Greetings friends and fellow booknerds! As some of you know, I am a tour host for the Indie Blog Hop, a book blog tour group specifically catering to indie and small press authors (like yours truly). But even if I wasn't a host, this interview with fellow author, Dave Heron, is long over due. Dave and I happen to share the same publisher - DevilDog Press - our debut books releasing near the same time. Once Dave saw that our book baby's birthdays were so close, he made a point to reach out to me and share his excitement and nervousness about his book entering the world, and I pretended like I wasn't as nervous or excited as he was! Dave's awe and enthusiasm for other authors as well as his love for writing and the characters he creates is both humbling, and inspiring. More importantly, however, Dave has turned into a great friend and is the perfect nerd to have super late night conversations with about, well, pretty much anything! His entire family is pretty swell too, if I do say so myself. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Dave, his books (but mostly his second book, "Wings of the Chosen"), and his journey to published author! Be sure to scroll to the end to see more about his book and where to stalk - I mean find him on social media!
Chelscey: “Wings of the Chosen” is a very different book then “From the Ash”, and I know has a personal meaning for you. Can you tell us what inspired “Wings” and why this was such an important story for you to share?
Dave: Bear with me on this one. It’s going to be a long answer. The inspiration for WOTC was an unfortunate one. At twenty-five weeks into her pregnancy, my wife had a seizure as we were driving home from a friend’s house. We would later find out that these were grand mal seizures (Jaime ended up gaving five of them) due to sudden onset preeclampsia. The doctors informed us that they must perform an emergency c-section, and that Max would have a “50/50” chance of survival. Over the next one-hundred-and-twelve days inside the NICU, I watched as my wife and son showed me what true strength really was. Jaime was released after just five days. I thought she was dead that night, and here she was; smiling, laughing, telling ME everything was going to be alright. Like...how? It was incredible. And then there was Max. I’ll never forget when I walked up to his incubator for the first time. I felt utterly hopeless. His skin was translucent. Tubes ran all over his body. The doctor asked for my wedding ring, and when he slid it onto Max’s arm and pulled it all the way up to his shoulder, I lost it. How could he possibly survive being born this early? But...he did. He had his mommies strength, fighting through multiple setbacks, surgeries, you name it, he conquered it. Finally, after three and a half months...we brought him home.
During all of that time in the hospital, and when we came home, writing became very therapeutic for me. It was my way of dealing with everything that happened. The story arc I wanted to tell became instantly clear. The words flowed easily. And it wasn’t just Jaime and Max that became part of this story. There were kids that I saw that were SO sick, some terminal, that would become the core of this universe. They would smile, play, laugh, each time I saw them, and it made me realize who I wanted to be the main heroes of this arc. Before I knew it, I was writing the ending of book I and had things in place for book II & III.
Chelscey: How did your family feel about you writing “Wings of the Chosen” given how personal it is to you all?
Dave: Besides Jaime and my niece, no one really knew I was writing it. I honestly can’t remember telling anyone about it until a year or two later. Once they did find out, especially after it was published, they were so supportive. I’ll never forget my dad calling me up after he read a certain part and saying, “Boy...that part made me tear up.” A lot of my friends have been incredibly supportive too. I can’t thank them all enough.
Chelscey: Given “Wings” origins, how was “From the Ash” born? What’s the inspiration behind your first novel?
Dave: Ah, my guilty pleasure novel. FTA’s birth was a lot less complicated. I’m a huge Tom Hardy fan. I remember seeing the previews for ‘Mad Max’, and being a fan of the originals, this was a must see for me. After the credits rolled, I was stunned. There was never an action movie that had entertained me as much as Mad Max did (maybe 300). I remember thinking “I want to write something like that”. So...I did.
Chelscey: Both “Wings” and “Ash”, while in different genres, share similar elements, and themes, both using horror and fantasy elements, as well as discussions of mental health. What is it about those genres and topics that you like the most, or feel are important?
