Monday, July 18, 2016

Interview: Dan Straka

Tell me a little bit about your book.
A WOLF ON THE LOOSE is a weekly adventure/thriller about two former Marines trying to find their place in the civilian world by starting a private security company in Miami, Florida. What they get, is more than they bargained for.
The genre, timeframe and format allowed me to have the character’s living in our world, reacting to major events. The week-to-week format also gave the characters room to breathe; slice-of-life scenes that wouldn’t fit within a novel were able to be included.
The nature of the security company, and finding new clients with varying backgrounds, allows for social commentary from police shootings, veterans affairs, to nerd culture.

Title: A Wolf on the Loose

Age Group:18+
Genre: Thriller, Adventure, Military

Find the Book: Amazon | Goodreads

If you had to write this one all over again, go through the whole editing and publishing process from the beginning again, is there anything you’d do differently?
I actually love editing, more so than writing the first draft now-a-days. Very often I’ll take the nuclear option; delete a whole scene and write it again. I enjoy that.
What would I do different? For this one nothing major. Because of the nature of a serial, part of the fun is that the project takes its own course. It’s like going across country. I need to get to Cali, but how get the there, through Canada, the Rust Belt, or the Dixiland is unplanned.

Are you a plotter and know what’s going to happen or are you a pantser that lets your characters lead you by the balls?
For this project, exactly 33% plotter, 67% panster… other projects are more 60%, 40% but as I mentioned earlier the serial format allows (demands) for more flexibility.

What’s something that you are really good at that most people don’t know about?
I’m an excellent paintball player. Very sneaky.

Do you think being a writer is a gift or is it a curse? Why?
I’m not sure it’s either. It’s a muscle that grows stronger with practice. I do get frustrated when the distractions of life don’t allow me write, but that’s no different than any other discipline.

Parents like to say they don’t have a favorite child, but we all know that’s not true. I could say the same for writers. So who’s your favorite child... erm, I mean character?
They are all my favorites. No seriously, I don’t have a favorite, and I tried to write them that way. If I didn’t enjoy writing for each character, then something was wrong. Wrong with them, their backstory or the scene. Andrew's wacky, complicated. Emilio's the still waters run deep type. Derrick is an average nerd ball. Nora Jones is a tough country chick.

Do you usually root for the heroes or the villians?
If it is black in white; then it’s the anti-hero. What I prefer is shades of gray; complexity.

Who are your favorite authors?
Philip K. Dick, for starters. When I first read his work in high school I was blown away. Reading “Man in the High Castle” made me realize how contrived my plots were back then. A post-WWII where the Germans and Japanese spilt America…told from the perspective of an Americana dealer selling reproduction Colts? Brilliant! As a teenage boy, I would’ve written some contrived male wish- fulfillment story about a boy’s coming of age and resisting the occupiers.

What about up and coming authors? Anyone caught your fancy?
The last year has been focused on research and writing. Sometimes I go through periods where I have to act with single minded purposes and stop the distractions… I stay away from writer’s forums, don’t get sucked into Facebook, just focus and write. After I get through this period, then I start reading books again. I need to get caught on the Witcher series.

Back to your characters for a minute, who would you like to have a beer with? Who do you wish you hadn’t created?
Andrew would be tough to be a friend with; he’s got a lot of emotional baggage, is unstable, but with that comes a guaranteed fun time. He’s also fiercely loyal, but you have to stay at his level to be in his orbit long term. That’s a high price tag. Emilio is stable, dependable, more like someone you could be around on a daily basis.

Tell me one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Parachuting. At one point in my life I wanted to join the Airborne.

If you were asked to write a book in a different genre than your current works, what genre would you choose and why?
Horror. In many ways I think that’s one of the hardest genres to write in. The skill and craft required to build suspense, without being cheesy, is immense.

What are you working on right now?
Submitting to agents a fantasy S&S piece and researching a historical novel.

Care to give us the first sentence of the last chapter you were working on?
Andrew St George decided that this was as good a place to die as any.

So, say you just got arrested. What’s the most likely reason the cops are carting you off to jail?
Protesting Trump.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for one of your books?
In researching A Wolf On the Loose, I buried myself in the news to try to insert the characters into real events. I looked at alternative sources, off-beat avenues and raw footage. There’s a lot of depressing places in the work, where PMC’s often find work. There are some things I’d wish I’d never seen.

What’s the one book you wish you had written?
The book after this one.

Tell us about your most embarrasing bookish experience.
After a seminar I asked a well-known critic for the New Yorker, a series of very thought-out, and yet, very college sophomore questions. They were good points undermined a lot of what he had been saying. I even turned his reference to John Keegan on him. I didn’t mean to be a dick but the critic was not amused and in fact got rather pissed at me.

When you were little, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
An army general.

What’s your writing quirk? Every author’s got one ;)
Gosh, that's a tough one. Tell me what a normal writer is first, then I can figure out what a quirk would be.

In your most recent work, would you tell us about some of the material that didn’t make it past the cutting room floor?
The serial format allowed me to keep scenes and dialogue would’ve been cut out of a mass pub novel. There’s a good deal of slice-of-life mixed in with plot focused scenes. Conversations aren’t as truncated either. That said, a few characters got removed and their role in the story was given to the others. Mainly, there was a private investigator that didn’t make the cut.

What’s your favorite Disney movie? Seriously, this one is super important. Your life depends on your answer here.

Where can our readers find your work?
Search Amazon for A Wolf On the Loose. All the parts are there, but go for the complete episodes to buy or even get the entire first Season. They are priced better.

What/When is your next release coming out?
The next part of Season 1 is free on Amazon, starting each Monday and ending Friday. Season 2 is scheduled for 2017

How do you want readers to keep in touch with you?
Facebook, Instagram… but I prefer good ol’ email:

About the Author:

Dan achieved a BFA in photography and metal working and since graduating, has done neither. By day he works in manufacturing. By night, often very late into the night, he writes and stalks America's sub-cultures on the vast internets.

Find him:

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