Hartford Books Examiner will be giving away a signed paperback copy of Dan Foley’s novella, Intruder. To enter for your chance to win, simply email HBE at HartfordBooksExaminer@aol.com by no later than this Sunday, February 22nd, at 11:59 PM EST and include “Giveaway” in the subject line. One recipient will be chosen at random.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Dan Foley.
Foley is the author of the recently released novella Intruder (Necon E-Books). His previous titles include Death’s Companion (2012) and The Whispers of Crows (2013). A Navy Veteran, Foley has also served as a Senior Reactor Operator and a nuclear operations instructor. Though born and raised in New Jersey, he now resides in Connecticut with his poet wife, Tere.
Intruder was published last month and is currently available in digital and paperback editions. James A. Moore, author of the Seven Forges series and Deeper, praised: “Dan Foley’s Intruder is one of the most claustrophobic tales I’ve ever read. The pressure is unrelenting and the suspense is as sharp as a razor’s edge. Hard-hitting fiction and very highly recommended!”
From the publisher:
What happens when men on a submarine find themselves facing death, due not to the deadly ocean but a malignant paranormal entity? The USS Hancock is a fleet ballistic missile submarine carrying sixteen nuclear missiles, a crew of 13 officers and 130 enlisted men. On a deep dive that takes her below test depth, the Hancock picks up one additional, unwanted sailor. When Gerhard Küehn, a ghost who has been forever reliving the sinking of his German U-Boat, suddenly finds himself aboard the American submarine, a struggle for the life of the Hancock and every man aboard her ensues.
Now, Dan Foley takes readers below the surface of his fiction …
1) What inspired you to write INTRUDER – and how were you able to draw upon your own experiences and knowledge to create authenticity of narrative?
INTRUDER drew from my time aboard the nuclear submarine USS George Bancroft SSN643. Many of the incidents relayed in INTRUDER are real. This is a story that took me over forty years to write. I started it several times over that time span, but I wasn’t ready to tell this particular tale. I had to be far enough removed from it to be able to allow the good times, and bad, not to overwhelm me as I wrote it. In the end, I think I was able to put those feelings on the table for the reader.
2) Tell us about the choice to set your story aboard a submarine. How does such an environment influence both ambiance and character development – and how is the ocean symbolic of other things?
The story had to be set aboard a submarine. I needed to make the reader as uncomfortable with the environment as they would be with the ghost. Tension is a fact of life aboard a submarine when it is on patrol. It underlies every minute of every day. The things we did to goof on each other, the mind games we played, were all just a diversion to relieve the tension, and the boredom.
The ocean plays two rolls in INTRUDER. In the universe we live in, there is no sky, no sun, nor stars, no fresh air when the boat is submerged. We’re trapped inside a steel hull with no way out. The ocean is also a metaphor for the ghost. It’s cold, dark and deadly. It constantly strives to find a way in, and if it does, it will kill you. Every sailor on board is aware of that, and of the very real possibility that it could happen.
3) Your antagonist, Kuehn, is a ghost. How do you balance supernatural elements with believability – and what is the importance of providing a backstory when presenting such a character?
Ghosts are, and have always been, a part of the human psyche so I think it’s a lot easier to use them as an antagonist than the creature I’m writing about in my next novel. The thing about Kuehn is that I wanted the reader to have a personal relationship with him. By giving Kuehn a backstory, making him human, I gave the reader something to grab onto, someone they could relate to.
4) You submitted this book to your writers group for feedback before publication. What are the benefits of belonging to such a group – and how do you determine whether or not to take the advice that’s given?
My writers group proved to be invaluable in writing INTRUDER, and not just because they found all the errors in the text (I constantly leave out punctuation, etc.). Writing is a solitary experience, it can be difficult to keep on track, or to even know if you’re going down the right track, without feedback from your peers. They also provide me with a deadline. I need to have something for them every two weeks. Come rain, come shine, come sickness or vacation, I owe them a submission. And, in return, I owe them a critique of work they submit.
Reading the work they submit is as important to me as anything else I get from the group. I get to see different styles, listen to different voices. They are another tool to help me hone my own craft.
As for taking, or not taking, the advice that is given, I have one rule—if it makes the story better, I use it.
5) This story is dedicated to the writer Rick Hautala. Tell us about your relationship with Rick and how he influenced you in your own creative endeavors …
I met Rick the first time I attended NECON, a writer’s conference that takes place once a year in Bristol, R.I. This was the first conference I had ever attended and I had no idea who most of the people there were, even though many of them, including Rick, were household names in the horror writing community. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m an extrovert, I’m not shy and I’ll talk to anybody, anytime, anywhere. Saying that, there are certain people you just feel comfortable with from the get go. Rick was one of those people. I like to think we became good friends over the years and that he enjoyed the relationship as much as I did. He always treated me as an equal and a friend. His unexpected and untimely death from a heart attack at age 63 left a huge hole in my personal horror universe.
6) Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?
I have a novel, ABANDONED, that I’ve sent out to a few publishers. It’s a horror/thriller about a man who has serious abandonment issues. Here’s what the back cover will have to say about it:
James Sutton has abandonment issues. He was abandoned at birth by his birth parents, at nine by his best friend Alex and his dog Trixie, at eighteen by his girlfriend Donna, and at thirty by his adoptive father who committed suicide and left James alone … again.
His father’s death proved to be the last straw for James. Now it was time for a little payback.
After that, I’m working on a story that involves a creature from several American Indian legends.
With thanks to Dan Foley for his generosity of time and thought.
Don’t forget: To enter for your chance to win a signed copy of Intruder, simply email HBE at HartfordBooksExaminer@aol.com by no later than this Sunday, February 22nd, at 11:59 PM EST and include “Giveaway” in the subject line.