Dan is also a photographer, a creative cook, but most importantly, a creative thinker.
Melanie: Why don’t we start this interview with a look at your childhood because the purpose of this article is to catch a glimpse of the man behindthe blog. Can you give us an idea of what your childhood was like?
Dan: I spent most of my childhood at my grandmother’s. She lived around the block and across the street from her were two families with kids. We were all 1 year apart and I was the 2nd to oldest.
My imagination was allowed to run wild in my youth as my grandmother let the neighborhood kids and I to take over one of her gardens. We made a HUGE battleground for all sorts of toys. I learned things that affected me for the rest of my life. Although I was spoiled, I shared everything I had because I was the only child on the block with toys. I learned about the importance of teamwork in building dreams.
As for my years in school, I was a nobody. Never standing out, never really accomplishing anything. I sat in the back and dreamed.
Life is a movie or a play and everyone in it has their part. I always asked people who they were in this grand play, the lead actress or the extra with the funny anecdotes. When they asked me, I always said that I was the audience. It seems like such a sad thing to say but the audience is who interpret what they are seeing.
A famous photographer once said that there were always two people in a photograph, even if you are taking a picture with no one in it. The photographer is there because he is showing the picture and the person looking at it is there because they are the ones seeingit.
I drifted through life until Freshman year, when I almost failed English. My final paper determined whether or not I was going to be held back a year. The entire last page of my report was an essay, begging the teacher not to fail me…and she didn’tAfter that moment, I became involved. I started talking to people and found that my years of watching had given me wisdom. I got to know my teachers by talking to them as fellow human beings. I would talk to anyone who would talk to me, including people outside my high school clique. By Senior year, I had collected friends from every corner of the school and the table we sat at was a motley crew from every clique.
Melanie:Your grandmother encouraged your imagination; what a delightful start for a writer. Your whole account of your childhood has put a huge grin on my face. The experience of almost failing is a marvelous insight into your character; you used a potentially negative experience to turn your life around.
Something similar happened in your love life, didn’t it? You have spoken about your first love. Can you tell us how that painful experience changed you?
Dan: During my senior year, still the wise man of high school, a good female friend showed up. As we started going on band trips together, we started talking. One night, she just fell asleep on my shoulder. It started something a bit more intimate than just a friendship and we didn’t stop it. Michelle and I got even closer, moving towards a real romance. However when high school ended, she decided to move on with her life, dropping her fiance and me.
Her sister, Lynn, had never approved of Michelle and I. She made many attempts to destroy our relationship. She also blamed me for Michelle and her fiance breaking up, as did their father. Although Lynn was my antagonist, she was also an intelligent free thinker. During College, we started writing each other and I ended up realizing what an amazing woman she actually was. She read Ayn Rand and was a very independent and strong.
We started getting together. One night, the air was charged with electricity. We almost kissed and as a result, she didn’t talk to me for about a month. Then she phoned, confessing that I had ‘great potential’ yet wasn’t living up to it. She forced me to reevaluate my life by telling me that she could not be with a man who was like this. I was single, living at home, a college drop out, without a job. I was writing almost constantly, really uninspired crap.
In that moment, I changed my entire life. I went out and got a job, started making money. I made plans for novels. However, Lynn met the man of her dreams and told me every intimate detail over the phone. I wrote one final letter , ripping her apart, destroying all the beauty we had created together.
Melanie: You know what I think is wonderful about your painful experiences? After you released all your hurt and anger, you did not wallow in pity but motivated yourself just like you did in high school after you almost failed. Both times you had the strength of will to turn your whole life around. I would say that this was a pivotal moment in your life.
Dan:That moment on the phone, was definitely one of the most pivotal moments, for sure. I remember everything about that night.
Melanie: Right after this break-up, I know that you left everything to head east from Texas to start a new life in North Carolina. I would call that a brave move.
Dan: Well, I went in search of life. I moved to North Carolina, 1600 miles away from my home in Texas, where Iknew no one and no one knew me. I started life again. Somewhere in those mountains, despite my mistakes and struggles, I found myself. It was all because Lynn looked at me and said, “You have great potential, but I can’t be with someone who can’t live up to it.” Michelle opened my heart to love, I risked falling in love with her sister, Lynn, who then destroyed who I was. But that was the catalyst for me to remake myself into who I was supposed to be.
Melanie: I think that you are what I would call not only brave in life but a brave writer as well because you are honest about your struggles, hopes and dreams.
Dan: FYI, I harbor no secrets and I’m willing to discuss anything, which normally takes people aback. Examples of my TMIness, I was a virgin till I was 27 by choice. I gained a really amazing respect for ‘making love’ by having a non-committal sexual relationship for awhile. This gave me an understanding of how unfulfilled such an agreement is. I just want to warn you ahead of time, so you don’t go, “OMG! I didn’t want to know that much!”
Melanie:Well, I have led a sheltered life on a hobby farm, surrounded by children but I see beyond “OMG” stuff to people’s hearts. So relax. I like you, connect with you or I would not have asked to interview you.
Dan: He he, thanks, just figured I’d warn you.
