Last week I went through the design process of the cover for Dave Schulz’s novel Searching for Sound. This week I have an interview with Dave about how he came to write the novel.
Almost two years ago I met Dave online at Silver Pen Writers. That chance meeting turned into a great friendship. Over the year and a half that followed our first encounter, I worked with Dave to help him turn Searching for Sound into a polished book that he has published in both ebook and print formats.
By way of plugging the novel, I can heartily recommend it, not because of my part in helping bring it to fruition, but because it really is a great story. It should appeal to a variety of reading tastes, and you’ll discover that much of the novel parallels Dave Schulz’s own life experiences as told in the interview below.
Before starting the interview, I’d like to mention a couple of amazing coincidences that came out of this experience. I received the first draft of Dave’s manuscript on May 14, 2014, a Wednesday. My wife and I had planned a trip to Cleveland, Ohio, exactly three weeks later.
At that point, I hadn’t looked closely at Dave’s manuscript and didn’t realize that the story took place in Cleveland. In fact, the hotel we were staying at was on East 9th Street and Superior Avenue. In the first paragraph of that first draft was the following sentence: “He stood on the corner of Euclid and East 9th…” Euclid Avenue was a mere three blocks south of our hotel, and our first evening in Cleveland (a rainy one), we had been to that very corner. Below is a photo we took of the location the following year when we were again in Cleveland. The photo is taken from the northwest corner looking southeast.
And if the Cleveland connection was not coincidence enough, the following April, my wife and I had planned a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando. By that time, Dave and I were heavy into editing his novel, and I told him that I’d be out of town for a week, but I didn’t mention where. He emailed me back that he would also be out of town that week, visiting a good friend in… Orlando. We arranged to meet for lunch one day.
SIDE NOTE: For those who may not realize it, there is a lot to see in Cleveland—including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—and we hadn’t seen nearly all we wanted to see the first time. Since my wife and I only live a few hours away from Cleveland, it’s a great place to spend a few days. They have an excellent theater district, where we saw the Broadway show The Book of Mormon, the primary reason for our second visit to Cleveland.
So, let’s move into Dave’s interview and story.
(1) RICK: Dave, tell us a little about yourself and your background.
DAVE: I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I was not a great student in school and didn’t have a lot of close friends. I spent a lot of time listening to AM radio and was always enamored with musicians and what they could do. I can still remember where I was at when I heard “I Want To Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. I loved what the Beatles were doing ever since they came to America.
As a young child, I learned to play piano and guitar but never really found my passion for music until I was in high school. It was during this time that I learned to play electric guitar in a rock-and-roll style. This was around 1970. Woodstock had just occurred the previous year, and a lot of excellent bands and musicians were breaking onto the scene. FM radio was still in its “purest” form with several underground stations that were playing great tunes, and not just the Top 40 of the day.
During those high school days and into college, a friend of mine and I were practicing guitar together. We started a band, as he became interested in the bass guitar. Through several bands and projects, separately and together, we formed one band that had some success in the Cleveland area and around the suburbs. This was in that period about 1973 to 1974 where a lot of great music was still being written.
While in college, I started in the business college and continued with my poor grades for about three years when I decided to change my major to music, to the dislike of my parents. However, I was completely intrigued with everything and anything to do with music. I was determined to make it my life. So, I started on this adventure to learn everything and every style of music that I could, from rock to blues, jazz, and country. There was a period that all I did was practice. I literally ate, drank, and slept music. If it didn’t have anything to do with music, then I didn’t want anything to do with it. Going to music school became another passion. Now, I had a reason to not think or do anything but music. This is where I learned the classical music idiom and focused on the classical guitar.
Through this period, I got to learn and study with some great players and played with a lot of bands and styles: country, rock, folk, jazz, lounge, and even a long stint with a wedding band. I wanted to be versatile and eventually move to doing studio work as a guitarist. I had a wide range of guitar heroes from Eric Clapton, Steve Howe, and Johnny Winters, to Howard Roberts, Tommy Tedesco, and Andres Segovia.
After getting my bachelor’s degree in guitar, I went on to get my master’s in music composition. This was now the late ’70s and early ’80s. It was at this time, while writing composition with the electronic music idiom, that I became interested in electronics. As one thing lead to another, I went on to get another degree in electronics and became interested in computer networking at the very early stages of this industry. I still laugh when I remember people asking what a network engineer did.
As life moved forward, something had changed. I ended up getting married, getting a job in, yes, you guessed it, computer networking, where I continue to work to this day. I kept playing through the early years with several gospel groups and Christian churches. However, my playing had seemed to wane considerably since my early days. Something was wrong and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Don’t get me wrong. Life is great from my perspective. I have a great family, a fantastic wife, and three wonderful children that now have their own successful careers.
(2) As I understand it, this project didn’t start off being something you expected to publish. Tell us about your motivation for writing it in the first place.
Exactly! So, as I mentioned, throughout the later years of my life I felt that something was missing. However, I knew what that something was: passion. I needed to find it.
