My first interview in my FB group’s Never-Ending Indie Author Blog Tour is with Dave Cleinman, whose novels caught my attention due to his masterful ability to show strong women overcoming horrible obstacles. (Having been through more than one terrible experience, I was curious!) His heroines emerge like flowers in the dead of winter, in harsh realities that would render most hopeless at best and dead at worst. Unlike real flowers, his heroines withstand the trials of winter through personal courage, perseverance, and sheer mettle. They bloom when their springs come, and watching them do so is nothing short of inspiring.
Below is Dave’s interrogation with this guerrilla writer. You’ll find personalized discussions on Dave, tough questions about his novels, his sources of inspiration, and where to find him.
Tell me what readers should know about Dave Cleinman, the man behind the books.
My readers should know it’s very likely they will see people very much like individuals they have known within my books and will be able to strongly identify with them. They will also enjoy my stories a great deal as down to earth slices of real people and true life.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is my singular best outlet for my thoughts and especially my emotions and, since I can do essentially anything I want to do in my stories, it is also my greatest source of personal freedom.
If you had a perfect writing outfit, what would it be?
Comfortable shorts and a loose t-shirt, with no socks or shoes.
How do you define success as a writer?
For me, success is actually completing the story I set out to write and having my readers tell me they loved it.
Does your family read your books?
Oh yes, my family reads my books and are, in fact, my best beta readers (Nobody critiques like family!)
What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d like to give other indie authors?
Join a good writers community and participate wholeheartedly, read regularly and write every day.
What’s the hardest part of writing a novel, in your opinion?
For me it is invariably putting my characters in harms way or having to hurt them, often essential in a conflict, and I get through it by understanding that it enhances their story and makes them better people for having suffered.
In your two novels, Toys in the Attic, and Principle Destiny, you highlight the strength, resiliency, and resourcefulness of women. As a male writer, who or what was your inspiration for choosing strong female characters as leads?
I have found that male hero characters are becoming almost stereotypical in that they are everywhere, and women have had a real backseat role as leads in traditional novels. As such, I wanted to highlight the strengths of women. Their tenacity, their willingness to fight when needed to protect those they love, their willingness to solve problems through love and patience BEFORE shooting a crossbow or a gun, and finally, perhaps most importantly, their ability to bend someone to their will simply because they are women, rather than force someone to agree with them as a man would do. A subtle but significant difference.
Both your novels discuss people who basically inherited crummy family situations but who are ultimately able to overcome their meager beginnings. What inspires you to write about people who are dealt an awful hand of cards but who are able to overcome?
Essentially having helped so many children and young adults do just that. In the case of Princess Alyssa [Principle Destiny], she requires very little emotional support because the situation she was thrust into was probably better for her, in the end, than what she would have had to endure as the single female inside a male dominated monarchy and palace. Her support came from her loved ones in Alders. Her willingness to be one of them, instead of just a royal heir, made her loved.
In the case of Sara Stewart [Toys In The Attic], she is a sweet girl who is left alone to fend for herself when her mother dies, and has to rely on massive internal strength to keep going through horrible times. Her support network is nearly eradicated by her extremely unstable and abusive father and her only two choices are to fight back, or die. She chooses to fight for the life she wants.
In both cases the women rely on inner strength and strong personal convictions. How they go about getting what they want, however is quite different.
My characters speak to me. Some of my stories develop from things people have said to me that have strongly impacted me and I feel need to be explored. In other cases songs that emotionally impact me strongly influence the direction a story will go. I think the muse speaks first, and the genre follows!
What’s your next project?
I am prepping my Sci fi novel, Snow Dragons to be Indie published this summer. At the same time I am working on two fantasy series and a novelette.
What’s the story’s main message?
Toys In The Attic challenges the mind to fight for hope when despair is all that is available. Be open to possibilities and know when not to blame yourself for what has happened to you.
Who is/are the main characters?
Sara Stewart: Protagonist (15 at the beginning of the novel, 28 at the denouement) Suffers severe emotional and physical abuse by her father and destroys him in self defense.
Conner Stewart: Protagonist (son of Sara and her own father who rapes her). Born when Sara is 17, and grows into an awesome little boy.
Shepherd Tate: Sara’s love interest who becomes mentally ill and turns very unstable.
Liz: Sara’s Best Friend
Mitch: Sara’s first boyfriend. She is unable to continue her relationship with him after her father’s attack, because her self esteem is destroyed and she feels he deserves better.
Which character do you admire from this book?
Sara. Her strength and unwillingness to give up and endure are supreme. She literally forces herself to beat back the shrouds of horror that engulfed her at such a young age.
Which character would creep you out if you met him/her in person?
Sara’s father: A real creep, based strongly on two men I have known personally. One for looks, the other for behavior, the two melded into a real monster.
What regret – if any – do you have about writing this story?
I never regret writing anything. I will say that it was extremely difficult to write the story. To hurt a young girl so deeply was extremely challenging, and yet it had to be done. The story had to be told, at the very least because the girls I have worked with deserved to have their stories told.
What’s the story’s main message?
Fight for your rights, because no one else will, and don’t be afraid to help others do the same. Alyssa fights for these rights by choosing to race in the competition to win the kingship, a device King Jessett creates to stem political upheaval in his lands, by making it seem possible to win the kingship by defeating Prince Tobias in a footrace over 8 months long and going nearly a thousand miles.
Who is/are the main characters?
Princess Alyssa: Heroine who races her brother. Although she is in imminent danger most of the way, she sacrifices her personal safety to gain back her rightful place as firstborn heir to her father’s throne. A right of ascension which he stole from her and gave to her younger brother.
Prince Tobias: Alyssa’s beloved younger brother who is forced into an uncomfortable position of enemy to his sister when their father makes it clear that he is not to lose the race to her.
King Jessett: King of Landing and a fairly sexist and tyrannical ruler.
Skye: Alyssa’s betrothed, and Prince of Sepia
Elios: Race competitor who befriends Alyssa and gives his life to protect her
Leopold Skenter: Antagonist who has made it clear to no one but Alyssa that he would kill her if he could.
Which character surprised you when you wrote him/her?
Two: Alyssa, who at times proved to be so headstrong and defiant that she took unnecessary risks. And Jessett who, for all of his big talk and bullying, was bent to Alyssa’s will fairly easily and who suffered a coming of age at 55 because of that.
If you could be stranded on a desert island with one of your characters from this novel, which one and why?
Alyssa’a mother, Marissa: She is a HOTTIE!
Which one would you definitely NOT want to be stranded with and why?
Tobias. While Skenter is nastier, at least he could be dealt with. Tobias is just too whiny and wishy-washy to be of much use in any high stress situation, but too nice to hurt.
Where can we find your books?
Principle Destiny Website
Where can we find you?
Facebook group: Editing For Writers