RR: When did your passion for writing start?
DR: I have always enjoyed writing. Through the years I have done public speaking and taught classes where writing was a key component. It wasn’t until January of 2012 that I gave serious thought to writing a novel. It was a time of reinventing myself after going through a divorce and change of profession. Basically, I had a mid-life crisis on steroids. (The crisis – not me.) I began to write and discovered that there were stories in me that had been fermenting for years. I could feel the link between my mind and my fingers growing with each word I wrote. It was an amazing experience watching something that started off as a distraction to occupy my mind, blossom into Angelcide. Fourteen weeks later, there was a book on my computer. Now, it’s an addiction. I can’t go a day without writing.
RR: What inspired the idea for Angelcide?
DR: Angelcide started as a short story. I wondered what would happen if an angel went on a walkabout on Earth to see what was really happening down here. I wrote the section that became the first chapter of Angelcide. Then it sat for a while as I got distracted by other things. A couple of friends who had seen it, encouraged me to develop the story, but I wasn’t happy with the concept anymore. Angels on Earth had been done to death in my opinion. Then I wondered what would happen if a human could go on a trip into the angels’ realm. Tone sprang fully formed into my mind. He is basically my sense of humor without any filters. Creating a place for them to interact was easier than I thought. Heaven, Hell and Earth were all toyed with for about twenty seconds total. Then I decided to create a whole new space that would play by the rules I made up. The name Spiritscape came to me as I was writing the first chapter where Tone and Zeke meet. It just felt right. Since I love mysteries, I debated about what kind of mystery would be strange enough to force an angel and a human to work together. The death of an angel seemed like the best way. It would also play well with my desire to make Tone into the pivotal character because the theme of the Spiritscape books can be boiled down to: “The extraordinary in the unexpected.”
RR: How long did the crime thriller novel Shrink take to complete?
DR: Shrink was the second book I wrote. While I was letting Angelcide sit after I finished it, I thought I would want to try something radically different. Writing about an FBI profiler sounded like fun. Twelve weeks later, Shrink was sitting on my computer.
RR: Tell us a little about Abby Chilton, your lead character from the Shrink.
DR: Abby is brilliant, beautiful, and broken. She has a PhD in psychology and is one of the best profilers in the FBI. There is a beauty about her that goes beyond the pretty face and mind. She keeps it well-hidden because she doesn’t want to get hurt again. Early on in Shrink, the reader discovers that Abby has been through some rough times as an agent. She was wounded in the line of duty and lost her partner at the same time. Her partnership did not end when they were done with the case. He had secretly been her partner at home as well. When she was injured, it caused permanent damage that is not visible, but it left scars – both physical and emotional. As she is tracking the serial killer called the Observer, Abby learns to trust and love again. Shrink is her journey from broken and closed off to healing and learning to trust again. It doesn’t hurt that the new partner who is forced on her is charming, funny and broken in his own ways.
RR: Several of your characters from the Shrink have had novels based around them. Was this planned?
DR: Absolutely. Well, mostly. Kind of. Okay, here’s how it works for me. I know how a story begins and I know three to seven ways it might end. The middle part is something I discover as it shows up on the page. I don’t outline my stories because my creative side would laugh at that and change the story to spite the outline. When a character shows up in a story, if they are interesting to me, there is a part of my brain (I suspect it is somewhere around the Basil Ganglia) that starts working on possible stories for them. Ian Edos was only in one chapter of Shrink, but I created a whole backstory for him that ended up appearing in several parts of The Cryptos Files: Ice. When Jonas Lange showed up to flirt with and torment Abby, I knew that if he survived Shrink, he would make a great character for an Interpol novel. The simple answer is yes. But it’s not that simple.
RR: Who are some of your favorite authors?
DR: Growing up I devoured Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stores. My parents gave me the complete works in one volume. I can see it on my bookshelf from where I am typing. I’ve read that book more times that I can remember. After that, the Lord of the Rings trilogy challenged my adolescent brain as I tried to understand the symbolism of Tolkien. I also loved reading the horror stories of Edgar Allan Poe. The Cask of Amontillado was my favorite. It was part of the inspiration to the second Abby Chilton book called Reunion. I read many of the Jules Verne novels. H. P. Lovecraft was fascinating to me with his use of horror in new ways. Modern writers I enjoy include Stephen King, James Patterson, Ted Dekker, Agatha Christie, and Patricia Cornwell. My all-time favorite will always be Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I loved all five books of the “trilogy.” A trilogy with five books pretty well sums up the psychology and silliness of Adams that appeal to me.
RR: What is your favorite genre to read?
DR: Mysteries and science fiction/fantasy. Give me a good book and I will sit quietly for hours. If the battery runs out on my Kindle, I panic and run for the nearest bookstore to get a paperback.
RR: What is your favorite part of the writing process? The least?
DR: Sitting down and writing to see what comes out is the part I love. There have been many times I have finished a chapter, sat back and said, “Wow! I didn’t see that coming.” You would think I would know what was going to happen. I usually don’t have a clue until I am writing it. That is why I have several endings and variations on endings in my head as I write. Every one of my characters has died in an alternate ending to a book. Fortunately, most of them have survived in the endings I end up using. The part I like the least is editing. It is the bane of my existence. I long for the day when I can write a chapter, read it once, and then send it off and let someone else find the countless mistakes and word omissions I make every time.
RR: What are some of your other interests?
I love to hike in the mountains here in East Tennessee. They made it into Angelcide. Playing my guitars is always relaxing. I have a Fender six-string acoustic, a knock-off of a Les Paul Gibson, and an Ibanez Bass. I am mediocre at all of them. Cooking is also one of my hobbies when that I gave to Abby. Playing games on the computer or on the table top with my teenage son pretty well rounds out my life.