Today’s guest is debut thriller author DJ Williams. The focus is on his novel about human trafficking, The Disillusioned.
For the past sixteen years Williams has worked in the non-profit and entertainment industry. With the DNA of a world traveler, Williams was born in Hong Kong, has ventured into the jungles of the Amazon, the bush of Africa, and the slums of the Far East, to share stories of those who are overcoming incredible odds. His first novel, The Disillusioned, is the first in a series Williams is currently writing.
As an Executive Producer, Producer, and Director, Williams is part of a production team that have collectively produced and/or written over 400 episodes of broadcast television for SONY, The F/X Network, The Game Show Network, FOX Family, FOX Television Studios, Spike TV, NBC, ABC, and various cable networks worldwide.
Welcome, DJ. Please tell us about your current release, Disillusioned.
The story begins with a mother's suicide that threatens to destroy a family legacy. Her sons, Sam and Daniel, are forced to leave their worlds behind as the journey takes them in search of a woman they believe will unlock the secrets that have remained hidden. On their adventure they find themselves in the heart of Africa, in a place where death is one breath away, and thousands of children are disappearing into the darkness. When they stand face-to-face with the forgotten they must fight to redeem what has been lost.
What inspired you to write this book?
I read Treasure Island cover to cover when I was eight. My imagination ran wild as I was captivated. From then I was hooked. I’m a sucker for a good story. From Grisham to Connelly to Meltzer, I’ve always been drawn in by realistic plots and characters that keep me reading late at night. I wanted to give it a shot, to see if I had it in me to do it. I wanted to write stories that left you flipping the page to find out what happened next.
I didn't pursue that dream until I found myself coming out of a difficult year personally and professionally. There were two unexpected deaths in my family only thirty days apart. A business venture ended at the same time. For months I wondered why it was all happening. I didn’t realize how that season would change the direction of my life. I struggled to understand what I had been raised to believe since I was a kid, and how it affected me years later. That’s what started me researching the plot. I didn’t expect the twists and turns that followed as I discovered the story along the way. The deeper I went the more I knew I wanted to involve a social cause as part of it because I hoped it would make people judge the truth for themselves.
What kept me going during the writing process was the thought that this story is also a part of raising awareness for the fight against human trafficking.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently, I'm writing a novel that connects a present day homicide with a real life mystery from the twenties. For those interested, I'm pulling back the curtain during the writing process to give exclusive access of snippets from chapters, characters, videos from various locations, a glimpse into my writing life, and readers will be able to share their opinions through various polls. To gain access you can go to www.djwilliamsbooks.com.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably not until I finished The Disillusioned. Until then it was all just a dream. Actually, no one really knew I was writing the novel. When I finished the first draft I showed it to a few trusted friends and they were shocked that I had actually done it. Even now, I’m still learning the craft and hope that I’m becoming a better storyteller with each page.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m balancing my writing life with being an Executive Producer and Director in the television industry. When you combine those two things you get quite a roller coaster ride. Typically, I’ll either spend a few hours writing early in the morning or later at night. First, I’ll rewrite what I worked on the day before and then move forward. What I’ve found is that there are certain times of day when I’m more creative, and other times I’m more in the editing mode. It really depends on the flow of things. For the novel I’m working on now I’ve found that writing at night has been more productive. As far as finding the time to write, it would be an easy excuse to say that I’m too busy to fit it in. It has to be a priority or it will never happen. No one is going to put those words on the page but you. So, I find the time no matter how hectic the week might be.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write better on my iPad than on my laptop. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. I think typing on the iPad slows me down enough to let the paragraphs evolve. Sometimes when I’m working on my laptop I’m cranking out a bunch of words but then I end up going back and rewriting. I know it sounds weird, but I think my iPad has helped me become a better writer.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I always dreamed of writing, even though my journey has taken me in different direction over the years. But as a kid I think I wanted to tell stories, but didn’t know if it would be fiction or whatever else. In a way, I think that’s happening now through my novels and through the television projects I’ve been fortunate enough to work on.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Pursue your dreams! We get one shot to live life on this earth, and taking chances and risk is part of the adventure. Whatever it is you dream of accomplishing, put your heart and soul into it and watch what will happen.
Thanks for being here today, DJ!