Tour stop | Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds
I’d like to welcome Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds: A Novel of Scandal, Love and Death in the Congo to The Printed Page. The following is some background information and an interview with Mr. Donelson. I thank him for his time.
Dave Donelson’s career as a broadcaster, entrepreneur, and writer has taken him from the jungles of Australia’s Cape York Peninsula to the minarets of Riyadh. He’s climbed the spire of the Empire State Building, floated the Usumacinta River to the Mayan ruins at Piedras Negras in Guatemala, and photographed the tree-climbing lions and mountain gorillas of Uganda.
Dave’s inquisitive, active lifestyle finds its way into freelance writing and photographic assignments for magazines like Disney’s FamilyFun, Woodworker’s Journal, and Las Vegas Magazine. Closer to home, he writes features for Westchester Magazine as well as a regular column on golf. He is a member of the prestigious Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.
His first novel, Hunting Elf, began as an audio book at Hunting Elf and was published as a trade paperback in 2006. K9 Perspective called it “…a delicious romp through the suburbs of New York.”
Dave’s first book was Creative Selling (Entrepreneur Press, 2000), a non-fiction prescriptive described by Brian Tracy as “…a terrific book on selling.” As a business journalist, he writes for The Christian Science Monitor, Family Business Magazine, and dozens of trade publications serving industries from the automotive aftermarket to sporting goods retailing.
Dave has a BA in Rhetoric and Public Address from Missouri Western State University. He serves as a Trustee for the Westchester Library System, a consortium of 38 public libraries serving Westchester County, NY. He lives in West Harrison, NY, with his wife, Nora, and an ever-changing roster of dogs and cats.
You can visit Dave Donelson to find out more about his works and you’ll also find him on MySpace, Facebook, Gather, and Amazon.
Interview with Mr. Donelson
TPP: When and why did you begin writing?
DD: Heart of Diamonds is my third book, the latest step in a ten-year career. I’ve always been a writer although I can’t say for sure why I started. It may have been because I seem to have a drive to create. Writing is my primary outlet, but I’m also a painter and photographer. I make wood carvings and furniture, too. Don’t ask me why, but I think I just want to leave something of myself behind.
TPP: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
DD: To myself, I became a writer when I sat down to write my first book. I didn’t admit it publicly, though, until I saw that book in print. But it was a non-fiction prescriptive, and not a novel, which has always been my ultimate goal. The real affirmation came when Kunati Books published Heart of Diamonds.
TPP: What inspired you to write your first book?
DD: Heart of Diamonds, my first traditionally-published novel, was inspired by a Time Magazine story about the strange relationship between the famous televangelist Pat Robertson, founder of the 700 Club and one-time candidate for President of the United States, and Mobutu Sese-Seko, the brutal dictator who raped the Congo for thirty years. When I found out these two guys were business partners in a diamond mine among other things, I just had to write a book.
TPP: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
DD: Writing fiction takes an entirely different mind set than either the reporting that I do for magazines or the straight show-and-tell of my non-fiction book. It took me a while to learn to tell a story from multiple points of view, but I had to learn how in order to make Heart of Diamonds work.
TPP: What do you see as the influences on your writing?
DD: As strange as it sounds, I think spending several years in sales made me a better writer. I learned how to listen; to get inside a person’s head and see what makes them tick. I also developed some strong observation and research skills, which are invaluable to a writer. In the kind of selling I did, very high-ticket business-to-business sales, you put a lot of energy into researching your prospect before you ever started talking. Preparation was as important as the presentation. I spent a full year just reading about the Congo before I started writing Heart of Diamonds, then made two trips to Africa to round out the research.
TPP: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
DD: There are so many authors I admire, but Ernest Hemingway is my all-time favorite. He may not be the most politically correct guy according to today’s standards, but his prose is economical, his stories take you from point A to point B, and his characters are multi-faceted.
TPP: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
DD: Heart of Diamonds is a romantic thriller about blood diamonds. It’s a novel of love, scandal, and death in the Congo. The protagonist, TV reporter Valerie Grey, uncovers a diamond smuggling scheme that involves an American televangelist, the President of the Congo, and possibly the White House. The dramatic tension comes as Valerie races to expose the scheme while American troops pour into the Congo as part of a misguided military intervention in that country’s civil war. The televangelist and his minions try to stop her as does the White House, which sends a pair of Terminator-type special agents to do the job. In the meantime, civil war rages in the Congo. Valerie struggles with a big love triangle, too, which adds depth to the characters.
TPP: What book(s) are you reading now?
DD: I read two or three books a week. Right now, I’m reading John le Carre’s A Most Wanted Man
TPP: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
DD: I recently read another debut novel from Kunati that really impressed me. It is The Master Planets by Don Gallinger. The concept was very original: parallel stories of a rock musician turned financier and his mother, a hero of the Polish resistance who may have actually been a mass murderer. It sounds like an unlikely mash-up, but Gallinger pulls it off and makes the characters fully believable and compelling.
TPP: Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?
DD: I’d like to urge my readers to talk back to me. One of the great things about Heart of Diamonds has been the way I’ve been able to interact with readers on my blogs and sites like Facebook. Writing can be a lonely profession and feedback is hard to come by, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
You can check Dave’s other tour stops by visiting Pump Up Your Book virtual tour page.