It’s so exciting to be a part of your book tour and promote this really wonderful series. You and I have been blogging friends for about eight years now and it’s been fun to see your blog become a place for so many writers to come together and share. We all enjoy your informative, and often humorous, historical pieces and photos. Of course my favorite regular posts are the If We Were Having a Beer segments, and not just because I get to virtually work at the bar.😉
As host of the weekly Thursday Doors prompt you’ve been creative and welcoming to anyone with a camera and an interest in door hunting!
Congratulations on your retirement and creating this book series that is obviously very personal for you. It has been my great pleasure to be one of the first to read the books. Please give us some of the backstory for Knuckleheads The Dreamer’s Alliance.
Cheryl, I am honored to have been invited to your blog to talk about Knuckleheads, my debut novel from the “Dreamer’s Alliance Series.”
The readers should know that Cheryl has an advantage over most of you, she has read the entire series, and she poses the following subject for me to address:
“My interest has always been how your personal family history has influenced your writing, your sense of humor and general approach to life and how these things are reflected in your story.”
Cheryl, you were the first person to read the draft that became Knuckleheads. Looking back on the quality of the book at that point, I am amazed you suffered through to the end. Early in that experience, you asked me, “Are you Zach or Billy?” I explained that I am neither, but that Zach and Billy share some childhood experiences of mine. The book is set in the 1960s, and it would be practically impossible to not draw on my experience in placing two boys in that era.
On the other hand, the character John Amstead is modeled after my father, and those attributes you mention are largely the result of his influence. My dad didn’t own a bowling alley, but he managed one. He also had a deep concern for kids like Billy. He gave them jobs, and he provided rides back and forth when necessary. He gave them incentives to become responsible young men.As with Billy’s grandparents, my father was often approached .
Hard work, religion, a practical approach to life, and humor, were the things my parents considered important. Truth be told, my father added the humor. These factors have guided me through most of my life, and they influenced the story I wanted to share and the way I wanted to tell it. My father was a storyteller.
People don’t live like this anymore – maybe some do, but it’s not what’s portrayed in TV shows and movies. Children today are portrayed as being stronger and smarter than their hapless parents. Too many parents, today, hover over their children, as if they can shield them from all of life’s pain. I loved the comment you shared in your review. You said,
“It’s refreshing to read a tale with real parents, real ‘mean’ teachers, condescending professionals, and immature bullies, instead of the bigger than life monsters portrayed in so many other books.”
That’s the picture I hoped to paint for the reader.
Although Zach’s story is not my autobiography, I identify with his character more than Billy’s. Zach is naïve, optimistic, and an introvert who is fascinated with technology. I share some all of those traits.
Billy, like David, the character at the bar with us on Saturdays, is an amalgam, a composite character with attributes drawn from many marginalized children with whom I had friendships while growing up. When I started writing what is now the second book in the series, Billy was going to be a minor character. In the original outline, Billy appears and disappears in the course of a few chapters. Zach helps him avoid the evil forces that Zach couldn’t escape. Billy shares a sense of foreboding with Zach, and Zach’s life goes on.
Billy, the character, wanted more.
More than anything, “Knuckleheads” was the opportunity for me to tell Billy’s story. Billy has been dealt a bad hand, but support from his best friend and the adults in his life rescue him from all the wrong possible choices. This is the backstory to a larger series, but it’s an important story on its own.
Thank you so much for featuring my book on your blog, Cheryl. You have been so helpful in getting this book from a collection of ideas to a finished product, I don't think there are enough words to adequately express my appreciation. I am so glad you enjoyed this book, and I am grateful for your suggestions and corrections along the way.ReplyDelete
Woah! I can reply to your comment! God must like me today. 😊You are so welcome Dan. I enjoyed sharing this process with you. The books are fun, inspired and nostalgic. All my best to you for success!Delete
This sounds a wonderful series. I was young in the 60 s and relate to your comments about the way children lived then, and how it differs from now. Kids are too cosseted and not allowed the freedom we were. Freedom to climb trees and fall out of them; freedom to wander the countryside and freedom not to worry ourselves silly about examsReplyDelete
"Go outside and play!" I can't tell you how many times I heard that phrase, and I survived. The book highlights some of the downsides of the 60s as well, like the inability to deal with people who fell outside normal expectations. That's the plight of these two boys.Delete
Thanks for your comment.
I remember that feeling of carefree safety. But there were dangers as well. They were just more lurking in the shadows.Delete
I was a pre-teen/teen in the sixties, so I expect to be blasted back to the past as I read this book. I can remember wandering my urban setting, and regret that I couldn't let my kids do the same, even out here in the sticks. They called me a worry-wart, but kids are either more at risk now or my perception is that kids are more at risk now.ReplyDelete
It is a different time, but there was a lot going on back then that we didn't know about. Ignorance was bliss to a certain degree.Delete
Well I believe they are and much depends on locale. At least it did when my kids were young. It broke my heart to tell them they couldn’t wander the area, especially when they got home from school well before I got off of work. Our Saturdays as a kid were spent roaming outside while my Mom cleaned. The world has moved on, sadly.ReplyDelete
If I didn't go out to play on Saturday, she handed me a dust rag 🙂Delete
Ha! I used to beg to dust. That way I got to touch all the books and knick knacks. Silly girl. 🤭Delete
I'm looking forward to reading this. Soon… Soon…ReplyDelete
You’re going to love it, Pam. 🙂Delete
Thanks Pam. I hope you enjoy itDelete
Loved that a character is based on your father, Dan. Thanks to Cheryl for hosting.ReplyDelete
It was impossible not to use him as a model, John. I didn't realize until I was older, what a difference he made in some kids' lives. He died 39 years ago. At my mother's funeral, 4 years ago, a woman told us about how my father gave her husband his first job and then helped him get his next job (where he worked until he retired).Delete
Thanks for stopping by John.Delete
Great post and wonderful that Cheryl has read the series and is such a support to Dan - he is a great guy and again- best wishes with this bookReplyDelete
Thanks Yvette. I can't start possibly thank Cheryl enough for all she's done.Delete
Cheryl, thanks for hosting Dan. The tour is off to a great start. Congrats again, Dan. Hugs on the wing.ReplyDelete
Thanks Teagan. I'll see you tomorrow. You guys are all so kind.Delete
It’s been my pleasure, Teagan, and I hope your book projects are going smoothly.Delete
Excellent questions, Cheryl, and wonderful answers by Dan. I'm looking forward to reading the first release in the series. I too grew up in the 60's and imagine I will be able to relate to a lot of what happens in the book as well as the characters in the book.ReplyDelete
I hope you enjoy it, Deborah. Cheryl picked a great topic.Delete
The characters are very relatable, Deborah. You’ll love them.Delete
I enjoyed this interview, Cheryl and Dan. Here's hoping for a super successful launch of this new book!ReplyDelete
Thanks Jan, and thanks for being a stop on this tour. I am beyond thrilled by the comments, and beyond grateful to people who have helped and are helping.Delete
I think the social media is off the balance in portraying the parents and children in many ways. I realize that some parents are confused of their roles. I watched some YouTube parents posted about the kids yelling and screaming at them. These parents thought it was cute. I like what Dan said about his home and his parents. Home should be a place where parents instill the values in the kids. If the kids don't learn to take 'no' for an answer, they will never do in the society and they'll have trouble accepting their own failure.ReplyDelete
This is a great post for Dan's new book. Thank you for hosting, Cheryl!
Thanks Miriam. Cheryl and I have a similar value set, and we both tried to instill those values in our children. I think our kids turned out pretty well. The values implied in the story form the governing attributes of these boys in their adult lives. I wanted to show that that wasn't by accident.Delete
Thank you for your thought provoking comments, Miriam. I feel a lot of this confusion in parenting comes from a generation that turns from the wisdom of their own parents and follows the latest trends on the internet of from friends. They, sadly, care more about being buddies to their kids than doing the tough job of raising them. Giving children rules and consequences is not abuse. It is a life lesson.Delete
I know, Cheryl! Kids are confused also. I remember one student in my class said his parents punished him and he wanted to report to the police! The media is not kind to the new generation(s). I'm so glad my daughter and her husband are among a group of friends believe in supporting the kids with love and boundary. They said 'no' to the kids but hug them and take time (long time) to explain why it was a 'no.'Delete
I think "take time to explain why it was 'no'" is the key, Miriam. Kids really haven't changed over time. They are capable of understanding 'no' and for understanding the reasons. I applaud your daughter and her husband for understanding that.Delete
They sound wise Miriam. I’m thankful my sons with children have shown loving wisdom in rising their children. My oldest is a certified Montessori teacher and he has taught me so much about working with children in ways that are positive and productive. Never too old to learn!Delete
Great interview! I was a little wary to read it since I just started reading Dan's book and was worried there could be some spoilers... nope! Since I am at the beginning, I haven't fully met all of the characters, but I love the dad and it's nice to know that he was modeled after a real person.ReplyDelete
I fell in love with Dan’s dad from all the quotes Dan has used in his blog posts and was so happy to find him a model for the central figure in Zach’s life in Book One.Delete
I'm glad you're enjoying the book, Janis. I have tried not to include any spoilers in these posts, but there are excerpts in the rest of the ones this week. I chose sections that shouldn't matter, but your mileage may vary, so... For a concerned father, I couldn't find or imagine a better character than my dad.ReplyDelete
Hi Cheryl, it is nice to 'meet' you in person on your blog. This post answered some of my questions about Dan's book so thank you for sharing it.ReplyDelete
Hi Robbie! So good to see you here. Thanks for visiting. I’m very excited for Dan’s book series release.Delete
I'm glad Cheryl could provide some answers, Robbie. Trying to inform without giving too much away has been difficult.Delete
Cheryl's blog is always a fun place to stop. It's filled with beautiful photos and often some wonderful poetry.