Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Group Tours for arranging the following interview with Dan Proops…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’ve been writing for several years, and prior to that I was an artist, so I’ve always been creative from a young age, and arranged a solo art show when I was fourteen. Now I concentrate on writing. My time as an artist helps me to envisage scenes and characters, especially when it comes to descriptive passages.
Here’s a bit about the book. It’s a psychological thriller:
For seven years Adam has been tormented by the disappearance of his beloved sister Sarah. And then, with no warning he receives a letter from her. She refuses to meet but won’t explain why. Adam fears she’s in trouble and sets off to find her, but the harder he looks the more elusive she becomes.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Usually my ideas derive from many sources, whether it’s a conversation with a friend about an interesting event or story. Also from reading fiction, articles in newspapers and watching films. An idea can come from anywhere and there are times when I’m actively looking for inspiration for a project, and sometimes I have multiple ideas and take some time to work out which one of them would make the most interesting novel. Once, I saw two old men arguing over a game of chess outside a café, and started a project with that as a first scene.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I don’t actively base characters on real people, but after finishing a piece, I sometimes see traits my characters that echo personalities I’ve come across; and that can include friends. I once wrote about a friend’s issue with their damp; and they were a bit shocked that I’d used that in one of my characters’ houses; he seemed mortified, so I took it out! Sometimes friends don’t like aspects of their lives to appear in my novels, so I always check if they’re okay with that. And sometimes it can work the other way round. I left someone out of my memoir, and they said, ‘How come I’m not in there!’
How do you pick your characters’ names?
This is a great question. I can spend half a day running through lists of names. I’ll get about thirty, then narrow it down to ten, then the next day I’ll choose one from that list. I use a range of names from the very common to the more obscure ones, like Darius who’s a character in my debut novel.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
About ten in the morning, I go to a particular café that I like, flick through a newspaper, then I read some fiction for an hour. After that I begin writing. I work for four hours, then I take a break and try for another hour.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Orwell, Hanif Kureishi, William Golding, Hemingway, Herman Hesse.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’d like to meet Golding and ask about how he felt about getting rid of the opening chapters when asked by his publisher. In the original manuscript there was a nuclear apocalypse, before the boys ended up on the island. They agreed to publish the book without that beginning.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes. I read the classics like Wuthering Heights, and a biography of the Bronte sisters which was very exciting, and inspired some of my early short stories. I also read some Tolkien; I read The Hobbit, when I was twelve.
When did you start to write?
I wrote poems and short stories as a child, then painted for many years. I started writing full time, six years ago. I started with a memoir as I wanted to examine various passages of my life, and discovered facets of my personality that were only unravelled as expressed myself in the written word.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I loved Patrick Hamilton’s Slaves of Solitude. It’s dark book about some misfits sharing a boarding house in the 1930s. The book had an upbeat ending, which I wasn’t crazy about. So I’d probably have something calamitous at the end of that book. I sometimes write happy endings to my novels, but not often.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
A novel that I would love to have written is Orwell’s first novel, Burmese Days. He served as a policeman in Burma and the descriptions of the Burmese jungle are beautiful and evocative. I particularly like the protagonist, Flory, a vulnerable character who’s beleaguered with the racism of his members club; he struggles to find his footing as he’s close friends with a Burmese doctor.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I’d take Darcy from Pride and Prejudice to a coffee shop in Clapham Common, ply him with double espressos and ask how he remains so calm and aloof around women. I remember Colin Firth’s role as Darcy, and I was like. ‘ I need to be like this guy’. I tend to babble on, during a first date.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a new novel. I’m ruthless when it comes to editing, and can spend up to eight months perfecting a book. The first draft feels like having fun at a party, after a few beers, when you can say anything you want, without worrying about the consequences!
Tell us about your last release?
Here’s a brief description of the novel: for seven years Adam has been tormented by the disappearance of his beloved sister Sarah. And then, with no warning he receives a letter from her. She refuses to meet but won’t explain why. Adam fears she’s in trouble and sets off to find her, but the harder he looks the more elusive she becomes.
A Letter From Sarah is not autobiographical in the strict sense, but I was inspired to write it after falling out with my own sister.
I think that anyone who likes psychological thrillers, mystery, suspense would enjoy the book.
Do you have a new release due?
Yes, A Letter From Sarah, is being released on March 7th 2019.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I Invite good friends and colleagues to the launch, drink some beers, sign some books, then rush home to work on my current novel.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Twitter is a good place to start. I’m on there quite a lot.
You can say hi to me on there any time.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I’d really like to work on a film script as I really enjoy writing dialogue. It would be fun to be involved in a collaborative project; and to discuss ideas and plotlines with another writer and script editor. The guy who came up with the line in Jaws, ‘We need a bigger boat’, was a genius.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Dan 🙂
Adam’s sister, Sarah, has been missing for seven years, but he hasn’t given up hope of finding her. He is a sculptor and lives with his bedridden father who is a bully and a curmudgeon.
One morning, as the anniversary of Sarah’s disappearance nears, Adam receives a letter from her and she is apparently alive and well, living in New York. Adam travels to Brooklyn to search for Sarah as he’s desperate to see her, but she seems determined to avoid him.
Sarah’s letters arrive weekly, but she continues to remain elusive. Adam is perplexed by Sarah’s requests for secrecy, as is his father and his girlfriend, Cassandra.
He is determined to find her, whatever the cost to his wellbeing, health and sanity….
“Dan Proops’ writing has a clarity and immediacy which pulls you into the world of his characters, their conflicts and obsessions and refuses to let you go; quite simply, he makes you want to turn the page and that, to my mind, is the fundamental business of fiction.” – Mike Walker – Radio dramatist and feature and documentary writer
“An intriguing and addictive read. The writing is superb, as is his cast of beautifully drawn characters. I’d recommend this book to anyone.” – Rick Sky
“Dan Proops’ novel is a psychological white knuckle ride through the hopes and despairs of a man wrestling with truths, mirages, lies and visions. It is an exciting, heart-breaking, infuriating, teasing and disturbing read.” – John Hind, The Observer
happy reading 🙂