A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, March 2, 2015

Phobia by Daniel Lance Wright - Spotlight + Review + Author Interview

How does a psychologist handle three phobia sufferers on a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico? Doctor Nicholas Brandon of Houston thought it’d be a good graduation of sorts for advanced patients in his therapy group to take that final step out of self-imposed prisons. Wisdom of that decision comes into question. Ruthless rogue Lebanese terrorists seeking to make their mark on the world and then profit by it commandeer the vessel. Survival of three phobics is in Nick’s hands and it’s not looking good for him either.

My Review:

  PhobiaPhobia by Daniel Lance Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Phobia by Daniel Lance Wright is a 2012 Booktrope publication.

Daniel Lance Wright has written a top notch thriller!

What is it they say about the best laid plans? Dr. Nicholas Brandon thought he was helping his patients, all of whom suffered from phobias ranging for claustrophobia to agoraphobia, by taking them on a cruise. This short trip was also perhaps a little cathartic for Nicholas as his marriage has hit a rough patch. But, when the ship is seized by Lebanese terrorist, the phobias his patients are living with could make the difference between life and death, and the responsibility will fall to Nicholas to keep them functional and alive.

This situation is made all the more tense for me since it is entirely plausible and I can relate to some of patients and their phobias. I hate heights, crowds, and have claustrophobia. Stress compounds those fears. So, I could only imagine how these people would cope... or not.

Often under extreme duress we are given a moment of total clarity and in this case of few characters experienced that while others, even Nicholas behaved in a way they may not have under ordinary circumstances.

In the end the question seems to be how debilitating these phobias can be. Can a serious situation like this one make a persona realize they have the power to overcome their fears and walk away healed or will it cause the person to sink even deeper into themselves and never conquer their debilitating issues?

The set up guarantees the suspense will be taut, but of the author does a great job of throwing in the unique issues of his patients, the psychology of the terrorist, and the personal problems Nicholas is facing when he finds himself attracted to one of his patients.

Action and tension is a given in thrillers by default in many cases, but often that is the only thing that carries the story. In the end I get the same feeling I get from riding a roller coaster. I'm holding on for dear life, scared to death, but once I've make it back to safety I'm giddy from the experience, and that's what we all love about a good thriller. But, this story has a deeper introspection and could find it's way into the psychological category. I wasn't always thrilled by Nicholas' personal decisions because in real life his choices would most assuredly be considered unethical. No matter what their personal situation is, doctors must maintain a professional distance from their patients, which means they shouldn't even be “checking them out.” All that aside, Nicholas does go above and beyond for his patients and is a hero at the end of the day. By the end of the book I realized the good doctor did have principles, and was a better man than I had originally given him credit for being.

This story is well written, evenly paced, with well drawn characters and is very thought provoking. This one get the five star treatment.

I am honored to have Daniel Lance Wright as my special guest today at The Book Review. Thank you Daniel for being here and today and for taking the time to answer a few questions for us.

Do you have any phobias?

It might be an exaggeration to call it a phobia, but I do have an extreme discomfort standing near the edge of high places that have no barriers. It doesn’t have to be all that high either. Standing near the edge of my ranch style roof at home will do it. It wasn’t until I researched phobias for the story that I realized my discomfort is not a fear of falling, it’s a fear of jumping. If the condition worsened it would be called aero-acrophobia. Whenever the discomfort sets in, a little voice tells me to go ahead and jump and it’ll no longer be uncomfortable. Interestingly, if there is no way I could jump/fall, like caged inside a high carnival ride as an example, there is no discomfort whatsoever. Weird, huh? I have a little problem with small spaces, but nothing like the height thing.

Have you ever taken one of the Galveston cruises?

Yes. Carnival Cruise Lines offers two seven day packages, one to Key West and a couple of other stops, and another cruise to Cozumel and a couple of other stops. I’ve taken both. I really love them because I can drop my luggage and not worry about that for a week, yet still go places. More importantly, it was on one of these cruises that the idea for “Phobia” was born. My wife and I were dining with a very nice couple from North Carolina (I think) and the wife had invited her sister to come with them. But the sister declined because she suffers from all three of the phobias I deal with in the story—heights, closed-in places, and crowds. And, apparently, they were true phobias, absolutely debilitating to the point of physical illness and paralyzing. By its nature, a ship has all three. You may be able to walk away from one but will immediately step into the next one. No matter where you go on a cruise ship, a confrontation with one, or more simultaneously, of these phobias will be waiting around the next corner. I spent an entire day taking notes and mentally mapping the layout of the ship. It angered my wife because she wanted to get off the ship and go shopping. Oh well…

