Welcome to Introduce Yourself, a new and exciting blog segment of The PBS Blog dedicated to introducing to you new and established (not so new) authors and their books.
Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Dan Alatorre. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
I’m Dan Alatorre and I live in Tampa.
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
Ooh, that’s touchy. I actually have THE perfect writing room. When we remodeled our house, we converted the dining room into a kind of reading room, then I took it over as my office. It was beautiful mahogany bookshelves and two Queen Anne mahogany chairs, a barrister bookcase, and a writing desk. Dark green walls and three big windows trimmed in white with thick green curtains, walls adorned with framed artwork of a British fox hunt, pond boats and wood duck decoys, rows and rows of books… It’s most writers’ ideal writing room. My editor kinda hates me for having it. We do video calls and she sees it and weeps.
Lol. What is the most annoying habit that you have?
Bragging about my awesome writing room. That, and accidentally-on-purpose telling my cold weather friends how awesome it is here (Tampa) every time we talk.
The Navigators is available HERE on Amazon
Dan, are you employed outside of writing?
I’m an author, that’s my gig. I have also a Young Author’s Club where I give guidance to grade school kids who want to be writers, and I host a private coaching/critique group for adults who are learning to be novelists. That’s a lot of fun. So many people want to write a book but don’t know where to start, or need input to take their work from good to great, you know? I help them. It’s very fulfilling work.
That sounds great! Speaking of critiques, what do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?
I don’t listen to much writing advice. The people giving it are not necessarily correct – myself included! My favorite piece of advice is – the one I LOVE – is: “Great writing isn’t safe.” My second: “If I could give you one thing it would be enough confidence to believe in yourself the way I do.” So many people are afraid to be bold in their writing, to go there, to put themselves out there for the world to see, naked and exposed and vulnerable. They play it safe, so they never feel the applause and gratitude when somebody says THAT was a great story or THAT was the most romantic scene ever. Safe sucks. Be brave. It’s worth it. And writers have to be brave because we risk that every time, risking the pain and humiliation of rejection and being laughed at, and yet we go right back out there and do it again.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Lion safari in Africa. Like in those big Jeeps. I have friends who’ve done it, and I’ve seen it on TV – I just can’t figure out why the lions don’t walk over and eat the people in the Jeeps. That makes no sense to me. The lion sees you outside the Jeep, you are dinner. You take two steps and sit down IN the Jeep, it’s like he can’t see you. I wanna do that, to be up close and personal with nature that way. But in the Jeep, and not getting eaten. With my luck, that would be the day the lions figure it out. A big lion would be like saying to his lion buddy, “Hey, Bill, you know those things in the Jeeps are the same things we eat when they are out walking around?” And we’d all get eaten.
In your own words, what is humility?
Doing it. Not bragging and boasting about how awesome you are, just getting it done and not boasting. Then, help others do it – and they boast about you, and you honestly believe they are exaggerating.
Probably the best definition I’ve heard so far. What skill would you like to master?
Levitation. Wouldn’t it be cool to fly like Superman? I’d freaking do it naked just to have people saying they saw a naked guy flying over their house. People would be getting locked up in loony bins everywhere.
Lol! What job do you think you’d be really good at?
Writing, I hope. I’m a pretty good motivational speaker, though. I went to president’s circle with two different Fortune 500 companies and a lot of people I hired became successful because I believed in them like no one else did. One example was a young lady we hired from a local high school when we were trying to create an in-house telemarketing department. She wasn’t too good at phone sales, but she was a good worker with a lot of potential – to me. To a lot of other people, she was just a high school kid. One day I was working on some report and I said to her, “Here have a look at this. One day you’ll be a branch manager and you’ll have to do these reports.” Her jaw dropped. I was no big shot, but nobody had ever told her she had that kind of potential before. It changed her world. She became a dedicated, hardworking employee. I think she grew three inches that day. Another time, I was in Home Depot and I hear a guy calling me from across the store. He runs up – it’s another former telemarketer I hired for that program. He wanted his friend to meet me because he said I gave him his start. He was a successful business person, buying and remodeling houses. He worked for me for three months, and ten years later he was still bragging about me to his friends. I’m not sure I’ve ever told either of those stories in print before, so I’m not tooting my own horn, I’m just saying that inspiring folks is really cool and we should all do more of it.
I agree. We can never lift people up too much (Lol @ she grew 3 inches). What’s your favorite drink?
Peach mango green tea. I live on the stuff. It tastes awesome, and there’s no caffeine. I get up at 4:30 and start writing without java juice. That’s another reason my writer friends hate me – no caffeine required. My editor texts me in the morning and she’s like Whuuuuuttt? I’m bouncing off the walls. She says she wants to slip me a cappuccino just to see what happens.
Yea, you’ll be flying for real then. What state or country do you never want to go back to?
I could do without Alabama. It’s like indoor smoking is required there. Yuck. Aruba sucked. A desert on an island. Hot. Damn hot. Pretty water, but way too damned hot. I live in Florida and I thought it was too hot, so most of you will just burst into flames.
Let’s get a little personal (readers make the “ooh” noise). How many siblings do you have?
