The Writing life of: Dean M King
Dean M King
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Dean M King. Dean M King will be sharing with us details of his writing life, telling us all about his new book ‘Sarah’s Cross: A Ghost Story‘, which was released on 27th February 2020 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
Dean M King is an American author who lives with his wife, Kelly, and their son on Northeast Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.
Dean finds inspiration for his stories in remote areas of Wisconsin’s vast Northwoods, on the islands that lay off its coasts, and among the stalwart bluffs of Southwest Wisconsin. Whether. Dean M King is writing about a dreadful creature that crawled from the depths of Lake Michigan or a drag race between a street-toughened hoodlum and the devil, you can be sure (maybe a little afraid) that his stories will haunt you long after you read the final page.
Dean M King has published many short stories in online and print venues. Sarah’s Cross is his first novel.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
I was interested in becoming a weatherman. I was fascinated by storms—the more violent, the better—and would have jumped at the chance to become a storm chaser. As is the case with so many of our early dreams, I never did pursue meteorology.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
I read every Jim Kjelgaard book I could get my hands on. He wrote a series of books about an Irish Setter named Red. The books were outdoorsy, and I was into outdoor adventures. I still am.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
I was into storytelling as a boy. I wrote humorous short stories, and my friends and I created our own version of radio plays using a tape recorder. I got into horror novels in my twenties, and I started flirting with ideas for my own books, but it was only a few years ago that I made a firm decision to pursue writing seriously. I am in my fifties now, and I wish I had started earlier.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
My day starts early. I am up most mornings by 5:00 or 5:30. There are usually several tasks I want to get out of the way so I can concentrate on writing. Once everything that could distract me is done, and off my plate, I get down to it. I often start by reading for a while from whatever novel I am enjoying because that gives me inspiration. I do not listen to music or have any background noise. I like it quiet. I do not have a word count that I strive for. I just write until I feel as if I have written enough.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
My debut novel, Sarah’s Cross: A Ghost Story, was released back in February just as the pandemic hit. (Ugh!) Since then, I have completed the manuscript for my second novel, and I have started my third, which will be a haunted house story. I have about 50,000 words invested in a book I started years ago. I intend to finish it, but it would be considered epic as far as word count, and I’m Dean King, not Stephen King. No publisher is going to accept something in the 200,000-word range from me at this point. I’ll have to wait until I have some serious clout as a writer to finish that project.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a pantser all the way. It is tough to plot when you have only a seed of an idea. I prefer to plant that seed and see what grows.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Austin Macauley Publishers
Pages – 174
Release Date – 27th February 2020
ISBN 13 – 978-1645363415
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover
It is 1961 in Wisconsin’s vast Northwoods. Tommy Ryan was unprepared to meet a ghost as if anybody could be, yet there she sat upon a birch log at the edge of the forest, anxious for Tommy to pull over, eager for him to understand and to help. Tethered to the place where she died, Sarah is unable to move on unless Tommy can help her reconnect with her mother, and solve the mystery of what happened to her soldier-father, who went missing in the Philippines during WWII. But time may be running out for Sarah because she has lingered too long, and now a
dark, brooding presence is determined to take her into a place of utter desolation, and if necessary, anyone else who gets in the way.
The experience of meeting Sarah was so extraordinary that Tommy didn’t see the fawn, and he struck it when he turned into his driveway. Being the compassionate young man that he is, he
could hardly turn his back on the poor creature, and the experience of caring for the fawn, aided by a sympathetic country veterinarian, in many ways, parallels the kindness he shows to Sarah.
As Tommy investigates the events surrounding Sarah’s death, he discovers new friends and allies in an aged librarian, a hulking, yet sensitive proprietor of a salvage yard, and a smalltown newspaper reporter.
