This week, I am pleased to feature an interview with author Daniel Alexander. Daniel joins me to talk about his book, Through the Crimson Mirror. Please tell us a little about your book. You seem to have taken a common enough topic, parenting, and put an entirely unique spin in it by writing from the point of view if a child. What prompted you to write on this topic and from this point of view?
Hi Michele and readers
Communication is supposed to be a two way street, and for a long time society adopted the attitude of, “children are to be seen and not heard.” We’ve missed a vitally important side of the parent / child communication model, and we’re seeing the ripple effects of that now. I don’t how it is overseas, but here in South Africa, people in the know (educators, people who work with children, etc.), know something is wrong. Sadly, it’s been teachers who have bought the bulk of my books, and not parents. I chatted with a principal from a private school yesterday, and they actually offer ground-level parenting classes to supplement children’s education today. It’s not only children who have many lessons to learn today, it’s parents.
What research, if any, did you do to write this book?
I did plenty research. I’ve read many books on the subjects about which I speak. In addition, I interviewed people. Often in society, we view problems in isolation. A drug addict is a drug addict because they take drugs. That is not the full picture though. There is so much more to that story. So, I didn’t confine my interviews to teachers and other who work with children. I interviewed psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and others who work in the mental health industry. Also, people who work with children who have learning challenges such as ADHD, dyslexia, etc. In addition, I spoke to alcoholics, drugs addicts, and I have an opportunity to speak to prisoners in prison. I want to find the road map that leads a person to become an alcoholic or a criminal. And there is a road map, which sadly we are overlooking.
When I first saw the title, it made me think of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I’m probably way off base. Can you explain the significance of the title?
There has been some controversy with the title. I’m glad it sparked some kind of feeling in you. It’s so sad today that we must choose titles, not only for books, that have good “keywords,” just to make them sellable. You almost can’t be an “artist” anymore; you have to be a marketer. So sad… My title has meaning. The ‘mirror’ part, because I believe most of the answers are within us. And the ‘crimson’ part, because it’s the color of blood, and this isn’t a happy book. It’s real; it deals with real issues that most of us face, even if we don’t want to admit it.
Interesting. How did you come up with the title, then?
One of my editors helped me a lot with the title. He didn’t give me the words, but he guided me. He advised me what I needed to brainstorm a little more about something. He just made sure that I really put effort and thought into the title. The rest was just a little brainstorming and waiting for the right words to come to mind. Writing a book takes many months (years for some), so the title isn’t something that needs to be rushed. When it’s time to come out, it will.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
Definitely! There are many messages. I can’t tell you them now as that would defeat the point of reading the book.
Are the events in your book or your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes, everything is real and based on my experiences.
To what groups of people does your book appeal?
Parents, people who grew up in dysfunctional homes, people who are searching for answers, educators and others who work with children, people in the mental health industry and others.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
For a long time I wanted to write a book. I’ve always felt like there was something that needed to come out, but the idea was not yet complete. There were still pieces of the puzzle missing.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?
I don’t know if I can call this a process, I just wrote! When I had the ideas, they just came out and I could just write. We all get ideas. What I used to do was carry around a book (I still do) and anything that popped into my head, I would write it down. Then when I got home, I had plenty of ideas and information about which I could write. I never ran out of ideas that way.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m always thinking of new ideas. There is one idea specifically about communication (communication is one of my chapters) that I wish I had thought of a few months ago. We live and learn though, and that idea will make it into the second edition.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I think it’s a good story. Some argue that good writing is about style, grammar, punctuation, spelling and all that other nonsense. What about some blogs today; some are so “terribly” written, but the story is incredible. People can fix the above problems. However, there are only a few people with genuinely interesting stories to tell. I think there are plenty of writers out there with a very mediocre story, who can follow all the rules and think it makes for good reading. Often in society, we like to live in boxes. Just by the by, this doesn’t mean I didn’t pay attention to grammar and spelling. I put a lot of effort into that and what I missed, my editors and proofreaders found.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Something had gone wrong in society. Let’s do something about it before it’s too late. All the things that we don’t want to talk about in society are on the rise: alcoholism, drug use, abortions, crime, poverty. Don’t take my word for it, go find a study about it. In addition, all these issues are linked, and the reality is they are becoming a problem in every community. Don’t wait until it happens to you or your children. People love to complain about government and all sorts of other problem.However, the reality is most of these problems start at home. Let’s change our homes and rid our world of a lot of these problems.
To connect with Daniel on the web:
To purchase a copy of Through the Crimson Mirror: