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01 Jun

Between playing video games and writing novels… who says it’s not related? This interview with Dan Heiser explains how.

JR: Tell us about yourself, and how would you describe yourself?

Dan: I’m a 24-year-old historical fiction author. I am a full time author and full time student. I am to graduate from Full Sail University in November with a Bachelor’s in Game Design. Now that’s a contradiction a historical fiction author studying game design? Well it works like this, my writing has only most recently turned into a potential full time job only recently. I have been writing forever, but only as a hobby. After I graduated high school and went to Flagler College for two years before running away to Ireland for the summer, I studied history. When I returned to the states at the end of the summer I decided not to return to Flagler and took a gap year off. When I found out that I wanted to study game design I got back into school, but never stopped writing. Finally my last year at University and I can finally say I’m a twice-published author. My goal is once I graduate to continue with my writing and publish more novels while at the same time creating video games for some big company.

JR: Do you have any formal education in creative writing? Do you think formal education in writing is necessary?

Dan: I don’t have much of a formal education in creative writing, but I do have some. The two years at Flagler College I minored in creative writing. Now, honestly in my opinion, this education has neither helped nor hindered my writing. The classes I took during those two years were focused on creating stories, scripts, or poems. There was no major focus of writing properly with little to no grammatical issues. So in my opinion, no formal education in writing is not necessary to be a published author. It may help a little but not much.

JR: Are you a full-time author? Do you have other activities as main source of income? How do you organise your schedule and time in writing a book?

Dan: I like to consider myself as a full-time author, but I do have a part time job to help give me some income until I can afford to make a living off my books. While balancing a part time job, full time author, and school sounds difficult, it really isn’t. There are 168 hours in a week, it’s all time management. I tend to write early in the morning or late at night while throughout the day I’ll either work or do schoolwork. On my days off I’ll write more and do school work. But it all comes down to time management. Before bed I like to plan my next day. I mentally make note of what I would do throughout the day. I do this to make my schedule flexible that way if I’m enjoying my writing and getting really into it I can push back the schedule by an hour or two and simply adjust the schedule. Unless I have work, that’s one thing I cannot be flexible with, that time slot is set in stone, but it’s only part time so it doesn’t consume my day.

JR: What made you decide to start writing something? What or who influences you?

Dan: For me to write anything I have to have an interest in that era of history. My most recent piece ‘Where I’ve Been’ is a World War I historical fiction. To be honest, I was never into World War I, until I started playing one particular video game. Battlefield 1. I was playing the intro to the game and every time your character dies a name, year they were born, and year they died were placed on the screen. The game was some effect on me that I wanted to start learning about those who fought and died during the Great War. While I grew interested in this subject the idea of Where I’ve Been popped into my head and I began writing.

JR: Do you ever face Writer’s Block? If you do, how did you overcome the situation?

Dan: I, for one, do not believe Writer’s Block exists. It is a state of mind. Writer’s Block is the form of being completely uninspired to write. And no matter how much you write it, it does not come out write. How I get past these moments of dullness is by writing something completely different. I tend to walk away from the current project entirely and put it on hold for a while until the inspiration returns. Often if I don’t want to walk away from the project I’ll listen to music, watch a few documentaries on the subject I’m writing about or read a few books to get the wheels spinning again.

JR: How many books have you written (published and non-published)?

Dan: Currently I have two published novels, one in the works, and several that will never see the light of day. My debut book is a historical fiction on Titanic entitled ‘These Four Days’. While my most recent work is Where I’ve Been, a historical fiction on World War I.

JR: What genre that you normally write, and what draws you to this genre? Do you always write in the same genre?

Dan: My genre I tend to stick with is historical fiction. I’ve always been into studying history as long as I could remember starting with Titanic, hence my first book. I haven’t always written in this genre sometimes I dabble in fantasy or thrillers but I tend to never finish them. That’s the reason I work in historical fiction, because I know for a fact I will finish writing the novel. When I don’t know where to go with my works I simply go to history and see where the novel can and cannot go.

JR: Of all the books that you have written down, which book that you think the best one? And what do you think readers will find most appealing about this book? What’s the “real story” behind this book?

Dan: Currently my newly released novel ‘Where I’ve Been’ is my best work. I feel I did a good job portraying the second battle of Arras and the last battle of Cambrai during the Great War. The goal was to show a young man fresh to war mature through the war and I honestly feel I achieved that. With all my writing I strive for my next novel to be better than my latest.

JR: Any other works in progress?

Dan: Currently I have just recently started on my next project with an idea forming for a potential side project while I work on the main one. My next novel will be that of an ex-Brit German Spy during the beginning of World War II living in Bristol.

JR: What advice would you want to give to an aspiring writer?

Dan: It’s an incredibly cheesy saying, but it’s true. The world is your oyster. There is no limitations on writing as long as you have passion, perseverance, and strive you can write. Be able to tell a compelling story and be proud of it. There will always be people telling you that you can’t but if you say you can then you’re right. Strive to write something good. Then strive to write something better. I recently came across an old story I wrote when I was about 13 and honestly it’s terrible. The story was all over the road but although it was all over the road there was still a somewhat good story there. As long as you can tell a story that someone wants to hear then you’re in business. And there is always SOMEONE willing to listen.

JR: How can readers discover more about you and your works?

Dan: I can be found in a few places on the Internet. Predominantly on my website heiserdan.com, followed by my author page Facebook: Dan Heiser, then Instagram: lesmisphan13, and of course where all my published work can be found Amazon: amazon.com/author/danheiser.