Paperback Writers is pleased to announce our author for today, historical fiction author Douglas Carlton Abrams. Doug will share with us his how he came up with the idea for his book. So, grab a cup of coffee or tea and join us for The Lost Diary of Don Juan Virtual Book Tour Interview. Leave a comment and you could win a $50 Amazon gift certificate from Pump Up Your Book Promotion or to those published authors with a recent release a FREE virtual book tour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Douglas Carlton Abrams is a former editor at the University of California Press and Harper SanFrancisco. He is the co-author of a number of books on love, sexuality, and spirituality, including books written with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, and Taoist Master Mantak Chia. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and three children. In his life and work, he is interested in cultivating all aspects of our humanity —body, emotions, mind, and spirit. His goal in writing fiction is to create stories that not only entertain, but also attempt to question, enchant, and transform.
Doug’s desire in writing the book was not only to resurrect this greatest of historical lovers and to give voice to his true motives; he was also moved to write a book that would explore the tension between lust and love and that would confront the human question of how any man or woman can find lifelong satisfaction in one committed relationship. To find out more about the origins of The Lost Diary and the myth of Don Juan, and to learn about forthcoming novels, please visit www.LostDiaryofDonJuan.com or www.DouglasCarltonAbrams.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In a time of discovery and decadence, when the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself, young Juan Tenorio was abandoned and raised by nuns. He grew up loving and worshipping all women, but a clandestine affair with one of the sisters forces him to leave the Church—and his plans for the priesthood—forever. Juan becomes a spy, as well as the world’s greatest libertine. But far from the heartless seducer that legend recounts, he seeks liberation and redemption as much as personal pleasure and gratification. He begins to keep a diary of his greatest adventures and the arts of passion he has mastered. The most dangerous adventure of all—the irresistible fall into the madness of love with the only woman who could ever make him forget all others—finally compels him to confess everything.
Douglas Carlton Abrams’s magical debut novel captures the heart of the Spanish Golden Age and the secret life of the world’s greatest lover—Don Juan—who came to embody the spirit of desire that would inflame the modern age.
“The famously insatiable lover is brought brilliantly to life in this lively, suspenseful debut novel by Abrams (coauthor of The Multi-Orgasmic Couple ; The Multi-Orgasmic Man ). Framed as Don Juan’s long-guarded diary, the narrative picks up at a gallop and never relents…The story unspools with the invigorating trajectory of a thriller and the emotional draw of historical romance.”
Hi Douglas Carlton Abrams,
Welcome to Paperback Writer
Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
It was strange. It was not really a conscious thought. One night I went to bed asking myself a question that I believe every married man or woman asks eventually: how could I stay happily and passionately married for the rest of my life? The next morning I awoke as if I had been shaken. It was then that I first thought of Don Juan, the universal symbol of passion. I wondered what if he had kept a diary. What secrets would it contain? What could we learn from him about the nature of passion? And ultimately, what might cause the world’s greatest seducer to forsake all women for one woman? I left my wife’s warm sleeping body, walked past our three sleeping children, and sat down at the dining room table. It was as if a voice was whispering the story in my ear.
Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
Most of the time, I outline, and it would have saved a lot of time if I had outlined or The Lost Diary, probably about twenty drafts (there were thirty in all)! This story, however, wrote its way through me over the course of a month, so I threw caution and outlining to the wind. But while the Muse is generous, she does not give in final form, so I spent more than four years researching, revising, and deepening the story that I had been given. It felt like Don Juan was giving me his story, and if I was going to tell it, I had to get it right.
Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
No, I definitely did not know the ending, although until I know the ending I’m not really sure what the story is that I’m telling. While I was researching Don Juan, I came across a scholar from the 1700s who said that Don Juan had actually lived and that he had been murdered in the Convento de San Francisco in Seville, Spain. I wanted to know what exactly had happened to him and if indeed he had died on that night. I ended up rewriting the end a dozen times, until I found the one that seemed ‘true.’
Do you have a process for developing your characters?
