Interview with Author Danny Fisher

While at BookExpo America a few weeks ago, I had the privilege to meet with author Danny Fisher. She was kind enough to participate in an interview about how she started her writing career, the challenges she’s faced, and some features about her various works. Enjoy!

1. You began your writing career after a failed job interview. The interviewing panel was so impressed with your personal statement that they suggested you write a book. Had you done any writing before that time in the manner of short stories or drafts of novels? 

In all honesty, I did not do any significant amount of writing prior to that day. I had penned the occasional bad poem, but nothing more. I went home that day and purchased a mini pink Acer laptop and began writing immediately. I started with my autobiography. Soon, ideas for other stories started developing and I went with it.

dannyAt this point, I was still approaching this as a hobby. It wasn’t until I read an article in an Oprah magazine about finding your calling that I looked at it differently. In the article, Joy Behar told the story of how she had been an English teacher, and miserable. One day, she heard that if she wanted to be happy she should do what made her happy when she was ten. She remembered entertaining her family with jokes so she walked away from teaching and became a stand-up comedian. I took the same advice. I recalled that when I was ten I was an avid reader. I carried around a book by Harold Robbins called, A Stone for Danny Fisher. I kept that book for years, and realized as I pondered what to do next with my life that I liked seeing my name on the cover of a book. It was then that I made the decision to turn my hobby into my profession.

2. What was the biggest challenge you faced when taking those first steps to become a professional author? 

When I began writing the biggest challenge was being taken seriously. I first published back in 2011 when self-publishing was still a dirty word. It was viewed as though anyone can publish a book now so books published that way must all be awful. In reality, while there are a lot of bad books out there (both self and traditionally published), what self-publishing managed to do was to make a lot of good books (that would have spent years in a slush pile or ignored altogether) available to readers. Now that the industry is recognizing self-publishing as the next big thing, the challenge is to set yourself and your work apart from the pack. The way to do that is to focus on branding yourself as a writer instead of promoting just one or two books.

3. Based on the novels you have written so far, it looks like you are comfortable writing in a variety of genres, from young adult to paranormal. However, is there a particular genre which you think is more fun to write?

When I sit down at my computer to begin a new book, I do not focus on writing in any certain genre. Instead, I start with a what if question and go from there. The genre will become apparent when the book is done. I like to think that I could write in any genre with enough research behind me. I found the paranormal genre really fun to write because it stretches the realm of believability even farther than normal. You can make up a lot more stuff, and who can really argue with you? If I want my vampires to be able to exist in the daylight without burning to ash, that is my choice. It’s fiction, and that in itself enables the writer to push the envelope when creating the worlds their characters will inhabit. Add a paranormal element, exotic locales, a little bit of sex, and some great action scenes and you’ve written a book that is downright naughty fun.

4. Do you like to share your work with family and friends before it’s finished, or do you prefer to wait when you have a final product? 

I follow Stephen King’s advice on this one so I’ll paraphrase: Write with the door closed because what you are writing is just for you. Rewrite with the door open. I get the first draft of my book as finished and as good as I think I can, then I turn it over to my niece and/or my mom. They are both avid readers, and they are good critics. They let me know if the story has any major holes in it, or if something didn’t make sense. After that, I do revisions and then I’m good with letting anyone read it. I’ve always said I don’t write for my desk drawer. I decided early on that I wouldn’t be afraid to share my stuff, and even more so, the journey it took to get there. 

5. Your book Lucky seems to revolve around some difficult subject matter, including child kidnapping. Was there a particular reason you chose to focus on such an intense subject, or did it just come to you? Also related to Lucky, the novel features a biker gang. How did you research biker culture? Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?

luckyAs I said, I write from the what if question. I wanted to write a story about a child that was put in a situation that was the exact opposite of an environment a child could thrive in, and explore the question of whether or not one stable adult in her life would be enough to save her from falling through the cracks. I grew up in a home wrought with domestic violence, and I began to think, what if my aunts had not been around to spend time with me? What if I hadn’t had anyone to help me through it? I gave Lucky one very ill-equipped adult to watch over her to make it even more interesting. Is his love for her enough to help her heal from everything she endures?  I researched the biker culture in college while pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. I became enthralled with the outlaw biker culture, and organized crime in general. I have ridden a motorcycle as a passenger a few times. I am by no means a biker, haha.

6. Your novel Burnt Stones tells the tale of a man suffering from unrequited love, and one night with his dream girl proves disastrous. Have you ever experienced unrequited love for yourself? Did the person ever find out your true feelings?

burntI know I have experienced unrequited love numerous times in the form of crushes, but one time in particular comes to mind. I was in ninth grade. I was extremely unpopular (I moved several times as a kid and was always the dreaded new girl), and he was very popular. I was also very shy. One day, I got the nerve to let him know how I felt. I chose to send him one of those carnations I bought at school for fifty cents that they delivered during homeroom for your sweetheart on the day of the dance (so pathetic, I know). The brilliance of this strategy is that I didn’t have to be present when he got it because we didn’t share a homeroom. Of course, the downfall of this strategy is that if he never responded I’d always have to wonder if he really got it, or if it got lost, and I’m back to square one.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have to wonder long. The bell rang, I exited homeroom and promptly ran into him with his group of friends as he showed them all the flower I had sent him. When I showed up, they laughed hysterically at how funny it was that I thought he would actually want to date me. I know this because they laughed, pointed and said as much loud enough for all to hear. Humiliated, I made a quick retreat. There is a scene in Burnt Stones where Allison humiliates Casey when he asks her out for the first time. Although the details are different, I can certainly relate to the emotions he felt afterwards. That’s the beauty of writing, if you’re brave enough to explore all the things that ever hurt you or challenged you, you can usually channel any residual emotions into a scene or a character.

7. I know this is a fairly common question, but considering my blog revolves around books and you are an author, it would be blasphemous if I didn’t at least ask you what is your favorite book?

To Kill a Mockingbird, no question.

8. Lastly, what would you suggest to all of the readers out there who are considering writing a book of their own? 

Before you so much as type one word, be honest with why you are doing this, what you hope to achieve and most importantly, how far are you willing to put yourself out there for your work? Decide if you are writing for your own pleasure/creative outlet, or if you desire to be recognized as a professional writer. Like me, you may need to write something and receive some validation before you can even imagine that answer, but that’s okay. If you decide to write professionally, be honest as to why. Do you want money and fame? If that’s all you desire, click on your webcam and make a sex tape, it’s easier.

Or, are you writing to share your truth? Are you writing because you can’t NOT write? Are you an artist? If yes, then how much are you willing to share? How vulnerable are you to criticism? Are you open to always learning and perfecting your craft, or do you think you already know it all? Can you stand tall for your voice as a writer when people tell you that you need to change everything about yourself/your book if you want success? Remember, authenticity trumps everything (as told to me by Josh Shipp, motivational speaker guru).  In short, no one will believe in you or your work if you don’t decide now how you feel and how far you’re willing to go to share your story. Then write, write and write some more.

Check out More of Danny’s Work on Amazon


The Exit Strategy

Off the Beating Path

Burnt Stones

City Vamps



Juggler, Porn Star, Monkey Wrench by Rich Leder

Well, I’ve gotta hand it to this book, it has one hell of a unique title. As for the story goes, I’m not really sure what just happened.

What’s it About? 


My name is Mark Manilow. I am a LA screenwriter. Here’s my recipe for a cocktail called “Romantic Hollywood Sex Comedy.” Start with my estranged wife, who left me two years ago to become a juggler. Pour in the ensuing emotional tailspin conjoined with my brutal case of writer’s block. Mix with my last-gasp writing job, a ridiculous porn flick called Broken Boner. Add in the Broken Boner porn star, who seduces me into an ill-fated partnership. Throw in the gun-toting producer and eccentric Montecito billionaire who hire me to adapt the phonebook into a movie. Combine with the return of my headaches and a trip to an ancient Chinese healer, where I meet the healer’s beguiling granddaughter—my monkey wrench. Serve with wonderment as to whether or not I’ll find a way to settle things with the juggler, break it off with the porn star, and fall in love with the monkey wrench…or if anyone will stop laughing long enough to notice.