Dave: I became obsessed with fantasy after playing ‘Final Fantasy VII’. The story, characters, twists, it was mind blowing and drew me into this incredible world. I was fourteen and already had a wild imagination, but this just blew the doors wide open to my nerdism. And the horror element? I mean, who doesn’t like a good horror story? I’ve always been a huge fan of horror novels/movies, and I wanted to add that dynamic to FTA. The first book of FTA isn’t overly drenched in it, but book two is going to have a lot more slathered throughout. Mental health is a huge part of FTA as well. Phoenix—the protagonist—not only has to deal with this new post-apocalyptic/dystopian world, but also has the challenge of keeping an old foe at bay that has hounded her ever since her mother died; her severe depression. I think we’re all enemies of ourselves throughout our lives, some far worse than others, and adding this layer to Phoenix’s story was something I wanted to do from the start. There are a few people in my life that I see fighting against it, and this side of Phoenix is all of them wrapped into one. It was my way of writing about a topic that, unfortunately, seems to get brushed aside more often than not, and maybe people dealing with this issue can find some strength in Phoenix’s journey.
Chelscey: Is there a genre you love to read, but wouldn’t write? Why?
Dave: If I can ever become a full-time writer, I will most likely take a crack at every genre. I love writing new things, and already have a few ideas for multiple genres when I’m finished with Ash & Wings. Nothing is off limits for me!
Chelscey: The story behind you getting published is also a rather inspiring one, can you share how you ended up with DevilDog Press?
Dave: Man, now that is a crazy story. A few months before Max being born I came across this book ‘Zombie Fallout’ by Mark Tufo. This book was awesome. It made me go through every emotion you can think of as I tore through the pages. When I was done, I instantly became of fan of Marks. I was thrilled to see he had more books and began adding to my library right then and there. I sent him a tweet about how much I enjoyed his book, and almost immediately, he responded. From about March until October, I kept Mark up to date on everything I read of his; pestered, might be a better word. Here I was, a fan being able to talk to the person who wrote these amazing stories. It was really cool. And then that night happened. Mark knew that Jaime and I were expecting our first child. I’ll never forget the tweets he would send me after that. Him and his amazing wife; Tracy, became part of Max’s journey, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support. Now, during all of that, and the time that followed, I began writing at a furious pace. It wasn’t until my niece told me about a site called Wattpad that I had any notion of sharing these stories. I was absolutely petrified of putting my work out into the world, but what followed, was what laid the groundwork for where I am today. The community there was incredible. People sent me messages, giving constructive feedback on what they felt works and didn’t, helping craft each story into what would become the first completed drafts. When Wings and Ash were both done and I began working on the sequels, I asked Mark for advice. He simple said “Talk to Tracy”. So, I did. I sent her a message. Now, I knew Mark had read Wings and Ash, and when I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife, told me that he enjoyed them, that I should “make this my new career”, I honestly just thought he was being nice. Tracy asked me “What are you looking for? Fame and fortune? Notoriety?” I didn’t have an answer at first. I just enjoyed writing...it was fun. Then it hit me when I looked over at Max and Jaime. I pictured them holding a physical copy of Wings and I wanted that more than anything. Tracy’s message will stay with me forever. “Welcome to DDP.”
Chelscey: If you were able to sit down and have coffee with your main characters, what do you think they’d say to you?
Dave: Luckily, I get to hang out with one of my MC everyday! But Phoenix? I’d more than likely have to run away after what I’ve been putting her through, and will put her through...yeah, I’m running for my life!
Chelscey: What are the biggest things you wish you knew, or could tell your younger self, about writing and publishing a book?
Dave: The editing process will test you. I love working with Sheila, my incredibly talented editor. She doesn’t just make sure my grammar and punctuation is correct, she really has helped me become a better writer each time I work with her. But reading through sentences, sometimes hundreds of times, is mind-numbing. It just kills me.
Rapid fire 1 word answer questions!
I want to thank Dave for taking the time to answer my questions. This guy seriously burns the midnight oil between working full time, always being their for his kids, and writing. He's truly a great guy and a talented writer. Want to learn more about "Wings of the Chosen"? Of course you do! So check out this synopsis, and then check out all things Dave.
A child who has yet to draw his first breath becomes the obsession of an unknown entity; a powerful being who seeks to claim the thrones of both Heaven and Hell as its own and unleash Armageddon upon the mortal realm. Haunted by visions of its own undoing, this usurper will stop at nothing to eradicate the one responsible; this mortal child.Bishop, the Archwarrior, is declared the guardian of this unborn child, though he doesn’t quite understand why he is tasked with such a role. But when forces rise from the depths of Hell, Bishop, along with his Warrior Angel siblings, quickly learn that this child is hunted by the usurper, who seeks not only the boy’s death, but the demise of any who protect him. One fateful night, Max Harper’s story begins.