Today, I posted a review for "Pool of Echoes" by David Allen. As part of the review process, I also had the opportunity to do a brief interview with the author I wanted to share!
MTG: I posted a review for your book today; tell us something about the book that is not in the summary. (About the book, character you particularly enjoyed writing etc.) How did you come up with the “pool of echoes”?
David: Pool of Echoes is ultimately about your self-worth. Where does it come from?
At the end of the day, it’s a gift that is given to you. You cannot get rid of it, even if you tried.
All you can do is deny its existence, to your own detriment. You become much stronger when you stop doing that, but the only way to stop is to realize your self-worth doesn’t come from a job, a spouse, how much money you make, how you look, or who your parents were.
It was given to you by someone - and I think you know who. If you don’t know, enjoy reading about it. If you do, read it and enjoy relearning it at a deeper level.
MTG: How did you come up with Pool of Echoes?
David: The Pool of Echoes is a sped-up, hyper-sensory version of life. Our experiences change us. The pool allows Jordan Mitchfield to see how his past has changed him. It allows him to revisit key moments, and use his present-day experience to choose a better interpretation of what happened.
While positive choices can change us, they don’t always wash away the previous choices we’ve made. This causes us to relearn things over and over, at a deeper level.
We sometimes get frustrated at this process. I know I do. But we come out of it better each time - purer, stronger, refined.
As Jordan reinterprets an event that happened at, say, five years old, he emerges from the Pool in present-day with those new interpretations built up in his head - several decade’s worth of reinforcement. It’s like mental reconstruction at 10,000X speed.
We do this ourselves. It just takes us longer. The Pool is just a way we can look at the process and be intentional about it.
In the Bible there’s a story of a powerful man with an incurable disease. At the advice of his wife’s slave, he visits a prophet who gives him a strange task: Wash seven times in a shallow, dirty river. He may have resisted at first, but when he came out of the water the seventh time he was cured of an incurable, hideous deformity that would have killed him.
It took humility, and possibly desperation for the hero to go THAT far in search of answers.
You ever get desperate sometimes? It’s not always a bad thing if it puts you on a path for answers.
MTG: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
David: How do we make sure our lives matter? That’s the big question for me.
The answer I’ve found so far is living our lives with wisdom. But wisdom doesn’t have to be boring. Done right, knowledge and wisdom can be really fun.
Done best, it can be addicting.
Normally I’ll have an image of a character or environment that just comes to me. By itself, I could probably make an entertaining story about it. But I don’t stop there. Normally I let the idea wait while I read and research a lot. Then one day, a tool or idea really connects with me, and if the visual fits, I adapt it so that the characters and settings allow that tool or concept to emerge through the story. Then I’ll rewrite the plot over and over until it makes sense and really fires me up.
Lastly, as a Christian I pray a lot, and constantly return to the Bible - the source of wisdom for Christians. It helps me refine a theme for the story that I can play with.
For instance, the river in the Bible story I told you earlier? It’s called the Jordan River. And that’s the main character’s name in the book!
MTG: Where do you usually find yourself writing?
David: I still work a regular job, so I’ll normally edit on a macbook, perched on a notepad, on top of a queen-sized bed. It happens really late at night.
Some of my security work has a lot of hurry-up-and-wait to it. So during the down times I’ll write… wherever I can, really. I’m answering your questions right now from a shack, next to an electrified fence, protecting about a thousand cars that will go up for auction in 48 hours.
On days off, cafés outside downtown Austin are my ideal hangouts.
MTG: What has been the biggest reward to your writing so far?
David: It gives you an excuse to be anywhere and learn anything. And the better you get, the more you places you can go and the more you can learn.
Why are you learning about lockpicking? I’m a writer.
Why are you reading a book about corporate spying? I’m a writer.
Why are you visiting Macchu Picchu? Yo soy escritor.
Other benefits include being able to read and watch movies and call it ‘working’, answering comments and emails from people who write to me, and sharing tools through my stories that can solve problems and help others articulate what’s going on in their lives.
MTG: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
David: Hurry up slowly. There are many ways to interpret this:
- Give your ideas the time they need to develop into solid stories, but don’t just wait for it to happen - actively pursue those ideas and refine them.
- Make sure your outline has plans for character development, pacing, structure - and that the beginning, middle, and end are all there. But once you have an outline you’re proud of, start writing the story. Don’t waste a day.
- Edit, and have other people take a look at your writing if you plan to publish and/or sell it. Just don’t tinker with it forever, because there comes a point where more tinkering won’t make you a better writer, and doing so will only postpone your fear of criticism. You gotta send it out into the world to fight its own battles!
- Take time to tell people about what you’ve written and why people will like it. On the other hand, get started writing your next story! Not once do you want to be seen as looking backwards instead of forwards. There are plenty of great stories to tell, and they can’t tell themselves. With an extra story under your belt, you’ll be able to tell them even better!
