Interview with Daniel Canada

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story or stories I ever read were from the Bible with my mother. I must've been at least three years of age. After which it was difficult reading the required books given to me by my elementary school teachers. Stories such as "Jane and Dick," and "See Spot Run."

The first story I ever read that influenced me as a child in some way was the book "Where The Wild things Are," by Maurice Sendak. That book not only caused my imagination to run amok, but made it easier to deal with childhood nightmares, and to embrace the unimaginable.
What do you read for pleasure?
I personally prefer to read non-fiction books, dealing the either history, religious history (especially ancient ones from the middle and Far East). I also enjoy reading treatises on the occult along with medieval secret societies. I used to be fascinated with what would be labeled "conspiracy theories," but have since grown out of it after the 90s.

Material dealing with Jungian archetypes and the inner workings of the mind from a psychological viewpoint hold my interest and tends to serve as fuel for my creative thoughts and fictional writing.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I use the mainstream social medias, such as Facebook, Twitter and my personal blog site, "Obsidian The Mystic Takes New York," in order to get information concerning my book across. I also strive to post a little background facts concerning the book on these sites at least two to three times a week.
When did you first start writing?
My writing career began when I was in Alfred E. Smith Vocational High School, and wrote editorials for my school's newspaper, "The Smith Chronicles." After being further encouraged by an English teacher to enter into and submit an article in the city-wide NBC competition for amateur journalists, and later being notified that I had won, I realized that at least an amateur career as a serious writer was a possibility for me.

My first major writing undertaking was co-authoring an historical fiction novel entitled "Hegemony," with a friend of mine, which is yet to be published. After that time I've gone on to writing and self-publishing my own works-"The Shaitan" being the first of which.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After having submitted my works to numerous literary agents who, though assuring me that I was a terrific writer and had a good story, informed me-in the words of one agent: "I wouldn't know how to market it"-they didn't know what audience to target with the type of story I was writing. Well, after this debacle, I decided to explore the world of Indie publishing.

Though, it has been a learning curve and a challenge, to be sure, I enjoy rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty in the actual day-to-day process of reaching out to a new audience and spreading the news about my book, “The Shaitan.”

I'm having a lot of fun.
What do your fans mean to you?
I consider those who purchase and read my book and the material to follow after this (I have many other writing projects in cue) to truly be classified as a "fan."
What are you working on next?
What I'm working on next is totally different from “The Shaitan.” In fact it is a murder mystery of an unusual nature. Without going into too many details concerning it, the setting has a religious tone, being that the murder takes place in a conservative religious community. The novel is entitled "The Unrighteous." So stay tuned!
Who are your favorite authors?
I have quite a few favorite authors, from various genres, writers who I can honestly say influenced me as a young man to take up the pen, if you will. The list is too long, so I'll name just a few: Frank Herbert, Anne Rice, Eli Wiesel, Robert A. Cairo. J.R.R. Tolkien, Mary Shelly. That ought to be enough to confuse you.

As you can easily see, my favorite authors are both fiction and non-fiction writers.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My mind is swimming with so many new ideas and stories to write each day, that I'm filled to the brim with inspirational energy and am ready to bolt out of bed and go back to the task of writing every day. In fact, I sometime wish we didn't have to lose 8 hours of the day in sleep, that way I could utilize that precious time to devout myself to more writing.

Just kidding. it's not that bad. But I can say truthfully I do look forward to writing each day.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Strange that you should ask that question. I feel that in order to write stories that are intriguing, one must do a good deal of research to support the background settings of a novel. Subsequently, I spend a lot of time at the libraries or online investigating the factual (which I change into fiction) information which goes into each novel.

In short, I spend most of my non-writing hour doing research for each project.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. The first story I wrote was actually co-authored with a friend of mine and entitled "Hegemony." "Hegemony" was an historical fiction, set in the middle east around 3,000 years ago, dealing with fall of the once despotic Assyrian empire and the rise of the Babylonian empire, under Nebuchadnezzar.

