|Suspense Magazine.com presents
|John DeDakis is currently a Senior Copy Editor of CNN's "The
Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer, (weekdays 4-7pm ET). In
1988 he was a White House Correspondent during the Reagan
Administration. FAST TRACK is his first novel, penned in
2005. This was a book that should have been listed on the
Bestseller list. FAST TRACK is just that, the ultimate ride in
Click on the book image for more details.
|The most cataclysmic week of Lark
Chadwick's life begins when she
discovers the dead body of her aunt, a
victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.
This was the aunt who raised Lark from
infancy after the tragic deaths of her
parents in an auto accident. Yet what
unfolds for Lark in the coming days is a
dark and twisting mystery into the
sinister circumstances of that awful day
so long ago. Lark's desperate search
for the truth reveals secrets that are
about to put her life in great peril.
Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration?
At the risk of sounding preachy, I'd have to say Jesus. His teachings are affirming and practical.
Next, my parents. They, too, were affirming and loving. Next, Herb Glover. He was my boss and
mentor when I was in the Army, stationed at the American Forces Network - Europe in Frankfurt,
Germany from 1972-74. I was just a kid, but Herb gave me the assignment of a lifetime: an
interview with Alfred Hitchcock.
What is your all-time favorite book?
"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
How long do you normally take to research your book?
There was no "formal" research involved in my first novel, "Fast Track" because much of it is simply
drawn from personal experience coupled with imagination. The sequel, "Bluff," is a work in progress,
based on my hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. I did a fair amount of online research
and reading prior to the trip. Most of my research takes place after I write the first draft because it's
during the revision process that I realize where my knowledge gaps exist. So, for me, research and
writing go hand in hand throughout the creative process.
What is on your Ipod now?
Dust. I got an iPod for Christmas and still haven't taken the time to figure out how to use it. (Stop
laughing!) I listen to a lot of classic rock and jazz on the car radio, though. Love the Beatles.
Do you have any superstitions when you write, little quirks, etc?
No. I'm very boring.
If you could solve any mystery for yourself, what would it be?
Who killed JFK? Did Oswald act alone? Was there a gunman on the grassy knoll?
If you could talk to any person, Alive or Dead, for one hour, who would it be?
This is a great question. I'd have to say Jesus again. People who know me, however, would say that
I'm curious about everyone I meet, so it's hard to narrow it down to just one.
I love to hear stories from authors about their first published book, how did you get
Slowly, methodically, persistently. First, I read a lot about the process and the publishing industry.
The most helpful book was "The Weekend Novelist" by Robert Ray. It's extremely practical and
enabled me to write the first draft of "Fast Track" in four months. I then took a year and a half to
tweak it before giving it to friends to read and critique. I attended the Harriette Austin Writer's
Conference for several years at the University of Georgia in Athens where I learned to network and
listened to agents, publishers, and published authors. Finally, I began to search for an agent. It
wasn't long before I found someone willing to represent me. He asked for some revisions, then
found four publishers who were willing to read the manuscript. They all rejected it, but their
feedback was helpful. I took the manuscript to a book review club that met in my neighborhood.
They read it, then let me sit in on their critique. Their comments were invaluable because I realized
that I had two or three subplots that I didn't really need. After another major rewrite, I sent it back
to my agent, but he informed me that he was leaving the business, so I was back in agent-search
mode -- where I remained for several years until I finally met Barbara Casey, my current agent, at
the Harriette Austin Writer's Conference in 2004. She loved my work and found me a publisher
(ArcheBooks) in just two weeks. It took ten years, 14 major rewrites, and 38 agent rejections before
"Fast Track" found a home. During that time it went from being a 150,000-word mishmash, to a
tight 76,000- word published mystery/suspense novel. Lesson learned: never give up because that
merely guarantees that you'll never be published.
What future plans can you tell us about?
I'm working now on the 7th draft of "Bluff," the sequel to "Fast Track" based on my Inca Trail hike.
I've also written a screenplay adaptation of "Fast Track," plus my CNN colleague Carol Costello and I
keep talking about doing the book-on-tape version of "Fast Track." So much to do, so little time.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do for fun?
Hike, play tennis, the drums, talk with friends and, of course, read.
Exclusive Interview with John DeDakis
In his own words by: John DeDakis
|My thanks to John Raab, the editor of Suspense Magazine, for his kind and encouraging words
about "Fast Track" -- and for giving me this opportunity to connect with you.
They say "write what you know," so I did. I know journalism -- and am passionate about reporting
that informs rather than persuades. I've created a heroine not unlike the many twenty-something
young women it's been my pleasure to work with at CNN since 1988: smart, spunky, courageous,
ambitious -- but learning as they go. I also know grief: My sister took her life at the age of 39 in
The issues of suicide and journalistic integrity permeate "Fast Track" in what I hope is a
redemptive, life-affirming way. I wrote it to be a page turner and, judging from the feedback I've
been getting, people are, indeed, turning the pages -- fast.
I hope you'll read it; I know you'll enjoy it.