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Dan WalshDan Walsh is the award-winning author of The Unfinished Gift, The Homecoming, and The Deepest Waters. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years. He lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Favorite Verse: Isaiah 26:3You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”


 

 Our Interview with Dan Walsh


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m happily married to the only woman I’ve ever loved and have been for the last 34 years. We have two grown children. We’ve lived in the same house in the Daytona Beach area for the last 25 years. I served as a fulltime pastor for 25 years. In the last few years God has allowed me to do something I’ve wanted to do since the 11th grade…write novels.

My first book, The Unfinished Gift, released in September 2009 and recently won 2 Carol Awards (best short historical and debut author). In June 2010 the sequel was released, called The Homecoming. My publisher, Revell, has signed me to write three more books for them. My third novel, The Deepest Waters, will come out next spring. I’m actually working on my 5th novel now. For those who haven’t read my novels, reviewers have often compared my writing style to Richard Paul Evans or Nicholas Sparks.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

I’d have way more than one, but this is certainly a favorite:
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,
      because he trusts in You.”
Isaiah 26:3

How did you get started writing Christian fiction?

My 11th Grade composition teacher probably lit the first spark. Writing novels is really what I wanted to do with my life, but shortly after high school God called me into the ministry, so I set it aside. Back in 1997, I began to write what has now become my first published novel, The Unfinished Gift. But it clearly wasn’t the right time for me to dive in. So once again, I set it aside. Ten years later, God confirmed now was the right time, and I began writing again, finished that book and haven’t stopped since.

What inspired your interest in writing The Deepest Waters?

I had just finished my second novel and was praying about what the third should be. I watched this fascinating documentary on the History Channel and wondered if anyone had ever written a novel about it. Turned out, no one had.

 


How did you come up with the concept for The Deepest Waters?

I did some research after watching this documentary about a paddlewheel steamship called the SS Central America, which sank after a hurricane in September, 1857. At the time, it was as big a news story as the Titanic. Tons of gold went to the bottom of the sea, along with over 400 souls. Among the few survivors, there was this honeymoon couple, who thought they had been parted forever. How they survived and the way they were reunited was nothing short of miraculous.

How much of The Deepest Waters is factual?

As much as a third. Actually some of the most dramatic and, really, supernatural things that happened in the story are true. I include the factual events at the end of the book. But the known facts of the real story are fairly brief, probably only enough to warrant a few chapters. I allowed my imagination to draw from these known facts to create the fictional story in the book.

How closely is The Deepest Waters based on your life experiences?
 
Not very much, other than imagining what it would be like to have been parted from my wife, and to wonder what it would be like to think I’d never see her again. My own sea voyages never involved any danger or peril (actually, they were all on cruise ships and we were treated like royalty).

How long did The Deepest Waters take you to complete?

8-9 months.

Do you have a favorite character in The Deepest Waters? Why?

It would have to be Micah, an old negro slave aboard the rescue ship. He has this abounding joy and Christ-like demeanor, even though his life is filled with suffering and loss. He seems to know God’s ways intimately, even though he’s illiterate and has never been able to read a Bible. But the few verses he’s memorized are powerfully owned and practiced in his life, causing a profound effect on those around him.

How much research did The Deepest Waters take?

It was quite extensive. I had researched the Civil War era before, but this story takes place in 1857. I knew nothing of the 1850’s before writing this book. I’d guess half of my time during the 8-9 months writing the book was spent in research.

What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing The Deepest Waters?

There were several. For example, the elevator had been invented shortly before my book begins, but was not widely used. So most of the buildings in New York City were only 3 or 4 stories, a few were five. People in hotels weren’t thinking of the view when they checked in, they were thinking of how many steps they had to climb, so they didn’t prefer to stay on the top floors.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

In the past few months, I've been able to make the leap to writing fulltime, but I find my biggest challenge is still the one I had writing part-time. That is, learning how to manage my time well. Thankfully, I have a lot more time to write now, but other aspects of my writing life have grown, as well. Things like emails, blogging, Twitter, meeting with book clubs, doing interviews and book events. I'm not complaining. I really enjoy doing these things. After hours spent with my fiction characters, writing in solitude, it's great to interact with "non-fiction people." The trick is balancing these things with my writing schedule. 

 

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love it when I finish a scene or a chapter that deeply affects me, and then read it back to find it’s exactly what I wanted to say. Second to that would be reading emails from fans who really connected with the book and to hear how it affected them.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

Definitely somewhere in between. I try to write the story out in a synopsis, as if I were telling it to you in 10 minutes sitting around a living room. Then I go back, take the main elements of the story and write them out, filling in the gaps, and figuring out all the things that need to happen to connect the main plot points together.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Most definitely. Some of the very best things in my novels seem like they didn’t come from me, but from the characters themselves, once they became real. I actually miss some of them after I’m done writing a book, as if they are friends now, and I wonder what they’ve been doing since we last spent time together.
 

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
  
My fourth novel, Remembering Christmas, is finished and due out in September. It's about a seemingly enchanted little bookstore, called The Book Nook, owned and run by Art and Leanne Bell. The day after Thanksgiving, Art collapses at the store and is found by a homeless man he's been helping. It's the busiest shopping time of the year, but Leanne must stay by Art's side, as he clings to life in the hospital. Her son, Rick, a successful CPA in Charlotte, reluctantly agrees to come home to help out with the store. Over the next few weeks, Rick meets a young woman there he can't stop thinking about. And he is re-introduced to the mother he's ignored for almost a decade and the stepfather he's rejected completely, as he listens to a host of charming and eccentric characters, whose lives have been forever changed at...The Book Nook.

 

What message would you like your readers to take from The Deepest Waters?

To never give up hope no matter how deep the waters, nor how dark the night. Nothing can separate us from the power of God’s love, nor keep Him from delivering those who turn to Him in their darkest hour.

What is your greatest achievement?

That the wife of my youth loves me more now than when we married 34 years ago. After that, that both my adult children love God and love to hang out with us.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

Because I mainly write historical fiction, when I write, my goal is to pull my readers back in time with me. I hope they have the best time doing it, while we also explore some of the themes in life that matter most.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Two things come to mind. Spending time with my wife, Cindi, on the beach near where we live, walking or just sitting on chairs by the water’s edge, under the umbrella, reading good books. The second is spending time with Cindi at any of the Disney theme parks. We live one hour away and have often been able to get Florida resident specials on annual passes. I don’t know why, but I can’t help but relax there.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just my gratitude for Christanbook.com, for the way you help bring authors and readers together, and for the opportunity to share all these things with your readers.

 


 

 Don't Miss!

The Unfinished Gift
The Unfinished Gift
Dan Walsh
CBD Price: $10.49

The Unfinished Gift: Unabridged Audiobook on CD
The Unfinished Gift: Unabridged Audiobook on CD
Dan Walsh
CBD Price: $17.99


 
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