Friday, September 16, 2011

Writing in Paradise

Nick Daniels wrote his first short story in third grade about an explorer lost in the Amazon jungle. He’s been writing ever since. Join me for a peek into the world of author Nick Daniels…

I see that you’re donating all your royalties from your latest release, THE JIHAD’S MESSIAH (TJM) to Holt International—an organization that cares for abandoned children. Wow. That speaks volumes about your integrity, but also begs a question I can’t stop from asking…what in the world do you do for a day job? And where did all that compassion for orphans come from?

Freelance science writer and web designer by day, novelist by night. Science and medical writing is one of the few areas that still pays well for us wordy types. In another life I was a journalist, seasoned in all areas of the trade, but now I work from home, grateful that I’ve always earned my living through the written word.

The compassion for the orphans comes directly from the heart of my heavenly Father. I come from a macho guy culture, but I can’t help but to tear up if I see images of suffering children. I write for a higher purpose, not to make money, but to make a difference.

You live in a self-proclaimed writer’s paradise. Using all your sweet literary skills, describe it for us.

If I look out my window, I can see a few dozen boats docking at the harbor, and scattered row boats and kayaks ferrying between the small islands conglomerated in this part of the Pacific. Every now and then, the quiet is disturbed by a float plane landing on the water, but then the peace returns as if never gone. The island across the harbor is crammed with trees and rocky beaches—no cars, no houses, just campers and wildlife. Then an eagle will show up to fish among the seagulls—they don’t like it and try to chase the eagle away. On a clear day, I see snow capped mountains on the mainland as if rising from the ocean, and the sun set behind them.

Writer to writer, take your best shot at imparting some Nick Daniels wisdom about the craft.

Pray before you write. Give it all you’ve got. Trust your editor.
In other words, know that your gift comes from above and let God direct your words; write with passion, from deep inside your guts; and be humble to accept that you don’t know it all.

TJM is the second book you’ve released, both from the same publisher. What made you decide to publish with Risen Books?

Let’s just say I have a very close relationship with Risen Books. When my first agent (one of the legends in the CBA market) came back with letter after letter of rejection for The Gentlemen’s Conspiracy, this new publisher bet on my novel to break into the industry.

My initial plan for TJM was to go for the ABA audience. I actually signed with a New York agent who targeted the big guys. The editors came back with high praises for my writing and the plot, but felt at odds about placing TJM into a category—thriller or speculative? Religious or military?

The doors were always open with Risen, so after playing the submission game for six months, I came back to them. The rest is history. Recent history (I’ve always wanted to say that).

In TJM, you get into the heads of religious Islamists. What kind of research did that take? What is your personal experience with Muslims?

The greatest challenge was writing from the point of view of a Muslim militant. I had to learn how Muslims think, what they believe and why, try to understand their culture, and then put myself in their shoes. One little book, Being Muslim, was especially revelatory. Obviously, as a Christian, I don’t agree with the author’s views, but it provided a firsthand encounter with an opinionated Muslim.

When I read and heard testimonies of Muslims who became Christians, I understood better God's love for them—which is vital, because the concept of a loving God is foreign for the Muslims. As my character in the novel discovers, the Christian God is defined by His love.

I’m indebted to all the authors who have made an outstanding research on the connection between Islam and the end times and on whose shoulders I stand: Perry Stone Jr., Joel Richardson, Walid Shoebat, Roland and Michael Back. Also, many people have shared with me their experiences while living in the Middle East.

You co-host the Breaking Unbelief podcast, which discusses some of the hottest topics in faith, science and philosophy. How does this tie in with TJM? Is this, perhaps, where some of your plot ideas spawned?

I actually conceived the idea for TJM before starting the podcast, but certainly ideas flowed both ways. My own research for the novel led to topics for the podcast, which in turn gave me more research material after doing the interviews with our guests.

Be honest…which character has the most real life Nick Daniels traits in him and what are they?

Both of my heroes, Daniel Young (The Gentlemen’s Conspiracy) and Farid Zadeh (The Jihad’s Messiah) have one trait that defines my personality: determination.

My wife likes to say that once I get started with something, I go with it until it’s finished or crashed.

That’s my little confession right there.

And here’s mine… While end-times thrillers aren’t usually on my TBR pile, I did read The Jihad’s Messiah. This is one action-packed thrill ride you ought not miss. Check out the series at:


Michelle Griep said...

Thanks for joining us today, Nick!

Nicole said...

Good interview. Thank you both.

Nick Daniels said...

Thanks, Michelle and Nicole.

Gina Holmes said...

Really enjoyed this interview. Praying for much success for you. I share your heart for orphans. God bless you for that (I'm sure He has!)
Thanks Michelle for another great guest.

sally apokedak said...

Great interview. But where is paradise? I was thinking Hawaii until I heard about the snow covered mountains. Then I was thinking the Aleutian Chain.

Nick Daniels said...

Sally, it's supposed to be a secret! Otherwise everybody will move here!

It's not the Aleutian Chain, that's way too far north. It's actually the BC Gulf Islands.

sally apokedak said...

Oh! I've never been, but I believe you when you say you are in paradise. I drove down from Alaska once fall, through BC. It was gorgeous.

Margo Carmichael said...

Enjoyed the interview, Michelle. Good journey you're enjoying, Nick! I'm happy for you and can't wait to get into your stories. God bless~