"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum." Graycie Harmon
Friday, May 7, 2010
Interview with Donny Anderson, author of "Hanging by The Thread" -- AND . . . Winner of the Daron Fraley, "The Thorn" giveaway announced!
Donny was born in Payson, Utah, lived in Orem until age ten, then moved to Orlando, Florida. Donny's last two years of high school were in Ocala, Florida, where he lived before moving to Angleton, Texas (near Houston) the day after he graduated from High school.
Donny served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Colorado Denver North Mission. Following the mission, Donny transferred from Alvin Community College to Brigham Young University.
While at BYU, Donny married the most ideal person he's ever known-Mollie Johnson. Donny taught at the MTC and graduated from BYU with a Bachelor's Degree in Business.
The Church hired Donny into the Church Educational System upon his graduation. Donny and Mollie were assigned to teach Seminary in Taber, Alberta Canada at a one-man seminary. The two years they lived in Canada form a cherished part of their lives. Their oldest child, Sadie, was born in Canada.
Donny and Mollie moved to Logan, Utah. Donny taught seminary in Brigham City for three years before transferring to Cache valley, where he continues to relish the chance to teach the gospel daily to the young people of the Church.
While living in Logan, Donny completed his Master's Degree in Social Science with an emphasis in Public Administration.
Donny and Mollie are now the parents of five children (Sadie, Myriam, Packer, Hunter, and Holland) and make their home in Millville, Utah. They love their town, neighbors, ward, career, and life in general. Becoming an Author
When Donny completed his Master's Degree, he had time to pursue a study of one of his intellectual obsessions: economic freedom. For two years he put himself through what he refers to as a self-appointed Master's Degree in Freedom Studies. He came to love the stories of the nation's beginning and the teachings of people like Ezra Taft Benson, Marion G. Romney, J. Reuben Clark, Milton Freidman, Friedrich August Hayek, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and many others.
After those two years, his wife, Mollie, was talking to her mother about how badly they wanted to pay off their mortgage as quickly as possible. Jolene (Donny's mother-in-law) said to Mollie, "Donny needs to write a book." Mollie looked at Donny and said, "Mom says you need to write a book." He had always wanted to write a book, and Mollie knew that. But this little statement was the catalyst he needed. He simply said, "Okay." (That same mother-in-law, Jolene Johnson, would eventually create the cover for Hanging by The Thread)
Starting the next morning, Donny woke up early and got started. Having decided to write a book, Donny had to settle on what to write. Because of having studied freedom for two years, the choice was easy. He wanted to teach about economic freedom. And he thought the best way to do that would be to package the concepts in a thrilling story.
For the next two weeks he woke early and sat on the couch for two hours every morning with a notebook and plotted out Hanging by The Thread.
Thus began a love affair with the creative process of constructing and writing a story. Donny has come to love 4:00 A.M. His children have offered many prayers that "Dad's book can get published," but they have seldom seen him writing his books.
Donny wrote his first draft in eight months and spent the next six months cleaning it up. After his first rejection, he finally mustered the courage to follow many people's advice and trim the "fat elephant" of his manuscript down to a much sleeker "lion." He was thrilled when the better version sparked interest from publishers. But rejections and revisions continued. Finally, Granite informed him in January 2010 that they will publish his first book in May of the same year.
A highlight of his life was thanking his little ones for their incessant prayers for the publication of their dad's book and telling them it's getting published. I love books that grab me up front and pull me into the story and keep me up till all hours of the night reading. Hanging by the Thread did exactly that. Many times I had chills and felt anxious as the action-packed plot grew more intense with the turning of each page. Anderson has woven a complex and terrifying plot, filled with enough detail and fact to give a strong sense of realism to it. The characters were believable and real and I felt their urgency and sense of danger as they discovered a document filled with dangerous information, not just for them, but for the entire country. Anderson's strong interest in economics legitimizes the premise of the novel and I must say, by the end of the book I felt a stronger sense of patriotism and an urge to get involved. The story was alarming and inspiring. Hanging by The Thread would make a great movie.
Here is my interview with Donny Anderson:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Donny: Long before I had any writing skills.
M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?
Donny: I received a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Brigham Young University. I later received a Masters in Social Science with an emphasis in Public Administration from Utah State University. As far as books go, this is attempt number one. I have very little writing background.
M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?
Donny: Two things make me passionate about writing: communication and creation. I love to communicate ideas. And I think God hard wired human beings are to create. It’s part of our nature. Writing offers the chance to creatively communicate. What a thrill ride that can be!
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Donny: I submitted first to one publisher. That manuscript had some major problems. It was quickly rejected. That rejection gave me the courage to really do some badly needed surgery.
I submitted a much better manuscript to four publishers at once (including the one that had previously rejected it). The first publisher rejected it again in record time, but the other three expressed some level of interest. One those three rejected it, but gave specific feedback and left the door open. But as that was happening, Granite Publishing was expressing great interest. I was also able to revise Hanging by The Thread along the way so that it kept getting better.
