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About the Book
A fast-paced thriller packed with page-turning twists, Waking Lazarus proves beyond a doubt that D.J. Williams is an exciting, fresh voice in international mystery and suspense. Homeland meets Bourne in this inventive and complex story of epic global adventure.
Jake Harris’ life hasn’t turned out the way he planned. Battling his addictions, and the shattered pieces of his family, he is hired to ghostwrite a memoir. From the 1920’s story of a controversial evangelist, to the present-day mystery of a former District Attorney, everything changes when his search for the truth leads to an atrocity hidden from history.
With a past he can’t remember, he begins to discover that he is not the person he believed himself to be. Rather, he is a threat to a secret society that has remained in the shadows for nearly a century. Jake is drawn deep inside a world he never knew existed that brings him closer to his own extraordinary destiny.
This Summer you can access the first 10 chapters of Waking Lazarus – the # 1 read for summer 2017 – for free. Head to www.djwilliamsbooks.com for more information. Waking Lazarus will be exclusively priced at just $10 from 12th June-31st August 2017, with both Waking Lazarus and The Disillusioned available together in print for just $16 (and e-books priced at $2.99 each) via www.djwilliamsbooks.com. The Waking Lazarus soundtrack is also now available for just $4.99 from June-August 2017. Don’t leave for your vacation without them!
Interview with the Author
- What initially got you interested in writing?
At eight years old, I read Treasure Island cover to cover lost in my bedroom living out an adventure in another world. From the first page I was captured by the story and characters. When I closed the book I was left dreaming of becoming a storyteller. I never imagined how that would become reality. Fast forward through the years to a season in life where I found myself transitioning out of the music industry into the second act of my career as an Executive Producer and Director in the TV business. Only then did that spark of inspiration return to pursue my dream to write mystery, suspense, and international thrillers. Even after all those years I was hooked by a spark of inspiration, and the chase was on.
- What genres do you write in?
Mystery, suspense, International thrillers
- What drew you to writing these specific genres?
I stood on the shores of the Zambezi River as that spark of a story pierced my soul. I’d traveled across Zambia for three weeks, producing a live music recording and filming a documentary. I witnessed the reality of those forgotten by the world and I knew that one day I’d write about this place. Little did I know that it would be a few years before I found the courage to write my first novel, The Disillusioned. After a year of writing late at night, I sent my novel to a friend in the TV industry with the disclaimer, “If it’s not any good, the only two people who’ll know are you and me.”
Within a few days my friend, Judith McCreary (Executive Producer of Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, & CSI) called me back and encouraged me to push forward so I found an agent and searched for ways to get the story published. I was humbled when she was the first to endorse the novel, “The Disillusioned is a fast-paced mystery…you won’t put it down until you’ve unlocked the secrets and lies to find the truth.”
- How did you break into the field?
After I finished writing The Disillusioned, I went through the step of sending query emails to potential agents, and then I waited. Weeks and months passed with the occasional rejection. Just as the birds stopped singing, and I thought I’d failed to get to the next stage, I ended up signing on with a literary agent who helped me put a proposal together. Then more months passed as the proposal was sent out to a long list of publishers. I’d heard from other authors how they were rejected ten, twenty, or nearly thirty times before their novel landed with a publisher who was willing to take the risk. I hoped that I’d be one of the lucky ones. I’ve yet to reach the summit. I’m just another climber on the mountain pulling myself up one word at a time.
- What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
What I discovered throughout the writing process was that using my experiences traveling to the poorest places in the world fueled my drive to create the Guardian Novels, a series filled with mystery, suspense, and adventure. All of those were aspects of the story, but from the first novel the reality of the fight against human trafficking was an underlying thread throughout. It’s one reason why I’ve defined this series as cause-driven novels. My hope is that readers will be entertained, but will also be inspired to make a difference in the world when they flip that last page.
