Please tell us the stories behind your nicknames.
Janet’s came about because she’s a little younger than her hubby, so he affectionately called her Kid. Mine is a little more goofy. There used to be an ad for beverages with a slogan of “Go for the gusto!” During tech school in the Navy, I used to do a lot of crazy stuff, saying, “I’m going for the gusto,” namely sweet-talking ladies even though I was uglier than a knot in a tree. My chums started calling me Gusto Dave.
2. Dave and Janet, the two of you both reside in Colorado, and Dave, you’re from Oklahoma. How did your surroundings influence your work—the choice of subject, the description, etc.?
I can tell you that consciously my ‘neck of the woods’ had nothing to do with this story that I know of. Subconsciously is a different matter. Annie was born out of my love for Indiana Jones. Wait a minute…that sounded wrong…
How did the two of you start writing together?
First, both of us had co-authored before. Janet had a screenplay with Karen Albright that just about saw big Hollywood success. For me, after working with two others, I liked the accelerated productivity. When I launched Chiseled in Rock (a site that during this time was RMFW’s official blog) Janet twisted my arm into making her a contributor. Just kidding. She was great! I had a failed romance novel that I asked her to ‘fix’ which is now entitled A Serenade to Die For, coming out in a couple of months. And I wanted a partner from the beginning for Annie.
What was the writing process like? How did the two of you approach a collaborative project?
We’d go into the boxing ring to settle our disagreements. No. Actually, I believe story structure is a lot like building a house. You get a sturdy foundation, posts, beams, studs and walls in place, then you can get creative with siding, round windows, fuzzy carpet, paint and etcetera. If the character motivations are clear and the scenes are outlined, I don’t care what happens as long as we observe conflict. So, we get to alternate chapters and be individually creative. But I am a stickler for motivations being tight as my outstanding co-author Janet can attest.
5. I love the quote you included from Annie Oakley. What have you guys had to aim for repeatedly before finally succeeding?
Well, I’ll let you know if we succeed. Hardee har har. For me, after attending to loved ones and subsequent responsibilities, I aim to be happy always. I refuse to do anything on my time unless I love it.
6. Your “fun facts” are also perfect for the MG reader. How much research did you have to do this book? How did you approach presenting factual material for young readers?
I may be underestimating, but in the age of Google where info gushes at you effortlessly, it didn’t feel like much. Distinctly, I recall hunting for the origin of blimps and was surprised that the technology was around well before our setting. I tracked Wyatt Earp’s whereabouts and chose a historic building in Denver for a scene. That about wrapped it up. For presentation in the story, there’s none intended. I wasn’t going to slow the plot to ‘teach’ kids. Janet got the idea for the Fun Facts which I loved.
What was the path to publication like?
It’s fraught with all kinds of creepy ghouls and pitfalls! Oh my!
What did you like to read when you were young?
Comic books. The first grown-up full sized novel I remember tackling was Dracula. It surprised me how differently it compared to the Hammer films with Christopher Lee. Drac was supposed to have a mustache!
How did your own experiences with young readers (as a teacher, parent, etc.) inform how you wrote MISFORTUNE ANNIE?
As a kid, I had a hard time finding interesting real books, long before Goosebumps and Captain Underpants. Today, it still boggles my mind that publishers feel an obligation to get all ethereal with youth literature. The fun to serious ratio continues to be out of whack! Generation Z will have to get all business-minded after they turn 21. Leave them alone for now.
1 When will MISFORTUNE ANNIE ride again?
Very soon, probably by October 2017. And they get funnier. In book 2, Annie tangles with a Voodoo doctor. An older Huckleberry Finn smuggles her downriver to a showdown with this villain, but can she trust him? Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau, steps in to help. Later in the series, there will be cameos by Teddy Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody, Thomas Edison, and bouts with pirates, an Appalachian witch, Sasquatch, a beast master, and more. Will Annie be able to outwit them all?
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