Melanie: From following you on BlogCatalog it seems that music is important to you. I remember a comment you made on Blog Catalog about metal music. Don’t tell me you are joining a metal music fan club with Darrin L. Hammond and Dtjesus. I would think that you are the type of person who listens to a wide variety for music.
Dan: I do indeed like all forms of music. I even like spiritual and Christian music that’s sung with unbelievable passion (see Why Me? by Kris Kristofferson and the version sung by The Smoking Popes). But Metal music is for stress relief. There is no better way to release the anger that builds up in life than to go to a metal concert, see the performance on stage, move to the music, release emotions and walk out soaking wet with sweat know that you left all your aggression inside.
A favorite song of mine is Orion by Metallica. I akin Metal to classical symphony. If you truly listen to Orion, the entire 8 minutes, and tell me that it doesn’t remind you of Beethoven, then I say your crazy. There is a rise and fall, it all most tells a story without a single word.
Melanie: I guess if I am to pull off a good interview, I’ll have to listen to this stuff- right?
Dan: Ha ha, prob not. But I always suggest Orion to anyone. There’s no singing, its a straight instrumental. And I almost guarantee you’ll enjoy the slow part. In the end, interviewers don’t often go to such lengths as putting themselves into music they won’t enjoy.
Melanie: That is a relief. What are a few other details that would give us an idea of who you are: I love inspiration in all its forms. I love looking at art and talking about art. I’m a thinker. I love to feel emotion. I commonly cry during movies. Lisa is constantly warning me not to cry at our wedding but I know its going to happen. I think Tigers are the 2nd most beautiful creatures in existence ( female humans are the top of my list) and cats love me as much as I love them. I’m constantly looking for an artist to collaborate with on my serial fiction stories. I have no respect for stupidity. I inherited a temper from my father that has a short fuse but I grew up watching him and know how to control it.OH! And I make the 2nd best spaghetti I’ve ever had, and it takes 3 hours. I love lasagna.I don’t like meat or vegetables, and consider myself a spicetarian. My fave foods are Mexican and Italian. I make my own bread by hand. I eat Nerds and Smarties because I fully believe, “You are what you eat.”
Melanie: Ha- now that is hilarious. So Mr. Smart Nerd, can you talk about your writing?
Dan: On a blog entitled, Aphorism of the Day, I found Blessed is the night bird that sings for joy and not to be heard. Birds simply sing their songs. They don’t do it for recognition. And that’s what writing should be in the end. I think, “What would I want to read?”. The best joy you can have as a writer, is truly enjoying what you’ve written, knowing others will enjoy it as well. I write to get things off my chest and maybe someone will read what I’ve written and smile or maybe they’ll laugh or maybe they’ll cry.
Melanie: How would you describe your writing style?
Dan: I was once inspired to write a novel, so I sat down, wrote and made tons of mistakes. I stopped writing around the 280 page mark. I looked at it and saw that it was an unstructured mess. There were many great scenes but I could tell that it wasn’t a novel, it was just a collection of scenes strung together with a weak plot. I was stunned. I’ve allowed the manuscript to be read by a few people, and no one has gotten past page 18.
So, I wrote some rules in my head. I decided that I would outline stories and have an idea of where to go while I wrote.
Melanie: I really am dying to ask you about your fiancee because I know that you are very happy, excited but most of all in love with a woman who seems to be a real soul mate.Dan:Lisa is unbelievably amazing. I broke it off with my last gf exactly same time Lisa’s husband passed away but we did not know each other yet.I moved to Little Rock with my Aunt, to start my life yet again and was playing around on online dating websites. Some crazy woman from Oklahoma messaged me. Because of this crazy woman, I started getting updates from her area. That’s when I first saw Lisa’s picture.Lisa on the other hand, had given up on dating since her husband’s passing but instead kneeled down at her church and asked God personally to either deliver her the man she was supposed to be with or give her a sign to stay alone. I messaged her that week on the website. It’s such an odd coincidence that had us meet.As far as the future. We are getting married on 2/2/13 and are looking forward to that date. For the first time in my life, I have a woman who believes in me and my talents. There’s no telling where we’ll go next but neither of us has been happier.
Melanie: What are your plans for the future?
Dan: Life is pretty crazy now. I do blog stuff’ from 8 am to noon every day. I need to schedule another hour of writing, just for novels and such, but we’ll see. Lisa is on the town council and holding a job. I don’t currently have one but we keep discussing options, as there are no jobs to be had in the area.
One of my options is to get into photography, doing weddings, events and portraits. It’s highly lucrative in this area. Although 3 women have it pretty well buttoned down, my photography and editing skills are better. I could also go back to school. Lisa needs to write her third novel and we are coauthoring a more adult vampire novel. Meanwhile I’m writing a fantasy novel. I plan to continue the serial stories. In the distant future, I do plan on starting to collect the serial short stories from the blog and publishing them on Kindle. Maybe even the poetry but we’ll see.
Melanie: You have interesting plans for the future with a woman you adore. This is the perfect way to end this interview.Thank-you for being so open, honest and transparent; I feel like you gave us a glimpse of the man behind the blog.