Interview – Jeff Dawson, author of Occupation
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Jeff Dawson, author of Occupation and Gateway: Pioche. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Jeff. For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
JD: I spent twenty-five years in road construction. Through the years, I dabbled with writing but never seriously. My boys and I wrote a baseball manual back in 2004 but life got in the way and it sat in the hard drive until I had back surgery in 2010. That knocked me out of my chosen profession. I’ve been writing ever since. I don’t have a definitive genre. No, not at all. I’ve written a true love story about my high school sweetheart. We reunited in January of 2009. Seven months later I kissed for the last time; cancer took her July 20, 2009. I followed that story up with “Why did Everything Happen:” a biography of my last twenty-five years. Then there’s alternative history, science fiction/time travel, horror, erotica, love triangles, poetry and humour.
When I’m not reading or writing, I’m glued to the tube taking in the great American pastime, “Baseball.”
I currently reside in Dallas/FortWorth spending a lot of time with my daughter, her girls and my oldest son. Life is good.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
JD: There is no “perfect condition” per se. When inspiration strikes, the keys start heating up. Unlike many, I don’t force myself to write every day. I know that’s a common thread on most blogs today. “Write, write, write, even if it’s bad, write.” Well, if you know it’s going to be bad, how in the #$@^ would you be motivated to write? To me, it’s counterproductive. I agree we have to start somewhere and begin our work, but if the story has started and the characters aren’t talking, what’s the point? I would rather sit idle for a week waiting for them to reawaken then start speaking for themselves. I’ve read some books where it was obvious it wasn’t the characters talking, instead, it was the author. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s like being slammed by a truck doing eighty miles an hour. Ouch!
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
JD: When I finished, “The Baseball Coaching Manual: Little League to High School,” I knew I needed to get it into coaches hands. That’s when a friend of mine suggested I put it in the Amazon book store. With a lot of help and editing, it became a reality.
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have found yourself writing across as many genres as you have?
JD: Most of the ideas come from the people I come in contact with. Occupation, Gateway: Pioche, Terror at the Sterling and Cracking UP!, are perfect examples. I listen to what people are saying and then begin wondering if I can write a good story. Example: My Chiropractor suggested I write a story about him. He wanted this hot woman coming to him for adjustments so he could heal her and they live happily ever after. I looked at him, looked around the room and replied, “Who are you talking too? Tell ya what I’ll do. I’ll have a real hot gal get in a car wreck. She’ll come to you for adjustments. You two become romantically involved and then her husband finds out.” Trust me, it doesn’t end well for anyone.
SPS: Can you take a moment to tell us all about your Alternative History/ Horror work Occupation?
JD: Plain and simple. This is a story of evil versus evil. With the fall of Poland, 1939, Himmler implements his plan of “Occupation.” The SS troops start rounding up all the peoples the Reich has considered a drag on the economy and resources. When the two warring vampire clans: Romanovs and Boirarskys understand the Germans are stealing their food supply, they have two choices: continue fighting amongst themselves or unite the clans and take on the most evil force they’ve ever faced—The Third Reich.
SPS: What came first, the idea to talk about Vampires or the focus on the Third Reich?
JD: The idea came from a lady who was taking care of my mom. She suggested I write a love story about World War Two. Not happening. Saw “Enemy at the Gates” and considered it a flop. Imagine a love story in Stalingrad. Give me a break. I thought about her suggestion then called Debbie’s (RIP 7-2-2009) oldest daughter and asked her if vampires were still hot. Being a “Twilight” fan, she gave a resounding, Yes! I spent the next two months thinking how vampires could be incorporated into the real history of the war. The result—Occupation
SPS: Who are the main characters in play? And where did your inspiration for them come from?
JD: The main characters for the vampire clans are”: Nikoli and Svetlana Romanov, Kirilli and Sasha Boirarsky. On the SS side are: General VonDerGraff, Colonel Eckhardt, Major Ernst, and of course, Heinrich Himmler and Adolph Hitler.
The Boirarsky clan came from a friend of mine. One night I asked him the origins of his last name. They were part of the Bourgeois class during the reign of the Czars. They made a hasty retreat from the “Motherland” when the Communists took control. I searched the Polish Dictionary for a good counterpart name—Romanov. I did the same with first names.
The Germans, with the exception of two, were fabricated.
SPS: Is there a side that most readers will root for? Do we have evil vs. evil?
JD: I would hope readers pull for the vampire clans. Seriously, how many are going to root for the SS?
That’s exactly what the book is about. No wayward teenage girls falling in love with vampires. That’s not to say there isn’t a touch of sex in the work. I had to come up with a viable method of combing the clans with an ironclad agreement. The only thing that sparkles in this work is the blood of the SS.
SPS: Was it always the idea to make the work a standalone novel, or is there scope to revisit any of the characters in future work?
JD: At first, yes. But as the story continued, whether by design or chance, I realized there was no way to tie all the story lines together. It would have been over one thousand pages and would still be being written. The sequel, “Sabotage” will be ready for the editor end of this month or early November. The plan is to take the story all the way through 1945. I’m thinking at least two more books in the series.
SPS: Can you take a moment to tell us all about Gateway: Pioche, a work of science-fiction?
JD: In a nutshell, the story follows, Muki, Larry, Abdul and Judith. They’ve graduated from Stanford with double masters degrees. It’s time to vacation across the U.S before entering the real work world. A trip to Vegas and card counting should provide them the necessary funds for the excursion. They win over $100,000. The local mob boss, Nathan Francisco isn’t so happy with their winnings. “What’s won in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” A hair-chasing race has the kids taking refuge at a military base NE of Pioche, NV. When they discover the time machine, with assistance, the story takes off! Technology, conspiracies and government subterfuge!
SPS: How did the whole idea come about? You seem to have plenty of ideas going on with Third Reich, Time Travel and the Mafia to name a few?
JD: If you notice on the cover, there is another author noted: Larry Welch. He’d been playing with the story line for over two years. We met back in the Spring of 2012 to discuss the project. He pitched the idea to me. I spent a month drawing up a rough outline. Once we agreed on the conspiracies the story would revolve around, it was time to get to work. Nine months later, it was published.
Yes, I do. At times I have to take a break and clear the mind so as not to confuse characters.
SPS: How do the four college students react as things take a turn for the worse on their trip?
JD: At first, with the exception of Larry; he doesn’t trust Skorzenzy. The idea of travelling back in time and witnessing the events is exciting. It’s not until the end do they realize why Professor Leonoid Skorzenzy allowed them to do it. When they understand they’ve been duped in assisting him with bringing forth the Fourth Reich in power and bringing down the U.S. government, all bets are off.
SPS: Have you based any of the situations on real conspiracy theories out there or are they all purely fictional?
JD: This is the beauty of being a writer; we can use our literary license to explore these facets. Readers are thrust into JFK’s assassination, the 1969 moon landing and Judas’ betrayal of Christ. Since there are no definitive answers to the question swirling around the three historical events, I was allowed a lot of wiggle room.
SPS: You have several other works available, is there one in particular that you would like to tell our readers about at this point?
JD: Yes. The one I’m most proud of is the true story, “Loves True Second Chance.” In January of 2009 I reunited with my high school sweetheart, Debbie Beck. I’d waited over thirty years to see her one more time and see how life had treated her. The story isn’t about her dying, it’s about the year and-a-half we shared in high school and the wonderful seven months she, her girls and I enjoyed. We lived a lifetime of love in seven short months. Ladies, if you enjoy a true love story, this work is for you!
SPS: What kind of responses have you received from people who have read your work?
JD: For the most part, it’s positive. The majority of readers are enjoying the works, no matter what the genre. They enjoy the various writing styles and the way I paint pictures. As a writer we must have thick skin, because not everything we write will appeal to everyone. A reader who enjoyed Love’s True Second Chance probably isn’t going to like Cracking Up!
I will say this much about a low review rating. Don’t dismiss them. Read them, if they’re constructive. When I released Occupation, I noticed a common thread with the reviews. A year and-a-half and two editors later, I fleshed out over 8000 words. Believe me, it needed one more good going over. So, if you’re noticing reviewers are all saying the same thing, there could some truth to it.
SPS: What’s next on the self-publishing horizon for Jeff Dawson?
JD: Are you sitting down? This could take a few minutes.
1) As mentioned, book two in the Occupation series will be released in Nov/Dec this year.
2) Book three in the Gateway series, “Target Berlin” will be released this fall/winter
3) A satire surrounding a current NFL team, “Irving Titans” is with the editor
4) The definitive, Part II guide on dating Eastern Europe Women is with the editor “CATFISHED AGAIN? JEFF AND NAUGHTY NADIA’S SAGA.”
5) I plan on releasing a comical story about the explosion of electronics in the 70’s and 80’s. Remember how they said it would make our lives easier? Current title is “Guinea Pigs of the 70’s.”
6) A work of poetry focusing on the women who have served in the military. I believe, with the exception of the show, “China Beach,” they have been overlooked.
7) Playing with a humorous book entitled, “Redneck Randy.” It was story I used to tell my kids when travelling to Tulsa from Dallas. The story takes place in the sleepy town of Stringtown, Ok.
8) I plan on releasing the third instalment of Occupation Spring of 2015. Current title is “Redemption.”
9) The last one I can think of is the novel surrounding the Battle of Kursk. I’ve always been fascinated how this battle broke the back of the German armoured divisions. That loss ensured victory for the allies.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
JD: I didn’t even know it existed back in 2010 until a high school friend told me about Amazon. Yep, I didn’t even know what Amazon was all about.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
JD: Sales could always be better. Overall, it’s been an exciting and rewarding journey.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
JD: Stop talking about it and do it! No one is going to write the story for you. And, don’t rely on friends and family to proof the book. Find a good editor who will pull no punches. You want hard, solid, constructive criticism. It’s what makes your work great!
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
JD: Norma Budden, Tim Greaton, Duncan Ralston, Brian Mooreland, Drew D’Amato and Aaron Powell. Like my stories, all these authors cover a wide range of stories. They are excellent writers in their genre’s.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today Jeff, and all the best for the future.
JD: The pleasure has been mine. Thank you for the hundreds of tweets you posted over the last year.
SPS: For more information on Jeff and his work, please do visit his Showcase Author page here.