Heart of Diamonds – Author Interview – Dave Donelson

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heart-of-diamondsPaperback Writer would like to introduce our author for today, Dave Donelson, author of the romantic thriller, Heart of Diamonds as he virtually tours the blogosphere promoting his book with Pump Up Your Book. For those readers who leave a comment Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops.

Dave Donelson’s career as a broadcaster, entrepreneur, and writer has taken him from the jungles of Australia’s Cape York Peninsula to the minarets of Riyadh. He’s climbed the spire of the Empire State Building, floated the Usumacinta River to the Mayan ruins at Piedras Negras in Guatemala, and photographed the tree-climbing lions and mountain gorillas of Uganda.
Dave’s inquisitive, active lifestyle finds its way into freelance writing and photographic assignments for magazines like Disney’s FamilyFun, Woodworker’s Journal, and Las Vegas Magazine. Closer to home he writes features for Westchester Magazine as well as a regular column on golf. He is a member of the prestigious Metropolitan Golf Writers Association.
His first novel, Hunting Elf, began as an audio book at www.huntingelf.com and was published as a trade paperback in 2006. K9 Perspective called it “…a delicious romp through the suburbs of New York.”
Dave’s first book was Creative Selling (Entrepreneur Press, 2000), a non-fiction prescriptive described by Brian Tracy as “…a terrific book on selling.” As a business journalist, he writes for The Christian Science Monitor, Family Business Magazine, and dozens of trade publications serving industries from the automotive aftermarket to sporting goods retailing.
Dave has a BA in Rhetoric and Public Address from Missouri Western State University. He serves as a Trustee for the Westchester Library System, a consortium of 38 public libraries serving Westchester County, NY. He lives in West Harrison, NY, with his wife, Nora, and an ever-changing roster of dogs and cats.
Visit www.davedonelson.com for a selection of Dave’s work. You’ll also find him on MySpace, Facebook, Gather, and Amazon.

Heart of Diamonds implicates an American televangelist, the President of the Congo, and the American White House in a diamond smuggling scheme that leads to U.S. military involvement in the Congo’s civil war. TV journalist Valerie Grey uncovers the conspiracy and tries to expose it before America is drawn fully into the endless war. Powerful forces—a ruthless mercenary, the Congolese army, and cold-blooded agents sent by the White House—try to stop her in a magnificent chase along crocodile-infested rivers, overland through raging gun battles, and into the sky in armed helicopters. A big romantic love triangle propels the main characters and adds depth to the book.
The intricate story opens as, passed over for a promotion in New York, Valerie Grey takes an assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the brutal civil war is escalating and rebel assaults are increasing. After surviving an artillery attack in the capital, Valerie meets an American doctor who operates a small clinic in a remote part of the country. She learns that an American televangelist has recently bought the local diamond mine, once nationalized by the Congolese government.

Intrigued by the notion of a church running a diamond mine, Valerie and her crew travel to the distant village to investigate, she is appalled by the conditions endured by the mine workers. There is evidence of torture. They are forced to live in a virtual prison, with no freedom to visit their families. The missionary who oversees the mine is strangely unsympathetic to the plight of the workers, and that of the many orphaned children who survive only because of the small clinic in the village.

Her suspicions deepen when she sees the women of the village making small dolls out of scraps of cloth and stuffing them with a special “American filling.” Armed guards watch over the women. Each doll must be logged twice as it is completed. The level of security surrounding such trinkets is beyond her understanding. That is, until she discovers what is in the “American filling,” and where the dolls are sent.

When the US president announces that thirty thousand American troops will go to the Congo to protect American interests, Valerie knows she must tell the world what “interests” the president means.

The novel comes to its tragic climax as Valerie and her crew, the American doctor and several children desperately flee rebel soldiers, the diamond mine’s mercenaries and US agents sent to kill Valerie. Heart of Diamonds is a fast-paced thriller and heartbreaking romantic adventure set in one of the world’s most unfortunate countries.

Hi Dave,

Welcome to Paperback Writer

Paperback Writer: PBW: Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?

Dave Donelson: DD: Heart of Diamonds is a romantic thriller that was inspired by a real story. It began when I read a Time Magazine article about the bizarre avaricious relationship between the famous televangelist Pat Robertson and Mobutu Sese-Seko, the dictator who raped the Congo for more than thirty years. When I read that Pat Robertson owned a diamond mine Africa—probably worked by near-slave labor—I just had to write a book.

PBW: Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

DD: I outline and plan my books in great detail, although they are revised extensively as I go along. I find I need a plan or I waste a lot of time day-dreaming.

PBW: Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?

DD: I couldn’t have written Heart of Diamonds without knowing how it was going to end. There are too many interrelated elements: a high concept plot about a diamond smuggling scheme that stretches from the Congo to the White House via a televangelist in Atlanta; a big romantic love triangle that includes the heroine, TV reporter Valerie Grey, her mentor David Powell, and altruistic doctor Jaime Talon. Then there is the heartbreaking perpetual humanitarian crisis in the Congo. If I didn’t know where the story was going from the beginning, I would have gotten lost writing it.

PBW: Do you have a process for developing your characters?

DD: Fully-developed characters are very important to Heart of Diamonds. I wrote complete bios for all the major characters and most of the minor ones before I even started outlining. Most of that material never made it into the book, but it helped me understand the characters and served as a reality check when it came to deciding how they would act and interact.

PBW: It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

DD: There is very little of “me” in my characters—at least not intentionally. There are bits and pieces of lots of other people in Heart of Diamonds, though. I know many professionals in the news business from my previous career in television, for example. And I met some really interesting people when I went to Africa to research the book.

PBW: What is your most favorite part about this book?

DD: There is a scene just before the climax that I’m particularly proud of. It is where Valerie and Jaime discover a family that has just been massacred by rebels. It is not a pretty scene, but it is very realistic and reveals a lot about the characters and how they act in the world where they live.

PBW: When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?

DD: I didn’t begin looking for a publisher until Heart of Diamonds was completed. It is a debut novel, so it would have been impossible to sell it otherwise.

PBW: What struggles have you had on the road to being published?

DD: Getting published takes an immense amount of perseverance. I queried over 200 agents before I made a deal directly with the publisher, Kunati Books.

PBW: What has been the best part about being published?

DD: I have been able to use Heart of Diamonds to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in the Congo. In the process, I have made many new friends who share my strong feelings about the endless war there where nearly six million people have died.

PBW: What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?

DD: Heart of Diamonds is fiction, but it reflects the reality of how unbridled greed feeds horrible brutality. The only way such evil can be defeated is when individuals like Valerie Grey stand up to it. I also hope my readers will become aware of the real effects of war on common people—the thousands of death from starvation, disease, and sheer despair of life without hope.

PBW: Do you have plans to write another book?

DD: Valerie Grey is the perfect protagonist for a series of romantic thrillers. In her next adventure, which I’ve already started, she takes on Central American drug lords and their gangs in the United States.

PBW: Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?

DD: The virtual book tour has been a lot of fun and Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been great to work with. Dorothy is very responsive and tends, I think, to under-promise and over-deliver.

PBW: Where can readers find a copy of your book?

DD: Heart of Diamonds is available at brick and mortar stores in the U.S. and Canada and at Amazon and other online retailers around the world.

PBW: Do you have a website for readers to go to?

DD: You can learn more about me, Heart of Diamonds, and the people of the Congo at www.heartofdiamonds.com. I also blog at many places including http://heartofdiamonds.blogspot.com.

Thank you, Dave, 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.

HEART OF DIAMONDS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 officially began on November 3 and end on November 26. You can visit Dave’s blog stops at www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.wordpress.com in November to find out more about his latest book!

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