In the movie, Field of Dreams, there is a part where a child is choking. One of the players, who had decided to move away from playing baseball to pursue a career in medicine, comes to her aid. But to do that he must make the decision to step over the line. I always remember the words spoken to him: “You can never go back.” And that is so true in our lives, as the past can never be the present no matter how hard we try. But what I believe that we can get back is our passion, enthusiasm, and drive to do better. And that is how this project started.
In my younger days, I was always trying to find a new and different sound, but this search always seemed to escape my grasp. This is where the title started as Searching for Sound. More recently, before starting this project, I had written several technical documents and one book within my career field of computer networking, but I never imagined publishing a novel. And this started the same way. I never intended to publish a novel. This project started out as a self-introspection, self-healing, and self-discovery sort of project to find something that I had lost: my passion for music and the guitar.
Oh yes, the guitar and I have had one long love/hate relationship over the years! But I needed to resolve this and get healing once and for all. So, I just started writing, not knowing where it would take me. I was teaching in networking and IP telephony throughout the US and used most of the time in planes, airports, and hotels to work on the early drafts. This went on for about four years, and I finally got my answer about halfway into the book. That was refreshing, and I started to play guitar again. It was a hard road back, but that was okay. I was moving in the forward direction. Anyway, as it turned out, a close friend of mine encouraged me in my writing and told me about the Silver Pen website for writers, and from there I decided to take it to the next level and expand the book and work with an editor. And twenty plus revisions later, here we are today.
(3) How long did it take you to write it (from concept to a solid first draft)?
Wow, that is a tough question. As I mentioned, I did the first draft in about four years. Of course, I thought it was “solid,” but as I came to learn, not so much. I sent it off to a few publishers and it was quickly rejected. That was a bit hard to swallow at first, but it put me on the road to learning how to write, edit, and re-write. Little did I know that I would put in twenty more revisions to get this project to its final form. And I believe those revisions took just under another three years.
(4) At what point did you decide to turn it into a potentially publishable book?
I made the decision to try to publish it when I truly got out of the project what I wanted: to find my passion. This happened about two years into the writing in draft form. Then, I said to myself, “Maybe I should turn it into a bit of a mystery and try to get it published.”
You see, the first part of the writing was very difficult for me. I was doing a lot of soul-searching and bringing up some real events that had caused so pain in my life. But I knew these were things that I had to deal with… and deal with them honestly. Many of these same events are in the pages of this final version of the book. Anyway, there were a lot of tears and stuff that I had to deal with during this time, which is probably the reason why it took that long to write. I would write a chapter, and then I would have to put it down for a while to deal directly with what I had unearthed in my life.
(5) Many times a book will change from its first inception to the finished product. Was that the case here, and if so, what changed along the way?
Very much so, in this case. It was about halfway through that I found what was missing. In the story, Dave and Alex are both me. The younger version of me, Alex, needed to touch the life of Dave (the current me) to help one another to find what was missing and why things had happened as they did. Even though this started as a complete non-fiction work, after the healing part had occurred, it quickly turned to fiction. However, my desire was now changed from “help myself” to “try to help others.” I realized here that others are also struggling with some of the same things that I may have gone through, and maybe in a different way. However, my desire was that others would pick up the book and find something in it for them, and not just a fun story.
(6) Based on your experience in writing and publishing this book, do you have any advice for writers out there?
Oh, yes! Don’t EVER give up. You can do it. I never considered myself to be writer. In school, my worst grades were in writing papers, English, and Literature. If you have any desire to write… just do it. Pick up the pen and paper and just write about something. Write about something you know. Write about something you care about. Then, read books to get ideas. One book that I feel is a MUST for anyone aspiring to be a writer is the book by Stephen King, called On Writing, where he talks about the craft of writing and how he approaches his writing projects. Finally, get around other writers. Make sure that they are “positive” and can provide a good critique of your work. As mentioned earlier, SILVER PEN WRITERS is a site that is perfect for this. You can submit your work and others can critique and offer input and encouragement.
(7) Anything else you’d like to add?
Through my self-discovery and the writing of this book, I have learned many things about myself and things that I struggle with like having to work harder than most (nothing ever came easy for me), caring way too much about what others think (I still need to keep working on that one, but doing better), and understanding that life never follows a straight line like you think it will. Life is a combination of twists and turns that takes us to a destination, and what we think is the best place to get to is not always where we should be.
Back in my early twenties, I thought that I would be travelling on the road with some well-known rock band. I never thought I would be settled into a professional career of thirty-some years with a family and life in the city. However, I look back and see that what I wanted back then was not the best for my life. In the late 1970s I came into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, met my wonderful wife, and my life has been blessed.
Thanks for this opportunity to share my experiences through the writing of the novel, Searching for Sound. Again, my desire is for others to find encouragement and passion for their own lives in whatever the pursuit, whether you are in your first year of college starting music school, or just trying to get back to something that you lost, like I was trying to do.
I thank Dave Schulz for sharing his thoughts with us. As I was helping him edit the book—through all those twenty-some revisions—I never got tired of reading it. It’s an amazing story, made even more so by knowing that it’s a very personal one. If you’re looking to read something different for a change, you won’t be disappointed with Searching for Sound. And there are some really cool surprises in it.
Clicking on the cover to the right will take you to the novel on Amazon.com.