First off, I want to thank you, Don, for taking the time to talk with me today.
Thank you too, Evelyn, for agreeing to be part of the tour.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
When I'm not writing, I'm a developmental writing professor at a small East Texas college, so every aspect of my professional life deals with writing. I'm also getting the hang of being a father, with my six-month-old daughter.
When did you begin writing?
At a very early age, probably around seven or eight years old. My first memory regarding writing was getting a Young Authors Conference selection in fifth grade, which started me on the path I walk now. I was a Young Authors selection for two years in a row, and in fact recently while rearranging my house I found the second year's manuscript, which now has a place of honor on my bookshelf.
What inspires you to write and why?
I get affected by the events and people around me. To give an example, the crux of Phantom Squadron stemmed originally from the 9/11 attacks, and my own reflections on how evil someone would have to be to perpetrate such an atrocity. Starting with the third book, the focus shifted to looking at how American politics has changed the landscape of society, in particular how partisan dogma on both sides is threatening our nation as we know it. I use my writing as a coping mechanism, to make sense of the world around me.
What do you do when you are not writing, besides taking care of that lovely daughter of your?
Honestly, I haven't been able to do much that doesn't involve writing lately, other than keeping up with housekeeping, car maintenance, and such. Of course, keeping up with Kahlan is a big chunk of my life now, so it sometimes gets hard to do any writing at all. When we do get the chance, though, me and my wife enjoy travel and movies.
Why did you choose to write this particular storyline?
I'm reaching a point in my writing life where I need to resolve some stories. Phantom Squadron has been a part of my imagination, and thus part of my existence, going on twelve years now. I've reached a point where I can't raise the stakes much higher. What could be higher than trying to find your captive family? Why, if one of them happens to be held, literally, in Hell. I'm also known as a writer who likes to torture his characters, and this seemed like a really good wringer to put my heroine through.
How did you come up with the titles for your novels?
It feels right and matches a theme. My first one was intended to be a prequel of sorts to the series, so I chose the title "The Advance Guard" to reflect that it's the origins of the team, kind of like the advance guard of an army going into battle. The second one just sounded neat, to use a Navajo word for their own people which just happened to have good alliteration with the word "dragon," so I went with it. The three books that are concluding the series are going to be thematically linked because all of them will include an important word starting with an I, just as a stylistic practice.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have three themes that run through all of the Phantom Squadron books, three core values that my characters cherish: honor, family, and love. "Infernal Eighteen" focuses on the last two of those core values, particularly Alanna's family and her love for her father, which is what drives her to go into Hell. The single biggest message I want to give readers with this book is to never underestimate love's power.
How and where can we purchase your book?
We're doing a simultaneous print and digital release, like we've done with other books from Desert Coyote Productions, so readers will be able to buy the books through two websites (http://desertcoyote.weebly.com or http://phantomsquadronofficial.weebly.com), through Smashwords, or through any fine online book retailer like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the like. We've thus far had some rough luck getting the books into brick-and-mortar stores, but we're still trying!
Thanks again, Don, It was great speaking with you.
The pleasure's all mine, Evelyn. Thank you again!