lInterview with Author Dan Walsh & Video of Dan with Gary Smalley talking about The Dance!
Hi, Dan and welcome to FWF! How about a few questions for our readers on your latest release (co-written with Gary Smalley) ~ The Dance?
How did this new series with Gary Smalley come about?
It started for me with a phone call from my editor at Revell, Andrea Doering. They were treating it as a very big deal, and it was a very big deal to me. She explained that Gary had decided a few months before this call to do another fiction collaboration project, similar to the phenomenally successful one he had done with Karen Kingsbury. His team had been given an assignment to find a fiction author he could work with whose writing would impact him in a similar way that Karen’s did. That began a process of evaluating a number of authors from different publishing houses. The short version of the story is… after a thorough process his team recommended me to Gary. After reading my first two novels, a weeping Gary called them back to say, “Call Revell. I want to work with Dan.”
Wow! That had to be terribly exciting and scary at the same time!
What was it like working with Gary on The Dance?
In one sense, it was like having a skillful editor giving you regular input as you write, rather than all at once at the end of the book (which is normally what happens). We decided I would write the story and send him 2 chapters at a time. Many times, Gary would simply right back something like, “Love it. Can’t wait to read more.” But fairly often he would send me specific input on various scenes that always improved them. Especially on how to create a stronger emotional impact.
I read the book blurb and I'm wondering...
What do you think is Marilyn's biggest struggle in her marriage?
She really just wants what all wives want from their husbands, I think. To be loved and cherished and cared for and listened to the way she had been in the early days of their relationship when he had pursued her. In most weddings, these are actually the things a husband vows to do. Gary and I believe this expectation is not unfair or unrealistic. It is really part of what God has in mind for married couples.
I totally get what you're saying there and I agree.
Some call this form of fiction "transformational writing" of which I am guilty. Tell me, please. How did you strike the balance between creating a fiction story with a non-fiction message?
This was probably the biggest challenge of writing The Dance, and will continue to be the biggest challenge with the rest of the series. People reading fiction aren't looking for the same experience as when they pick up a how-to book on marriage and family life. On the other hand, part of the reason we’re writing this series is that Gary and I recognize how effective the “power of story” can be in conveying spiritual truths to people who need to hear them. In fiction, these life-lessons come in the back door and can affect us in a similar way that music does. So the trick is always putting the story first and allowing the life lessons to come into play naturally, in small doses, the way they awaken for us in real life.
Coming from the wife/mom point of view, I'm curious. Did writing this story affect you as a husband and father?
I’m always looking for anything that can help sharpen my blade in both of these key areas of my life. And that certainly happened while writing The Dance. But thankfully, both Gary and I have already learned the biggest and most difficult lessons we cover in the book. The hard way. In fact, if our readers get the sense that we are connecting well with their experience, it’s not primarily because of all Gary’s years as a counselor and my years as a pastor. It’s because we've made all of these mistakes ourselves. Many times. And God has mercifully led us to a healthier place.
That's wonderful, Dan! Thank you for honestly sharing your own experience. And I have to say, once again, that I'm just so thrilled to have you on Friday with Friends and I'm excited about this new novel series. Writing to affect lives, to reach hurting people through entertainment is the purpose of my own writing, so I'm feeling a kinship here. Thank you for coming and sharing a little of the behind the scenes with us here at FWF!
Thanks Linnette. Looking forward to spending time with you and your readers. If
anyone would like to ask some other questions, I'll be stopping by off and on all day.
Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 7 novels, published by Revell and Guideposts, including The Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Reunion. Reviewers often compare Dan’s books to Nicholas Sparks. His latest project is a 4-book fiction series with Gary Smalley. The first book, The Dance, just released. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Dan now writes fulltime in Port Orange, FL. He and his wife Cindi have been married 36 years. You can email him or follow him on Facebook or Twitter. There are buttons to connect to these on his website: