Interview with Dan Absalonson

When did you first start writing?
I first started writing stories in elementary school, where my best friend and I would skip lunch and recess once a month to eat in the library while hearing all about the new books on the shelves. I have always loved reading books and eventually this lead to a desire to write my own. I only got a couple chapters in, but it all started with a story about a swordsman who would travel the land looking for the best sword ever made. We see him escaping castle guards with a new stolen sword. I wrote off and on taking creative writing classes in high school and college and really started writing consistently after college. I wrote about 10K words into my first attempt at a novel but then didn't know where to go next. So I started another novel and tried to keep it as simple as possible. This one I actually finished. Shortly after I tried NaNoWriMo where I got 50K words into my next novel that November and I ended up finishing it at around 80K words that December. Since then I've written the sequel to my first novel, a novelette, a novella, and several short stories. I have yet to publish any longer works as I write this but my novella "Sword and Urn" is something I hope to publish later this year.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I love using Smashwords for many reasons but one of them is the easy distribution they provide. For whatever reason the readers in the iBookstore love my stories. I get great reviews there and quite a few comments. It has been a great encouragement for me to keep writing seeing those comments and 5 star ratings. I love that my stories are also at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, and many other places. I just have to upload it all here and let Smashwords distribute my works in all those places for me.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Through the website Podiobooks.com I saw many indie authors putting out their books as free podcast novels. Since then I've seen many of them have success self publishing eBooks. I'm also a control freak and love the idea of having full control of all my works. It helps that my in my day job I'm a multimedia artist so I'm able to do covers, website, and audio versions of my stories - so indie makes sense for me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being the first reader of my own stories writing the stories I would love to read. I love experiencing stories through reading books. When I'm writing my own it is that much more fun because I'm such a part of the story. The longest I have ever sat down and written for one stretch of time was a little over four hours. During that time I produced over six thousand words in one sitting minus a bathroom break or two - and yes sitting alone in a room typing up a story for that long was a thrilling experience for me, because I wasn't alone in the basement on a keyboard, I was in my fantastical story world going on an adventure with my characters.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Ernest Cline's amazingly fun read Ready Player One. Hugh Howey's post apocalyptic Wool series has blown me away both for great story and great writing. I love Peter V. Brett and Brandon Sanderson's epic fantasy. I really enjoyed Dan Well's supernatural thriller John Cleaver series. Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is so good I've read it three times in the last couple years, which is also true of Stephen King's novella "The Body." Nathan Lowell's Trader Tales SciFi/Space Opera novels are some of my favorite as well as everything else he writes. I love classic stuff too like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I also love non genre works by authors like Charles Dickens, Truman Capote, and Frank McCourt.
What is your writing process?
I used to just write. Then I started making outlines first. Now I use the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet after I have a rough outline to help me nail down all the important story points in my work. Once I have those I put them in the right chapter in my outline. From there I write a few sentences for each chapter of my book. Then I start writing. I usually expand those few sentences of my outline into a few paragraphs as I start to write and get more ideas. Doing all of this planning helps me to hopefully end up with a first draft that doesn't need massive amounts of story revision.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The novella, Sword and Urn, I'm about to publish is one I wrote during NaNoWriMo a couple years ago. It sat for a long time, and then I read it again. I've been studying story structure a lot to lately to try and improve my stories and I was surprised to see that for the most part the first draft I wrote had almost all the parts of the story in the right places. My second draft saw an entirely new ending and I shifted things around here and there, but I hope to only have to do this little of story restructuring with all of my first drafts from now on.
What are you working on next?
I'm six chapters into my next novel titled "Zombie Super Powers." I had the privilege to be a guest writer on The Roundtable Podcast, where the two guest hosts and a guest author listen to you summarize your story, and then everybody work shops it. One of my favorite authors, Dan Wells, was the guest author and he and the two hosts helped me craft a much cooler story than what I started with. From their input and my notes I wrote a brand new outline and I can't wait to see how it will turn out. The story: A loser saves his town from a nanotech zombie uprising, becoming a hero.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a beautiful family. My lovely wife and I have 3 kids, the oldest being 5, and we also do foster care. So we always have a house full of very young children. I love playing with them, reading to them, going camping or to the lake with them. I can also be found recording audio books, podcasting, writing songs on my guitar, drawing in my sketchbook, creating graphics for book covers and websites, and of course listening to audio books and reading!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Funnest book I've ever read.

2) Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey | Wonderfully written, amazing storytelling, and a story world that I was really intrigued by and wanted to know more about.

3) The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett | Loved this epic fantasy for the world, characters, and because we I got to experience so much of the main character's life, from boyhood into manhood.

4) The Body by Stephen King | King captured the voice of these characters so well, from the first sentence until the end of the book I am in that world completely right there with the characters.

5) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - Same reason as King's The Body - just nails the voice of the characters, in this case the first person main character. You're just right there with him and it's told so well. I've read this one and The Body several times over the last few years.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly science fiction and fantasy, but I love all the genres. I also like reading memoirs, non-fiction about interesting stuff, and classical literature. Reading is easily one of my favorite things to do in the whole world. I've been surprised to enjoy reading eBooks on a device more than paperbacks. Yes, I love the look and even the smell of paper books, but they seem so clunky now. I love tapping or swiping the screen to turn the page. I love having a library in my pocket. I also love experiencing stories through audio books on my commutes to and from work.
Published 2013-08-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

A Dark Climb
Price: Free! Words: 1,740. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Mystery & Detective
A short Halloween story about a new kid in town discovering just how real the local ghost story is when he's dared to climb up an old creepy tower that sits behind a mansion.
Stories of Loss
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 12,110. Language: English. Published: April 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
A collection of 4 short stories dealing with loss. Each story stands on it's own, but deal with the theme of loss. The loss of a father, the loss of pets, and even the loss of an intelligent robot who has become a friend.
Cue Bull
Price: Free! Words: 3,370. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
George has given up hope on love finding him in this life and now his father, the person he was closest to, is gone. Is he destined to be alone forever? How will he sell the life sized bull statue his dad left him in his basement beside the pool table?
Death of a Salesman's Boss
Price: Free! Words: 1,330. Language: English. Published: August 27, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Dave finally has a new ride but he needs to get his raise before pay day or he's not going to be able to make payments for his new flyer. There's just one problem - the meeting with his boss has been canceled due to death.
Helium Heart
Price: Free! Words: 2,090. Language: English. Published: February 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Coming of age, Fiction » Literature » Coming of age
SHORT STORY A young man must face the first real tragedy in his life, the loss of his best friend.
Danthology
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 40,900. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
A short story anthology of all my short stories. In the order they appear you will find Sci-Fi, Fantasy, General Fiction, and Thriller genres. These stories are a mix of childrens stories, middle grade, young adult, and genre fiction for adults - though all of it would be rated no more than PG.
Stuffed Monster
Price: Free! Words: 2,460. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
SHORT STORY An ugly stuffed monster is chosen from the claw machine and taken to his new home. It was all going so well until the cat snuck in . . .
The Day She Was Born
Price: Free! Words: 2,210. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
SHORT STORY A husband sees an armed man enter the store where his pregnant wife is shopping. He gets out of the car.
The House Sitter
Price: Free! Words: 2,160. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Thriller and Suspense
A Halloween thriller short story. When Tammy is house sitting, she get creeped out. She keeps hearing and seeing things in the dark corners of the mansion she is alone in. This time it is not her imagination, and she's about to go for the ride of her life.
Bullets and Tears
Price: Free! Words: 2,800. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Literature » War
SHORT STORY For William killing can be part of his job. It can be shoot or be shot where he is stationed, but when that other person is a child it doesn't feel so black and white. American soldiers are on a mission to save child soldiers in Africa.
A Second Chance
Price: Free! Words: 11,100. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Suspense
Jerry has problems. A few years ago his pregnant mother died. His Dad has reduced himself to a drunk. Dad gets violent when he drinks, which is all the time. Jerry decides to run away, but ends up destroying another family by taking all of his anger towards his dad out on a stranger. How will this all be reconciled?
Fezdon's Mistake
Price: Free! Words: 3,100. Language: English. Published: March 18, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
SHORT STORY Fezdon is a wizard - at least that's how he thinks of himself. The trouble is, no one else in the village agrees with him. He must do something big to convince them, but will his big idea prove to be more than he can handle?
Little Willie's Revenge
Price: Free! Words: 5,840. Language: English. Published: March 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Suspense
This story is based on this "Little Willie" poem: Little Willie Feeling Mean Fed his sister paris green As she lay in agony Willie boy was full of glee. Willie's mother passed away and now his dad has remarried. Now Willie has a new sister. He hates her. How far will he go to show her how he feels?
Evil Takes Flight
Price: Free! Words: 1,830. Language: English. Published: March 12, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
SHORT STORY Jeff Klots has a problem. Every time he comes home from school, he gets dive bombed by an evil crow on the way into his parents' house. He decides to do something about it. All he needs is a weapon that will do the job.
The Last Butterscotch
Price: Free! Words: 6,550. Language: English. Published: March 5, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
SHORT STORY Henry Jr. and his family are excited about their newborn kittens, but when Henry goes into the barn to see them - he finds that there's an extra. It looks and weighs the same as another. Henry's mom is spooked. Where did this extra cat come from, and why does it act so strange?
Helsa's Secrect Ingredient
Price: Free! Words: 3,840. Language: English. Published: March 2, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
SHORT STORY Helsa and Vairgar had always done well selling their stew outside the castle walls, but now they were going to need magic. Lately none had come to visit the castle, so they had not sold any stew in many days. They had to do something.
All I Want For Christmas is a V.R. Supercube
Price: Free! Words: 1,960. Language: English. Published: January 6, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Holiday » Family
Christmas SHORT STORY Alfred Thompson can't wait to get his V.R. SuperCube game system this year for Christmas, but there's a problem. He overhears the school bully talking with his mom in the game shop and comes to a realization. He may have just found a way to never be bullied again, but it is going to cost him.
My Last Day
Price: Free! Words: 5,460. Language: English. Published: August 11, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Police chase SHORT STORY - in the future with flying cars. It's police Captain Matt Selznick's last day on the job, and he's going to make sure he ends his career on a high note. Rather than ending with a customary day at the desk, he goes out in the field impersonating a criminal transporter to pick up a bad guy and bring him in for questioning. Sounds simple right? If only it had been.