So, I dropped the ball last week. I'm sure everyone noticed. . . But I missed out on posting a coffee shop talk, and for that I apologize! For those of you that like horror (who doesn't) you'll enjoy this little conversation with Dan Foley, one of the local masters of the genre. So with nothing more, here we go!
Dan the Man, tell us about yourself and what you write.
My genre of choice is horror. That said I should clarify it a bit. It’s not over the top, blood and gore horror, it’s more psychological. I want to disturb the reader, put something out there to make them stop and think.
My latest published book is Wolf’s Tale. It’s a follow-up to my novella, Intruder. Intruder is a ghost story that takes place aboard a nuclear submarine. After writing Intruder I always wondered what happened to Melvin “Wolf” Lobo, one of the main characters. I had given him a back story that was filled with possibilities, so I wrote Wolf’s Tale to see what happened to him after he went back to his home in the bayous of Louisiana.
I’m waiting on word from publishers on two other novels right now, “Alone?” and “Witches”.
I'm sure they'll find a home. I've read parts of Witches and it's creepy as all get out so I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing it in print someday. So you’ve been writing for quite a bit now with an impressive catalog of published work. At this stage in your career, what is something that you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
Edit, edit, edit . . . and then edit again. No matter how many times you edit your own work you can never catch all the mistakes. Good, critical, Beta readers are an absolute necessity. I now use a minimum of three, more if I can get them.
What has been the most challenging part about writing for you? Is there a piece that was particularly difficult to get through either due to the subject or just seemingly endless revisions?
My greatest challenge came in my first novel, “Death’s Companion”. I had to kill off a character, the teenage son of the main character. It was essential to moving the story forward. The problem was, I really liked the kid. I had to write that scene at least a dozen times to get it right. I had to start with something like “he got killed” and then build on it from there.
So give us a brief overview of your writing process. Outlines yay or nay?
There are two main types of writers, “plotters” and “pantsers”. Plotters work the whole story out and create an outline before writing it. Pantsers, like me, start with an idea and just start writing. Half the fun for me is seeing where the story takes me.
Do you have a tradition for when you finish a project or have a piece accepted? If so, how do you celebrate?
I did in the beginning. My wife and I would go out for dinner. I still do it for a novel, not so much for short stories. I do, however, keep a “brag shelf” in my bookcase that contains a copy of all my published work.
While we can probably agree that they are all equally important, if you had to choose between plot, dialogue, and pacing, what makes or break a piece for you? If a work has amazing dialogue can you overlook a poorly constructed plot?
No. I need all three. Lack of any of them can ruin a good tale. Thankfully, dialogue comes easy for me and the plot develops as I write. My biggest challenge is pacing. I tend to be a minimalist. Once I finish writing a piece I usually have to go back and fill in information I should have given the reader along the way.
What are you currently working on?
Two things, both novels. The first is Toni’s Tale, a follow up to Wolf’s tale. Several of my readers have asked for it. The second is “Fallen Angel”, a story that has been running around in my head for some time. It’s finally demanding to be written.
Yeah, that one made me laugh. Well, if people want to find out more about you they can swing on over to your amazon page https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Foley/e/B00GI1AJO2 and grab one of your masterpieces. Thanks for chatting, Dan. Be easy my friend.
And, for everyone else, I'm sorry I haven't posted everything! There are a few more conversations to go so hang tight and stay with us. Cheers!