Welcome to Doug Dandridge
Where are you from and where do you live now? I am originally from Venice, Florida. My father was also a Florida native, born in Panama City in 1915. My mom was from Long Island, New York. But I consider myself 100% Southern. Now I live in Tallahassee, in the northern part of the state, what is still considered the South, even as the southern part really isn’t.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with some past and hopefully future forays into Alternate History. In Science Fiction and Fantasy my most popular work is the Military subgenre. Currently I have 21 books out, six in the Exodus: Empires at War series (Military Scifi), four in the Refuge series (Fantasy), and three in the Deep Dark Well series (also scifi). I also have one Steampunk Fantasy, one High Fantasy, one Urban Fantasy, and five other assorted science fiction, from near future (2020) to eight centuries in the future. I also have some fantasy and science fiction completed to the first draft novel stage, a total of four, I believe. Not sure when I will release them, since everyone seems to be clambering for more Exodus, and most of my time is caught up in producing more work in that Universe.
Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. I read a lot growing up, both science fiction, fantasy, and military history. Also real science, and geography, etc. I served in the US Army, and learned a lot about what it means to be a soldier, though I never had to face combat myself. And I followed the Space Program closely while growing up, back in the day when it went from the first orbital flights up to landing on the Moon. And of course movies and TV shows, from the day when the special effects were pretty hokey, to our modern, almost complete realism versions. The early scifi I read actually had some science in it, unlike much of what we see today. So I try to use some of the real Universe in my scifi, though I don’t get tied to it so much that I lose out on a good story. But things like instant acceleration and deceleration, ships banking in vacuum? I try to avoid that like the plague. And dreams. I have outlined chapters, and once, a whole book during a night of sleep. I guess I have just accumulated so many terabytes of info from all those sources in my mind, when I see, hear or read something that sparks a memory, the ideas just start flowing and connecting.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? My favorite character from my work is Pandora Latham, also known as Pandi. She starts out as a Kuiper Belt miner, helping to feed the hunger for comets to use in the terraforming of planets. She escaped her native Alabama, and the father she hated, by undergoing space training. She really wants to go to the stars, but mining is the best that is available in her sublight culture. Until the day she has to jump through a wormhole forty thousand years into the future. What I like about the character is she is a resilient fighter who never gives up. In situations where most people would curl up in a ball on the ground in shock, she rolls with the punches, learning the whole time how to survive, and even thrive, in her environment. One of my fans called her Bloody Mary, because she is not adverse to killing something to solve a problem. But at heart, she is a good person, one who believes that all sentient life should be free, and judged for their minds, not their outer appearances.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Heck, I have a lot of characters I dislike. I put them in the story for others to dislike them as well. While they may not be totally bad, they all possess some reprehensible traits. What’s a story without someone to hate.
Are your characters based on real people? I have done that in the past, but now they are just more composites of people I have known. I worked in mental health for years, and then for Department of Children and Families in Florida. I have met a lot of unique personalities, with a lot of unique, not always exemplary, behaviour. I have had some people tell me one or more characters I wrote were not believable, when they were patterned from some of the people I have really met, that most don’t really see in their day to day lives.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I love world-building. I have all kinds of books in my library, the Atlas of World History, books on Mythology, Star Atlases, just about anything you can think of to help me develop science fiction or fantasy world. Of course now the internet is a favorite resource, with all of the sites that can give you all the information you need. I especially like the sites that provide calculators for things I used to have to do by hand, orbits, gravity, luminosity of a certain kind of star on a planet in a certain orbit. Calculators for the energy derived from amounts of antimatter. NASA’s interactive map of Mars. Nuke Map. The list is just too extensive to cover it all. And computer programs I run on my personal system, like Orbit Xplorer and others.
