Dan Maurer is an independent author, publisher, theater producer, director, and digital marketer. He is also a proud member of International Thriller Writers, Inc. and the Horror Writers Association. Throughout his career in publishing and marketing, he has been involved in the publication of bestselling titles such as John Grisham’s The Firm, Richard Price’s Clockers, and Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger’s Lost Moon, which became the film Apollo 13. As a digital marker, he has supported popular publishing brands including Curious George, Peterson Field Guides, and The Polar Express. He has also developed marketing strategies for many corporations, including Citizen, Dun & Bradstreet, RCN and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Dan is a member of an acclaimed New Jersey-based theater company and has won awards for his producing, directing and sound design. He lives with his wife and their daughter in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
The novella takes place over one single day in 1975, a snow day. Readers in the south may not be familiar with snow days, but those of us who grew up in the north remember them fondly as unexpected holidays from school when the snow piles up so high that the school buses can’t run and some small towns shut down entirely. Snow days are usually a sources of fond memories, this snow day is one that narrator will never forget.
What is your writing environment like?
I have a home office that doubles as a study and is stocked with books I’ve read, plan to read, and once helped publish during my long-ago career in trade book publishing. There is also a shelf of trophies and mementos from theater productions that I’ve produced or directed, a reminder that (as they like to say on Wall Street) past performance is not an indicator of future success. There are two windows in my office. One is real and is only good for checking the weather. The other is my web browser, an open window onto the internet and a great resource for finding unique story details. Otherwise, I’ve set up my workspace according to Stephen King’s advice in his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. He said if you want to write, turn your desk toward the wall. I’ve done that.
What is your favorite quote? Why?
I’m not one who can sum up my life or my life’s perspective using a single quote. However, I do love using quotes to help develop themes in my work. I used two quotes in the epigraph to Snow Day. Both are important and on target thematically, because it’s really a story about how an event, and the failure to come to terms with that event, has affected the narrator. Of the two, the one I love the most offers up the immortal words of the actress Mae West, who said: “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I was a child of the 70s and early 80s. It was a time when blockbuster novels and films like Carrie, Jaws, The Godfather, Rocky, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Alien were reinventing how stories were told and sold both in print and on the silver screen. In a family where books were in abundance and my brothers and I spent our free time making Super 8 movies in the backyard, it was hard not to fall in love with storytelling. And given the zeitgeist of that era, it was also natural that I develop a desire to write stories that both excite and, on some level I hope, inspire.
What inspires you to write?
I love stories in all forms, always have. Print, film, oral, whatever their form, stories have the power to engage, inform, excite and inspire. They can make you fear, make you laugh, make you think, or make you do all of those things as one time. I just love that. It’s a kind of magic. Before turning to writing full-time, I spent over 20 years first in a publishing and then in a marketing career, and through it all I used storytelling as a business tool – sometimes to help a single colleague understand an important business point, sometimes to deliver a presentation to a room of professionals. But writing stories is something different. By putting the words on paper, something special happens. The very act opens up a creative vein and things come out – ideas, characters, themes -- during the act of writing the story I never expect. During the writing process, there is an act of discovery going on that is very exciting for me. And when it’s done, or at least reaches a point when I can step back and look at what I have up to a certain point, I’m usually surprised. It’s almost as if someone else wrote it. It sounds corny, but it really does feel like making magic.
What do you consider the most challenging part about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Having faith. I’m not great at plotting things out in advance. Often when I try, the whole story dries up and dies on the vine. I seem to be better at starting with a character and a situation and letting them dictate where the story goes. Then I use my instincts to recognize and foster the narrative as it develops. It can be frightening at times, especially when the pages start to pile up and you don’t have a clear direction. The key for me is to have faith and to remember the old mantra that good stories aren’t written, they are rewritten.
Did you learn anything while writing this book? If so, what was it?
I didn’t learn something new as much as I had a particular belief confirmed. I’ve always believed that the act of writing is really the act of tapping into the subconscious. We have read and learned and experienced so many things over the course of our lives that they no longer reside in our immediate conscious memory, not unless there is a trigger that prompts it to surface like a song, or a smell, or an expression... or a story. Writers, during the act of writing, are tapping into their subconscious reservoir of ideas, knowledge, feelings and experiences to produce a story. That story in turn, when effective, can succeed in opening the readers subconscious memories. When that happens, that’s when the story truly engages them.
What have you done to promote this book?
As an indie author, I’m doing everything possible and within my limited budget to reach my audience. The book is in the midst of a virtual book tour, and we’re giving a way a free Kindle Fire HD and some audiobooks to help draw in readers. My website at www.danmaurer.com , Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads have all been useful tools. In the end though, it’s all about getting readers who love the story to become advocates and share it with their friends.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers?
From a writing perspective, I would have to say that having a stable of Beta Readers you trust is most important. I received a great deal of excellent feedback from my initial Beta Readers and used it to make significant changes to the final draft of Snow Day.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on several projects at the moment. I’m writing a novel called How Does Your Garden Grow. It’s a horror thriller that weaves three storylines together, that of a fragile teenage girl, left adrift since the sudden death of her closest friend; a disgraced police detective, shattered by the loss of his daughter and the disintegration of his marriage; and a retired school teacher whose walled garden hides not only a bitter heart, but the dark secret that makes her garden grow. I’m having a lot of fun working with this one. It is set in the same world as Snow Day and is kind of a cross between Wes Craven, Agatha Christie and Stephen King. How Does Your Garden Grow should be finished by early next year. An early peek at the work in progress is available on Wattpad (http://www.wattpad.com/story/5181008-how-does-your-garden-grow). I’m also co-writing a screenplay for a WWI epic, and I’m co-producing two musicals for the upcoming theater season.