Friday, February 10, 2012

Author Interview - David A. Cleinman

Today, it is a pleasure to sit down with David Cleinman.  A family man and former teacher, David took some time to tell us about Principle Destiny, a story about a princess forced to compete against her brother to secure her claim to the throne.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: I’m a pretty ordinary guy with a love of literature and words. I write stories, novels, and non-fiction, but really consider myself a novelist first. My stories tend to have a strong personal connection to my readers and characters that almost anyone can relate to, either good or bad. I live in Florida with my wife, Katrina who teaches elementary school, and son Jordan who is a junior in high school and the sole proprietor of the Big Bad Auto Blog.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: Just about since I learned to read. I got serious about it in 2009 when my teaching job was cut due to budget constraints. If there is a single regret I have it’s that I didn’t follow my dreams of being a full-time writer sooner. And yet, I have learned a great deal over the years and I think my writing is better for it.

Q: What is Principle Destiny about?

A: Principle Destiny is the story of Princess Alyssa, daughter of the tyrant King Jessett, and her fight to take back her rights of succession that her father has stripped from her. To do this, she must defeat her younger brother in a thousand mile race through three kingdoms. Her main antagonist is the captain of her father’s guard who has threatened the princess with death if she races. Alyssa defies this warning and races anyway, watched, chased, and under constant surveillance at all times. Even though she never sees the watchers, she knows they are there.

The love once shared between brother and sister has been shattered by this conflict, and Princess Alyssa’s attempts so make her father see reason and end this dangerous challenge system fall on deaf ears. At 27, and in prime condition, Alyssa races and struggles with multiple attacks, constant fear, and potential dangers lurking around every curve.

The novel covers the build-up to the race, but primarily focuses on the race itself and Alyssa’s numerous close calls and trials. The tension between formerly close brother and sister is tangible, as well as the omnipresent dangers Princess Alyssa faces from those individuals who wish to usurp the crown rather than see her win it.

I largely consider this novel action-adventure/modern fantasy, with a literary twist. It is also a tale that anyone can enjoy, kids and adults alike.

Q: How did you come up with the plot?

A: The plot developed around the main character. First came the disenfranchised princess, then the family conflict, then the showdown, which became the race. Part of the concept of the race came from old mythologies and social structures where prince might challenge prince for a crown. I simply expanded the concept to include rival kingdoms on top of rival siblings. As with most of my stories, the plot runs on the character interactions and emotions.

Q: Are there any characters in Principle Destiny that you directly relate to?

A: In some ways I see every character as an extension of myself, good and bad. I relate directly to Alyssa because we are so similar. Strong opinions, a strong sense of ethics, a true love of people and a desire to see them at peace and a strong part of their society’s progress. King Jessett, in fact, looks very much like me. Large, dark hair and beard, a commanding presence, and brown eyes. But where he is fairly arrogant and controlling I think I am a better listener and far less selfish. Tobias would be me in those moments where I am unsure of the path I should take and use my gut to make a decision and then hope it was the right one.

Q: What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?

A: Three things. First, a heroine that is as tough and strong-willed as any man, but still has a feminine soft and loving demeanor. The uniqueness of the setting: an early 20th century level of mechanical and electrical development, but a monarchy as the main political structure. And last, the race itself, which is as much analogy as it is reality. Filled with thrills and twists and turns, the race truly tests the characters’ mettle.

Q: Did you have any specific goals when writing the book? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?

A: Just that unity and honesty are more powerful than divisiveness and corruption, and that a character who embraces the light, as opposed to the dark, is really a better choice of leader. And, as a side note, a female character can be just as engaging and tough a hero as a male.

Q: How long did it take you to write Principle Destiny? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor?

A: It took quite a while, because I was writing it while working multiple jobs. I did have a cover artist and an editor. The cover has been changed from the original to set it apart from the first published version.

Q: What do you think of the changes taking place in the publishing industry?  With authors gaining more control over the creation and distribution of their work, what do you think readers stand to gain/lose?

A: I think readers will only benefit. True they may pull a terrible book off an Indie bookshelf, but it won’t cost them a fortune and refunds are available. But chances are they will find quite a few poor books in a bookstore that cost a lot more and are no more entertaining. I think so many Indie works entering the market allow for a greater variety of story and concept and I am all for that. While I think Indies must stick to some traditional publishing standards, such as proper grammar and word use, proofreading and editing, the new industry changes allow author imaginations to soar and be shared with a much wider array of readers.

Q: As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?

A: Yessir. I can be found on Facebook at Author David A. Cleinman, and on Twitter as David_Cleinman.

Q: What do you feel are the most important aspects of a great book?

A: That’s a pretty wide open question given the variety of books out there, non-fiction and fiction alike, but there are some things I look for in fiction, especially.
  1. Flow: I want to just read and not have to stumble over complex sentence structure (run-ons, multiple commas, four sentences in one, etc.). I want the story to be consistent and not jump around too much. I want it proofread and edited for spelling and grammar.

  2. Dialogue should  be realistic, based on how the people in the scene really would speak in real life. Descriptions of a character’s feelings should come before dialogue to set mood.

  3. Characters should be vibrant, alive, and we should have the opportunity to get to know them slowly instead of in one front-loaded description. Be as nasty or as gentle as you like with your characters, but always have a reason for why things are happening to them.

  4. A good story should be emotionally gripping, mentally impactful, and easy to visualize in our minds. I like stories the best when emotions, characters, and events match flawlessly.
Q: Have you ever sat down to write a scene only to have the story take you in a completely different direction than you had planned?

A: All the time. My characters sometimes control where we go, probably more often than not. Once in a while a scene develops based on sentence by sentence twists and turns. Dialogue also can turn things in a different direction. Being open-minded often results in unexpected and enjoyable changes. And then, sometimes, we just get it right from the beginning and the scene goes just as planned.

Q: And just for fun, favorite movie or television series?

A: Movies: Classic: It’s a Wonderful Life.  Film Noir: The City of Lost Children “La Cite Des Enfants Perdus”

TV show: Northern Exposure. I don’t watch much current TV.

As a special offer, David A. Cleinman would like to offer readers an chance to receive a free copy of his books!

I would like to invite your readers to like my Facebook author page Author David A. Cleinman. If they will leave a comment and introduce themselves and say they found me through this interview, I will give the first five a Smashwords coupon for a free copy of Principle Destiny and enter all commenters into a drawing for a SW coupon for a free copy of Toys In The Attic.

Thanks for stopping by to chat, David.  I hope things go great for you with Principle Destiny!

Thank you for hosting me Kevin. Can’t wait to see you on my blog!

Principle Destiny is available at:

Toys in the Attic is available at:

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