MTG: Do you have a favorite book(s) and why? I know it’s often impossible to narrow it down to one, so just pick one (or a few) that is a new favorite or consistent “go-to”.
David: The first large books my parents read to me as bedtime stories were J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Those, and Jack Whyte’s “Skystone” series, helped me get through grade school.
“Skystone”, since I know it’s a new title to a lot of people, is the story of Merlin and Arthur’s grandparents building a town in England that will survive after the Roman legions withdraw from Britannia. The series continues - as if there were no magic nor mythical creatures - until Arthur Pendragon is crowned king of the Britons.
Lastly, I’ve been digging George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series, because of the strong female characters and geopolitics.
MTG: What books are you reading now?
David: I just started reading fiction as seriously as nonfiction. Mainly I’m focusing on the genres I want to write and the emotions I want to master.
Next to my desk is a David Morrell novel, “Extreme Denial”. He wrote “Rambo” back in the day, and he still throws down a mean spy novel. I also have “The Circle Maker”, a book about prayer by Mark Batterson. I haven’t finished it, so I won’t recommend it yet. There are books about writing and marketing, and about 3 different horror novels on my to-read list, because I want to give people tools for dealing with fear very soon.
MTG: Give us three “Good to Know” facts. Be creative: first job, likes/dislikes, hobbies, favorite way to unwind – whatever comes to mind.
- My first job was grocery bagging at a supermarket in Wasilla, Alaska. My hometown, Sarah Palin country. I got paid $7.15 cents an hour, refused tips in accordance with company policy at least twice a day, and got written up twice: once for demonstrating a ‘lack of urgency about my work’, and the other for ‘sneering at a superior’. I was in eleventh grade, and very angry.
- I love flying in airplanes, but am afraid of heights. I didn’t have this fear until losing my father… to lung cancer. Figure that one out.
- Deep within is a secret desire to become a survival prepper. This isn’t because of any doomsday scenario, I just find it really cool. While I love the modern conveniences of life, I also like the idea of jumping into an armored Humvee and driving out of town to a remote off-grid compound (every interesting person dreams of one day having a compound), and outlasting the pre end-of-the-world jitters with my family and closest friends.
MTG: Do you have any upcoming projects?
David: I’m finishing the third draft of a new novel - the first part of a series.
It explores a certain type of hero, one that has become harder to find in today’s stories. The closest equivalent would be MacGuyver, or Michael Westin (from the TV show Burn Notice). It’s about a hero who puts himself in dangerous positions to help people who cannot help themselves. This involves the hero using skills and ingenuity to stop nefarious villains, all based upon a constantly refining, personal moral code.
It has a lot of challenges: what do knight-errants do when there are no dragons to slay? What would make someone want to do something like this? It’s been fun figuring all that stuff out.
I also have a horror/adventure hybrid in the works - but things aren’t set in stone enough to say more about that.
So far, I haven’t decided which book readers will see first.
P.S. If you have a question, just let me know! I’ll check back with this blog and respond to them when I have time.
About the Author:
Leaving hometown and innocence behind, David traveled to distant lands by Ship, by Sky, and by Mind.
He returned from the journey with dangerous ideas, strange powder that explodes, and broken hearts (some parts of others’ got mixed in with his own). He keeps most of it locked in a wooden chest preserved with tar and reinforced with iron bands and padlocks.
The people in his village give him strange looks – travel has been both kind and cruel to the social outsider.
When he returned to fight in the Great War, he found that – up until then – he was a puppet in a diabolical plan to defeat true justice.
Now a double agent – he travels to multiple dimensions, foreign lands, and other worlds using wits, fists, and technological gadgets to collapse the Overlord’s organization from within. Oh, and lasers – don’t forget about the lasers.
Sometimes he’ll find treasure in the form of wisdom and share it. Sometimes he’ll find gold and various textiles that shimmer in the light – he keeps most of that for himself and his crew.
He’s been known for accidentally toppling despots and freeing the slaves of entire worlds – when all he was trying to do was obtain the golden statue.
Can do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs – but very frustrated that Han broke his record.
Came across a shelf of Christian books once – loves God, and the beliefs, but hates the prairie nonsense. Started writing stories that crank the entertainment dial up to 11, with themes that strengthen the minds of his allies.
- Trust can be measured.
- You don’t have to be ruled by your past.
- If you’re evil and you win – you still lose.
- If you’re good and you lose – you still win.
- We were made to create, to love, to live long and prosper, to embrace the future and honor the past.
Dare to open the dark chest of wonders? Travel the Verse with the Independents? Go to Monaco in a Steampunk-style Zeppelin – dressed as a Victorian-era ambassador from Versailles?
So does he.
If anybody asks, here’s the cover story – David Allen is a business marketing management graduate in Austin, Texas who does absolutely NOTHING outlandish or risky whatsoever. Or does he?
Facebook: David G. Allen