"Hegemony" was written many years ago. It was a large but fun undertaken and has yet to be published.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My five favorite books are (Actually there's more. too many to recount) the "Lord of the Rings" series by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved this saga because as a young man it took my mind away to an enchanted dominion, with characters and landscapes which never existed before its inception by the author. Reading it was an incredible journey for me.

The next book(s) was the "Dune" series by Frank Herbert. Once again I felt the author had transported me to an exotic off-planet-world with strange and memorable characters. The plot and subplots were excellent. It had an almost biblical, messianic current running through the story. I must say I am influenced a bit by Frank Herbert's imagination.

And then I read the biography of the late Elie Wiesel, entitled "Night." "Night" brought me closer to the horror that was Nazi Germany, during the Second World War. It was a gut-wrenching, raw, and incredible first account story of life in the cruel concentration camps. I remember the last sentence at the end of the book, when, after being liberated by the Americans the young Elie took a look at himself in the mirror for the first time in many years, and in his own words, "saw a skeleton staring back at me." I highly recommend the reading of this biography.

"Interview with a Vampire," and the subsequent books that were part of the vampire series, by Anne Rice made me feel as if I personally knew what it was like to actually be a vampire. Her description of every aspect of the physiology of the vampire and the details of vampire's nocturnal life made it so real that I felt like I was a voyeur more than a reader.

Lastly, one of the most well-written piece of literature in our modern times was the expose entitled, "Power Broker: Robert Moses and The Fall of New York." by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robert A. Caro. Not only was the "rag to riches" story of the political rise of the hither-to-unknown man, Robert Moses, an extraordinary revisit of New York's early history, but the writing style of the book was superlative.

I found that, in spite of the fact that the book was quite large, I couldn't put the book down. Robert A. Caro inspired me to strive to put forth my best effort when writing my anything, be it a novel or non-fiction work. His books are a must read.
Describe your desk
My work desk where I write is very modest. It comprises a simple writing table with a laptop and electrical outlets. There's nothing special about it.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Bronx, during the 70s and 80s. Growing up in the Bronx at that time provided me with many rich and tragic experiences, which I believe fueled my writing imagination, in that I used to write as a means of escape from the tough surroundings of my neighborhood as a boy.

On the positive side it allowed me to go to Alfred E. Smith Vocational High School, where I was further encouraged to pursue writing by a very influential English teacher, Ms. Orge (pronounced "Or-hey").
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashword has provided a good platform for me to get the word out to the public about my book and has connected me to numerous distributors, which has aided me in selling my novel. They have also helped me enormously in navigating my way through the dizzying jungle and miasma of technical jargon and steps in regard to properly formatting my book to make it acceptable for electronic publishing. I thank Smashword for their tutorial videos and tireless technical support.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I was referred to ebooks by a close friend of mine.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My e-reading device of choice is my trusty laptop. Sometimes I'll use a tablet.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is to taking a blank page (or in the case of a computer screen) and transposing it into a new, hither-before-known world, full of living characters, plots and conflicts made up from the nether regions of my own imagination. i can't think of another joy that equates to this.
What is your writing process?
Most of the writing is done in my head fist. After mentally editing the story and seeing that the story line is tight I began to flush out the outline on my computer. From there I build my character profile, giving each character an extensive background history. If there's any research needed to be done I proceed with that.

When all of this is completed to my satisfaction, I begin the actual writing of the story, the re-write and then the editing. I find this writing process to be the best for producing the quality work that I can be proud to present to my audience of readers.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book “The Shaitan” has many elements behind the story. Some of it is based upon my own military experience. Some of it is based upon my knowledge of Middle Eastern culture, and some of it is based upon my many years spent entrenched in the New York poetry scene.
Why did I chose the name Shaitan for my book title?
Some may be wondering why I chose such an obscure Arabic name for the title of my book. The Arabic word "Shaitan" (pronounced shay-tan) simply means the devil. However, unlike in western religious culture where we have the concept of one devil, as in the biblical Satan, in Arab tradition, based upon the Koran there can be many devils.

For instance, your evil next door neighbor who keeps stealing vegetables from your garden can be considered a "shaitan" or devil because of the harmful things he does to you. In essence, according to Islamic thought anyone who resists you and cause mischief is a “shaitan.”

In this case of the novel, "The Shaitan," the arch enemy of the main character, United States Army Ranger Staff Sergeant Hank Donaldson is the world's most sort after terrorist, Ismial Abdur Rahim. Ismial, who goes by the code name "The Shaitan," He is a formidable foe or devil to our hero indeed.

It remains to be seen, when one reads the novel, how Ismial's evil influences plays upon our hero, and whether at the end good in actuality does triumphs over evil.

I invite you all to find out.
How do you approach cover design?
To be sure, this process was very difficult and a huge learning curve for me, since I primarily am a writer and not a graphic designer. Fortunately, for me I discovered a website and program called "Canva." The instructions were simple enough for a design novice like myself and they even offered a tutorial.

I had several initial ideas of how I wanted my book cover to look. Though I ran into a problem at the beginning with selecting the proper images, being that the ones provided online were a bit costly, I resolved this challenge by taking my own photos with my cell phone and using these. At the advice of a trusted friend I decided to change the original book cover's images and replace it with more subtle ones.

These I felt would be more attractive to the general audience and denoted more accurately what the book was about.
What does the word Shaitan mean?
Some may be wondering why I chose such an obscure Arabic name for the title of my book. The Arabic word "Shaitan" (pronounced shay-tan) simply means the devil. However, unlike in western religious culture where we have the concept of one devil, as in the biblical Satan, in Arab tradition, based upon the Koran there can be many devils.

For instance, your evil next door neighbor who keeps stealing vegetables from your garden can be considered a "shaitan" or devil because of the harmful things he does to you. In essence, according to Islamic thought anyone who resists you and cause mischief is a “shaitan.”

In this case of the novel, "The Shaitan," the arch enemy of the main character, United States Army Ranger Staff Sergeant Hank Donaldson, is the world's most sort after terrorist, Ismial Abdur Rahim. Ismial, who goes by the code name "The Shaitan," He is a formidable foe or devil to our hero indeed.

It remains to be seen, when one reads the novel, how Ismial's evil influences plays upon our hero and whether at the end good in actuality does triumphs over evil.

I invite you all to find out.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After having submitted my works to numerous literary agents who, though assuring me that I was a terrific writer and had a good story, informed me (in the words of one agent: "I wouldn't know how to market it") that they didn't know what audience to target with the type of story I was writing. Well, after this debacle, I decided to explore the world of Indie publishing.

Though, it has been a learning curve and a challenge, to be sure, I enjoy rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty in the actual day-to-day process of reaching out to a new audience and spreading the news about my book, “The Shaitan.”

I'm having a lot of fun.
What are you working on next?
What I'm working on next is totally different from “The Shaitan.” In fact it is a murder mystery of an unusual nature. Without going into too many details concerning it, the setting has a religious tone, being the murder takes place in a conservative religious community. The novel is entitled "The Unrighteous." So stay tuned!
Published 2016-09-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 62,190. Language: English. Published: August 2, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction » Inspiration » Personal inspiration
Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York is the story of my five years living on the mean and unforgiving streets of New York City. It is a testament that homelessness, as tragic as it is, is survivable. It delves deep into and sheds light upon the hither-to-unknown, shadowy world of the homeless, dispelling a lot of the myths associated with this peculiar state of affairs.
The Shaitan
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 287,510. Language: English. Published: August 29, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
The Shaitan is an action-packed, supernatural fiction about an U.S. Army Ranger’s desperate struggle to prevent an international terrorist from launching a devastating attack upon New York with an unconventional psychic weapon.