Four brothers and two sisters. I am number six out of seven, children of a small-town doctor. It was like being a celebrity, being out to dinner with my dad. Everybody would come over and say hi, and Dad would talk to them all. He knew everybody, and they all loved him. If I could be half the man my dad is, I will be a great man.
Ahh, that’s where you get it from! What was your childhood dream?
I had a classic childhood filled with daydreams of being a writer and a cartoonist. I settled on writer.
What kind of music do you like?
Not much. I’m a former drummer in a rock band, so music has to have an interesting beat, and not a lot of tunes do that these days. Melodically, I love all music. A good tune puts you in the mind of its creator like no other art form. We all hear it the same, but we all hear it differently. There are songs I’ve heard 500 times that can make my cry each time I hear them. Oh Holy Night is one. Ave Maria is another. When You Wish Upon A Star is another. If I try to sing them, I can’t get through without choking up. The reasons why are different in each case, but suffice it to say each is hugely sentimental. I’ll break down if I try to sing Oh Holy Night. Seriously.
*EC writes down the secret to making Dan cry. Stores it away for later.*
Poggibonsi, An Italian Misadventure is available HERE on amazon.
When did you publish your first book? What was that like?
August 2013. I pushed “publish” and sat back waiting for Oprah to call. I even rehearsed my answers to the questions I thought she’d ask. I’M STILL WAITING, MS. WINFERY!
You too?! (Dear Oprah, you heard it here first.) Dan, who is your best friend?
My daughter’s Spanish art teacher. She posted on Facebook that she was going to buy all my books. Automatic best friend status.
Is Dan married? How long?
Yep. 25 years this fall.
Congratulations! Does blogging help you to write? How so?
Yes, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Probably. Yes, it takes time away from writing, but blogging IS writing. And it’s a fun way to connect with others with a same interest, also known as friends. Blogging rocks. I have friends all over the world because I blog. I’ll be seeing the brilliant Lucy Brazier (PorterGirl) in a few months – in London, going to haunted pubs – because I blog. We live ONCE, people!
Ahh man. I’m jealous. I wanna go to London! Who is your favorite writer?
Mark Twain. When people are still quoting you a hundred years after your death, you’ve done something right.
I know that’s right. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?
The most exciting thing is creating words on a page that make people laugh, or make them cry, or open their minds or make them totally conceive of a world you created, and they go, hand in hand, your willing accomplice, into it with you. Playing them like a piano, knowing: get ready, get ready, here it comes, BOOM – they get to the sad part and they have tears streaming down their face, and then you insert a line and they are laughing through the tears. That is awesome. It’s a super power only writers possess. The worst thing? When it doesn’t work.
Loll. I love it. Speaking of Super-powers, if you had one superpower that could change the world, what would it be?
That flying naked stuff would change the world, I think.
It definitely would. What genre do you write in, why?
I am writing in each genre in succession until I find one I’m good at. Cook books is next, I think, then scrap-booking.
Neat. Why is writing important to you?
Lol. Honesty is the best policy. Let’s keep it going. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?
The Dan Channel. But I’m working on it.
What TV channel exists but really shouldn’t?
I totally don’t get MSNBC. Everybody’s so angry all the time over there.
What are your thoughts on Race?
We messed up race relations in this country recently, and we have to get over being angry about everything. That anger stuff hasn’t worked in the middle east for 3000 years, and it’s not gonna work here. My mom’s family is from Germany, my dad’s is from Mexico and earlier in the line from Spain; I have a black brother in law and a black guy married my niece, the daughter of my brother who married an Italian girl. Love, people. It’s not that hard. And America does it better than anybody else, but we aren’t perfect and occasionally back slide. But the people who promulgate racial disharmony, for whatever reason, I sleep well knowing they lose eventually. It’s a dying industry as we all intermarry, less and less a factor every generation, despite the 24/7 news stations telling me otherwise. We’ll get there. We’re pretty smart and awfully compassionate.
Speaking Love, Dan, in your own words, what is love?
That crazy semi-queasy feeling you get when you can’t stand being away from somebody, your heart racing when you are about to see them, the euphoria you get when you DO see them, and the hating to say goodbye… Deep, slow, soft kisses you wish would never end and you want to go on forever. Heartache over being apart and joy over being together. Something like that.
What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler. He was cutting edge and basically completely wrong about everything. Like most people who know everything.
In your own words, what is truth?
Pure honesty and emotion, put on the page bare and raw and open and hurtable, identifiable in the smallest detail to anyone who sees it, and lasting beyond your ability to stand it.
Dan, this was fun. Thanks for making us laugh and spending this time with us!
Dan Alatorre is the author of numerous best sellers, host of the YouTube video show Writers Off Task With Friends, blogger… and father to a hilarious and precocious daughter, “Savvy” of the bestselling book series Savvy Stories. His novels, short stories, illustrated children’s books and cookbooks have been translated into 12 different languages and are enjoyed around the world.
Dan and his family live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. (If it’s Friday, he’s making pizza, including making the dough and sauce from scratch. Who does that?)