I try to cover all aspects of the world I am building, and in fact overdo it. That works out really well when I’m working on a series, as eventually most of that stuff will come in handy.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? I like to have a message of hope, no matter what. The characters may find themselves in a horrible situation. In fact, many of them might not come out the other side. But there is always a chance. I think some message is important in writing, but not the beat the over the head every paragraph till they either get it, or start bleeding from the ears, kind.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great World Building, Solid Plot, Great Characters, Technically Perfect. The way I see it, the thing that really separates speculative fiction from what I term Mundane fiction is the setting. It has to be some fantastic world, from the past or future, or today gone horribly wrong. After that a plot that keeps the action moving. I write action packed novels, and without plot, it’s easy to get lost. Characters to me are mostly important so people can identify with them, and slip into the world and the plot. Nothing is Technically Perfect, so I don’t even care about that one. I try to make my work as good as I possibly can. But perfection is for people who will never publish.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio). Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? I sell ebooks and print on demand paperbacks. I just released my first audiobook, Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1, my best seller of all time. I’m hoping to do all the books in that series eventually, but it will depend on how well that first book sells.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do self-edit, and yes, a book can suffer, though it can also suffer from an editor that doesn’t get it. Would my books be better if they were professionally edited? Maybe, but over a thousand reviews across all the books with a 4.45 average says I must be doing something right.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think there is still some prejudice against self-published authors. If you are traditionally published, people tend to think you passed the standards of the gate keepers, and so of course have produced something of quality. I find that the view is slowly changing, but it all depends on sales. When I tell some of my professionally published writer friends that one of my books has sold almost nineteen thousand copies, with two more selling over ten, their jaws drop. Tell the same to a professional editor and the business cards come out. One of my friends, who has sold millions of books, seems to be very impressed by my ebook sales. And then you have Hugh Howie, with over a million sales, and not many traditionally published authors in his range.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Some. I used to read a lot, but now I only read those recommended by my own fans, or well-reviewed. I have just read so many that were so poor I couldn’t finish them, and I used to pride myself on finishing everything I started. Then again, there were some books that were excellent.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I think reviews are important, though I really couldn’t tell you how much so. I have one book with 8 five star reviews in the US, and almost that many in the UK, which has only sold about three hundred copies. By the ‘that reviews are very important’ rule, it should be selling thousands by now. As far as commenting, I refrain from getting involved in that battle. The only time I will reply is when someone says something about my science that is just wrong. Then I’ll comment, with a link to the science. One time it was a comment about relativity and mass, another about nukes.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? An in-depth look at a world seen through your own imagination. Movies and games show you what everything looks like, and the actions of the characters, without providing an in-depth look inside. A book allows one to see things through their own interpretation. They make you think.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Be persistent and don’t give up. When you finish one project, start on another, without delay. And write what you love, not what you think is going to be the next big thing, because it probably won’t be.
What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Go to Cons and to the author tracks, and workshop. You meet people who have already made it, and you never know what will come of that. I have met some people in the last year who are really helping me out in my career. The worst. Watch out for the lure of advertising. I spent $500 last year to advertise a vampire book on a site and saw no increase in sales. Advertising might look good, but often amounts to no gain.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I recently read the first three books of Larry Correa’s Monster Hunter International series and really enjoyed them. I can see how he became a best seller. Am currently reading Trial By Fire by Chuck Gannon, also a great book. After that I will track down the next R A Salvatore or Jim Butcher book and get into them.
What are your views on authors offering free books? It worked for me, so I’m all for it. As of this interview, I have sold 92,000 books, and given away 16,000. A giveaway of The Deep Dark Well, over 4,000 books, kick-started the Exodus series.
Do you have a favourite movie? Too many to count. I love Avatar and the Star Wars/Star Trek films. Not because of plot or character, but because of the visuals. For a boy that wanted to grow up to visit other worlds and see other forms of life, they are as close as I’m ever going to get.
Do you have any pets? Four cats. Bobbie, Angelina, Espresso and Molly. All different, all wonderful, and all little pains in the butt at times.
Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? Working for Florida DCF had to be the worst job among many bad ones. Too many contradictory standards, too many politically motivated changes that really helped no one. It taught me I better keep producing as a writer, since I do not want to return to that life.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I love women’s college sports. In Tallahassee we have a lot of college sports. Our football team won the Division I National Championship, which was great. Our women’s Soccer Team lost the National Championship last year in overtime, which disappointed me more than the men winning theirs excited me. I go to every soccer match I can attend. And that made the World Cup really fun this summer, because I actually knew what was going on.
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Doug-Dandridge/e/B006S69CTU
Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1: http://www.amazon.com/Exodus-Empires-Book-Doug-Dandridge-ebook/dp/B009TZSBJO
The Deep Dark Well: http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Dark-Well-Doug-Dandridge-ebook/dp/B006S3GOKS
Refuge: The Arrival: book 1: http://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Arrival-Book-Doug-Dandridge-ebook/dp/B00830A0QI
Synopsis of Bellator.
Private Benito Benny Suarez was a slacker, the kind of Marine that did as little as possible, whatever he could get by with. The Lodz was the perfect ship for such as he, an old battle cruiser delegated to diplomatic transport duty. On the run from the Empire to Margrav, she was out of the way, in what was considered a safe sector. Until the Ca’cadasan battleship found her. The huge aliens boarded, and Benny found himself in combat. He woke in agony, floating in zero g, his legs gone, only his battle armor keeping him alive. His course was clear. Hide, get off the ship, survive at all costs. Until he discovered that the youngest passenger aboard the ship, the daughter of the Ambassador, was still alive, and in the hands of the Cacas. Then the decision was no longer so easy, not if he wanted to live with himself. Be what he had always been? Or be the hero, and risk his life to save that of a child.