Here were are, back again with my friend Daniel Palmer, who's switched to his writing hat. (I'm still astounded that he can successfully handle both careers, amazing, really!) Daniel's work is incredible. He is a master storyteller, his standalones on par with Harlan Coben, so if you haven't read him yet, you're in for a treat. He also co-writes with his late father, who was also a friend. Michael Palmer gave a lot of good advice to a lot of young writers, and was always willing to stretch a hand out to help. Daniel's picked up the banner, to which I say, bravo, my friend. Bravo. His brother Matthew is also a writer -- talk about a talented family!
But today we're talking about Daniel's brand new standalone thriller, FORGIVE ME. Talk about chilling... take it away, bud!
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
Present Tense from the new Radiohead album A Moon Shaped Pool.
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
I’m working on the third edit for the next Michael Palmer medical thriller, THE FIRST FAMILY. It’s about a family doctor who battles the chief White House physician as he tries to cure the President’s son who has symptoms of a never before seen disease. I need to start the next Daniel Palmer novel which I’ve titled SIMON SAYS. That one is about the most twisted love triangle I could dream up. Should be a fun book to write!
What’s your latest book about?
I have two books out. MERCY is the second Michael Palmer medical thriller I’ve written in the tradition of my late father. Because of his loyal readership, St. Martin’s, my father’s long time publisher, asked if I could continue his oeuvre. I wanted to honor his legacy and write the kind of books my dad would have written, so I jumped at the opportunity. In MERCY, Dr. Julie Devereux is an outspoken advocate for the right to die—until a motorcycle accident leaves her fiancé, Sam Talbot, a quadriplegic. While Sam begs to end his life, Julie sees hope in a life together. But then Sam suddenly dies from an unusual heart defect, one seen only in those under extreme stress. It appears that Sam was literally scared to death. As Julie investigates similar cases, she finds a frightening pattern, and becomes the target of disturbing threats. As Julie discovers more cases, the threats escalate, until she is accused of a mercy killing herself. To clear her name she must track down whoever is behind these mysterious deaths, but someone has decided that killing Julie is the only way to stop her.
My other novel (published by Kensington two weeks after MERCY came out) is FORGIVE ME. In FORGIVE ME Angie DeRose is a private investigator in Virginia, working to find and rescue endangered runaways. In the wake of her mother’s death, Angie makes a life-altering discovery. Hidden in her parents’ attic is a photograph of a little girl with a hand-written message on the back: “May God forgive me.” Angie doesn’t know what it means. Could she have a sister she never knew about? Angie sets out to learn the fate of the girl in the photo. But the lies she unearths drag the past into the present. Everything she holds dear is threatened by the repercussions of one long-ago choice, and an enemy who will kill to keep a secret hidden forever.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
I write in a little office above the garage. I use Word. That’s it. I’ve tried Scrivener, and note cards, and all sorts of productivity tools, but what I’ve found works best for me is outlining (in Word), writing (in Word), editing (in Word). These books (my life in general) are complex enough. I’ve got to keep one thing simple.
I do put the M-Brace on my wrist, and it works wonders for preventing carpel tunnel.
What was your favorite book as a child?
That would be The Phantom Tollbooth or any of the books in the Moominpappa series from Tove Jansson.
What’s your secret talent?
I’ll go with songwriting. I’ve recorded two CDs (ALIEN LOVE SONGS and HOME SWEET HOME). Writing a book is hard work, writing songs is work too, but for me it’s the relaxing kind.
Ed. Note: See Part One for more!
What book are you reading now?
THE ONE MAN by my dear friend, Andrew Gross. This book is a huge departure for Andy. He took a big risk writing it, and it’s going to pay off big time. It’s an incredible story and it’ll be a big time movie (a la Spielberg making it), mark my words. It’s fabulous.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I was 29, and my dot.com career had come to an end. Somehow, I got it in my head that I could write romantic comedies from the guy’s point of view. Okay, blame High Fidelity and Bridget Jone's Diary. I soon found out that women who read romance books didn’t care much about the guy’s point of view. By that point, I got the writing bug and switched to thrillers, which happened to be the genre that I read the most.
Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?
Without a doubt, Stephen King is my writing idol. I don’t write books like him (who does?), but I aspire to sweep someone away by the force of my writing the way his writing affects me. If I met him, I would absolutely pull a Chris Farley. “Remember when you wrote The Stand…that was awesome.”
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
My father kept motivational notes taped to his computer monitor. One read: This is hard. The other read: Be fearless. I still haven’t come across a more apt description of the profession, or a better encapsulation of what it takes to succeed. As for advice, I try to keep it simple: Don’t bore your reader.
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
Write ‘em anyway. I’ve got deadlines to meet. You can’t fix a blank page.
Are you creatively satisfied?
I’m satisfied with what I do, but I’d like to expand my world by writing young adult and maybe more screenplays. I’ve got a few ideas percolating, but time isn’t on my side right now.
What would you like to be remembered for?
In part 1 of this interview I said I’d want to be remembered for being a good friend, father, and husband, and all that’s still true in part 2 of said interview. As a writer, I’d like to be remembered for telling stories that made people feel some sort of emotion and selling lots of books.
Now for the really important questions:
I’ll mix it up because I answered these in Part 1.
· Beach or mountains? Mountains if it’s winter and there’s snow on them.
· Coffee or tea? Tea if it’s green and all the coffee in the world has mysteriously vanished.
· Skydive or bungee jump? Skydive if the guy with a gun to my head says, “Jump or die.”
· Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate if it comes in chip form inside something vanilla.
· Winter or summer? Winter if it isn’t summer.
· Cake or pie? Cake if it’s my birthday and my wife says, “The kids are going to want to have a cake for you.” True story by the way.
· Cats or dogs? Cats if it has an incredible nose and can help me track down my missing dog.
· Pens or pencils? Pencils because the last time I gnawed on my pen it didn’t end well.
· Truth or dare? Even though I lie for a living, I dare myself to tell the truth with every book I write.
· Print or ebook? Which format is selling the most copies? That one.
DANIEL PALMER is the author of four critically-acclaimed suspense novels. After receiving his master’s degree from Boston University, he spent a decade as an e-commerce pioneer. A recording artist, accomplished blues harmonica player, and lifelong Red Sox fan, Daniel lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children where he is currently at work on his next novel.