First Impressions

So Mark is a screenwriter, and from what I can tell, he’s not a very good one. He’s only written one mildly successful script which has been shelved for all eternity due to some kind of Hollywood mumbo jumbo. He’s a bit down in the dumps trying to think up the premise for his next story when he gets a shot to write the script for a porn film. Just as Mark is starting to warm up to the idea of being the next big name in porn writing, the director of the film informs Mark that he just doesn’t have what it takes to write a porno. I’m sorry but if the guy can’t write porn, I question if he can write anything else.


The Characters

Mark meets a plethora of different characters throughout the novel, and each one is crazier than the last. In my opinion, the personas were too outlandish to be believable, which took away from how much you could really connect with any of them. The entire novel culminates in one tediously long, drawn-out scene in which practically all of the characters from the book come together for a reading of Mark’s newest script, Phone Book: the Movie.

That’s right! The guy who couldn’t write porn wrote a movie script inspired by the phone book. This script reading is one of the most ridiculous scenes I’ve ever come across, and escalates to include an orgy and attempted murder, although nobody really seems to care that either is taking place. Unfortunately, what I assume was an attempt at hilarity left me feeling more confused than amused.


The Writing

Although it was unique to see how this struggling writer goes from attempting to write porn to adapting the phone book for a feature film, the writing did annoy me at times. Firstly, there were way too many anecdotes which added nothing to the storyline, including a multitude of flashbacks and possibly imagined scenarios. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with flashbacks, but they have to tie in somehow to the overall plot.


The second element which I barely noticed at first, but had me on the brink of chucking my Kindle across the room by the end, was the addition of rambling lists. For example, did you know that Mark has written dramas, comedies, dramedies, romantic comedies, sophomoric comedies, teen comedies, family comedies, action, adventure, action-adventure, thrillers, sci-fi, and westerns? He also talks about producers and directors and writers and actors and agents and managers and painters and carpenters and this guy really needs to learn the use of etc.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? It was a little out there for my taste, and has convinced me to never move to LA if there’s even a smidgen of a chance I’ll meet people like this out there.

Smut Level: Believe it or not, the absolute funniest scene was when Mark visited a beautiful mansion which actually contained sets for multiple porn flicks. An amusing experience to say the least.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Laugh Riot Press. 390 Pages.

BookExpo America, Here I Come!

Oh yeah, this is happening. I can’t actually believe it’s already here, but next week I will be traveling to New York City to attend BookExpo America (BEA) 2015. What is BEA you ask? It’s the leading book and author event for the North American publishing industry, as well as the best place to discover new titles and authors, network, and learn the latest trends. Basically, I’ll be in way over my head. 

bookexpoHow Did I First Hear About BEA? 

By reading a book of course! I remember I was reviewing the entire Publicist series by Christina George, and the lead character attended the Expo at one point in the story. I remember thinking to myself, “That sounds like a cool event, I wonder if it’s real.” A quick internet search later, and I was officially planning my first visit to BEA. 

Why Am I Going? 

beaThey have a networking social on the first day with free soda and freshly popped popcorn. It’s like they know me. No, there are actually a few more legit reasons why I marked this three-day event on my office calendar months ago. On the first day of the Expo they are holding a Blogger’s Conference, and I think it’s pretty clear why that would appeal to me. Maybe I can find out a few tid bits and tricks to write more effective posts for ya’ll. Secondly, BEA is the largest gathering of booksellers, librarians, retailers, and book industry professionals in North America. I’m not gonna lie, getting an autograph or two would be awesome, but hopefully I’ll also be able to chat with some authors and acquire books for future reviews. 

What Should I Expect?

Hell if I know. The best piece of advice I’ve seen online so far about attending BEA is to wear comfortable shoes. Duly noted. I might be taking vacation days off work to attend this thing, but I’ll be on my feet from 9-5 every damn day. Honestly, I’m kind of nervous to be in such a large setting of people, but I’m also bouncing with excitement. I did do something a little silly and had some business cards printed up with my blog, Twitter, and e-mail info, all of which are featured on a lovely beach scene. I have a feeling I’ll either make a lot of great connections and learn some key tips for my writing, or I’ll just come back home with sore feet and a plethora of free tote bags. Should be interesting!

An ARC What Now?

For those of you who regularly read my blog (thank you much) you have probably noticed that at the bottom of a post or five I include the disclaimer *An ARC has been provided for an honest review*. Now if you have a book review blog of your own, or you have surpassed the intelligence of a 10 year old, you can probably guess what an ARC is. Basically, an author provides me with an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of their book in the hopes that I will post a review of it on my lovely little blog here. AKA, marketing in the modern world. Honestly, when I was first contacted by an author who wanted to give me a free copy of their book to review, my first thought was: what the hell kind of a scam is this! I really thought that the minute I downloaded the book a virus would corrupt my entire computer. So I researched the author, looked up what the heck “ARC” stood for, and held my breath as I hit the download button. Paranoid much? Alas, no technological tomfoolery ensued, and my time as an ARC reviewer began! I really have no idea if it’s politically correct to classify yourself as an ARC reviewer, but what the hell, I’m just going with the flow.

I’ll admit I was so unbelievably excited when that first author contacted me to review their book. Ever since then, I’ve noticed that every time an author sends me an e-mail requesting a review, two thoughts immediately go through my head, 1) holy crap, another author has somehow stumbled across my blog and wants to give me a free book!! 2) shit, now I have homework!! It seems like every time I finish an ARC, I get two more in my inbox. Rest assured all you authors out there, if you have sent me a copy of your work it is now safely stored on my Kindle, and now that the holidays are coming up I should have plenty of free time from work to do nothing but sit and read. Well, and eat a ridiculous amount of food that nobody should consume in one sitting. What else are the holidays for?

One of my favorite things about reviewing books that authors give me is that it sort of forces me to branch out as far as what I read. I always tend to default to the contemporary romance genre, with a focus on friends or co-workers falling in love. But I’ve read ARCs that feature paranormal characters, leads suffering from loss and depression, action-packed chase scenes in the Middle East, and even some with a bit of BDSM erotic qualities. Each one of these is definitely out of my comfort zone, and yet I’ve enjoyed a large number of them. Whenever I tell someone I know that an author wants me to review their book, one of my favorite questions they undoubtedly will ask at some point is, “What happens if you don’t like it?”. Well, ladies and gents, if you ask for an honest review, that’s what you’re gonna get. I must say, I have a lot of respect for all of you authors out there brave enough to provide me with your works. If you have done your necessary research, and read through a few of my reviews you’ll know that I can either praise your book from cover to cover, or I can rip it apart like a sarcasm sundae, covered in dry humor frosting, and top it all off with some inappropriate curse words. However, I do have a little message for all you authors out there: if I happen to dislike certain aspects of your book, or the whole thing entirely, just remember that you are far more talented than I. Sure, I can critique your novel in a short 800 word post, but you have written an entire book! That is something that I have not accomplished, and you can hold it over my head for all time. I hereby give you permission to do so. Enjoy.

I must say I’ve been having a lot of fun reviewing all these ARCs, and I hope to continue getting more in the future. If you’re an author who has written a novel which contains romance in some form, and would like me to feature a review of it on my blog, feel free to e-mail me at romance4thebeach at gmail dot com. A mobi or epub version would be best for my Kindle, which I feel I should really give a name at this point due to my overwhelming feelings of love for the device. What do you think of Kiki the Kindle? Koko? In case you’re wondering, I do this a lot. I can’t help it, I find giving names to inanimate objects amusing. The weirder the better.