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was a teen and in high school before it occurred to this dense country boy that reading did not have to be a chore forced upon me by a teacher. We had required reading of course, like most high school curricula—book reports, quizzes and all that wonderful stuff. At first, I waded through “The Scarlett letter”, “Red Badge of Courage”, “The Bridge over San Luis Rey” and a few others. I didn’t really enjoy them or find reason to consider the assignments as anything other than a chore. We were required to do it. We had no choice. So, why would I even consider it a pleasure? For God’s sake, I was a hormone driven teenager that couldn’t see past Saturday night. And, then, one snowy winter night that precluded activities outside the house and nothing on television but reruns, I read “Lord of the Flies”. At the time, I didn’t even have to. I just did because reading seemed like the least of all boring things to do at the time. Wham! It resonated. I actually got it. The next semester, “Lord of the Flies” finally came up in rotation. I was ready with my book report while everyone else was still reading it. When the day came to give the book report, I drew the comparison between what was happening to those boys and the birth and evolution of religions and social structures. My English teacher’s jaw went slack (also my drama teacher). She got up from behind her desk, came to me standing in front of the class, took my hands and we did a little dance to the laughter of the entire class. And that’s really saying something, since that sweet little lady had an artificial leg. I got an A+. I sure miss that little woman.

What are you reading now?

I began reading John Grisham’s “Gray Mountain” just last night. So, I’m not far enough along to offer an opinion of the story. But, I can say with utmost confidence that John Grisham has never disappointed me. I just finished Wilbur Smith’s “Desert God”, a story of ancient Egypt. Like Grisham, Smith has never disappointed me. He is a consummate story teller. I have read about half a dozen of his novels and all have offered not only tremendous entertainment but also, as a novelist myself, I garner an education on how to put a story together. I would recommend almost anything Smith or Grisham writes. Incidentally, I make it a point to read novels by as many international best-selling authors as I can. Those authors are what and where they are for a reason. Maybe a little of that magic will rub off on me, if I pay attention.

Tell us about some of your other books.

I began writing novels when I was managing an advertising sales department at a Waco television station in 1997. I don’t mean this to sound cliché, but it’s true. It was a nightmare that dogged me for days that I could not shake. Early one Saturday morning I sat down and wrote out everything I could remember about that bizarre dream. For reasons I cannot explain, I kept writing long after the dream had been documented. I stopped writing long enough to develop characters and plot a story arc, and then hit it again. With considerable embellishment, that dream became the basis for “The Last Radiant Heart” (Sage Words Press) and is detailed in the first chapter. It’s a sci-fi metaphysical story. Although that was the first one I wrote, the first one to be published was a bittersweet mainstream contemporary called “Six Years’ Worth” (Father’s Press), a story of a homeless man and a six year-old-boy set in the farm country of north Texas. When that one was published I got the bug bad and drafted three more novels over the next couple of years. They were not published in the order written. I became far too engrossed in writing the stories for a time. When I began really working at getting more published, Dreambooks picked up “Paradise Flawed” an action/adventure of a family that goes on vacation in the New Mexico mountains and become the targets of killers (“Paradise Flawed” will be re-published under the Booktrope brand soon). Later, Whiskey Creek Press published “Defining Family”. That one won first place in the mainstream category of unpublished novels at the Oklahoma Writers Federation in ’05 under the working title of “Nightmares, Wishes and Miracles. It is a young adult story of four teens of a Texas children’s home running from the law. This one is my wife’s personal favorite, since her high school years were in a children’s home in Lubbock, Texas. The characters are based on kids I met when I began dating her. Then came “Where Are You, Anne Bonny?” (Rogue Phoenix Press). It is a historical drama about the lady pirate. It won top historical novel in the Frontiers of Writing competition in ’04. A couple of years later, RPP also published my middle grade/YA novel “Helping Hand for Ethan”. It’s a paranormal suitable for the entire family. All Things That Matter press published “Annie’s World: Jake’s Legacy”. I call it soft sci-fi set a couple of hundred years in the future; the story of one particular descendant of genetically altered people, a young girl cast in the role of savior to a dystopian world. The second installment, “Annie’s World: New Beginnings” will be released through Booktrope spring ’15, hopefully. Just this past year, “One Day in Lubbock” was released (Booktrope). It’s an autumn romance that shows there is never a wrong time or place for love to blossom, and certainly never too late.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

Over the years, at book signings and special events, people have asked if I outline a novel before I begin writing. I don’t think I’ve given the same answer more than once. Here’s the deal: Do I prepare an extensive printed outline? No. Do I take a few notes? Sure. Do I know beforehand what every chapter is going to entail? No. Do I know how I want it to begin? Of course. Do I know what the mid-point, the pinnacle, the zenith, the most intense chapter, should generally be like? Sometimes. Do I know how I want it to end? Always. Many years ago, an author at a writing seminar stood before the group and drew an arc on the blackboard. She X’d the beginning, the middle and the end. No surprise there. She then drew a smaller arc starting near the base line of the mid-point of the larger arc, never going higher the main story arc but ending after the main plot had ended. This was my first visual representation of a sub-plot. There can be any number of these smaller story arcs intersecting at various points, as long as they never go higher than the main story arc. The smaller arcs should always, somehow, feed into and strengthen the main story arc yet retain a modicum of individuality. Done well, those sub-plots might turn into your next bestseller but still provide strength, believability and emotion to the story at hand. This may be the long way around to make my point, but this is the genesis of what I call an outline—the story arc(s). The one aspect I pay most attention to in the conceptualization process is character development. Every day I see many personality types and how each reacts to other personalities, and the response. Eventually, it became formulaic how different personalities react when confronted by various stimuli. This is the key to believable dialogue. Now, I work at giving every main character a backstory, an extensive one. This provides me with the personality I’m searching for. We are all molded by our environments and lifelong associations. Once I have the personalities fixed and the backstories in place then the characters tell me how the novel should go. I don’t need to insert my influence whatsoever. I just need to be able to type fast enough to keep up with them as they show me where the story goes. Sometimes it’s an exhausting, sweaty experience just trying to stay up them. (With a little modification for this interview, this was a blog I wrote and is posted at http://daniellancewright.blogspot.com/ ) I hope you’ll visit it and enjoy all the posts.

Where can readers contact you?

Everyone is certainly welcome to contact me at dlw11.5.50@gmail.com or on my Facebook author page at www.facebook.com/daniellancewright or even my personal Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dannywright . I do have a Twitter account at https://twitter.com/dlw1150 and, of course, the blog site listed above. All correspondence is appreciated and encouraged.

Coffee or tea? Dogs or cats? Favorite dessert? Favorite season?

I usually begin writing very early in the morning, 4 to 4:30, so I start the day with two huge mugs of coffee. When I get back from the gym, I’ll start on herb tea and drink that until lunch. In the afternoon, it’s all wine.

I prefer dogs but have neither at the present time. But, I never say never.

The favorite dessert question is difficult because I’m not a person that cares much for sweets. Don’t get me wrong, I can eat glutinous amounts of peanut brittle and milk chocolate. But, if it is a matter of something sweet after a meal, I don’t care for it. Given a choice, I’ll have a medium-well ribeye for dinner and half of one for dessert.

Ah, my favorite season by far is autumn. I think it’s molded by the first nineteen years of my life on a cotton farm. That was the season of harvest. Moods around the house were always lighter when there was some assurance there would be an income that year. That may have been the genesis, but it continues on today as a season of change, rest, enjoying the fruits of our labors and preparing for a season of celebration. It seems that all hopes and dreams of mankind can be summed up when the first cold front shifts the wind and that initial blast of wonderfully cool air blows away the doldrums of a hot summer. Some people see the season of rebirth as springtime—not me.

What are you working on now?

I’m almost finished drafting a love story set in a small market television station between a middle-age news anchor that can’t seem to figure out what he wants where love is concerned. His wife files for divorce because he chooses to have a long running affair with his co-anchor. And, then a college girl comes to work part-time and turns his world upside down when they work together on an investigative story with national implications. Look for “Call me Mikki” toward the end of 2015 or early 2016.

Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?

The beauty of social media and the internet is that I see quotes all the time. Some are thought provoking others aren’t fit for mixed company. The best of both I print and tape to my office walls, which are nearing total coverage now. I think I’ll settle on a quote by Mark Twain. Twain is a man that richly deserves his place in literary history. I think the only man that can even come close to him in the department of common sense would have to be Will Rogers. Twain said, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” If you wonder why I chose it, you need only reference my answer to question number 3.

Thanks so much Daniel for your time today!

You can find Phobia  at Amazon.com


A lifelong Texan, Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright is a freelance writer and novelist born on a cold windswept November day in 1950 on the South Plains of Texas in Lubbock, now residing near Waco. Having spent the first nineteen years of his life on a cotton farm and the next thirty-two in the television industry, he has seen the world from two distinctly different angles. This unique perspective adds depth when bringing together characters from divergent backgrounds.

1 comment:

  1. I want to thank everyone for stopping in and taking the time to read this review. A special thanks to Julie for taking the time for the interview that follows it. I hope you'll share this with friends and family, and then check out all my work.


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