Where did you come up with the idea for your children's book, Derek the Daredevil?
My son, Derek Neil Spalding, was the inspiration for this story more than twenty years ago, when he was two years old. I took him to a local carnival, and we rode the double ferris wheel. We stopped at the very top while people on the ground got off the ride and others got on. I was looking around, admiring the view, when I felt the seat beneath us start to shake. I turned my head and saw that Derek was not only standing up on the seat, he was jumping up and down! I grabbed him and said, “Sit down, Derek, you little daredevil!” I immediately thought to myself, Derek the Daredevil. That sounds like a great title for a children's story...
Where did you come up with the idea for your novel, Lazaurus Man: Resurrection?
I had two sources of inspiration for the book.
The first was an email I received a few years ago that described life in the United States in 1907 and pointed out how much things have changed in the last century. (In 1907, the population of Las Vegas was 30, life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years, the average wage was 22 cents an hour, there were only 144 miles of paved roads in the entire nation, only 18% of households had a bathtub, and women washed their hair once a month using borax soap or egg yolks!) And that started me thinking: if the world transformed that much in the last 100 years, with things changing now at what seems an almost logarithmic pace, what will the U.S.—and the world—be like in another century?
The second thing that inspired me was the memory of a TV show I remember watching when I was in elementary school in the 1960´s. The series was called The Second Hundred Years and starred Monte Markham and Arthur O’Connell. It was about a man in his thirties who fell into a glacier and was subsequently frozen in the early 1900´s. Sixty years later, he is found, thawed, and revived, and hasn´t aged a day since he was frozen. When he is reunited with his family, he discovers that his son is now a senior citizen and his grandson is the same age he is. I was always intrigued by this storyline and fascinated by the realization that, from the protagonist’s point of view, this experience would be essentially the same as time traveling sixty years into the future.
You´ve been writing stories since before you were a teenager. Why did you wait until you were in your fifties to write a novel?
This was the first time in decades I had an idea I thought would make an interesting story. In my twenties, thirties, and forties, I did a lot of writing, but it was always technical writing or writing copy for ads, training materials, or press releases—no fiction. As soon as I came up with the idea for this story, some words appeared in my mind, and I wrote them down. It was more like someone was speaking and I was taking dictation than it was me making up a story myself. In a few minutes, I had written a few sentences, and then, a few paragraphs, and before I knew it, I had filled up a couple of pages. I read what I had written, and thought, Hey, with a little work, this might make a good short story. A year and a half later, I had written thirty chapters and had a novel on my hands.
What type of readers do you think will enjoy Lazarus Man: Resurrection?
That´s a very good question, and I think it´s interesting that my answer to that query has changed over the past few years. When I started writing the novel, since it has a science-fiction premise—scientific knowledge allowing a man to be preserved and wake up in an advanced, future society—I assumed that sci-fi fans, particularly young men and teenagers, would be my target audience. But after a few years of selling the book on my website, www.dennisspalding.com, and doing a little research, some demographic data about my customers surprised me: most were 50 or older, and most were women. Some things my readers, young and old, told me they liked about my story: it was consistently interesting, had believable characters and dialogue, was surprisingly funny in places, and since it wasn´t full of technical jargon or scientific terms, it was very accessible and reader-friendly. I suspect that anyone who likes to read and enjoys an interesting story should like my novel.
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