Hi D.J.! I am so happy to be interviewing you on Oh, for the Hook of a Book today! I have been so interested in your novel, but also in the person behind it. I can’t wait to pick your brain. How have things been going?
D.J.: Life is been great! I’m very excited for The Disillusioned to be released to the world. I’m staying busy with other projects as well. I can’t complain.
Erin: Wonderful! Let’s kick back in my comfy chairs and get the conversation started….but first we let me entice readers with the cover and synopsis for The Disillusioned…
The Disillusioned, Synopsis~
A mother’s suicide threatens to destroy a family legacy. Her sons, Sam and Daniel, are forced to leave their comfortable worlds behind and search for a woman they believe can unlock the secrets that have remained hidden. They are propelled into separate journeys from Los Angeles to the heart of the Zambezi where they are forced to confront a man known as Die Duiwel, the Devil. On their adventures they will find themselves in a place where death is one breath away, where thousands of children are disappearing into the darkness, and where the woman they are searching for is on the hunt for revenge. When they stand face-to-face with the forgotten slaves of Africa they will fight to redeem what has been lost.
Q: Can you tell us what gave you the inspiration to write The Disillusioned?
A: I was coming out of a difficult year both personally and professionally. Two unexpected deaths in my family only thirty days apart. A business venture that that ended shortly after. For months I wondered what was happening. I didn’t know that this season would change the direction of my life. I didn’t fully understand it until a few years later. During that season I started writing. I never expected the twists and turns that followed. I was discovering the story along the way. The deeper I immersed myself the more I knew it would eventually involve a social cause. I hoped it would make people judge the truth for themselves and make a choice to get involved in some way.
Q: Does the novel have any allegory to current humanitarian situations?
A: As many of us know, millions are being sold into slavery. Human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world. It is not just something that is happening in third world countries, it is happening here in the U.S. as well. Knowing that is reality, I decided before The Disillusioned was finished that I wanted to do what I could to help make a difference. So, for every book sold we are making a donation to the “Let’s Respond” Campaign, which is headed up by the F.A.C.T. Alliance in Orange County, CA.
They are focused on building aftercare facilities for victims, both nationally and internationally. Without aftercare, rescue is futile, as statistically, victims tend to go back to the only life they know unless they have strong alternatives. Currently, the campaign is focused on building an aftercare village in Africa, a victim support facility in Northern California, and has partnered with The Love 146 Roundhome in the Philippines. I am excited that The Disillusioned will be a part of helping this great organization.
Erin Comment: I have always been quite the activist myself, primarily in regard to women’s rights, but I am really drawn to this cause and plan on getting more involved. I am thrilled by your efforts.
Q: Why did you choose to write a thriller, as opposed to say a non-fiction work? And is it more mystery or more suspense?
A: While I did quite a bit of research for the book, it was not nearly as much as I would’ve needed to do if I were writing a non-fiction book about this topic. I needed to have the freedom to create without worrying about whether or not I was getting all of the facts right. However, I knew early on that I wanted the story to have a fast pace and I figured mystery and suspense were the best ways to do it. I followed my instincts and allowed the characters to take me to a place where the fact and fiction collided.
Q: What do hope readers will feel after they absorb your novel and share with others?
A: Allow me to quote one of the book reviewers, Christy Maurer.
“The Disillusioned is an amazing story! I just finished reading it, and I’m feeling that withdrawal you feel after reading a good book. It’s as if you have been on an incredible journey and now must return to real life. This book is suspenseful, mysterious, thrilling, eye-opening, and convicting all at the same time. From the very first chapter, it grips you and keeps you wanting more. It is a book that really makes you think. It transcends genres. It is a book for anyone who cares about fixing what is wrong with the world. It is for anyone who loves adventure. The action is riveting and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s for anyone driven by compassion for a suffering world. And it is for anyone willing to be convicted to be more than what they are.”
I’m not sure I could say it any better.
Q: Besides being an author, I know you are a director/producer for TV. Can you share with us about that? And further, how exciting a job is that???? (I’m putting on a cheesy grin)
A: I think working in any type of creative media helps when you crossover into another aspect of visual or written storytelling. In all of these areas you’re trying to tell a story that is compelling for the viewer/reader. You need to grab their attention and then keep it throughout. That’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from the projects I’ve been involved in. Also, on the television side I work mainly as a producer or director so it’s a different frame of mind from writing. I’m always watching the clock, the schedule, the shots and making sure I’m getting what we need to cut an episode together. For me, writing The Disillusioned was an escape from all of that. I took my time. I wrote alone. No one read a single word until I was nearly finished. It was much more solitary than directing or producing, which I enjoyed.
Q: Have you thought of producing any documentaries on the subject, or have you already?
A: My main focus right now is on getting The Disillusioned out to the world. I believe through the story and the sales that I will be able to make a greater impact. At the same time, we are reaching out to various companies in regards to submitting the novel for possible screenplay consideration. We’ll have to sit back and see what happens. Either way, I will continue to share about the impact human trafficking is having on our world and hopefully readers will be inspired to get involved where they are.
