Welcome to my interview with Dannie Hill, where he's graciously invited us to tour Thailand as he chats with us this week. How exciting to see the beauty here and a few temples.
Dannie Hill is an American and lives in Thailand with his wife. When in the States he lives in Houston, Texas. Dannie has 4 published novels that are enjoyed by many readers.
When not writing, Dannie enjoys sailing, motorcycles, reading and farming. He has a small farm in Thailand growing many exotic fruits and vegetables. The main crop is tapioca and mangoes. The hard work of farming helps relax his mind while his daydreams come to life. Thailand allows the sounds of English to quiet and daydreams to take shape on paper.
Dannie is giving away an e-copy of his book to one lucky commenter. Be sure to get into the RaffleCopter contest so your entry gets counted.
Deanna: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Dannie: I’m an American and have been living in Thailand with my wife for the past nine years. We have a small farm where we grow tropical fruits and vegetables along with tapioca and corn. Thailand is where I do most of my writing. It’s a relaxing place and my muse is happy here. I’ve published four novels and my goal is to publish at least one book a year.
Deanna: What do you do to relax?
Dannie: The hard work of the farm helps my mind relax but I also enjoy riding my motorcycle around the country and visiting with the rural people of Thailand. I love to sail, but haven’t been able to do that for a few years. I’m hoping to get back to sailing and making a few long passages. There’s nothing like being far out to sea in the middle of the night letting the stars guide you.
I am an avid reader and am enjoying the novels by new independent authors. There is so much talent out there!
Deanna: As authors, we’ve sometimes been accused of being several people. How many personalities live in your mind?
Dannie: That’s a tough question. I have my own personality that everyone sees, but in my daydreams I guess I’m rather like Walter Mitty—playing out adventures, drama and even romance in my head as my fingers work on the keyboard. It’s great fun. Thank goodness I can keep my reality separated from my fantasies.
Deanna: What is your strongest area in writing: plotting, character personality, dialogue, etc?
Dannie: I think I am strongest in storytelling. The plot is built into the storyline but it’s not my main concern. I tell a good story that captures the reader. Reviewers say my dialogue is real and for me that’s a great compliment. I’ve written using a high vocabulary which came out almost poetic and I’ve written with a simpler vocabulary that makes the story seem so real and interesting. In one novel, In Search of a Soul, one of the characters was the sailboat and many readers enjoyed the way I gave it a personality that outshone the main character at times.
Deanna: How many plots do you include in one of your books?
Dannie: It really depends on the story but I always have at least two streams of thought—two views. I also enjoy hiding messages inside the plot in hopes they might influence the readers thinking. Actually, I’m not trying to change the reader but give them something to think about in their own lives.
Deanna: How long does it take you to write a book?
Dannie: If the story is vivid and my muse is sitting on my shoulder I can write a first draft in about 3 months. That’s an 80k plus word novel. Then the hard work begins with the rewrites, editing and re-reading many times. Then the manuscript is off to the editors and when it’s returned the process starts over again.
The first draft is for me—all the hard work is for the readers. It’s so important to give readers the best you can give. During this process, I sometimes imagine someone sitting in their favorite chair or out in a shaded park reading my books. I want them to be happy with what they have in their hands. This process can take six months or more.
My first manuscript took over twelve years to complete the first draft.
Deanna: What is your editing process?
Dannie: I must admit that my grammar and punctuation skills are lacking. They’ve improved over my writing life by watching what my long time editor does to my manuscripts. I’m still amazed at all the corrections she makes—it’s embarrassing, but necessary. I reread and make corrections to plot, story and grammar at least ten times before I send my child off to the editor and it still comes back in tatters, Ha!
Deanna: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.
Dannie: My days usually start with a walk to look over our little farm, a cup of coffee and then turning on my computer. If I’m heavy into a manuscript, I may skip everything and rush from my bed to begin writing, but usually I try to take a little time to check emails and a few of my favorite blogs. Then I’ll write for an hour or two—sometimes all day. Some days I go straight out to work on the farm. Physical labor helps settle my mind.
As of late my mind has become a maelstrom of doubt and depression and it’s hard to even open my computer. I think this is something many writers and artists can understand. Usually it doesn’t last long and I come out the other end with fresh ideas and stories.
Deanna: Since writing is such a solitary job, we have to make a point of reaching out to others so we don't feel so alone. Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?
Dannie: I write in different genres: Sea Adventure, Young Adult, Thriller… I go where my muse leads me. I sometimes wish I could stay within one genre. It would make marketing easier, but readers do seem to enjoy my writing. I sometimes call myself a redemption writer. I really enjoy having main characters that are flawed and in need of help. That’s where the sub-characters come in. I also like happy endings.
Deanna: Any advice to new or even experienced writers?
Dannie: Me giving advice to my peers? I guess I can tell them a few things that have helped me over the years. If you write on a computer then save copies of you manuscript. I try to do this every day. I have this fear of my computer flipping over on its back and dying. I also save copies to at least two other sources: flash drive, portable hard drive. I learned the hard way when I once lost 10k words of a really good story and had to rewrite it.
When you finish a draft and start a new rewrite make sure you label your files so you will know what order they are. That can be a nightmare and embarrassing when you send the wrong file to an editor.
One thing I read and hear more and more—and I’m very happy for it. If you are going to publish your work then have it edited. Very few writers can rip into their work and be honest about it. Another set of trained eyes will improve your words, not change them.
One last thing that I’ve learned is don’t be afraid to learn more about your craft. Read books on writing, copy editing and anything that may improve your writing skills. When I first started my writing life, I feared I would lose my voice, my style. Those have changed over the years—for the better, I hope. Learn all you can. Please connect with me online:
Blog: A Writer’s Life in Thailand
Death’s Door Buying Info
Deanna: Dannie, thank you so much for allowing us into Thailand to share a bit with you and your wife. It's beautiful!
Readers, don't forget to leave a comment or question for Dannie and get your entry into the Rafflecopter contest to be in the drawing for Dannie's e-book! The drawing will be Saturday. Thank you all for stopping by. Roam through Dannie's sites and get together online with him!