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Interview With Mike Dellosso

Following his first book, The Hunted, Mike Dellosso’s latest release, Scream, promises to live up to his tagline, “don’t blink.” Yet his books aren’t the only point of interest in this author’s journey. His is a story of perseverance and faith in the face of real-life trials.

Mike, you have an amazing story of how you discovered your passion for writing through a life-threatening accident. Can you share that with us?

My writing journey didn’t start like most. Before 1998 I never thought of being a writer, never wanted to be a writer, didn’t even want to write. In fact, all through school I hated writing and English class and everything associated with it. Grammar rules, parts of speech, sentence structure—it all gave me heartburn. In 1998 all that changed, though. My brother-in-law was in a very bad motorcycle accident that landed him in a deep coma, the never-come-out-of-it kind. Emotionally, I was devastated. Darrell was not only my sister’s husband, he was my friend, and the reality of what was unfolding right before us just floored me. As a way of dealing with my grief and spattering of confusing and troubling emotions I turned to writing, something I would never have done otherwise. And you know what? I loved it. Through writing I found that voice inside me that I’d never even known was there. And the more I wrote the deeper my passion for writing grew. Oh, by the way, Darrell pulled through just fine and if you met him today you’d never know how close he came to death.

During the time of your first book release, you were diagnosed with colon cancer, and I’m so glad to hear you’re on the road to full recovery. You’ve shared in interviews how this changed your life, but how has this affected the stories and characters you write as well?

My battle with cancer convinced and reminded me of just how short life is and how important everything we do is. It instilled in me a drive to make everything I do matter. And that includes my writing. Here’s the bottom line: I don’t want to write stories that are just good tales that keep readers turning pages, I want to write stories that cause people to think, that convict hearts, that stir emotions, that change lives. I want to write stories that matter. And hey, if that’s a no-no, so be it. If my writing is called preachy, so be it. You know what? I’ve learned not to care so much what others think. If one life is changed through a story I wrote is it worth it? You betcha. I got an email the other day from a young girl who had just finished reading my latest novel, Scream. She went on and on about how much the story impacted her life and caused her to think and want to reach out to others and tell them about Christ. I wrote my editor and told her if I never publish another book, it’s emails like that that make everything I’ve done all worth it. I’m satisfied.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?

Two things. The first was a book I published with a vanity press before I got a contract for The Hunted. Worst mistake I’ve made as far as writing goes. And the best mistake I’ve made. Through that fiasco I learned how hard writing a novel really is and how seriously it needs to be taken. I learned how little I know and how much I need to keep learning. The experience was terrible but invaluable. The second was attending a writer’s conference. I tell all hopeful authors to do whatever they need to do to attend a writer’s conference. The people you meet, the one-on-one appointments, the workshops, the networking, everything about it is exactly what a writer needs. My first conference proved to be the one that launched me into a contract. It can happen.

You work full time, have a family, and you’re a published author. What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?

Not only all that but I’m very involved in our local church where I serve as an elder, teach Children’s church, and am currently facilitating a Fireproof Bible study group. The biggest challenge is finding the time to write and do all the other things authors must do (marketing, publicity, interviews, emails, social media networking, ahhhh!). I try really hard not to let writing take priority over family. So writing is the thing that needs to be worked into the schedule somehow. Right now, I do emails and that good computer stuff in the mornings and write on the weekends, usually early Saturday morning when everyone else is still asleep. If there’s time during the week I’ll take advantage of it but I don’t bank on that. The reality is that finding the time to write is a constant uphill struggle.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

Like I mentioned before, I don’t want to just write good stories, I want to write stories that have the potential to change lives. My faith is a huge part of my life and that has to play out in my writing. I know some authors don’t want to be known as “Christian authors” but authors who happen to be Christian. Hey, if that’s how they feel I’m fine with that, but I want to be known as a Christian author. I’m a Christian first, then an author. My writing comes out of my faith, not the other way around. Does that mean my stories are somehow more sterile or less realistic? No way. I write gritty, real stuff that sometimes, frankly, bothers people. Does it mean my writing always has a faith message in it? Absolutely. And what if people think it’s preachy? Honestly, I don’t care. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but life is too short and the message we have to share too important to care what some critic thinks about how I convey that message in my writing.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?

The greatest moment is when I get an email from a reader saying how much my book just touched them, how much it made them think, how much it convicted them to do something. I know I sound like a broken record but that’s what makes all this worth it. And that way, I get to have a bunch of greatest moments.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

My family is my motivator. My wife and three daughters. I write for them. Every book I write is one step closer to fulfilling my dream of doing this full-time and getting to be home with my family all the time (our kids are homeschooled). Oh, I know the grass is always greener on the other side, but I can dream can’t I?

Story ideas come from a variety of places. Real life events, news stories (fact really is stranger than fiction), my crazy imagination, even dreams.

Character ideas usually come from people I know or have met. I work with the public so I’ve met some pretty unique people over the years. Often, they find their way into one of my stories. Also, most of my characters have a little of me in them, too. That keeps it personal . . . and sometimes scary.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

The blend of strong, gritty suspense and meaningful message. Also, a lot of readers comment on how descriptive my writing is. I’d never thought of that as making my writing unique but I guess it does.

Finish this question. The ultimate story is one that…

Changes a life. (That’s why the Gospel is the ultimate story!)

Any parting words?

Thanks for the opportunity. I hope I gave you a little peek into what makes me tick as a writer without sounding like too much of a weirdo. I tend to do that (sound like a weirdo, that is). Oh, and by the way, I’m working on a new book called Darlington that should be out in 2010!

Thanks for sharing with us, Mike!

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