Featured Interview With Author Dan W. Dooley
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I’ve come full circle. I was born in the NE Arkansas city (you big city people would call it a “town”) of Paragould. My family moved to St. Louis when I was five years old. We had family remaining in Arkansas so we did make frequent trips back there.
After high school, I entered the US Army. This was during the Vietnam War era. But my specialty kept me stateside my entire enlistment. My duty station after a year of electronics training was in the Chicago, IL area.
After the Army period ended, I married, began my family, my career and my college education. I married a local girl. My three sons were born there, and my career in medical electronics kept me traveling. I guess I was the proverbial “road warrior.” Airplanes, hotel rooms, rental cars, and every night at a different restaurant “table for one, please”. You know.
In 1979, we moved from the Chicago area to the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas area. There my sons grew up. But we lost our firstborn son in 1979. Life continued pretty typical for those years. Family activities, church activities, traveling with the family, and then later after we entered the “empty nest” years.
My world changed in 2016. My wife of fifty years was diagnosed with incurable cancer. To use the all too often used, but equally true, my world came to a halt. I lost her in 2017.
By the grace of God, He sent me a wonderful widow to continue my life with. We married in 2018. We are not meant to be alone. Some do so by choice and that is fine for them. That did not apply to me. I had been a husband for fifty years and needed to be again.
In 2021, we moved from Texas to the city where it all began for me. We moved to Paragould, Arkansas. That’s where we are now.”
Life has been good for us. We’ve taken up the RV activity traveling around the country as time allows, with our 5th wheel trailer. But, even without the trailer, we still travel. We have family in the area (my side) and between those associations, and church activities, my writing, other hobbies and interests for both of us, we live a very active and rewarding life.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I became an avid reader early in my grade school years. Somewhere during that time I knew I would become a writer. During those years and into my teens, I made several attempts but other than some simple short stories (which I wish I had copies of now) writing remained simply a dream.
Of course my Army time put writing well back on that very back burner. The interest and desire was there, but nothing became of it. And my college years (part time while working full time and traveling for business) kept the creative spark well under a bushel.
Much of my career activity did involve writing. But it was not the kind or writing I really wanted to do. Technical manuals, operator and user manuals, technical training materials and a host of other writing projects kept me at the keyboard, but I still wished to write fiction.
Years passed and a few novel starts came along but nothing was ever completed. Then my wife’s sickness and death removed even the desire. I came to the point of deciding that my writing days were over.
Patsy and I married in March of 2018. After having told my story on a number of different forums I had a number of people suggest that I ought to write a book about or story. So what was the trigger? Was it just the timing? Or the right inspiration. That was all I needed.
I had no interest in telling our story in memoir form. Nor anything autobiographical. Or a non-fiction form of any sort. I write fiction. Thus I was impressed to create a story which though entirely fictional, about fictional people and fictional places and events, within the story of those people, is our story.
In 2020 ‘A Ship Called Abigail’ was published. That was soon followed by the first sequel, ‘Voyage of Abigail,’ then ‘When Love Finds Hannah,’ and the finishing novel of the series, ‘An Empty Quiet Place.’
The books deal with the heartbreak of loss through widowhood, the loneliness after loss, the desire to regain what was lost through new love, the challenges including opposition, discouragement in the search and wondering if the searching is even the right thing to do. And bringing children into a new marriage. But, the books are about hope. And of course some adventure along the way as well.
Two additional novels have been published. Those are “standalone” stories not related to the Abigail series.
Currently, I have three writing projects underway. A novel picking up the Abigail story but set a few generations after the first stories. Also a book of short stories. Stories of oddities, I would call it. And just started, a historical fiction based on the story of Gideon in the Bible Old Testament. I m not sure which of those three books will be finished and published first. I’d like at least one of them to be ready in 2023. Perhaps two of them will be ready for publication during that year. We’ll see.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I read almost nothing in the contemporary field of books. There have been a few contemporary writers I’ve enjoyed. Stephen Lawhead is one. Historical fiction is his main genre. But mostly, for me, those books which are considered classic. Writers such as Dickens, Doyle, Stevenson, LM Montgomery. And of course CS Lewis, and Tolkien.
Others as well. I’m not a fan of the current “best seller lists.” I don’t follow the popular must reads and certainly not from the “formula” writers of today. I don’t care to read anything which reminds me of a “made for TV movie” script. I know that makes me something of an oddity when it comes to my reading tastes.
I have said that really, my wife Patsy is my inspiration. Surely, we gain some style and subject inspiration from authors we love to read, but sometimes inspiration comes from something outside of the covers of a book someone else wrote. At least that’s where I am in this season of my life.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
The latest to be published is ‘Miss Penny’s Wedding Dress.” I don’t know if you would call it a paranormal story, or simply something of a ghost story.
Penny was murdered by the man she had hoped to marry, but who abandoned her before she could wear that wedding dress. Whether she knew it or not, but he was a scoundrel and a fugitive from the law. Perhaps he killed her to cover his tracks. Now Penny follows the dress wherever it is taken. And she suffers a grief which is never ending.
The dress ends up in the possession of a young man. But Penny comes along, and throughout the nights he is in terror of the sounds of a woman moaning and wailing. Even within his own bedchamber. Certainly that would be enough to make anyone question their own sanity. And others will question it as well if you tell them about the night visitations.
Now Penny turns her attention to him. And for him it gets even worse when he wakes up at night to the sensation of someone laying on the bed beside him. But someone or something which he cannot see, nor actually feel. Not as one would feel the touch of a warm human body.
She wants him, but the problem is, he is among the living. She is not.
I can’t say I can point to just what the inspiration for the book was. Surely something I read about during my many years of reading. Inspiration comes from our own imagination. But our own imaginations are generally fueled by past memories, experiences and readings.
Just like ‘Mister Weatherspoon’s Unfortunate Clock,’ was inspired by long ago readings and a walk through an antique store. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and it does. All too often to make stores from all of the ideas.
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