Dennis Koller has published three novels and is currently hard at work on his fourth. His protagonist, Tom McGuire, is a former POW in Vietnam and now a world-weary, somewhat cynical, SFPD homicide inspector.
Dennis was born and raised in San Francisco. He earned a degree In Philosophy from Saint Mary’s College of California. Upon graduating, he entertained the idea of opening a little corner Philosophy store in San Francisco, but soon came to the realization that sometime in the past six or seven hundred years, the market for philosophers had cratered. Therefore, he taught high school for six years, earned a MBA, and transitioned to a career in collegiate administration.
He began writing his first novel, The Oath, in 2008. Four years later, he knew if the novel was going to be finished in his lifetime, he’d have to work on it full-time. Therefore, in early 2013, he made the leap, exchanging the everyday working world for the everyday writing world. He got such a rush when The Oath was finished in early 2014, he immediately began writing another novel. And then another. He is now working on his fourth.
Dennis says since he started writing books, his bank account has become decidedly smaller, but his satisfaction meter is off the charts. “I live in a delightful community with a wonderful, loving wife, and my reputation for well written, page-turning mystery-thriller novels is growing. I’m loving life.”
21 Things You Should Know About Me – Dennis Koller
- What book have you gifted the most? Why?
The Oath, far and away. Not only was it my first novel, it was also about something I am very passionate about – veterans, and especially veterans of the Vietnam conflict. America experienced so much social conflict and pain in those years, and those who served in Vietnam unfortunately had to bear the consequences of that upheaval for years and years afterward. The novel was, in part, written in recognition of the social pain they bore in having to deal with difficult and unresolved issues.
- What is the one productivity tool you use every day? Why?
I was the worst typist in the history of the world. Consequently, early in my career, I wrote everything out longhand, and then spent laborious hours typing it out. I didn’t have to channel my inner Ingmar Bergman (oh, oh … movie reference alert) to see that this was not a “productive” way to write a book. Therefore, I taught myself to type reasonably well while “creating.” A real time saver.
- What word do you misspell most often?
Cavalry versus Calvary. This was particularly annoying, as you can well imagine, when writing The Custer Conspiracy. People who read the raw transcript probably wondered whether the “7th Calvary” had some mysterious Christian meaning.
- What three things do you do to be a successful writer?
- Read vociferously.
- Don’t take myself too seriously.
- Try to forget adverbs exist
- What are the titles of the last two books you have read?
The Best Seller Code (Jodie Archer & Matthew Jockers) and Murder in the Rainy Season (Michael Billington)
- What is your favorite word?
Sarah (“say it loud and it’s music playing; say it soft and it’s almost like praying”)
- What do you use more often – a dictionary or a thesaurus?
A thesaurus … by far/by an inordinate amount/by a lot/infinitely more/by a large quantity/absolutely/for the most part; etc.
- What would you name the autobiography of your life?
A Life Well Lived
- What is your ‘go to’ munchie or drink while writing?
Coffee. Pots full of coffee.
- Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.
If you aspire to be a great writer, you’d better paint that picture in less than a thousand words.
- What animal are you most similar to and why?
A puppy dog — ’cause I’m “cute and cuddly?” Ha!
- How would your best friend describe you?
- What keeps you up at night? (and don’t say howling dogs)
How to describe a particular action scene in the novel I’m writing (I toss and turn for hours thinking about those scenes).
- What is one thing you will never do again?
Have an eight-to-five job. I love the freedom of being an author – particularly when I remember the years I spent in my car driving the hour and a half commute to and from work. Never again!
- If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare?
Weather permitting, I’d grill salmon.
- What is the best compliment you have received – or would like to receive?
“Wanted you to know I couldn’t put your book down. I finished it in two days.” This was told to me by a gentleman who read my novel Kissed By The Snow, and, because he had trouble with his eyes, told me it usually took him two to three weeks to finish a book.
- What question do you hate to answer?
Why don’t you just send your book to Hollywood so they can make it into a movie?
- Crowds, small groups or ‘go away’?
I like people. I love to give talks about my novels and the “business of books” to SRO crowds.
- What would you sing at Karaoke night?
The Twelfth of Never
- If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Caution: Low tolerance for superficial minds.
- What is the one question you wished I would have asked you? Why?
What advantages are there to being an “indie” author? Most people think there is a stigma attached to being an author published by a small press; i.e. you’re not good enough to be picked up by a mainstream publishing house. While that may have been true 20 years ago, it is no longer the case. I don’t have enough time here to explain how the industry has changed. You’ll just have to believe me that being an independent author has a lot of cool things going for it.