So, if you haven’t heard…there’s a new book out that was just released over the July 4 weekend. In case you missed it behind the fireworks and grilled burgers, here it is:
This book was written by this dude:
I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of Dan before I started writing this blog. But I stumbled on his writings through the magic of the interwebz, and you should follow him for a couple of reasons:
1. If you’re a writer, or want to be one when you grow up, you can get free advice. And, unlike most guidance that one would get from, say, relatives on Facebook, he’s legit, because he’s, like, published, and has sold actual books in real life to real people. Good advice for free – can’t get anything better than that, except maybe the samples at Costco on Saturday. But you have to actually get dressed for that free shot glass of popcorn, as pantsless sampling is frowned upon. And there are no people elbowing you out of the way to get that 1/8″ piece of bacon when you’re online.
2. He’s pretty damn funny. (Most of my imaginary internet friends are.)
Anyway. Back to this new book. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when Dan was asking for beta readers. Because I like to be in on stuff (which is part of the reason I work in HR, so I can know the dirt ahead of time), I raised my hand and scored a copy.
And I devoured it.
This book was like a mental bag of Chicago mix popcorn. Full disclosure here – I didn’t expect to like it that much; it’s not a flavor I generally go for. But once I opened the bag, I kept reaching in for more handfuls of it. I believe it’s listed as a sci-fi thriller – but honestly, it’s not violent, or too “out there” – it’s just a really fun, adventurous read. If you’re one of those who’s maybe not so much into, say, zombies, and liked Dr. Who primarily for David Tennant (Team Tenth Doctor!) you’ll enjoy this.
Here’s my review of the thing:
OK, if you’re reading the description and thinking, “meh, not my genre” – think again. You need to try this book. I swear, I’m not trying to sell you on something you obviously won’t like, like beets in a smoothie.
I do most of my reading on airplanes, since I travel a couple of times a month, and this story was so engaging, I was actually looking forward to getting back on the plane so I could finish it. If you fly a lot, you’ll appreciate how unusual that is.
Anyway – there are unexpected layers to this story – things wrap largely as they should, but not as you’d expect. There are characters you’ll like, and those you’ll love to despise. And you’ll find yourself truly just ENJOYING a darn good story.
Read this, and share it with your older teens, too. (They need to get off the Xbox anyway, right?) This is actually a story my son would like, and that’s as rare as him eating a vegetable.
You can buy this book here. For, like, $3. Which is less than that pretentious cup of crappity coffee you really were trying to quit buying every single morning…right?
Anyway. Because Dan is a sharing kinda guy, I thought it’d be fun to share a few
nosy provoking and insightful questions regarding the writing process.
1. What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book? Weather, sticky children, research? What motivated you to plow through it?
Just one? Hmm… well, I was used to writing humor like Savvy Stories in first person but my early chapters of The Navigators had a lot of head hopping – Point Of View issues. That doesn’t fly with a lot of readers, so I had to go back and learn fix that. It’s simple to spot and tricky to fix because we need information conveyed, so we write it; then some critique partner says, “Fred can’t know what Ethel is thinking.” Oops. What motivated me to plow through it was I was getting amazing feedback from my critique partners as I wrote the story. They were so enthusiastic about what I was writing, my energy level soared and I was banging out two and three chapters a week, creating this amazing rollercoaster ride for readers. That excitement shows, too. Readers have found The Navigators to be full of great surprises.
2. Sometimes we write stories in a “wishful thinking” attempt to rewrite our own histories. Was there any aspect of this book that was sprung from a personal experience, and what happened in “real life” that differed from the book’s version? (This could be anything from a small exchange with a character to a larger wish to turn back time.)
Sure, I use my real life in books all the time. Why not? I encourage all new writers to be as real as they can and bring pure emotion to the page, and I do it, too. There are definitely parts of my personal experience that are explored in The Navigators. For example, one of the characters talks about using a time machine to go back and let his daughter see her grandmother. And he makes it more personal by saying “when she was healthy and beautiful and full of life” – indicating that when she died it was from an illness. I have gotten notes from readers indicating they teared up at that passage, and there’s a lot of emotional depth in that part of the book. That is definitely something I would wish in my own life, too, that my daughter would have been able to meet her grandmother.
I use my real life in other places, too, like the dad of the heroine is a pretty strict and powerful type guy, but as soon as his daughter walks in he smiles from ear to ear and gives her a big bear hug and asks if she had breakfast. It’s just very obvious to everybody that the dad really, really loves his daughter – and of course that’s absolutely true of my own life, too. Writers need to do that stuff. Readers sense the humanity and are right there with you. They love it.
3. When your kids get older, what do you hope they’ll say about your works?
In my bestselling series, Savvy Stories, I wrote in the dedication that I hope one day I can hand my daughter a stack of books and say, “Here, this is all about how much fun it was to hang out with you when you were a baby/little kid.” For my novels, I hope she sees that some of the characters are people she knows. The Navigators is a sci-fi thriller but it has a elements that everyone will enjoy, like the dad who loves his daughter very much. I hope my daughter sees the love for her expressed on the page. Readers love their relationship.
4. What was the one food or beverage that made this book possible? BE SPECIFIC.
I’m sure most authors feel as though they are fueled by coffee. Others might cop to imbibing in and adult beverage on occasion. I really don’t do either of those but not for any good reason; I just don’t like the taste of coffee and I don’t drink alcohol very much. However, there is a particular brand of peach mango green tea that I drink by the gallon and if they ever want a product placement endorsement, I am completely open to it because I chug that stuff. Also chocolate. Very good for the creative spirit.
So, there you have it, folks. Everything you didn’t realize you HAD to know about Dan Alatorre. So, even though he’s clearly partially broken (no coffee? seriously?) you should look up his stuff.
Thanks for playing along, Dan. (He’s a good sport.) Can’t wait to read Poggibonsi!