Introducing Dan Coonan
When I first began to work on this interview, the quote “You are never too old to become who you were meant to be,” came to me. Later, when Dan and I were discussing his advice for authors, it was the very quote he listed for me.
His journey is why.
Coonan’s debut novel, Presidential Spirits was published by Goose River Press when he was 57 years young. Writing had always been a part of his life, working in various professions across the United States of America, always taking chances, because, as he says, “I love the chase”. It took until his 50s for him to dive in and give his dream of authoring a novel a go. “Writing has been an essential element of my career from the start. I wrote for the Law Review in Law School and of course wrote every day in my seven years of practicing law – legal briefs, contracts, letters, etc. I wrote campaign materials when I helped run a congressional race. I wrote extensively as an Athletic Director. We started an Athletics magazine at Santa Clara and I wrote much of the content along with my Media Relations staff. “I started writing political commentaries four years ago and have had many of those published. “But my “writing career” really began at age 57 with the publication of Presidential Spirits.”
The influence of others.
“I have really wanted to be a writer – an author specifically – since 6th grade,” Coonan says, “I had a phenomenal teacher who spent an hour a week with our class for Creative Writing. I loved that time and his methods – as well as his feedback. I realized then that this is something I wanted to do”
So what held him back?
“Convincing yourself in the first place that you can actually pull it off. That takes supreme confidence bordering on arrogance, perhaps. That was the hardest part for me. “In college I got permission from the Dean to take a Creative Writing Course in the Arts & Letters College (I needed permission because I was a Business Major). The professor was a published author and screenwriter. She was very encouraging. I promised her I’d write a novel one day.” As Coonan says himself of his journey, “Looking back on it all, I am overcome with gratitude for all who helped along the way, and for the good fortune and blind luck that paved my way. Like my guy Satch says in Presidential Spirits, ‘I’m far from done here. There are many chapters still ahead. And those chapters just seem to be getting better and better as we go along.’”
Encouraged by others Coonan was ready for his next adventure. It was time to write that book. But what kind of book?
“I love big epic tales full of passion and emotion and a little bit of something fairy tale-like that change a little something about the world and make you think. Stories like Frank Capra’s movie It’s a Wonderful Life.”
And the inspiration for Presidential Spirits specifically?
“My novel Presidential Spirits was inspired by WP Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe, which was adapted to the screen in the movie Field of Dreams, and by Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris. “I should also say I was also inspired by our country’s political divide and the debilitating state of our politics in this country.”
What does he love most about writing?
“So many things. Being creative in ways unlike I had ever done before personally or professionally. The emotional release of sitting down at the end of each day and writing for two hours. It’s one of the best parts of my day. And then of course seeing that it touched so many people, and receiving notes and emails or messages on my website from people I didn’t even know. “And, perhaps more than anything, the journey. I’m always up for an epic journey. And that’s what this is – scaling three separate and equally challenging summits: writing it, finding the right home for it, and marketing it. “I got great advice to write the novel you would most like to write. I am most proud of the fact that I somehow managed to do that.”
And who is Coonan’s favourite author?
Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird.
“Because of the success she achieved, particularly given her background and circumstances. The topics she confronted at the time she addressed them. The impact her words had and still have. The mystery surrounding her. That this world-renown success was achieved by a woman. “And on top of all that, how she kind of embodies both the American dream and the mythology of romance of the dream so many millions have of setting out to become an author. And she crushed it, and then walked away.”
Dan Coonan’s novel Presidential Spirits is available now through the following sites:
Review of Dan Coonan’s Presidential Spirits
You can keep up with Dan and his writing through the below:
Personal website: https://dancoonanauthor.com/