Q&A with Alan Derosby

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Man Of Clay. My post is shared with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell and the team at Spellbound Books for inviting me on the tour and to Alan Derosby for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?

I’ve always wanted to tell stories. I’ve only started writing this past decade, but my mind was always filled with tales that I wanted to share. I kept saying I was going to write, and finally, my wife called me on it and told me to either do it or let it go.

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

My current job is one that I have been in for over twenty years. I teach high school history. I don’t know if it’s helped with the process itself, but it gave me the confidence to try out writing. Over time, many students said they loved my class because I “told stories” instead of forcing names and dates on them. So my first shot at writing was a novel that would teach young adults about historical figures.

What was your inspiration for Man Of Clay?

Since college, I spent years researching the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. I started curious why ordinary Germans willingly supported the Nazi Party, and that interest grew from there. I knew I wanted to cover that complicated topic in my novel but wanted to make sure I did it justice. 

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

The characters start, like everything else, as a basic idea. Over time, I find they flesh out and become more than just a person on the page. In my mind, I think of myself as that character and what they’d be feeling or saying in those moments.

For the most part, the characters have traits from people I know. What makes a good person? Flawed person? A person who often struggles with the question of right and wrong. Those are general characteristics though I do stretch the limits. 

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

It’s a mix of both for me. I have an outline for a story and where it ends. I have ideas where I want the story to go, but as I sit and write a chapter, I just imagine the scene and let it play out. There have been times when someone gave me a topic for a short story, and I’m writing it within twenty minutes. If I just followed a plan, the characters and story would feel a bit wooden.

How did you research Man Of Clay? Did you enjoy it?

I love researching so much. I have always done it for fun, and it allows me to create more. Sometimes I’ll be reading History Today magazine or talking to the students about a topic, and a story will come to mind. Plus, I find that always learning and growing is essential for any of us, and there’s so much out there to discover.

Who are your favorite writers? Are you influenced by them?

My favorite writers are Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and Erik Larson. At the age of eight, I was sneaking King books, reading them at night and during school hours. Poe’s short stories taught me how to build tension and characters in a shorter form. Larson, a fantastic historian, who wrote DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, captures non-fiction that reads like a fictional novel. That was very influential to me.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

Napoleon Bonaparte, Stephen King, and Abraham Lincoln/John Wilkes Booth. Each one of them has influenced my writing and my thinking. I’d need a translator to connect with Napoleon, a very misunderstood figure in French history. More than any other person, King has shaped my imagination and love of horror and the weird. I’ve grown up with him, only living 40 miles from his home in Bangor, and in a way, he’s always been there. I can count on his novels, at least once a year, since I began reading. I know I put four, but I think having Lincoln and Booth in the same room would be an exciting discussion that spice up this dinner party.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with, and why?

Donald Trump. I am not very political, especially online. But I would have no desire to hear or see him anymore than I already have. So perhaps if he is alone on the lift when it sticks, that would make me happier. He needs an audience.

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Man Of Clay?

I honestly have no idea who I would pick. I write and imagine it as a movie in my head, and since it was my creation, the characters already have faces and voices. I know this is a cop-out, but I’ll leave this to the big-time movie executives ☺

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to read, write, and research. At this point, writing is a hobby. I also like being at home, with family and friends, though I enjoy traveling across Europe, seeing all the places I’ve only been able to see online or in books.

What is next for you?

I have completed another novel, and it’s in the hands of publishers. In addition, I am working on a new one about a haunted opera house, which should be completed in the next several months. My goal is to, one day, tie characters in all my novels into other series and short story collections. 


Book: Pet Semetary, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Nicholas and Alexandra

Film:  The Dark Knight, Empire Strikes Back, Jurassic Park 

Band/Singer: Tom Petty, Frank Sinatra, Weezer

TV show: The Office (American edition) and The Twilight Zone

Colour: Orange

Place: Scotland (Hope this doesn’t offend the rest of the UK ☺)

Biscuit: Chocolate Chip (I assume you mean a cookie)


Man Of Clay is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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