PaperBackSwap Blog

Author Interview with DL Fowler

Interview with DL Fowler, author of the new novel Lincoln’s Diary.

PBS: Thank you DL, for allowing us to interview you for the PaperBackSwap Blog.

In your new novel, Lincolns’ Diary, the protagonist is a female. Was it difficult for you as a man to write a book from a woman’s perspective?

DL:  Not really.

As a writer I like to show my characters’ emotions by describing how their feelings play out on their faces, in their gestures and through their actions. Women make my job easy because they tend to be quite aware of their emotions and telegraph their feelings through facial expressions, body language and movement.

Men aren’t nearly as versed as women when it comes to understanding their own emotions. As a result, they find it harder to express themselves not just verbally, but through their bodies, generally.  And when they do understand what they’re feeling, their instinct is to mask it. That makes it hard to follow the writers’ rule, “Show, don’t tell.”

That said, a main character in my next novel is a man who has focused his whole life on keeping his emotions a closely guarded secret.

PBS: Sarah Morgan is very determined woman who surely has had her share of hard times. Yet at the same time she is still hopeful and a bit naïve.  Is she based on anyone you know in real life? Would you be friends with her if you met her?

DL: Believe it or not, I patterned Sarah after Abraham Lincoln. But I allowed her to have an emotional awareness that helped me spotlight some personality traits that a male Lincolnesque character might have masked.  And since I wanted Sarah to represent a kind of ‘everyperson’ in an everyday world who adopted strategies similar to what Lincoln used to manage depression, I made the stakes more personal than, say, a Civil War.

On top of that, if Lincoln suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, it was likely caused by a series of triggers more traumatic than what most of us would see in a hundred lifetimes, let alone just one. So I scaled back Sarah’s PTSD issues to make her story more in keeping with the sort of tragedies that are commonplace today, like bullying, abandonment, the loss of a loved one or a single life threatening trauma.

I do like Sarah very much. If I met her, I certainly would want us to be friends. Of course, I don’t think the feeling is mutual. After all, I made her endure some tough situations.

PBS: What gave you the idea for this novel?  Rumors have persisted for years about a long lost Lincoln Diary. Is there something you are keeping from us, DL?

DL: My inspiration for writing the novel came from learning that Lincoln suffered from severe depression and that he could serve as a model for people who want to manage their depression without medication. And yes, I am keeping something from you. I didn’t publish all of the entries I wrote for Lincoln’s diary.

But seriously, the story isn’t as much about the diary as it is about how Lincoln managed what many people today would call severe psychological disorders. The diary was simply a device to suggest secrets were buried in Lincoln’s head that beg to be explored.

PBS: Quite a bit of research must have gone into the writing of your book. Are you a history buff? A Civil War historian? A fan of Abraham Lincoln?

DL: I have to say that I am fascinated by Abraham Lincoln.  And once I got started digging into the stuff that historians have been reluctant to discuss, I got hooked. For me, he became a mentor in how to find strength in weakness. His depression or PTSD wasn’t a handicap, it was an integral part of his remarkable giftedness.

PBS: What author has made the biggest impact on you? What author has influenced you as a writer? What author is a must-read for you?

DL: Specifically when it comes to my understanding of Lincoln’s psychology, Joshua Shenk’s book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, had a profound impact on me. I also put Chris Widener’s The Angel Inside right up there as one of the most important books I’ve ever read. It helped me release the author inside me from the prison where I had it locked away.

In terms of novelists, I’d say that Stephen King is a big influence, as well as Amy Tan and Kurt Vonnegut. No, I’m not a horror writer, nor do I write science fiction (at least not yet.) I read them for style points and for the way they take you inside their character’s heads. Vonnegut is kind of my hero when it comes to weaving humor into serious material.

I read anyone I can learn from regardless of genre.  When I read I’m studying how other writers use language, how they arc their plots, how they make characters come to life, and how they handle point of view.

