JLR: As all aspiring authors know, writing the novel is the easy part—getting published is where the real work comes in. Tell us about your road to publication. Is there anything you would have done differently?
DH: I’ve always wanted to write, but the path to finally publishing a book was a long one. I think the hardest part is simply finding the time. After 40+ hours of work, you learn to crave your weekends, and it’s hard to motivate yourself to do more “work.” I’d stalled long enough and finally forced myself to commit to my dream. After I wrote my first book, the decision to self-publish was an easy one. There are many challenges that come bundled with self-publishing, but at the end of the day, you have 100% control of the content of your book. No one can force you to take something out, or stick you with unrealistic deadlines. I absolutely wish I had the marketing support of a major publishing house, but I wasn’t interested in being rejected over and over again simply because my books don’t deal with the “hot trends” of the moment.
As for what I would have done differently, that’s easy. I’d have done far more research before investing in a PR company that did absolutely nothing for me but cash my checks for six months. Kids, it’s important to learn from your mistakes, just don’t let your mistakes cost you thousands of dollars. J
JLR: There is so much advice given by authors about the writing process. What type of writing routine do you have? Are you a planner or a figure-it-out-as-you-go type writer? Any tips you want to share?
DH: I’ve discovered two things as a writer: 1. An outline is an absolutely invaluable thing to have. 2. An outline is worthless because your story will inevitably change without warning. J That said, I still do recommend that you build a timeline of events and have an idea of how your story lays out from start to finish. It will make it easier to determine where your story has weak points, or poor pacing. Even more importantly, make sure YOU know who your characters really are. Readers are looking for a good story, but they’re even more invested if they can become attached to your characters.
JLR: As readers of my book reviews know, I have a habit of casting real people, usually actors, in my mind as the characters when I read. As you are writing, do you base your characters on real people? If Hollywood made a movie of The Jumper, who would you like to see playing the leading roles?
DH: I think that all writers borrow little bits and pieces from their real lives when they’re telling stories, and that every character contains a trait or two that the writer recognizes from a real-life counterpart. In my case, I don’t typically think of actors when creating my characters, but sometimes I do see them afterwards. When I shot the trailer for my first book, Noble, I was very lucky to actually cast Liam O’Brien as the voice of my protagonist, Miller Brinkman. Liam is an exceptionally talented actor and there is no doubt in my mind that he was perfect for the role. If Hollywood came knocking with a movie deal, I can only ever see Liam as Miller.
As for The Jumper, I see Keith David as the ideal man for protagonist R.C. Dawson. R.C. is feisty—you might even say curmudgeonly—but he also has a knack for delivering occasional lines with charm and a subtle hint of humor.
JLR: Do you feel it’s necessary to read a lot in order to be a good writer? Why?
DH: I do. I think that no matter what your skill level is, you can make your own writing better by reading other bodies of work. Sometimes you’ll have an idea, but aren’t sure how to implement it structurally, or grammatically. Then as you read books, you start to see how other writers have tackled the idea. I think you can learn a lot by reading good literature, but I also think that sometimes even more can be learned from reading unpolished work. It’s good to know what to do, but it’s even better to know what not to do.
JLR: They say good reading habits are developed at an early age. Have you always been a reader? Can you pin-point a particular book or author who solidified your love of reading?
DH: My parents encouraged me to read from the time I was old enough to hold a book. Like most kids, I started out with “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, but then I moved on to R.L. Stine and Beverly Cleary as I got a little older. A teacher gave me a book in the sixth grade that she thought I’d like called A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith. If you’re familiar with the book then you can probably imagine how my little uncomplicated world was instantly shattered. J It’s pretty deep for a kid’s book. I actually stopped reading for a while, but then got really into Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King in high school. From there, my brain was forever irreversibly twisted.
JLR: If you could give one piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
DH: David, it’s me. I need you to listen to me and listen well. Frozen pizzas are delicious. Corn dogs are delicious. However, do not roll your corn dogs up into a frozen pizza like a burrito and call it a snack. Your future arteries will thank you. Also, your precious long hair that you love is going to start leaving you by 25, so reconsider how you feel about hats.
JLR: Do you have any hidden talents?
DH: In addition to writing books, I am also a singer-songwriter. I’ve been writing music and performing since I was 16 years old.
JLR: So, what do the next twelve months have in store for you?
DH: Excitement! As this interview is hitting the web, we’re only a couple more weeks from the release of my second book, The Jumper. Once released, I’ll immediately get back to work and start plugging away on Bloodlines, which is the second book in the Noble trilogy. It should be out by the end of this year. Then after that, my next two projects will be a second novella, and then the yet unnamed finale to the Noble trilogy. It’s going to be a busy twelve months, but so much fun!
Also, Liz Borino doesn’t know this yet, but I’m actually penning a piece of fan fiction based on the characters from her Taylor Twins series. Shhh… J
JLR: Where can readers go to learn more about your work?
DH: Please come visit http://davidhulegaard.com! I try to blog as often as I can, but I also feature book reviews, guest blogs from other authors, and of course, all the updates and information about my books.
I’m also a part of the Independent Author Network, which is an AMAZING collection of talented indie folks currently publishing books. Come check out my page to learn a little bit more about me: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/david-k-hulegaard.html
Thanks for having me! I had a blast!