I'm delighted to welcome Dan Walsh to The Borrowed Book today. Dan is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). His first novel, The Unfinished Gift, won 2 ACFW Carol Awards. The sequel, The Homecoming, received 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews. His 3rd noel The Deepest Waters, released this past April. His newest book, Remembering Christmas, just came out in September. Dan writes fulltime in the Daytona Beach area, where he lives with the love of his life,Cindi, his wife of 35 years. They have two grown children, both married, and one grandson. As they await more grandchildren, they enjoy the company of two mini-aussies, Bailey and Darcy.
Welcome, Dan. It's great to have you with us today. We're all eager to hear about your book Remembering Christmas that released in September. Tell us a little about it.
Here's a paragraph some very skillful folks at Revell put together to describe it. (I'm terrible at condensing an entire book into a short space.)
Rick Denton is a young successful CPA who lives his life on his own terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He's never liked Art and resents the man's presence in his life, despite that fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. What was supposed to be just a couple of days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keeps hanging about. Slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons, as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day, work their magic on him, revealing to Rick some startling truths about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas.
Well, you've got me hooked. I can't wait to read it. I know it's been called a modern day prodigal parable. How does coming home change your hero Rick Denton's life?
It changes everything, literally. But unlike the prodigal story, Rick isn't coming home broke and begging for mercy. He sees himself at the top of his game and is totally broadsided by the changes coming his way, expecially the ones in his heart.
Besides the prodigal comparisons, I think there's an Ebeneezer Scrooge element at work in this story, as well. Except instead of ghosts appearing at night, we have a number of quirky store patrons and a homeless man who inadvertently help Rick see some things he really needs to see, but can't without some help.
Remembering Christmas is set in 1980. What made you choose that time period?
I'm not totally sure. The story is loosely based on a real bookstore called The Book Nook. The real store looked just like the one in the book (my wife actually worked there for a few years). As I pondered and thought about the story, I just saw it at this time. My editor was initially apprehensive about the time period, until she read the book. Then she said,"It's perfect!"
I know your book The Deepest Waters was based on a true event in history. Is that true of Remembering Christmas?
As I said in the last question, some of it is based in reality, but not near as much as in The Deepest Waters. The bookstore was real, set in a church basement and in an old downtown area, just as I described. I based the little town on a fictitious version of Daytona Beach where I live. Sort of a "what if" thing (what if Daytona Beach had stayed small, had never become a major tourist town and the home of NASCAR?) The wonderful couple in the book, Are and Leanne Bell, were inspired by a real couple who owned the real Book Nook. But all the other characters come from my imagination.
Speaking of those characters from your imagination, tell us about a few of these quirky folks and how you came up with such interesting individuals.
You know, it's funny, but I don't know where I get all these characters. Not just in Remembering Christmas, but in my other books. People ask me that a lot, assuming they must be based on real people, because they seem so real to the reader (they feel real to me, too).
There's JD, the homeless man who keeps hanging around the store, hoping to get more Egg McMuffins. And Father Charlie, a sophisticated church bishop whose learned a simpler approach to faith by spending time with Art. And the two elderly sisters from upstate New York, Molly and Fran. And Mack the surfer dude who just came to Christ a year ago.
Congratulations on recieving a 4.5 star rating and a top pick from Romantic Times Magazine for the book. How did you feel when you heard that?
Relieved, then amazed. I hoped they'd give it a decent review but had no idea things would go that well. My editor at Revell, Andrea Doering, did. She won ACFW's editor-of-the-year this past September (had to say that, so proud of her). She loved the book the moment she read it. I guess it's harder for me to see my work the way others do.
Tell us what's next for you. I've heard you're writing a 4 book series with Dr. Gary Smalley.
I am, and it's so exciting. Gary's a wonderful man, and he's done some great things for the Lord, both with his books and his marriage/family seminars over the years. At first I was a little intimidated by the idea. I mean, it's not as though we play in the same league. He's written or co-authored 16 bestselling books and appeared on national TV shows like Oprah and the Today Show. His series with Karen Kingsbury was hugely successful (over 1.5 million copies sold). But I've gotten to know Gary in a behind-the-scenes way over the last year. He's the real deal. gracious and humble and really loves the Lord...and people.
I'm actually working on our first novel right now (just finished chapter 10). I'm drawing from material in two of Gary's latest books. I send the chapters to him as I write, and he sends back his thoughts and input. He's been so easy to work with.
This first novel will come out in the spring of 2013. Between now and then, I have two more of my own coming out in 2012, both with Revell. The Discovery releases in April, then The Reunion in September.
It sounds like you've really been busy. As a parting thought, what Christmas message would you like to give our readers today?
Draw near to the Lord every day and allow His love and mercy to fill your heart. Let His peace impart to you the strength to face all of life's ups and downs. He can and wants to do this. It's why that little baby came to Bethlehem, so that we might know the Father's love and experience it, firsthand, as we humble ourselves and live in a close, dependent relationship with Him (like Jesus did).
Do this, and you will most certainly have a Christmas worth remembering.
Well said, Dan. Thank you for being a guest on The Borrowed Book today. I'm sure our readers have enjoyed finding out about you book Remembering Christmas.
Dan is giving away a copy of his book this week. If you'd like to be entered in the drawing for Remembering Christmas, leave a comment about something you remember from a past Christmas.