Finally, after more than a year of revising and hoping, Granite accepted for publication a book that was now so much better than my first submission. I am glad it went through rejections and revisions. It was through that process that I learned a bit about writing.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Donny: I wouldn’t say discouraged, because I had more hopes than expectations since this is my first attempt. But that hope was tested and the process forced me into more patience than I am comfortable with.
M.B. What gave you hope along the way?
Donny: Two things. First, my children’s prayers. When they pray, things happen. Second, some early readers saw great potential. Family and friends can give false hope. But some comments like, “This will be published, you just have to find the right publisher,” from certain family members really carried me. Also, one reviewer who did not know me commented that “this book should be in every home.” I agree. And having someone who doesn’t know me say that gave me the motivation to dedicate a lot of personal effort to marketing Hanging by The Thread.
M.B.: Who is the target audience for Hanging by The Thread?
Donny: I didn’t think I stood a chance at writing to a national market, so I wrote an American book to the Latter-day Saint market and submitted to LDS publishers. But just before the book went to print in early April of this year (2010), Granite asked me to revise the book so they could market Hanging by The Thread beyond the LDS market to a national audience. So, I guess my market is now all freedom-loving Americans.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Donny: With five little ones age 8 and younger, I did not want to abandon them or my wife with an obsession with writing. My solution has been 4:00 A.M. I now love the wee hours of the morning. The mind is alert, the body is rested, and things are quiet. I’d rather lose sleep than family time. The funny thing is that my children seldom see me write. They just know I’ve written a book.
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Donny: The main theme of Hanging by The Thread stemmed from personal studies about freedom. When I decided to write about freedom, and chose to use an adventure to do it, the rest became a thrill. I asked myself, “How would you go about destroying freedom?” The answers to that turned into the bad guys’ plan. Creating the plot took two weeks of staring at a notebook. That was fun.
M.B.: When did you decide to write this book?
Donny: My wife and I were building a house that could better accommodate a growing family. We hate debt. My wife expressed her frustration on the phone to her mother about taking on more debt. My mother-in-law (who would later design the cover of Hanging by The Thread) said to my wife, “Donny needs to write a book.” Mollie looked at me and relayed the comment. I said, “Okay.” And the next morning, I woke early and began the adventure.
M.B.: Tell me about your marketing team.
Donny: With Granite Publishing taking my book, they take on the marketing. But I did hear once that a publisher’s marketing effort gets books into stores, then the author’s efforts gets people into those stores to buy the books. I was dreading marketing, but found it as obsessively fun as writing. In fact, it became distracting.
The best thing I have going for me is that marketing team. My wife’s mother designed my cover. My wife’s brother built my websites. My wife’s other brother built the trailer. And another of my wife’s brothers built from scratch a clip for that trailer. A friend pointed out that I married the right person for marketing a book! Family in both directions have been outstanding marketers.
M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?
Donny: I want readers to have a blast reading. Then, when they finish, I want them to put the book down and say, “Wow, I just learned a lot about freedom.” I want people to feel more capable of interpreting the world around them and discerning political leaders and economic policies.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Donny: I outline first. I like to first make a skeleton, and then put flesh on the bones. But one of my favorite aspects of writing is when a character does something I wasn’t planning on. That is entertaining when characters I fully control begin acting for themselves.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Donny: Time. A nap. Research.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Donny: Because of when I write, I get absolute quiet. But I have a great ability to zone out. That is why I avoid working when the family is awake. I tend to tune out things that are more important than my book when I do.
M.B.: If you could use one word to describe Hanging by The Thread, what would it be?
Donny: Timely. It seems like everyone who reads it uses that word. And although the principles in Hanging by The Thread will always be timely, they may well be more timely now than ever before.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Donny: A reviewer for a publisher that rejected my book. They gave feedback. That is rare. It was eye-opening, and has changed my writing in a big way.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Donny: I do have a brutally honest collection of family and friends.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Donny: Be more concerned with getting better, learning more, and improving than you are with defending what you have already produced. If you think you have something worth selling, persist. You may be right. Keep creating.
M.B.: Are you working on any new projects?
Donny: Yes. I am writing a three novel series that will show the full splendor of the Law of Consecration and compare Consecration to capitalism and communism. The first book will be out in late 2011.
M.B.: What is the best way readers can know whether they will like your book?
Donny: Watch the trailer. They can also read the first three chapters and two of the ten lectures from the appendix. They can access all these at www.hangingbythethread.com.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Donny: Soon, many bookstores. Granite will get Hanging by The Thread into as many stores as they can. For now, go to:
My greatest claim to fame is my family. I am married to my prince charming and have four awesome children. This year I experienced the joy of becoming a grandmother to my sweet baby girl Halle. I love to travel and I love to write books.