On Wednesday, December 3rd, I was invited to participate in a group interview with none other than the prolific author, David Baldacci. His latest release, The Escape, was in stores on November 18th, but did you also know that he published his first-ever young adult fantasy story in March? Holly read The Finisher and loved it.
There were several other bloggers on the phone in addition to Mr. Baldacci, his editor Rachel Griffiths, and the mediator at Big Honcho Media, Brittany Kabeck. We covered both of his new novels, his literacy foundation, and so much more. Here are some of the highlights:
Rachel Griffiths: So, another thing that is particularly interesting to me, David, is that you chose to write a fantasy novel….You’re so beloved for your thrillers and known for kind of owning this one genre, and then you wrote something completely different, a young adult fantasy novel. And I just–I’ve always been curious as to why you did that.
David Baldacci:Well, as a kid growing up, I read a lot of fantasy and I’d always loved that. And I’ve always felt that a writer, if you don’t stretch, you sort of wither on the vine. So, for me, it was a challenge to get out of my comfort zone and write in a genre and in a way that I’d never written about before.
It took me five years to do this book, and four and a half years was sort of banging my head against the wall and trying to get the story and the characters and everything right so I could really sit down and write this book the way I wanted to write.
So, it was just a new direction for me. But, unlike most other occupations where you get really good at something because you do it over and over again and work all the errors out of it, as a writer, you get better when you do something different. I get to use my imagination. You know, I–really, I’m prolific because I’m just a kid. I’m a seven-year-old boy looking at a blank piece of paper, exercising my imagination. And that’s really what I do. And I call it a job, but it’s really not.
Candace:My name is Candace, but I blog at Beth Fish Reads and I’m a big fan of yours…And my question actually has less to do with you as an author. I’m more–I’m interested in the literacy foundation that you and your wife started called Wish You Well. And I wondered if you can tell us something about that and how we can help or contribute or get involved.
David Baldacci: We have–well, first of all, we have a website, it’s Wishyouwellfoundation.org, that has a lot of information about that. And we have a full-time director who runs that philanthropic arm for us.
The foundation’s been in existence for about 15 years. My wife and I founded it, and really based on our immersion in the issues of illiteracy in the United States. We have a huge illiteracy problem here. We turn out a million high school dropouts a year.
Socioeconomically, they are not going to be in good shape. We have 100 million adults, about half the adult population, who read at below acceptable literacy levels. And really their potential is going to be curtailed because of that.
So, what we do is we fund literacy organization programs across the United States. And we have funded programs in virtually all 50 states and counting, and will continue to do so. We have a Board of Directors. We meet six times a year. We receive about 5,000 applications for funding from across the country, which is quite a few applications to go through, but we look through every single one of them.
We also have a book collection drive as well. It’s called Feeding Body and Mind. We are partnered with Feeding America, which runs all the nation’s food banks. And we collect books during my tours, and then we ship them to food banks across the country. People going in to seek food assistance tend to have low literacy skills. And sending them home with books is always a good thing, and we’ve shipped out over a million books in the last four years.
And last but not least, my question:
Michelle : I know a lot of us on the phone have–are constantly asked how [we] fit everything in. How do [we] fit in reading? How do [we] fit in [our] regular jobs? How do [we]…find time to do it all?
And knowing that you practiced law while you were writing your first novel, knowing what time it entails, being a lawyer, I’m curious…how you did it, first of all, and what advice you would give people who are just struggling to find time to do what they want to do or to, you know, squeeze in time for something that they–you know, maybe write a novel, find time to read a book, go run that marathon, or something that they want to do but the excuse is always “I don’t have time.”
David Baldacci: Yeah, I wrote in the middle of the night when I was practicing law. And I did that for about 11 years. But, it wasn’t draconian for me because that was the outlet. That was my time where I could write what I wanted to write, not what a client was paying me to write.
I think, for me, I compartmentalize really well. This last year I’ve written two books simultaneously, one the sequel to The Finisher and another was the adult thriller that’ll be coming out in April of next year.
But, I think if you pick a time, whether it be 10 minutes or 30 minutes or 45 minutes during the course of the day and actually make a date with yourself, it makes it harder to come up with an excuse saying you don’t have time to do that. So, just have a specified period of time set aside. And you go down at that time when you do it. And when the time is up, you get up from your chair and go off and do something else. It’s almost like you’re making an appointment with a doctor, but actually it’s just an appointment with yourself and giving yourself that time slot.
And you’re much more likely to fulfill it just because people like to meet their obligations they’ve made. So, that would be my advice, anyway.
The entire experience was amazing, and I still cannot believe I got to talk to David Baldacci! I’ll have a link to the full interview on the site starting tomorrow. In the meantime, go check out The Escape and The Finisher! I know you won’t be disappointed!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Baldacci is a global #1 bestselling author. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print; several have been adapted for both feature film and television. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit him at www.DavidBaldacci.com and his foundation at www.WishYouWellFoundation.org.
Visit David Baldacci’s website
Find David Baldacci on Facebook