Set against the backdrop of Wisconsin’s vast Northwoods, a grand lake-home, and a small, rustic cabin, Sarah’s Cross is a tale of innocent life interrupted, family tragedy, and the kindness of strangers who stand up to darkness when it comes claiming its victims.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
So much of what I need to find out is as near as my computer or smartphone. I remember the days of my childhood when I had to go to a library to look up information for a report or an essay. If we had only had Google back then, I might have become a weatherman! I also keep reference books in my office for research purposes. I have several translations of the Bible, reference guides for architecture, professions and careers, plant and animal life, even slang. They all come in handy.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Sarah’s Cross was completed in roughly six months. My second book is taking longer due to several revisions I am making, but it is still under one year. I really don’t want to spend more than one year on any one project. I feel as if I got off to a late start on my writing career. I have to make up for the lost time.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
I travel extensively throughout Wisconsin, and so often, I see those roadside memorials; usually, a cross pushed into the ground at the site of a fatal traffic accident, placed there by a grieving loved one. I stopped to look closely at one and saw that someone had painted the name SARAH on the cross. I got the idea to write a story about a ghost haunting the place where she died, and Sarahs’ Cross was conceived.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
The protagonist in Sarah’s Cross, a young man, named Tommy Ryan, is not based on anyone I know but upon the man I wish I had been when I was in my twenties. I was far too insensitive and oblivious to the needs of others when I was a young man. When I created Tommy Ryan, I created the kind, sensitive, and caring person I wish I had been at his age.
Abraham Johnson (the owner of the junkyard) is a composite of many of the salvage yard owners and mechanics I have come across over the years. Like Tommy, this hulking man is also kind-hearted and sensitive. I like the incongruity of a big, overall-wearing, callous-handed man who can be moved to tears by the death of a small girl he never knew.
Edna Rollins (the head librarian) is every librarian I ever met as a boy. She is knowledgeable, dedicated, and professional and severe about reading and discipline.
Dennis Cain (the newspaper owner) is a total invention. I have never known a reporter other than casually, so I had to imagine one.
Doctor Rayburn (the veterinarian) enjoys humor and conversation. He is kind and generous with his time, though he is a busy man. If he existed outside of my book, I’d want to be his friend.
Sarah, Vanessa, and Robert were a happy young family before the tragic events of my book. They had dreams that were never realized, plans not carried to fruition, and hopes left unfulfilled. Theirs is a heartbreaking story, and I was sometimes moved to tears while writing it.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
Sarah’s Cross was an un-agented submission to one of the fastest-growing independent publishers in the world today. It was my first attempt at publishing book-length fiction. My manuscript had to pass their editorial board and stand on its own merit. Once it was accepted for publication, the editing, and cover design went quite smoothly.
Marketing has been a challenge due to COVID-19 disruption. All of my book signings and readings have been put on hold for the unforeseen future. Many of the marketing venues regularly used by my publisher, such as international book fares, were canceled, too. But my book is widely distributed in the US and abroad, and it is beginning to appear in libraries around the globe.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I have completed the manuscript for my second novel. It is a take on the Bloody Mary legend. It is undergoing revisions and should be in polished form soon. I have an agent interested in it, and I have the option of going back to my current publisher, who has requested the right of first refusal.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
I’d like the speed and agility of a squirrel. I watch them all day from my writing desk and think that kind of nimbleness would be cool!
2) Do you have any pets?
We are between pets. Our Golden Retriever passed away a few years ago, and we are waiting until the time is right to get another one.
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
“The Life of a Persistent Man.”
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
There is a scene in my book, where Sarah shows Tommy how she died. It takes place by the side of the road, and it really knocks Tommy for a loop. I’d be the man who pulls over to the side of the way to ask Tommy if he is okay.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
My family loves to go to Orlando, Florida, to Universal Studios. We stay in one of the themed hotels within the park. It is a fantastic place to escape reality for a while.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
“Un-ass my chair!”
I would like to say a big thank you to Dean M King for sharing with us details of his writing life and for a wonderful interview.