Erin Comments: I can understand that. But it would make a great online documentary. Maybe that’s the journalist in me talking. But every amount of exposure helps. And I’m sure your book will inspire many people.
Q: What is your stance on women’s rights? What role do you feel women take on in society and why are there so many issues with fair treatment and equality around the world?
A: That’s a really deep question, which I’m not sure I’m expert enough to answer. I will say this, as you read The Disillusioned you will see that each of the female characters are strong in their own way, even heroic. I think it’s important that we fight for equality for all of society, whether it be men, women, children, rich, poor, or the forgotten among us. We are all part of the human race and we need to help those who are in need.
Erin Comments: I appreciate your comment. However, I think everyone is able to give an opinion on women’s rights. I interview so many women authors and ask a similar question, but it’s even more important for men to stand up for women and it’s fair for me to ask the same question of them. I agree, we need to fight for all human rights, but it does seem that more women are trafficked, abused, mistreated, etc.
Q: You grew up in Hong Kong. What was that like? How does it differ from America?
A: Growing up in Hong Kong I was always surrounded by friends from different cultures. It gave me a unique perspective that has stuck with me. I’ve also been given the opportunity to travel the world and meet many different people, to hear their stories, and to reflect on how their story has affected my own story. That shapes how I develop my characters. For example, many of the characters in The Disillusioned were inspired by people I’ve met over the years. I have another book that’s making the rounds with publishers where the characters are friends from childhood who I’ve placed into my story line. I’d also say that many of the locations in my stories are places I’ve been. I think it helps make the scenes even more real because I’ve experienced these places firsthand.
Erin comments: That sounds amazing.
Q: It sounds like you’ve also had some adventures in places like the Amazon…how did that come to pass and can you talk a little bit about it?
A: One experience that comes to mind was along the Zambezi River where we were filming in the back of a Land Rover. With camera in hand I was focused on capturing the incredible wildlife that surrounded us, which included an elephant with huge white tusks. Everything was going fine, until we realized we were too close. In a matter of seconds the elephant charged as the driver put the Land Rover in reverse. Knowing that we were not going to outmaneuver the elephant, the driver stopped and stood up in his seat. He yelled and waved his arms as the elephant charged. With only a few feet separating us the elephant suddenly stopped. Dust blew around us and when it cleared we stared into the face of this great animal. No one moved. Not a sound was heard. A few minutes passed before the elephant backed away and disappeared into the bush. Everyone in the vehicle sighed with relief, and then asked if I’d captured it on tape. I smiled. I’ve kept the footage safely in the archives as proof of our face-to-face encounter.
Erin comments: Wow! Talk about lucky to be alive! But, what a memory.
Q: What other adventures do you hope to have in the future? Where do you want to travel?
A: Right now I’m staying in the U.S. mainly. I’m producing and directing a television show that airs 52 episodes a year and I’m writing my next novel. That’s keeping me quite busy at the moment. If I could choose one place to go it would probably be Australia for a vacation!
Q: Your life sounds very fast-paced and quick moving. What do you do in your downtime?
A: When I’m not working I spend time with my wife and friends. I’m a basketball fanatic so I watch quite a bit of it on NBA TV. Other than that work takes up the majority of my time these days.
Erin comments: Bit of a basketball obsession going on with me too, though I prefer college.
Q: Who are your favorite authors? Do you have any mentors or any that are particularly inspiring to you?
A: Top three authors would be John Grisham, Michael Connelly, J.K. Rowling. I can’t say that I have any mentors, but I do have a group of close friends who keep me in check.
Q: What are some of your favorite shows or movies?
A: Favorite shows would be Southland and Blue Bloods. Movies would be the Lord of The Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series.
Q: Since you sound like a very well-rounded individual with great taste, so I am curious…what is your favorite food?
A: I like a good ribeye with a baked potato. I’m pretty simple.
Erin comments: Nice. You got me on that question. I thought it would be snake from the Amazon or grasshopper in the Orient.
Q: Where can readers connect with you, D.J.?
A: Readers can reach out to me at www.djwilliamsbooks.com as well as Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kindle.
Erin: It has been a unique pleasure to learn more about you today in this interview. You sound like a phenomenal individual. THANK YOU so much for stopping by to talk to us today and keep in touch! Best of luck in all your pursuits….
D.J.: Thank you for the kind words and for allowing me to share about The Disillusioned. Talk soon.
D.J. Williams, Biography~
For the past fifteen years Williams has worked in the non-profit and entertainment industry. He has produced media projects that have raised awareness to help those in need. 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. Writing credits include Restoration Road with Mitch Kruse (Credo House, Fall 2009), as well as ghostwriting for other fiction authors. His novel, Disillusioned, is coming in 2013.
Williams has produced and directed over 140 television episodes syndicated on NBC, ABC, FOX and various cable networks worldwide.. Currently, he lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife.