Daron has so many interests that it’s hard to know where to begin. While he says his favorite things are teaching and writing (besides his family), he also loves computers, cooking, fishing, camping, music, art, the sciences, and especially religion.
However, I must say that the most impressive thing I read in his bio was that he once fixed a gas clothes dryer using photocopier parts! Talk about a handy, “Renaissance Man.” Let’s delve a bit deeper into this Wyoming-born writer.
ME: You say you don’t consider yourself a cowboy even though you grew up in Wyoming. Why not? What is a cowboy, anyway, and how are you not that kind of person? (Must have a picture of you as a small boy, with or without cowboy gear.)
DARON: I’ve known some great cowboys in my time. And most of them are admirable people… good hard-working people. Some of my following descriptions are stereotypes, but true stereotypes nonetheless from my experience growing up in Wyoming.
Cowboys may have:
Boots. Sometimes plain leather work boots, and sometimes the fancy ones made of alligator skin or snake-skin.
A farmer’s tan.
A piece of straw in their teeth that they continually chew on.
A worn-out ring in their back pocket from carrying a can of snuff or chew.
Country music blaring in the cab of their rusted out pickup truck that’s been dented from hitting fence posts and farm equipment.
A bow-legged swagger from spending too many hours herding.
I’ve got none of that. Therefore, I’m not a true cowboy.
(And here’s the little boy picture to prove it. No trace of boots or snuff. Not even a tan.)
ME: Okay, I’ll buy that. So which came first for you–writing, cooking, or computers? And how old were you when you tried your hand at each? (I’d really like a picture of you engaged in each of these activities…please.)
DARON: Writing and cooking and computers happened at about the same time. I had my first computer programming class in high school, at the same time that I had creative writing. I discovered that I loved to write. I entered a contest at a community college young authors day, and took 2nd place in my genre. Every summer I worked at the Irma Hotel, there in Cody, Wyoming. First year as a bus-boy, second and third washing dishes, and then I spent my Senior year, spring and summer months as a line-cook. I really enjoyed that!
(You mentioned that you wanted pictures of me writing, cooking, or working on computers. How about one of me fishing! In my hat! In the Henry’s Fork wilderness area below Kings Peak?)
(That will do nicely.)
(Hmm…kind of has that cowboy tan, doesn’t he? Too bad we can’t see his back pocket.)
ME: Did your two years as a missionary in France do more for your writing or your cooking, and how? (I’d love a picture from your mission.)
DARON: I didn’t do much writing as a missionary. But my fellow Elders loved the fact that I could cook. :D (I’ll bet!)
(Il était beau, n’est ce pas?)
ME: Okay, I hate to keep harping about cowboys, but it seems to me that they’re simply rugged independent loner types, and doesn’t that fit with you since you’re taking the independent route to publishing?
DARON: Sure. You can call me a cowboy author if you want. Not the kind that writes cowboy stories or poetry, but the kind that goes out and does his own thing out of pure stubbornness.
(Ornery, ain’t he?)
ME: Let’s talk about LDS Indie Authors, a group you had a hand in getting going. What is its purpose and why is it needed? (Full disclosure: I’m a kind of lurking member, afraid to chime in because of my relative inexperience, but grateful for all the tips.)
DARON: Authors have been excited about all the great opportunities available to them through the many venues of self-publishing for quite a few years now. I’m a member of LDStorymakers, and I started a discussion one day about how best to serve those who would choose to self-publish. The focus of Storymakers as an authors guild has been to assist writers on their path to publication with either publishing agents or directly with the editors of publishing houses, and then help them with all things pertaining to traditional publishing, including understanding contracts.
As a group, they felt there are enough differences between the publishing methods that a new group would better serve the need of self-publishing authors. Rachel Nunes was part of that discussion, and so when Liz Adair suggested we just do a new group, Rachel took the bull by the horns (note the cowboy motif) (Atta boy!), and started the list. I joined right away.
Why is it needed? Self-publishing is here to stay. And having been published both traditionally, and by self-publishing, I can attest to the fact that in many ways the processes are very different.
Authors want to produce a quality product. If you don’t have a publishing house with content editors, line editors, typesetters, cover designers, marketing professionals, etc., then you have to do all of that work on your own… preferably by acting more as a general contractor, and hiring experienced free-lancers to help you in the areas where you either don’t have the skills, or where it wouldn’t be wise to do it on your own. EVERYBODY needs an editor.
(AMEN! My dad didn’t believe it and asked me to do a post-publication edit of his latest self-published book. After he saw all the marks in the first five chapters, he saw the light.)
