An Interview with Dennis Calloway

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Back on Monday, I reviewed Return to Earth, by Dennis Calloway. Dennis was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself, his work and the future in this companion interview:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I was bitten by the writing bug about 12 years ago. Initially, the urge to write would only flare up during times when my mind was able to roam — airplane trips, long car rides, and even long distance jogging or cycling. During these times, hundreds of potential topics would come to mind. Many would leave as quickly as they came, but a few of them (dinosaurs from the past, zombies, apocalyptic meteors and other heart-racing topics) stayed around long enough for me to seriously consider them as potential stories.

One day, as I was driving from Dallas to Austin, my thoughts were focused on a story that contained some type of breakthrough technology and I began to wonder how impactful the story might be if this technology performed too well and resulted in some truly scary stuff? The idea intrigued me enough to actually put pen to paper and I ended up writing a 3,000 word short story (more of a prelude) that I passed around to family and friends. To my delight, they all loved it! And since I actually enjoyed writing it, I was motivated to continue.

How long does it take you to write a book?
Since this is my first novel, I don’t have any previous works to form an average, but Return To Earth took me about 4 years to write. Unfortunately, my day job makes it difficult to write during the week.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
When I wrote Return To Earth, I found myself writing during lunchtime at work, in the evenings and on the weekends. The most productive time of course, was always during the weekends. At these times, I would research certain elements of the story for realism and technical accuracy. I’m completely focused when I write, but whenever I feel myself getting tired, I stop and rest up a bit and then go at it again. The few times that I tried to push past my tiredness, I would awake abruptly to find a bunch of ddddddddddddddddddd’s on the page!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to listen to music when I write, but not just any music. I seem to work very well when listening to Radiohead.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I enjoy outdoor activities with my wife, MJ, but when we’re not hanging out, I try to keep fit with swimming, karate training, and jogging. I have my Insanity DVD’s for the times when I’m really serious!

What does your family think of your writing?
My family and extended family have always been supportive of my writing, even before they had a chance to review any of the writing samples. After reading my short stories, they expressed a little more excitement about my writing. Now that they’ve had a chance to read my first novel, many of them are motivated to pursue not only some of their own writing ideas, but other long-term goals and projects that they set for themselves.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing?
When I first started Return To Earth, I was worried that I would have a difficult time balancing the story between narrative and dialogue. When I look over my earlier writing samples, it was very easy to see what I was more comfortable with: narrative. Although those stories flowed well and were very interesting (according to relatives and friends!), there wasn’t much discussion going on. While writing the first couple of sections of chapter one in Return To Earth, I noticed a lot of narrative. But as I continued writing, I found that I was transitioning easier and more smoothly from narrative to dialogue and back again. When I completed my first editing session, I felt that I had a good mix of narrative and dialogue in the story to keep the story flowing, at just the right pace.

Do you have any suggestions for amateur or aspiring writers? If so, what are they?
Although writing is not my “day job”, I thoroughly enjoy it! It allows me to create a world that exists within the boundaries that I design. I enjoy getting to know my characters and what makes them tick. I even have a measure of guilt when I have to cause something negative to happen to one of my characters, good or bad. But making that journey with them, whether it’s the hero’s rise from darkness and despair or the villain’s fall from power, is very cathartic and produces a unique bond between the writer and the characters. I say all this because I’m trying to point out that you must write about something that you enjoy. If you don’t like the storyline, then it will be extremely difficult to maintain your focus and create a realistic world with real and relatable characters.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I think I have the greatest fans out there! I’m sure every author says that, but almost from the start, my fans have been very supportive. They shuddered at the gore and graphic detail in the book, all the while loving it. Some have expressed that the book has a sleek, sexy feel to it, while others enjoyed the non-stop action. The discussions really got going when someone mentioned that the book should be made into a movie. They were emphatic on who should play my heroine and who could possibly play the several bad guys in the book. I must say though, that the vast majority of readers expressed a clear desire to see a sequel to Return To Earth. So…I’ve shelved my other projects and am now working on the sequel.

What project(s) are you currently working on?
Before I published Return To Earth, I entertained the idea of writing a zombie novel. I had written a very rough introduction and outline that I pounded out while waiting on my publishing company to return my RTE manuscript to me. After the amazing feedback from my readers, the zombie story has been shelved in favor of RTE part two.

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

4 responses to “An Interview with Dennis Calloway

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