to the bigger overall story, so things need to line up correctly.
Funny story about this: the very first book I completed is set in 2000BC and is about a boy named Von, who's lost from his family and thrown into the world of magic. I wrote the entire thing out, but toward the end, my characters were not lining up correctly. Instead of forcing the issue, I went back and rewrote most of the book so the characters moved the way I needed them to. It was a lot of work, but when I get around to publishing it, I am sure the readers will appreciate my efforts.
ER: The hard work is always worth it, and readers do appreciate it. I've noticed you seem to have no qualms about killing off major characters. Have you ever gotten attached to a character you knew had to die at some point, and did you question your decision to do it?
DR: I actually hate killing off my characters, but there are a couple I can’t wait to kill off. I try to make my heroes likable, but these first books are meant to set up future character states of mind. In order to do so I have to create pain and suffering at times. In BORN HUNTER, I really wanted to write a different ending, but it sets up a bigger story later on. In I AM A GHOST, I wanted to find a way for things to go differently, but Jack and his daughter are meant for bigger things. Unfortunately, when you hunt the paranormal, people are going to die. Don’t worry, reader, I will never bring someone back from the dead without a great explanation and the good guys win in the end. Well, they sort of win.
ER: What type of books do you read for pleasure? Within your writing genre, or completely opposite? Are you secretly a Harlequin Romance junkie?
DR: You figured me out. There is nothing I love more than to cuddle up with a steamy romance novel and dream of being swept away by a handsome pool boy (insert dirty look here).
Seriously, I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy. A good mystery is always welcome, along with some action novels. Currently I am reading some of the original James Bond books that I found a few years back.
ER: You recently held a contest where people could win an opportunity to have themselves in your next book(s). Did you warn them they'll most likely be killed by the end of the book, or are you going to surprise them when the book is published? Did anyone ask you to give them a particularly grisly death, or to make sure they're beautiful with genius IQ?
DR:First, let me explain the contest. One of my characters is a man named Oni, who was once a wizard. Oni was a mentor and friend of Von. Oni lost his ability to use magic but he doesn’t age. The current series of books takes place 4000 years later. Since Oni has been alive that entire time, I thought it would be fun to write a back story for him. The contest allows the fans to create a character to be part of and actually drive his life. Every character will teach or make him realize something about his life without magic, making him the man he is today. To win, the person simply had to answer a question about one of my books.
The first time I did this contest, three women posted the correct answer at the same time so they all won. One woman wanted to be a dark fairy of sorts, one wanted to be a hawk and the third wanted to be a demon who wants to be good. I told every one of them that I control their characters and can do what I want with them. I also warned them that they could die. Only one of them said that since she was going to die, she wanted to die a certain way; the others have left it up to me.
Since this book will take years to write as I continue to hold contests and create characters, I write it chapter by chapter. When I finish each chapter, I send it to the person whose character is depicted in that chapter and make sure they are pleased with it. I also draft the story out with them before I get in too deep so they know what I am thinking. As the story progresses, some characters will carry on to other chapters and maybe even the entire book, depending on the relationship they have with Oni.
Once I receive their approval, I post each chapter on my Facebook page. One of these days I will have a website up so people can see all of them. I was even thinking of starting a page where people could ask Oni for advice, just for fun.
If readers want to have a chance to be a part of Oni’s life, there are 4000 years of characters I have to write about so I will need a lot more people to take part.
ER: Anything else you'd like to add about the book, the series in general, or your own plans?
DR:My story is not just one or two books. I have over thirteen in mind, plus a bunch of side stories and books after the final book. The overall story is that 4000 years ago, magic controlled the world. During this time, humanity was seen as weak until a boy stood up to magic and empowered the rest of humanity. 4000 years later, magic comes back with a vengeance. Once again, humans have to fight for their freedom. When evil rises up and magic returns to power, it will take everything humans have to win.
I hope that people enjoy reading my story as much as I am enjoying writing it.