Writing the second novel, Waking Lazarus, was challenging to continue in the cause-driven storytelling style. To capture this story in a unique way, the novel spans nearly a century as readers are taken back to the 1920’s and then return to present day on a global adventure. It also pushes readers further into the worlds of child slavery, poverty, and the darkness of secrets. I’m humbled that the Guardian Novels, and the cause-driven storytelling style, have garnered the attention of Hollywood’s elite, including Peter Anderson, and Oscar winning cinematographer, who described it as “a captivating visual story with a colorful narrative” and “hard to put down.”
- What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Chasing the story is what keeps me writing. Once that spark of a story hits you’re on the hunt for answers. Often, I’ve found that the outline I create in the beginning looks vastly different at the end of the first draft. I believe it’s because as I’m writing, chasing down the story and characters, there are twists and turns that reveal themselves in surprising ways. For me, not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next keeps me on the edge of my seat. I’ve always thought that if I’m on the journey guessing what’s going to happen next, then hopefully, the same will be true for readers who enter into the world I’ve created.
- What do you find most challenging about writing?
When I first began writing the Guardian Novels, there was only one story with one set of characters. But as I continued writing the second book, Waking Lazarus, the world expanded with new characters, twists and turns, and underlying secrets that needed to be revealed at just the right moment. Keeping track of all my characters, and their story arcs in the world, has been a challenge at times. And I’m not only chasing the next story, I’m also chasing after my favorite authors who inspire me to push my characters farther than I ever thought possible. In the end, I’d love for those I admire to be surprised by the stories I write. It’s easy to start a story, but the real challenge is to finish with a bang!
- What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
Writing is a journey that leads us into the valleys as we strive to climb the mountain. I would say for any writer the challenge is to live out the 3 P’s: Passion. Purpose. Productivity. Passion is what gives you the endurance to keep going. If you love to write, then you write whether you become a bestselling author or not. It’s part of your DNA. It’s something you’ll do no matter who might end up reading your creation. But passion without purpose leaves you without clear goals or direction. Know where you want to end up in six months, a year, or five years from now. Know what drives your passion for writing. Know the genre where you want to build an audience. Passion and defining your purpose allows your writing to become more productive. Set a writing schedule to start and finish your novel, and then do it! Finishing a novel is the hardest part of the journey. But with each story you finish, you’ll discover what makes your writing and storytelling unique.
- What type of books do you enjoy reading?
John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Brad Meltzer, James Patterson, David Baldacci, Gillian Flynn, Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling, and Lee Child. It’s impossible to pick only one, so I’m on a quest to read them all.
- Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
When I began writing Waking Lazarus I searched for musical inspiration as the story spanned nearly a century. I scrolled through my iTunes playlists and picked out a sequence of soundtracks to help set the tone and mood to help capture each scene as it played out on the page like a film. Working in the entertainment industry as an Executive Producer and Director, I understand how important a piece of music can be to enhance the story you’re trying to tell.
As the months passed, Waking Lazarus came alive on the page and I had a thought…what if we created a soundtrack to go with the book. It was something I hadn’t seen done before. A soundtrack customized for the story, and done in a way that readers of all kinds could use it without being lost.
I reached out to a young composer, Jené Nicole Johnson, and shared with her the vision I had for a soundtrack to enhance the reading experience for Waking Lazarus. Under a tight deadline, she accepted the challenge and broke the code on how best to put the soundtrack together. She created layers of music that not only captured the 1920’s era through present day, but also the mystery and suspense as the story travels from the Southland to the Orient. All of the music tied together with specific chapters so it was easy for readers to follow. I found myself writing to the soundtrack as I worked on the final draft. It was an energizing, creative, experience, one I believe I’ll do again in the next Guardian Novel.
- What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
The best way to connect with me is on my website, www.djwilliamsbooks.com. In addition to the novels, you’ll find some really cool stuff. We’ll be launching the Writers Circle in June, a place to share what I’m learning with other aspiring writers. And you’ll also find the Guardian Alliance, our ongoing effort to support causes around the world through proceeds from each book sold. You can also find me on Twitter: @djwilliams316, Facebook: www.facebook.com/djwilliams316 and Instagram: @djwilliamsbooks