Today for #WriterWednesday I introduce you to Daryl Rothman, a great writer and a better friend. Daryl is the newly published author of THE AWAKENING OF DAVID ROSE, a young adult urban fantasy novel in the style of Susan Cooper’s THE DARK IS RISING series. My admiration for his writing style and his determination has never waned, which is why I asked him to speak with me about his motivations and inspirations on this blog. .
Anyone who’s gone through the struggle of writing a full-length novel must love literature. How did you discover your love of reading and writing?
I remember our father reading a variety of stories to us when we were very young, including Edgar Allen Poe and O’Henry. I recall being on a family vacation when I was six and the urge to write a story suddenly swept over me. I was in the far back of the old station wagon, no paper, so I began a story on the back of some big, glossy baseball card type thing. I don’t recall the story, only that it was one of the earliest occurrences of me being imbued something I felt to my bones: namely, hey, this is something I am meant to do. This is something I love.
I thought about teaching English but harbored no delusion that the degree would translate automatically into becoming a published author, and so I set about pursuing some other passions that portended a more feasible vocation. But always within me did the writing dream remain, and when the David Rose idea germinated around a decade ago I guess that conferred to me at least something more of a frame and motive for moving forward. It truly was a dream deferred. Four to five years ago I become much more serious, and dug in and got some drafts completed. I know that seems far-flung, a four-decade trajectory linking my incipient passion to where I sit now. But it’s the truth and I reckon whatever your passion, once it takes hold, it’s got you, it IS you, no matter the road or the years upon it.
Your debut novel THE AWAKENING OF DAVID ROSE, is the culmination of that passion taking hold. Can you describe some of the inspiration for this book?
After seeing one of the Harry Potter films with my eldest child, David, around ten years ago, I was struck by the sense of wonder these films and stories engendered in audiences of all ages. We talked about what he liked about them and I asked him if he’d like me to write a story for him perhaps with some of those magical and fantastical themes and he said yes and I promised that I would. A storyline fell to me one day at work and I would write in fits and starts over the next year, partly because I was working full-time and life, you know, happens. But the main holdup, looking back, was that the story lacked a heartbeat, that certain oomph without which no measure of magic or fantasy or could overcome.
David had always been good to and protective of his baby sister Rachel, but around that time we were at a park for a birthday party and he and I were watching Rachel as she played and what happened next was one of those surreal moments. David was standing closer to Rachel than was I, and I saw him look at me with what later I would realize was a “are you gonna do anything” expression, before springing forward, scooping Rachel up in his arms and backpedaling quickly away.
An enormous bee had begun dive-bombing her and both she and I were oblivious but not David, who had assiduously avoided bee stings, but in that moment none of that mattered—all that mattered was removing his sister from harm’s way. Protecting his sister was in his DNA, and in that moment was found the heartbeat of my tale. The Awakening of David Rose.
So the relationship between David, your protagonist, and Rachel, his younger sister in the books, is ‘based on a true story’?
Yes, the David and Rachel in the story, and the bond between them, are absolutely based upon the real deal. As time has passed it was Rachel who became my literary soul (she read all Potter books cover to cover years ago), but the book represents a promise to my children and though it will be a series and I hope it is well-received and will help launch my authorial career, at the end of the day it begins and ends with that promise, a small way to thank them for being not only the heartbeat of my tale, but of my life.
The first David Rose book reads a bit like Harry Potter meets Edgar Allen Poe – a young protagonist surrounded by dark and suspenseful action, all of it heavy with meaning. What are your thoughts about writing dark fiction that appeals to kids?
My inclination writing for any audience is somewhat toward the dark side. I am far more in my element when mining more angst-filled territory. But life will throw kids curves and yes some pain and I think it’s okay, and sometimes even emboldening for them to take that journey with characters facing great challenge, facing the darkness, and to discover—with the characters and perhaps within themselves—those trusted places where we can in our darkest moments, make safe harbor and find a little light.
Spoken like someone who knows the value of safe harbor and a little light. What personal experiences, ideas, or themes do you draw on most in your writing?
A literary-suspense turn called Cucariva. My writing voice tends toward the literary. I am about 50K words in and hope(perhaps ambitiously) to have a draft done and to betas by end of July. While they have it, I hope to make inroads on the next David Rose book. I notched 3-4 chapters on that while the first one was in the editorial and publication process, and am pretty excited about the possibilities.
Daryl is the author of THE AWAKENING OF DAVID ROSE, the first in a series of what will eventually be five books. He spends his spare time either in libraries and coffee shops writing with his daughter Rachel, entertaining his youngest son Daniel, or trying to sneakily take photos of his picture-shy oldest son David, who is the primary inspiration for his first published novel. He enjoys barbecue, donuts, cigars, and Seinfeld, all with equal fervor. If you are interested in learning more about him, click over to his website, or follow him on Facebook.