PBS: Lincoln’s Diary is available both in Kindle and Nook editions, as well as paperback. Will you share your thoughts on ebooks and the influence they are or aren’t having on print book publishing?

DL: I think there will always be a huge demand for print books. I know a lot of people of all ages who enjoy snuggling up to the real thing. And in spite of all the press about ebooks outselling print books, I’ve sold about 4 paperbacks for every 1 ebook. Of course, I’m not a very big sample.

Personally, I love ebooks. Since downloading the Kindle app on my iPhone I’ve done a lot more reading. For some reason, I read faster on my phone than I do when I have a book in my hand. And my phone is always within reach. That’s not true of print books.

PBS: What is next for you? Do you have any up-coming books?

DL: First off, you can follow my blog http://dlfowler.wordpress.com where my posts deal with many things I discovered about Lincoln that didn’t’ make it into my novel. I’ll also be addressing themes from my upcoming projects. You can find me on Twitter @dlfowlernovels or on Facebook www://facebook.com/DLFowlerNovels. My website is http://dlfowler.com

I’m currently working on a novel that explores the fine line that separates ‘white collar psychopaths’ from serial killers. In this case, I’ll be stripping a retired CEO of everything that kept him from crossing that line in the past so we can watch what he does when his old defenses are gone. Now if I tell you any more, I’ll have to shoot you.


DL Fowler has generously provided an autographed copy of Lincoln’s Diary as a prize for a member who comments on this interview. A winner will be chosen at random.

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9 Responses to “Author Interview with DL Fowler”

  1. Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty) says:

    It is a very interesting subject. Can’t wait to read the book.

  2. Leslie (karobee88) says:

    Sounds like a fascinating read. I know little to nothing about Lincoln and you’ve definitely managed to pique my interest.

  3. Sandra (mycatscanread) says:

    One of my favorite subjects is Civil War history and that leads to an interest in Abraham Lincoln. I’ve always read about his depression or melancholy, but never about how he managed it, much less to the point of functioning as president during a civil war. Then for a writer to pattern a female character after Lincoln sounds like it makes for fascinating reading, and I definitely am going to read this book.

    The interview with Mr. Fowler about his book, Lincoln’s Diary, gives so much insight into how he conveyed his character’s feelings and how he learned so much about Lincoln that he was able to project Lincoln’s problems onto a female character. It’s easy to think that a writer just gets an idea and sits down to write, but a lot of research, as Mr. Fowler tells us, goes into the making of a book like this. The differences between how men and women handle feelings and emotions is good information and necessary for the book to be a success. Great research and understanding.

    I’m glad that he was asked and commented on ebooks. I read more books that I do ebooks, but I do love my Kindle. However, I agree that for some reason I tend to read faster on the Kindle.

    Now to go to the Kindle and download Lincoln’s Diary. I can’t wait to read what is in Lincoln’s Diary!

  4. […] at PaperBackSwap.com were kind enough to interview me on their blog. Here’s a link to our conversation. We talked about being how is it was for me, a man, to write from a female character’s POV, […]

  5. Sunny (sunny-1) says:

    It’s interesting to read about an author’s process. I’ve meet a few people in writer’s groups who say they don’t read much (go figure!!), but I’ve rarely heard about a published author who wasn’t a big reader. DL Fowler is no exception. I’ve always been interested in Lincoln and known about his psychological history, but not about how it informed who he was or how he dealt with it. It’s so easy today to reach for a pill. I’m looking forward to not only learning about new ways for people to deal with depression, but an entertaining read as well.

  6. Barbara says:

    Thank you for posting this interview! It sounds like DL Fowler’s book takes a fresh and thoughtful approach to Lincoln’s melancholy, and I look forward to reading it.

  7. Diane G. (icesk8tr) , says:

    I have just finished reading this book, and found it very interesting. History was always my least favorite in school, but I did enjoy this story and it got me thinking about what Lincoln did go through while he was president.

    Great interview!!

  8. Holly F says:

    Sounds great. I would love to read this and learn more about Abraham Lincoln.

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