Many people have said that they feel the characters of The Lost Diary of Don Juan could walk into the room. I think this is what every fiction writer longs for: that their characters live, breathe, argue, sweat, and beckon. I spend a great deal of time exploring characters, their relationships and motivations. One of my writing teachers one gave me the simple formula: physiology (our bodies) + sociology (the world in which we live) = psychology. This has been very helpful understanding my characters. One of the things I love most is that developing characters in historical fiction, no doubt all fiction is really the study of human nature.
It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?
Wonderful question. Yes, I do think we are all exploring aspects of our own psyches or of the human collective as we create fiction. I think our psyches are exploded into numerous characters. I definitely have a part of myself, like all men (and perhaps women) that lusts after life like Don Juan, but there’s also a part of me that is the timid coachman. Most shocking of all was to discover how much of my villains—there are three in the novel—reside in my own mind and heart.
What is your most favorite part about this book?
This is hard. There are so many different parts that I love and so many characters that have become companions. I do love Don Juan’s childhood growing up in a convent, I also like how he learns to become a libertine, as well as his nights in the taverna where he celebrates the return of the galleons with the rest of Sevilla, but one of my favorite scenes is when he takes a slave named Fatima to his rooftop to set her free.
When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
I have worked as a book editor at HarperCollins, so I knew that a novel had to be complete before publishers would consider it. I also knew that I would only have one chance, so I was a bit obsessive my refining of the story. I don’t think I shared it with my agent until about the twenty-third draft. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to others, but I had been writing non-fiction, and I wanted to prove to myself (aren’t we always our harshest critics?) that I could actually do it.
What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
I’ve been writing fiction and wanting to be a fiction writer (perhaps like many) since I was eleven years old, so my life has been littered with stolen moments set aside for writing. I think all writing is a struggle, like wrestling with an angel, trying to win a story worthy of being told, a story that might in some small way approach the beauty, the richness, the complexity, and the impossibility of life. For me, the struggle was about learning the realities of publishing first as an editor and then as an agent, going to work for Rupert Murdoch, and learning about the world of publishing from the belly of the beast. It has helped me immensely in understanding the often bewildering world of publishing to have sat on the other side of the desk, and to know that behind every rejection are a million reasons that have nothing to do with the work itself.
What has been the best part about being published?
The best part of getting published was hearing from readers what the story has meant to them and how it has affected their lives. To my amazement the story has now been published in over 30 languages, including Spanish. I went to Spain for the publication there and with my Spanish guide, led two-dozen Spanish journalists through the alleyways of history, showing them around Seville and the Golden Age world of Don Juan. As I was writing, I always had nightmares that the Spanish literary world would condemn the novel, but what was truly amazing was having these journalists wait in a long line to tell me their favorite characters and lines from the book. It was really beyond my wildest dreams.
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
For me, Don Juan is not just about sexuality, romance, and passion, he is a symbol of the passionate embrace of life itself, and I hope that readers will take into their own lives this way of being in the world. Of course, the book is also about the marriage of love and lust, and I hope readers will see in Don Juan’s journey a mirror into their own lives that will deepen both for them.
Do you have plans to write another book?
The publisher asked for a two-book contract, so as soon as The Lost Diary was done, I was off on the next. To my shock, another story was waiting to be told, which had nothing to do with Don Juan. It’s been a completely different writing process, which I’m looking forward to discussing with you soon. The book, also an adventure thriller, is about a love even more powerful than passionate love.
Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
It’s been great working with Dorothy. Her enthusiasm, persistence, and energy are really impressive.
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
The book is available at bookstores everywhere (I’m a big supporter of local bookstores, which I think are much more than stores—they are hubs of culture) but also online and at the chains.
Do you have a website for readers to go to?
www.LostDiaryofDonJuan.com and they can read a free sample at www.DonJuanSample.com
Thank you, Doug, for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.
THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on September 2, ’08 and end on September 26, ’08. You can visit the Douglas’ tour stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in September to find out more about him and his new book!
As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.wordpress.com on September 26!