The goal of Author David J. Pedersen is escapism. He writes to entertain, and while there is often a lot going on in his stories, he works hard to make his books easy to read. Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.
Hi, I’m David J. Pedersen. I’ve been married for 23 years with a daughter in college and a son in law school. (I believe that means I’m old now.) I’m a technical consultant by trade. When I’m not working or with my family, I enjoy spending time with friends, video games, comic books, movies, all types of music, avoiding yardwork, bourbon, flirting, and going to Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comic Book Conventions. In between the cracks, I write books.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh, and entertaining in general. I discovered the best way to do this, and express myself, is through writing. I began writing stories in grade school and started sharing them with friends in high school. I never submitted anything for publication simply because I had a lot to learn about writing. Now that I know everything about writing, I’m a lot more confident (and I’m totally kidding. I’m more confident, but still have a lot to learn.) It took me about 40 years before I could calm my brain down enough to complete something worth sharing. Fortunately, the second book didn’t take as long.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My first novel, Angst, was a lifetime goal that I could have easily walked away from and said, “did it!”. Finishing the second book “Buried in Angst” was reaffirming, that I had it in me to keep going. But it wasn’t until readers finished the second book and asked for more, that I felt like a writer.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Angst is the first in a series of five novels, and I’m close to completing book four, “Burning with Angst.” The protagonist, Angst, is 40 and going through a midlife crisis. His marriage is rocky, his friends don’t have time for him, and he hates his job filing papers since he always wanted to be a hero. Angst can also wield magic, which is mostly illegal. When it is discovered that magic is the only thing that can stop monsters that have suddenly appeared, Angst is given his chance to be a hero. It’s a “be careful what you wish for” story as he drags his reluctant friends on an adventure to discover where the monsters are coming from.
What inspired you to write this book?
A lot of books I read growing up were coming of age hero stories, and I loved them. Young people with great power and potential but no direction who meet a wise person that sends them on a path to becoming a hero. In reality, not everyone gets that life or gets to do what they want for a living. I mean, really, what about the people who wanted to be that hero but never got the chance? What if someone wanted to be a stay at home dad instead of a salesman? Or an amazing pianist that just didn’t get a break? I relate to this, but I also realize that getting what you want always comes at a price. Angst is that guy, the one who got passed up. I think it’s a fun spin on an old story, and having an older hero introduces a new set of challenges.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve known from the start of my first novel how each in the series would begin and end. When I begin a new novel, I also have in mind the major plot points throughout the novel, as well as an overall goal. I then write freestyle until roughly halfway through at which point I’ll outline for pacing.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Not only does the title reflect the sense of frustration the protagonist faces with his life, Angst is also the name of the hero.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It’s a little corny…okay, it’s really corny, but nothing should get in the way of your dreams. Not age or weight or height or race or social status. But, dreams rarely come true without a lot of work and sacrifice. A lot! It doesn’t always turn out the way you expect, but the hard work and sacrifice are part of what makes it worth the effort.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My wife claims the book series is an autobiography. I disagree since I don’t have a giant, magical sword. That said, my novels strongly reflect me. A friend from high school told me that reading the first book was like spending an evening talking to me. There are also things that happen in the books that I’ve pulled from my life. A great example is Scar, the black lab puppy in Angst. Our lab had cancer surgery and has a long scar along her ribs.
What authors have most influenced your life?
I grew up reading David Eddings and Piers Anthony, and later in life enjoyed reading a lot of Asimov and some Tom Wolfe.
What about them do you find inspiring?
Eddings and Anthony provided great escapism; the stories were fun and I loved the characters so much I missed them when I was done with the books. Asimov wrote great stories, and I’ve always been blown away by how prolific he was. Wolfe writes outside of my favorite genres, but I love his wordplay.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
There aren’t any writers who make me say, “I want to write like that person!” I admire the sheer volume of books Asimov wrote. I love pretty much all of the characters in Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and the world she created. I would love to be as descriptive as Robin Hobb; I think she nails it. But, anytime I start comparing myself to others, I stop. All writers have their own voice, and if I have one goal, it’s to improve mine and make it stronger.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
The cover has gone through several iterations, and this one is relatively new. For reasons, I had a different artist for each book in the series, and my favorite book cover is my third novel, “Drowning in Angst.” It kind of has a Harry Potter / Tim Burton thing going on, and I’ve had people buy the other books because of that cover. Because I like the artist’s work so much, and for consistency, he will do the cover art for as long as he can stand me. I think it’s a small miracle what he is able to accomplish based on the crappy sketches I send him.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Try to write every day, even if it’s only 300 words at a time because it all adds up. It also helps to exercise the writing part of your brain to keep it spry. When you get stuck, or frustrated, share your work. Share with people who are both supportive, but can offer constructive criticism. When you’re done with your manuscript and are sure it’s perfect, go find an editor. If it’s your first book, I highly recommend developmental editing to identify story inconsistencies, plot holes, or messy writing that you may not recognize and your alpha team of readers may forgive.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
There are a lot of great writers, both traditionally published and indie. The best way to support them, beyond buying their books, is to tell others about their stories. My favorite authors have come from recommendations. Whether you tell a friend or post a review, it will keep the writer writing!
David J. Pedersen
Lee’s Summit, MO
Cover Artist: Alessandro Brunelli