This week Mike Dellosso who has just launched his latest novel, Fearless, joins us to share a little about his writing and how he manages to juggle all life’s passions and priorities.
I’ve admired Mike and his writing for a number of years now. When I was looking around for endorsers for Angelguard, I was very fortunate that Mike, amongst his very busy schedule, didn’t hesitate to accept my request.
Enough of that, let’s hand over to Mike as he responds to a bunch of questions I threw his way recently.
Many of my readers don’t know much about you, so perhaps if you could share a little about yourself.
Sure, I’m soon-to-be 41 years old, been married for 16 years, have four daughters (ages 14, 12, 10, and 2). I was born in Baltimore, MD and now live in a small town in Pennsylvania. I started writing in 1998 as a way of dealing with a tragedy that occurred in our family. Writing became my therapy, my way of making sense of what had happened. Also, having been a severe stutterer my entire life, writing became a way for me to share myself, my thought, my words, without stuttering. My first novel was picked up and published in 2008 and I’ve published six novels and one novella since then. Fearless is my most recent.
When did you realise you wanted to be an author?
The moment I started writing back in 1998. Honestly, it was like being born again. I was a non-writer, then I was a writer, fully in love with writing. It was that dramatic of a change. I’d found my calling and new immediately that writing was what I was meant to do.
So once you decided you wanted to be an author, what key steps did you take to realise that ambition? Did you study creative writing or what?
I read A LOT and did A LOT of self-study. I read anything I could get my hands on about the craft of fiction writing. And then I wrote A LOT. Practice, practice, practice. When I had a manuscript completed I went to a writers conference and there found another author who referred me to an agent. A few months later I was signing a contract. Now, when I read other authors I admire I read not just for the enjoyment of it but to learn from them. I study how they write, their word choices, pacing, sentence structure, character development. All of it. I’ll always be a student of writing.
I’m always amazed how you manage to juggle a full time job, home life with your wife and 4 young kiddies, plus churn out a new novel every 6 months or so. What are your tips for juggling these areas of your life?
For me, there are a number of techniques I use to manage my time and make sure I get the most out of the time I set aside for writing. I think the most important thing is to know what I want to write and why I want to write it. I know this has little to do with the actual writing and little to do with the actual time involved in writing but if you know what you’re doing and where you’re going the time spent will be so much better spent. Another issue is priorities. You have to have your priorities in line. There are a lot of things out there that will want to take your writing time. You have to be very intentional about setting time aside and not allowing it to be interrupted. For me, that means getting up very early, before the rest of the family awakens, before the sun rises, and using that time to write. It works for me.
I’m very sensitive about not allowing my writing to interfere with family time so I plan it at a time of day when it’s sure to not get in the way of other things. I wrote a short non-fiction e-book about this whole time management thing called Writing Time. It’s available on Amazon for only $0.99 and might just be the most valuable dollar you’ve ever spent. It’s full of practical tips and advice about making time to write and making the most of that time.
Yep, best 99 cents I’ve spent in a long time. Now, tell us a little about Fearless.
Fearless is about a little girl with a very special gift. It’s also about a couple struggling to hold onto their marriage after suffering a tragedy. The story really centers around the girl, Louisa, and mystery surrounding her. When her gift brings her into contact with a serial killer she becomes the next target. And then it’s an all-out race to protect her and eventually save her from evil’s grip. The story is fast-paced, intriguing, mysterious, and a little creepy. I’ve been on a kick with including children in my stories. I think their innocence and vulnerability is the perfect contrast for the evil villains.
What do you hope readers will take away from it?
I want readers to be pushed to think about their faith and the trust they have in God. Do we really trust Him? Do we really believe He cares about us and what happens in our lives? Do we have the faith in Him we say we do? Even when times get hard and it appears there’s simply no way out?
You create great bad guys like some of the very good TV shows like “Criminal Minds”. What’s your process for visualizing your characters?
I put myself in their shoes. It’s really not much more complicated than that. I’ve studied people and human behavior for a long time and I’ve become pretty good at putting myself in someone else’s skin. But for villains specifically, one of the best things I can do for them and for the reader is to give them a strong, interesting motivation. I want to paint villains as real people, too. People who want something and struggle to come to terms with their often misaligned need. They are people who are deeply psychologically scarred. I try to portray them with a certain sense of empathy so the reader may feel some sympathy. These are hurting people who have turned to evil to fulfill their needs. Pretty sad when you think about it.
What’s one great story that a reader shared with you after reading one of your novels?
I really can’t pinpoint just one. My favorites are the ones where readers say they have been struggling with exactly what the story deals with. For instance, I had one reader email me saying she had been struggling with fear for a very long time. She didn’t even know what she was afraid of. After reading my book Darlington Woods, which deals with fear and overcoming it, she found a new strength and determination to give her battle to the Lord and let Him fight her fears away for her. Those are the kinds of stories that move me the most because it’s confirmation that I’m doing what God wants me to do and that it’s making a difference in the lives of others.
Are you able to share a little about what you’re presently working on?
I’m really not working on anything big. I’m in-between contracts and have been taking a break from novel writing. I’ve been doing some short projects but nothing elaborate. I’ve been enjoying this downtime. Hopefully, soon I’ll get something going. I have an idea for a psychological thriller, kind of a cross between Jason Bourne and Shutter Island.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of all your fans that we hope that idea soon germinates into another one of your novels.
I’m excited to give away a copy of not only Fearless but also Frantic, the thriller that proceeded it. Just express an interest in both novels in your comment below. The winner will be notified by email next Wednesday 22 May.
Thanks Mike and wishing you every success with Fearless.
Visit Mike’s website
Check out all Mike’s books at his Amazon author page