I first met Donald D’Haene when I was at the Oprah 200 Male Survivor show. I was aware of his book but had not read it.
I remember getting a copy from him and when I read it, I saw so much of my own life’s experiences coming through in what he wrote. It is one of the cherished books in my bookcase.
I’ll never forget hanging out with him before and after the Oprah show. It was a wonderful connection of support, and even though we are separated by many miles we still stay in touch.
Make sure you check out a documentary about his childhood that won many awards at film festivals. That movie documentary is Family Secrets: When Nobody Is Looking.
Question 1: Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I turned 59 today! Happy birthday to me. LOL, I love my life. In the 23rd year of my relationship with my partner. I’ve done everything on my bucket list (and yes writing a memoir was at the top of my list published in 2002 and the re-edited version 2004) but discover new things to add all the time.
Last year I ticked off a 30-year wish/challenge: performing stand up at a comedy club. In the fall, for the first time, I thought why don’t I enter Amazing Race Canada and so my friend and I did. Here’s a link to the YouTube video.
Question 2: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My memoir is Father’s Touch. I used to say, incredibly, my life is based on a true story. Unlike James Frey who made up parts of his A Million Little Pieces, I didn’t need to make up one line. I had to leave out stories, and basically my memoir is only based on the first 20 years of my life. Someday I’ll write the followup!
Question 3: How long does it take you to write a book??
Since my memoir was published, occasionally I’d be contacted by a new author wanting advice. I met one man for coffee; I asked how much have you written towards your first book. “Nothing yet.” I replied, “Some lines that I jotted down 20 years earlier made it’s way into my memoir. The way you write a book is by WRITING. If you are serious about this you must write any chance you get. I would be at work and I’d think of an line or idea, I’d call my machine to leave the line so I wouldn’t forget; if I was in a restaurant, I’d find a napkin and scribble them down.” It took me five years before I finished my book. The hardest part was discovering the structure that would work. I think the process aged me LOL.
Question 4: Where do you get your ideas?
In terms of my general writing, my ideas came from everywhere and everyone. Be a good listener and a questioner! Be open to new ideas; beware of naysayers.
Question 5: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I’ll flip that. Sometimes the worst can be the best. An editor told me point blank I can’t write, years before I wrote my book. My outer voice said, “Thank you for your advice.” My inner voice boldly told me, “Maybe not TODAY, but tomorrow, just watch me.” Since that moment, I have had hundreds of columns published, not to mention my memoir.
Question 6: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am fearless in how I reach out to well-known authors. I called up an award-winning author who told me they had retired from reading manuscripts and she didn’t think she’d have anything to tell me. I said, “You know sh*t from sh*t.” She said, “Yes, I do.” Me: “Well, please have a look. If you don’t like, just don’t continue.” She agreed. I dropped off the manuscript and she read my entire early manuscript and wrote me notes that included, “Superb structure.”
On the other hand, before that, I sent my earliest writings on my memoir to a well known American author and she wrote back, “You have a good story but why don’t you write a novel about something else.” Hmm, no. Take all advice in, listen with grace and humility, but find your own path.
Question 7: What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m available for eulogies. Not! Ironically my last three works have been eulogies. This is one of the most important and most difficult pieces one can work on. Two of mine are available on YouTube with this one being the eulogy for my mom.
Question 8: Where can someone purchase your books, and how can they reach you?
My book is available on Amazon.
I may be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or through twitter, my handle: @TheDonaldNorth
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