Writing Superheroes: Dan Jorgensen

Genetically endowed with his superpowers, this hero passes his off duty time as ‘Clark Kent’.  Read on and find out more…

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If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

 

I’ve thought more about this in recent years and realize that the genesis of my writing goes back to my early days on our farm/ranch in South Dakota where my mother would thrust books into my and my brothers’ hands and say “Read, read, read.  We may not have money to travel or do things, but you can learn about the world if you can read.”  Out of that grew both my love of good literature (and probably a lot of bad stuff, too) and the desire to write some of it myself (the good kind).  But mine would be a “two-part” origin, leapfrogging ahead from those early days to my high school years.  There, it would focus on my second “origin influencer,” Mrs. Hoover, my high school English teacher.  She encouraged me to read beyond my years and write whenever I could, telling me that I had a talent for writing and should develop it.  And then she helped me by encouraging the things that I was writing.  I still have some of them and, yes, they were pretty awful.  I’m keeping them locked away in a deep, dark vault where they can NEVER be used to blackmail me.

 

All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.

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I always thought Superman’s alter ego was a pretty cool guy and he was a writer!  I used to bounce around the farmstead wearing an old towel as a “cape” and pretending I was Superman.  But, whenever I was getting ready to write, I slipped into my Clark Kent persona and went to work.  Thus, I even amazed myself when journalism became my very first writing profession. 

 

Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?

My wife Susan has the superpowers of “organizational skill” and “in-depth perception” – able to see tiny nuances that add the depth and sparkle to the back story or support materials.  I’ve relied on her assistance to gather those tasty morsels that make the story into a feast (well, so to speak.  🙂

 

Where do you get your superpowers from?

Definitely in the genes.  My grandparents and parents were great oral storytellers and both my grandmother and mother were expressive and detailed letter writers and shared that skill with me, too.  I could sit and listen for hours as my grandfather and father spun tales of their own childhoods and about the land around us.  Neither one went past 8th grade for their education, but they were wise, wise, wise in what they knew and how to share it with others.

 

Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?

Not much of a lair I’m afraid, but a nice “den” to which I retreat and write both creatively and for the magazines and journals that I assist with feature stories and news stories.  Directly in front of me is a Harvey Dunn painting called “Home From School,” showing two kids heading home through the 1890s prairie from their one-room country school – a school remarkably like the one I myself attended through the 8th grade.  On another wall is a painting by Western artist Rusty Phelps picturing a mountain man in the Colorado wilderness.  My desk is a homemade piece created out of a cottonwood tree by a retired rancher who lived near Hot Springs, SD, the setting for my new novel And The Wind Whispered.  It’s a beautiful and rugged piece that in itself probably could serve as the basis for a story, as could the man who created it – already in his 80s when I first knew him and who had lived from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries on the land straddling the southern Black Hills and Pine Ridge Reservation.

 

What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

What every good “super” writer does, of course – write each and every day.  When my powers seem to be waning for my creative side, all I have to do is open my blog “A Writer’s Moment” and start working on a daily offering to share with the world.  The “process” of putting myself before the keyboard and tapping out the words – even if they’re as mundane as “It was a dark and stormy night” – always gets the blood stirred up and the juices flowing. 

 

Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

It would look like a hard-boiled 1930s or early 1940s newspaper reporter, notepad at ready, pencil in hand (and another in the hatband of course), and a camera to “freeze” the world from that moment so that I could perfectly share it with my readers.   I’ve always thought that the press people from that era had a glamorous life with excellent costumes with that cool “press” badge – either on their lapels or in their hats – that allowed them access to the heart of everything going on around them. 

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

Not having the luxury of enough time because “making a living” always seems to get in the way of “having the writer’s life” I’d love to be able to live.  And, then, procrastination.  It’s so easy to say “I’ll get at that tomorrow.”  Or, “I’ll do that as soon as I spend a little more time researching this or reviewing that.”  And then the time has slipped away and the moment has been lost.

 

What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

Bad heart.  Not in a “bad” way, just in a “not functioning the way it should, way.” For years my “partner in crime” (wife Susan) and I had been assembling the notes, background and information to write the book.  We kept gathering, but I didn’t do the writing.  And then I had a “writer’s moment.”  Chest pain sent me to the hospital where the doctor said words like “hanging by a thread” and “immediate bypass surgery needed.”  I promised the doctor, my wife, and myself that if I survived, writing that historical novel would finally begin.  I did and it did and the book finally moved from concept to reality.

 

What important lessons have you learned along the way?

That you probably never can do enough research, but that you also have to learn when to say “Okay, I have enough to effectively and creatively tell my story, so I need to get to it.”  I’ve also learned the importance of good time management and balancing my real life with the worlds I’m dealing with in my writing.

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

Meeting interesting people who, are more than willing to share their time, their expertise and their friendship with you if you simply are willing to ask.  And having the opportunity to travel to the places I read about as the small boy on that remote South Dakota farm/ranch.  Being a writer, I’ve found, has opened more doors to people, places and opportunities than any other profession I could have selected, because it puts you in the position of being the chronicler of other lives, activities, and things to do and see, and people usually like that. 

 

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

Now that I’ve gotten into the historical fiction genre/ (although I’ve sort-of hybridized it by weaving in the elements of mystery and drama), I found that I not only enjoy writing about other eras but also enjoy finding out more about them and using my “super-power” reporting skills to dig deep into things that have been hidden or simply not shared before.  So, I wish I had started writing in this genre’ 20 or 30 years earlier because now I see so many things I’d like to do – and probably don’t have the years left to do them all.  (Hmmm, time to train a new and younger “sidekick” to help carry things forward).

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

It’s an old cliché but it’s true:  First, write what you know.  Your own story or that of who you are and where you came from not only provides fodder for your writing, but also gets the writing juices flowing so you can say “What if?” or “How can I adapt that?” or “I wonder why?”  Once you have the questions, the adventure of digging out the answers provides much grist for the writing mill.

 

Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

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 If you like historical fiction blended with an intriguing murder mystery and punctuated by adventure, drama and humor; if you like powerful female personalities that dive into the action and lead rather than follow; if you like feisty, believable protagonists who work within a plot that holds no boundaries; and if you like learning about the ‘back stories’ that laid the groundwork for some of the real life stories in the booming 1890s Black Hills and reverberated across the nation, then And The Wind Whispered is a book to add to your library.   Add in scenes and impressions that sparkle with life, unexpected encounters with a virtual “Who’s Who of the Wild West,” and a search for a missing shipment of gold bullion, and you’ve got a fun, exciting and interesting read waiting for you.

 

And The Wind Whispered, set in the southern Black Hills area of Wind Cave, Buffalo Gap and Hot Springs, brings together Nellie Bly, Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Theodore Roosevelt with an erstwhile group of locals led by teenage sisters Minnie and Laura Thompson and their Native American “brother” Alvin Twocrow, and a host of others, to both resolve the mystery and overcome the threat of a vicious outlaw gang terrorizing the region.  It’s an adventuresome romp you won’t want to miss!

 

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

Now that I’ve dived headfirst into the historical fiction genre’ in a region that I love, I am working on another book from there – this one (as yet untitled) revolving around the early days of the carving of Mount Rushmore and the myriad “characters” and personalities who created one of America’s – and the world’s – iconic features.  Oh, and did I mention there was a murder getting in the way of moving the project forward?

 

 

 You can find Daniel at:

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1 comment

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  1. Thanks Maria! It was a pleasure to be interviewed by you. And, for your readers, I publish under Dan Jorgensen and have my Facebook tag under Daniel Jorgensen (weird, I know, but …. oh well). 🙂

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