The Writing Life of: David Litwack
The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.
Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.
There Comes a Prophet is his first novel in this new stage of life.
David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.
1) Do you remember the moment you decided that you would like to become a writer?
The urge to write first struck me at age sixteen when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine.
It may have been the wild night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by the northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. The next day, I had a column published under my byline, and I was hooked.
2) How did you go about following your dream?
I started writing when I was sixteen and took writing courses in college. Throughout my twenties, I religiously wrote five pages a day, until career and family intervened, Then I basically gave up, frustrated with my lack of progress.
Thirty years later, with career done and family grown, I had no intention of writing again. But once I had time to daydream again, the ideas started to flow. That’s why I call myself “the once and future writer.”
3) Is there a particular author that inspires you?
There are so many I love that have influenced my writing. I have always read cross genre. When I became an avid reader in my teens, I devoured fantasy and science fiction, but also literary fiction.
I loved the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and of course, Tolkien, but also of Hemingway and Steinbeck.
If you forced me to name a book I wish I wrote, I think it would be a composite of Clarke’s The City and the Stars and Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls—a story beautifully written, with a fantastic alternate world, lofty themes, and intense characters who believe passionately in their cause.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any strange writing habits?
I aim for two sessions a day of two hours each, but it varies with the stage of a novel.
First drafts are hard, and I might go days without writing, and then get inspired and do three sessions in a day. Editing is different. I’ll sometimes edit ten hours a day, especially in later drafts and when a deadline is looming.
Our house in Florida came with a furnished office where I do my writing. While I was at first not enamored with the Caribbean décor (lots of parrots), I felt better after touring Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West, the site where he wrote some of my favorite books.
This picture is of the giant parrot that sits on a brass swing in my office above the desk. Since our trip to Key West, I’ve given him the nickname Ernest.
5) Do you write Longhand, Type writer, Computer?
In my youth, I used a typewriter, carbon paper and white-out (for those who remember). Thank goodness, never again. With my constant need to revise and my poor typing skills, it’s the word processor for me.
6) From all your books, do you have a favourite character?
I used to say that my favorite was Kailani from "The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky".
She’s so mysterious, but at the same time wise, naïve and vulnerable. But now that I’m nearly done with the Seekers series, I think I’d say Orah.
She’s smart and passionate in her beliefs, and a natural leader but one who always doubts herself and questions her decisions—a trait that would be a good thing in some of our real world leaders.
7) Do you plot your books completely before hand or do you let your imagination flow whilst in the writing process?
I usually conceive of a new book as a series of images and scenes, daydreaming about them while I finish work on the prior novel.
I maintain a notes file for the new novel and do a rough draft of these scenes—a very rough draft, what some people call “scaffolding” or “riff writing” like improvisation in jazz. The file can get pretty chaotic. Every now and then I make a feeble attempt to organize it (when I’m finishing up a novel, I try to avoid distractions and stay focused on getting it out to the publisher).
By the time I’m ready to start the new novel, I usually have about 20,000 words of loosely connected prose—20-25% of the eventual novel but probably 80% of its essence. I take a couple of months to read, edit and organize that file into a dense plot outline. Then I start a new file from scratch, cutting and pasting prose as appropriate.
It’s a messy process in the early going, but unlike those who start with a more organized outline, I need that amount of writing to get to know the characters and live in the story.
Concerning your latest book:
The Seekers Book One
Author – David Litwack
Publisher – Evolved Publishing
Release Date – 22nd June 2015
“But what are we without dreams?”
A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a terrible time of violence, fear, and social collapse when technology ran rampant. But the vicars of the Temple of Light brought peace, ushering in an era of blessed simplicity.
For ten centuries they have kept the madness at bay with “temple magic,” and by eliminating forever the rush of progress that nearly caused the destruction of everything.
Childhood friends, Orah and Nathaniel, have always lived in the tiny village of Little Pond, longing for more from life but unwilling to challenge the rigid status quo.
When their friend Thomas returns from the Temple after his “teaching”—the secret coming-of-age ritual that binds young men and women eternally to the Light—they barely recognize the broken and brooding young man the boy has become. Then when Orah is summoned as well, Nathaniel follows in a foolhardy attempt to save her.
In the prisons of Temple City, they discover a terrible secret that launches the three on a journey to find the forbidden keep, placing their lives in jeopardy, for a truth from the past awaits that threatens the foundation of the Temple. If they reveal that truth, they might once again release the potential of their people.
Yet they would also incur the Temple’s wrath as it is written: “If there comes among you a prophet saying, ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the Light.”
8) How long did it take to get from the ideas stage, to the date of publication?
The Seeker series started out as a standalone novel called "There Comes a Prophet".
The initial idea came to me about eight years ago, and it was published in 2011. After producing two other novels, I decided at the urging of readers to go back and turn this standalone dystopian story into a trilogy. Prophet became "The Children of Darkness"(with a changed title, cover and publisher) and I’ve just published the second book, "The Stuff of Stars".
I’m hard at work on the third and final offering, to be called "The Light of Reason".
9) Did you suffer from writer’s block at any stage? How did you overcome it?
I sometimes think writer’s block is just another way of saying that writing a novel is really hard.
I try to keep writing, even if I think it’s going poorly. Then I see how it looks the next day. I remind myself that I can always revise or just throw it away. Nothing’s worse than staring at a blank page.
Long walks are another good way to get the creative juices going. Whatever the case, I try to avoid just sitting there and staring at the screen. Write, read or go for a walk.
10) How did you come up with the name(s)for your lead character(s)?
Names matter, especially for a SciFi/Fantasy writer building new worlds.
The names need to be consistent and reflect that culture. For the Seekers trilogy, where the people have been forcibly returned to something like our 15th century, I found the passenger manifest for the Mayflower, and borrowed names, mixing up first and last names to get ones like Nathaniel Rush or Thomas Bradford. All except for Orah.
I wanted her to be different, a rebellious throwback to an earlier time. So rather than picking from the Anglo-Saxon, I chose a name with Hebrew roots. As an added subtlety, the name Orah means light.
11) If your book was made in to a film, who would you love to play the lead character(s)?
12) Did you get anyone in particular to read your work before sending it to the publisher i.e family member, friend etc?
My wife reads everything I write once I get to a middling draft. In addition, for a number of years I belonged to a writing group. Then the final line of defense is an independent editor.
Other books by David
A world kept peaceful for a thousand years by the magic of the ruling vicars. But a threat lurks from a violent past. Wizards from the darkness have hidden their sorcery in a place called the keep, and left a trail of clues that have never been solved.
Nathaniel has grown up longing for more, but unwilling to challenge the vicars. Until his friend Thomas is taken for a teaching, the mysterious coming-of-age ritual. Thomas returns but with his dreams ripped away. When Orah is taken next, Nathaniel tries to rescue her and ends up in the prisons of Temple City. There he meets the first keeper of the ancient clues. But when he seeks the keep, what he finds is not magic at all.
If he reveals the truth, the words of the book of light might come to pass:
“If there comes among you a prophet saying ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light.”
A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds…
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he’s a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he’s inhabiting two separate realities.
The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse–and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul.
While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission–a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory–and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.
After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light-two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.
Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena’s plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions.
These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena’s home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.
A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom.
But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever… and perhaps their world as well.
“But what are we without dreams?”
Against all odds, Orah and Nathaniel have found the keep and revealed the truth about the darkness, initiating what they hoped would be a new age of enlightenment. But the people were more set in their ways than anticipated, and a faction of vicars whispered in their ears, urging a return to traditional ways.
Desperate to keep their movement alive, Orah and Nathaniel cross the ocean to seek the living descendants of the keepmasters’ kin. Those they find on the distant shore are both more and less advanced than expected.
The seekers become caught between the two sides, and face the challenge of bringing them together to make a better world. The prize: a chance to bring home miracles and a more promising future for their people. But if they fail this time, they risk not a stoning but losing themselves in the twilight of a never-ending dream.