Interview with Michael Dalton

What is your writing process?
Just about every piece I've written began with a random idea that stuck in my head. It's rarely if ever the beginning of the story; in some cases, it's been the very end of it. I have to let it germinate for a while to see if it has potential, and if it still appeals to me, I start trying to built a story around it. I almost always do this in my head first, just letting things unfold. I won't start writing until it feels like the idea has really grabbed me as something I want to experience. I have to have that goal in mind to start writing; that's what keeps me going. Eventually, I'll come up with a way to start the story, and only then will I actually sit down and start typing.

Once I begin writing, it often comes very fast. Getting 10,000 words down in a single day is not unusual, because by the time I start, I've usually got a ton of prose piled up in my head wanting out. I wrote the first draft of The Hunt, which I'm getting ready to release, in less than a week. Of course, that first draft isn't anything that's ready to publish. I have to do a lot of proofing and polishing, because when you write that fast, you end up with a lot of typos and missing words. So I typically spend more time revising than I spent writing.

I generally don't know how I'm going to end a book until I'm well into writing it. I find that I can't start out with the entire book in mind. I have to let it come the way it wants to, and things evolve substantially as they take shape on the page. Many times, that original idea will have changed quite a bit by the time I get there. More than once, I've gotten there only to realize it no longer even works at all; I've written a different story than I meant to. That process of discovery is one of the things I love about writing.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I've lived all over the country: East Coast, West Coast, the South. For vivid writing, you need vivid details, and there's no replacement for experience. Especially with dialogue, you need exposure to different voices.

I enjoy going back to the places I've lived and visited in my writing. In many ways, writing about them has given me new perspective on them.
Describe your desk
Having been a writer for most of my life, I take my desk seriously. I have an old walnut secretarial desk that I got second-hand. My father, who bought it for me when I graduated from college 23 years ago, told me it looked like something that belonged to the "CEO's secretary at Bank of Boston." It's a big, wide affair that has been a major hassle to disassemble and move every time I've changed residences, but I can't imagine ever giving it up. I have a quite a lot of crap on it, but everything has its place. There is a collection of very old leatherbound books that belonged to my great-great grandfather in one corner, two Tiffany stained glass lamps, a little drawered box that belonged to my grandfather with intricate marquetry veneer, a faux-book box that I keep my flash drives and other gadgets in, the one print book I've published in a wooden stand, the collection of Pokemon cards that my youngest son made me get so I could play with him, in a metal box, a big Moleskin journal, my coffee mug warmer, various paperweights, a couple of which are older than I am, and, finally, a photo of me and my father on the last trip we went on together, fishing in northern Canada. It's a mess, but I like it.
When did you first start writing?
This is a tough question, because it goes back a long damn way. The first story I can remember writing was entitled "The Cat and the Mouse Who Saved Pearl Harbor." This was in second or third grade, I'm not sure, and was the story of two titular animals who borrowed a B-17 and used it to fight off the December 7, 1941 attack on the U.S. naval base in Hawaii. I can't even remember what prompted me to write it, but I suspect it was a reaction to watching "Tora! Tora! Tora!" with my father. I got it back from my teacher with a big red comment across the top, "Did you write this yourself or copy it?" Things would get better.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I write like I read, which is to say, I do it to see how things will come out in the end. I can't start a story if I've got it completely mapped out in my head. I'm a firm believer in Stephen King's advice that extensive outlining is the last refuge of the hack.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm not sure I ever stop writing. Even when I'm not in front of my computer, I'm thinking about my next book and writing it in my head. It drives my wife bananas.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm a writer and editor, not a graphic designer. I would no more do my own covers than I would try to perform surgery on myself. I've worked with enough awesome graphic designers in my life to understand that it's a craft as serious as writing, and one that takes just as much practice, skill, and training. I don't have that background, so I don't do my own covers.

I can spot a self-created cover a mile away. When I see one, it pretty much tells me, amateurish cover = amateurish content.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order: Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, China Mieville, David Poyer, Alan Dean Foster, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Patrick O'Brian, Barry Sadler, Kurt Vonnegut, Clive Cussler, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K Rowling.
Published 2014-11-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 55,120. Language: English. Published: March 4, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Suspense/Mystery, Fiction » Erotica » BDSM
San Diego lawyer Cassandra Dunne is trapped in a world she wants no part of, with a father whose career has controlled the entire trajectory of her life. But when she is yanked out of this existence by a dark man with a terrifying past, she must re-rexamine everything she thought she understood about herself and her father.
The Wisdom of Dogs: Stories
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 77,640. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Erotica Anthologies, Fiction » Anthologies » Erotica Anthologies
Seven stories, short and long. An American lawyer in Paris meets a French woman with an unusual entanglement. A grad school TA falls in love with a student in his section but can't date her. A frustrated wife takes out her frustrations on the yard boy, with some unexpected results. A washed-up ex-cop must team again with the woman who broke his heart to solve a baffling mystery.
Amber: The Making of a Sex Toy
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 64,160. Language: English. Published: November 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Menage/Multiple Partners, Fiction » Erotica » General
Virginal high school senior Amber Johnson has a crush on her history teacher. But she has no idea what she's getting into.
The Hunt
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 37,420. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Romance, Fiction » Erotica » BDSM
Dallas lawyer Caitlyn Cahill's perfect life is destroyed when she’s falsely accused of an affair with a married partner. Unemployable and deeply in debt, Caitlyn is offered a twisted way out—but what she thinks will be an easy $1 million instead leads her into a relationship with a man who is nothing like what she expects, and whose needs are beyond anything she has experienced before.
The Needle and the Dungeon
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 56,150. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Sci-Fi Erotica, Fiction » Erotica » BDSM
A young woman named Ashley MacMacmillan is haunting the darker reaches of the net in search of things even she does not fully understand. She finds what she thinks she wants in a virtual reality laboratory run by a wealthy but reclusive scientist, who is exploring his own darker desires in this virtual world.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 70,440. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Paranormal, Fiction » Erotica » Suspense/Mystery
What if you could have everything you wanted with a single thought? How far would you go? College English professor Victor Hayes has an ordinary life that abruptly goes haywire one day when his fantasies begin taking life. For Victor has been caught up in something much older than him, something that will give him his every desire--but at a price.
Immaculate Deception
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 97,330. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Erotica » Suspense/Mystery
Matt Richardson has two lives: one as a successful investment banker, the other haunting the dark corners of Los Angeles in search of something even he does not fully understand. He finds what he thinks he’s looking for in Amanda O’Connell, a beautiful young woman with secrets of her own and a shadowy connection to the Republican Presidential nominee.
Faith, Hope & Charity: A Novel of Virtue and Vice
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 77,850. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Romance, Fiction » Erotica » BDSM
What do you do when the love of your life needs more than you can give her? For Kevin and Faith, what begins as a harmless diversion in college soon awakens things that cannot be suppressed forever. As they build their life together, Kevin has to decide whether keeping Faith happy is worth letting his darkest impulses into the light of day.
The Teaser
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 21,810. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Romance, Fiction » Romance » Erotic
What if the love of your life isn't allowed to love anyone at all? Manhattan lawyer Tom Dempsey has a pedigreed background—a wealthy father and a grandfather who's a federal judge—but it isn't enough for the woman he wants.