Featured Friday! Doug Dandridge
Doug Dandridge had been writing full time for the last seven years, selling over a quarter of a million books on Amazon. He has thirty-four novels on Amazon, including the bestselling Exodus: Empires at War, and his first traditionally published series is coming out in June, 2019. Doug has also had short stories published in Fiction River, Wordfire Press, Galaxy’s Edge and several others. He has also had a novel and two short stories published in the Four Horsemen Universe of Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy, and will have a story in Chuck Gannon’s Tales of the Terran Republic. Doug is a Florida native, a veteran of the US Army (Infantry), and a graduate of Florida State University and the University of Alabama (Clinical Psychology).
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
I think back to the days when I worked for the State of Florida. It was a hotline, and we had people fighting to get off on certain days. You had to lie to get the day, or call in sick. Now, if I want to go somewhere or do something I just do it. No one to answer to. I can go to any sporting event I choose, or any con. And I can travel to places I’ve never been and call it business/Research. My time and my life are my own, as long as I stay productive enough to make a living. Sometimes that’s hard, but that’s another story.
What made you start writing?
I was out of work and out of school, and just plain angry at the world. I wrote an eighty thousand word expose’ on academia and the mental health industry, which came close to being published, in two weeks. After that I thought a novel couldn’t be that hard, so I started on one of those. Well researched, well structured, and totally awful. I kept plugging at it for many years, finally getting to the point when I was working at the State that I had to find a way out of there. I tried self-publishing, failing the first eight months, then hitting the right combination of book and promotion.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
Two, actually. Larry Niven, the man of the big idea, who turned me back to reading scifi while I was in the Army. And Poul Anderson, who could paint a picture or turn a phrase like no other. Later it was David Weber, when I was out of graduate school and able to read for pleasure once again.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Don’t become so wedded to one idea or concept that it consumes you. The first couple of things you write are going to be crap. And sometimes the market just isn’t receptive to what you want to write. You might have to try several different ideas in different genres, throw them out there, and see which ones stick to the wall. What I thought was going to be my breakout series (Refuge), wasn’t, while I thought Exodus: Empires at War might make it as a long shot. If your first effort fails, don’t give up. Keep writing, improve your craft and submit or self-pub.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
Actually, as far as fiction goes, I read in the same genres I write in. Science Fiction, Fantasy (everything from Lord of the Rings to Robert E Howard), even some horror. I also love historical fiction, especially the tales of Bernard Cornwell. As far as non-fiction, mostly military history, which should come in handy when I start on my alternate history series in a couple of years.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
Pandora Latham, from the Deep Dark Well. I patterned her off of several women I have been in relationships with, and the way I wrote her she was, smart, strong, and very hot. Why wouldn’t I want to spend my time with such a woman?
Which book do you consider a must-read?
On Writing by Stephen King. He really goes into the trials and tribulations of trying to become a published writer. And you realize if a mega-bestseller like him had so many rejections and still made it, why not you?
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
I rarely ever cut anything. I normally add to make transitions smoother or to make sense of something that doesn’t. I write most books straight through, then add about ten thousand words, cutting nothing but single words. In my upcoming traditional series, Kinship War, there were some editorial decisions made, but mostly to rewrite a section to get rid of an infodump, while preserving the jist.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
Flandry of Terra by Poul Anderson. A place where the tech is very advanced, but there is still adventure to be had and new places to discover. Or, you can retreat to the safety of a very civilized culture if you get tired of being shot at.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Probably Kevin J Anderson or David Farland. I’m friends with both, they’re both very good writers, and they have known me for years.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
We’re about to hit that point now. My readers love my space opera, but my current series is starting to bore me. I have to come up with something new every novel, and after fourteen of them it’s getting difficult. I have another series I am worldbuilding in, one I think will cast a bigger net for a potential audience. But I also want to do fantasy, alternate history and post-apocalyptic. I’ve learned that many readers are not like me, they don’t get into almost everything. So, it’s a risk to start off in a new direction, but I feel I have to.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
I used to read all of them, and some of my writer friends thought I had lost it. A good review can make me feel like I’m really hitting it. Like those I get from veterans who think I hit the nail right on the head in my descriptions of battle. A bad can make me angry, or can drive me to laughter, depending on what they write. I do use the feedback to come up with things for future novels, but now I mostly ignore them. I don’t think I’ve read an Amazon review in over a year, though I do check my overall score on Goodreads.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
He came, he tried, he failed, he failed, he conquered.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I have quite a few I’m working on at the same time. A post apocalyptic series that will be different than anything out there, I think. A near future military scifi set on Mars for submission to Baen Books. The new space opera. An alternate history of WW2. Right now we all getting hyped about my first traditionally published book, Kinship War, due out in June. I got to work with Bill Fawcett on that one. Bill’s one of the best known editors in military science fiction, and I learn so much working with him. The publisher was so impressed that he extended my two book contract to three books. Book two is in the works now, and somewhere down the line he’s going to invite other authors to contribute to the shared universe I created. This could turn out to be a big deal. Or not, but we can always hope.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
No matter how much life sucks, it will pass. No matter how good life is, it will pass. So keep on.
Thanks Doug! Great answers!
If you’d like to find out more about Doug and his work then you can find out more on the links below: