Interview with Jack Durish, author of "Rebels on the Mountain"
Jack Durish was born in Baltimore in 1943. He is a decorated veteran, a sailor, a fisherman, and a grandfather; all the makings of a great storyteller. He holds a Juris Doctor as well as numerous technical certifications. He is an amateur historian and political commentator. He is twice published previously; a novella, "Dream Pirates", and a technical guide, "WordPerfect: Creative Applications". "Rebels on the Mountain", a tale of the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in Cuba, is his first full length novel.
When and why did you begin writing?
I've been telling stories all my life. It was my escape from an abusive childhood. I just didn't have time to write them down until I retired from the rat race.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I'm going to answer that question in a slightly different way. I chose "Rebels on the Mountain" for my first novel because of a desire to fulfill a childhood dream of sailing to Cuba. I was offered the chance to help a man sail his new yacht from Galveston, Texas to the Chesapeake Bay, but my parents forbade me because I would have missed the first month of my junior year of high school. As it turned out, we would have visited Havana just months before Castro rose to power. Ever after, I followed events in Cuba. Unfortunately, even if the embargo is eliminated in my lifetime, I still cannot go because I now have a lifetime restriction on travel to any Communist bloc nation because of the security clearances I held.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I spent about a year looking for a literary agent and ended up signing directly with a publisher, Gallivant Press. I used the time to continue editing and rewriting the manuscript.
How do you market your work?
"Rebels on the Mountain" is available at most eBook retailers – Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, iTunes – as well as the publisher's website.
The publisher and I collaborate to build an audience using social media – Twitter and FaceBook, primarily. Also, my website – http://www.jackdurish.com – offers a synopsis and free sample of the manuscript as well as links to all eBook retailers.
I also use blogging extensively to attract the interest of potential readers. I blog on the publishers website as well as The Writers Collection, a collaborative effort with nine other authors, writing articles focusing on a shared prompt each week. I also maintain a personal blog – Brushes With History – at my website.
My first radio interview will take place 10 am to 12 noon on WGRN in Connecticut, March 5th. A recorded version will be available on my website thereafter.
Lastly, "Rebels on the Mountain" has been reviewed and promoted at various websites oriented to book lovers. And an article that recently appeared on my blog – Once Upon a Time... – was featured on the front page of Poetry and Poetry Lovers Newspaper.
Hopefully blogs, appearances, and mentions all help to get me noticed and build an audience for my books.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
"Rebels on the Mountain" is mashup of action adventure and romance during the revolution in Cuba that brought Castro to power.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It took about two years to write "Rebels on the Mountain". Hopefully, I'll gain speed as I gain experience.
What genre would you place your books into?
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?
History. Reality is far more fascinating and far more compelling than anything anyone can fabricate. I have a catalogue of people and events that I have learned of through my studies, many stories previously untold, just waiting for me to get to work on them.
Do you have writing routine?
I study the milieu of the novel – its time and place as well as key historical personalities who will appear and the significant events that attracted me to it. I then sketch the fictional characters and their back stories. Even though the back stories probably will not be mentioned in my book, they bring the fictional characters to life for me.
Once all that is in place, the characters and events tell me the story. I simply transcribe it. Unfortunately, they live only in my head and don't need meals and rest, and they are rarely considerate of those needs in me.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
No. Quite the opposite. For example, the principle character from "Rebels on the Mountain" has refused to “die” and my next novel recounts his experiences in the Korean War, prior to the events in Cuba.
Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter inspired your book?
Hemingway (narrative), Michener (milieu) and Dickens (characters)
What are you currently reading?
Most of my reading these days is limited to historical works about Korea. Even though my novel will occur during a portion of the war, I like to know the background of the place from ancient times to the present day. It gives me insight as to how people there react and what motivates them.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Write. That's it, just write. If you're young and not yet burdened with responsibilities, keep it that way. Otherwise, you may have to wait a long time before you get the time to write...like me.
Thank you so much & good luck with all your books.