LDS Indie Authors provides a forum for authors to help each other to produce the best self-published product possible.
(And it’s well worth it!)
ME: What changes do you think the Publishing Industry will go through in the next five years?
DARON: Traditional publishing will probably shrink and consolidate, but it won’t disappear. They will start to offer other ways to publish with them… in fact, some already have made that change. And it’s looking like self-publishing is the new slush-pile. Great stories that make a splash with readers are getting noticed by traditional publishing houses. I look for that trend to increase.
Other than that, I really wish that ebook formats would become more standardized. It would be great if we could produce just one format and have every ebook reader be able to use it. But it probably won’t happen. Besides, a little competition between device manufacturers is a good thing. It keeps them at the top of their game.
ME: What led you to become an author and why do you write religious science fiction and fantasy? What are you working on now?
DARON: I felt driven to write. I don’t know how else to explain it. And as far as why I write religious speculative fiction… it’s because I want to write stories that have the ability to inspire. Many genres can do that, but I have the flexibility to talk about God and miracles if I wish.
To be very frank, I believe the stories in the scriptures. Even the fantastic stories from the Old Testament. I believe they really happened. I believe we live in a day when we will see those kinds of miracles again. I hope my stories will help readers to see that the scriptures are full of truth.
(Uh-oh…He forgot to tell us what he’s working on now. Or maybe it’s a secret.)
ME: Tell us about your writing space (and please provide a picture) in the voice of Pekah from your first book, THE THORN: Book 1 of The Chronicles of Gan.
DARON: (as Pekah)
My desk is simple, and far too cluttered for my tastes. But I have other pressing matters to attend to, so the cleaning will have to wait for another day. I do have a second sheet of… I will call it light-paper… that is similar to my glow-stone, except that it has words written upon it. Like the light-paper which allows me to write my stories, the second larger one permits me to research the histories of ancient peoples so that I might use their legends to bring my tales to life. Course’ I also got me some Jack Link’s Beef Jerky right handy, in case I get a hungered. (Sorry… Cowboy Joe slipped in there.)
(Ah, the light-paper…in two sizes! I spy the jerky, too.)
ME: Tell us about your writing journey so far and what it’s taught you about the world and about yourself.
DARON: My writing journey has been hard at times. My first publishing experience was not a very pleasant one. But I made some great friends, and gained some ardent supporters. They kept me going when I wanted to throw in the towel. That experience was invaluable in showing me the ropes of what editing, typesetting, design, printing, distribution, marketing, etc. was all about.
Over the past several years I have come to realize that the world needs books. Stories are powerful. They change lives. They educate. They cause people to have hope, to have their own dreams, and to work hard for things they believe in. I have also discovered that the scriptures are stories. Beautiful stories of how a loving God interacts with his children. Stories of people overcoming huge obstacles and finding happiness in this life.
I want my story to be like that. I hope the same for everyone.
One last thing… I included a bonus picture. And I’m not telling you what this is… You’ll have to read THIRTY-SIX. :D
(The mark of a true independent writer…always marketing! I’ve got your book, Daron, and promise to read it after I’m done with prior commitments. After all, I need to understand all the pictures I post here.)
(Curious bonus picture…click on pic for larger view.)
Okay, now that he’s hooked us all, you might want to check out Daron’s official website, or, better yet, his Thirty-Six website for more information on the series. Here’s a quick synopsis of the story in book 1:
When Aaron Cohen buys a souvenir from an antiques store in Lyon, France, and then sees the police raid the store right after he leaves, he has no idea that this is only the beginning of his troubles.
Back home in Chicago, Aaron is stalked by an old man from the antiques store. Mandie, a single mother in his apartment complex, has asked that they just be friends, but Aaron can’t help developing strong feelings for her, especially now that she is being harassed by her abusive ex-husband. And in the midst of all his emotional turmoil, the souvenir he purchased turns out to be an ancient holy relic that triggers shared dreams and prophetic visions.
A mysterious dream shared with a jewel smuggler whose arrest makes the nightly news. A nightmare of horrifying tornadoes shared with Ethan, Mandie’s eight-year-old son. A dream shared with Mandie that shows Aaron her true feelings for him.
And visions . . .
Visions of historical events, centuries in the past. Visions of the Lamed Vovniks. Visions of dangerous possibilities to come.
And if Aaron doesn’t get to her in time, Mandie will die.
Come back next week for my interview with C. Michelle Jefferies!