Dan Haight is an emerging writer whose credits include the Flotilla series and many published short stories. As a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he refers to himself as a “blue collar geek” with a passion for writing, working with his hands and being a dad. Dan works as a “computer guy” by day and writes in his off-hours.
Dan began writing at age 12 and published his first short story in 2007. Flotilla, his first novel, was released in 2011 and its sequel, Iron Mountain, will be published on March 10, 2014. Readers can learn more about Dan and the world of Flotilla at flotillaonline.com.
My childhood informed the story of Flotilla, in that I was a messed-up kid like Jim was. My mistakes were different, but I had to grow up, discover who I was in the process, and work every day to wear the identity I had chosen for myself.
Flotilla is, in many ways, the story of a boy becoming a man. What does “being a man” mean to you and do you feel that the concept of masculinity has changed in recent years?
Being a man means choosing for yourself what values you want to be known for and what you intend to leave behind. For myself, I want to be known for being a good person who tells stories and leaves behind a legacy of love for my family, friends and for people who enjoy my books. I think people are thinking more about what masculinity means and how we should define it – it’s led to some interesting conversations and important decisions on the part of people as a whole.
What challenges did you face in bringing the world of Flotilla and Iron Mountain to life?
I think the biggest challenge is taking a book that doesn’t have a definitive genre to be the hardest part. It’s a dystopian fiction book, without the zombies. It’s a sci-fi book, but it takes place on a boat with current technology. It’s a book about growing up, but it happens at the end of the world. Finding the audience, convincing them to give me a shot … that’s been the hardest part.
How have you evolved as a writer over time?
It’s a craft and a discipline, so I take my lessons learned, go back and try to do things better the next time. That’s led me to using a plot outline, how to re-write, how to work with an editor… all of those bits and pieces that go into a job have been an iterative process. I’ve had to step up my game, learn how to listen to criticism without getting buried by trolls.
What’s the harshest piece of criticism you’ve received?
I’ve gotten a lot of harsh words from people on the internet when I engage on one topic or another. I can’t tell you what they said specifically. Thing is, the thing that makes it painful isn’t that it’s harsh… it’s that they have a point. That’s what hurts the most. It’s a lot of work for me to be objective about the criticism while retaining passion for the work. Very delicate balance.
What events in your life have shaped you the most?
The birth of my son convinced me to start writing again. Before that happened, I was a depressed, angry nerd convinced that I would never amount to anything and pissed off at the world for holding me back. Once he came along, I knew I had to step up and be the best Dan, best dad, best everything that I could be in order to earn the right to be his parent. I admit, it isn’t the most solid logic, but it worked for me and it’s kept me going.
What has been the most unexpectedly difficult aspect of raising a child? And what has been the most rewarding?
It’s unexpected how your unconscious assumptions of how the universe works are challenged on an almost daily basis. Not necessarily a bad thing, just difficult… your ego gets in the way more often than you realize. You spend a lot of time/energy figuring out you so that you aren’t inflicting your ego or ignorance on an innocent child. The most rewarding aspect is just being able to participate in his life – he’s a cool kid, bright and talented – I’m glad to be able to help him get his start.
Where do you feel most comfortable?
It’s not a place… it’s a state of mind. At the end of any project… any point where I was able to make something, build something, step back and look at the finished project. At that point, I’m happy and comfortable… I made it. It’s done. Until I get to that point, I’m uncomfortable… probably why I come across as a maniac to some people.
You’re elected King of the World. What’s the first thing you do to make life on earth better for all?
I declare jobs that require that you start work on Monday morning at 6:30am to be illegal. Further, I issue an executive order demanding that production start on Firefly, Season 2. Finally, the 49ers and the Seahawks replay the NFC championship and Kaepernick is not allowed to throw long passes at Crabtree with less than 60 seconds left and Sherman is all over him.
I’m still angry.
The 49ers are obviously a talented team, but the Seahawks have gotten very good very quickly. What do the 49ers have to do in the coming years to overtake them and claim a Super Bowl or two of their own?
Honestly? They have to stop thinking like Denethor the Steward of Gondor, and start thinking like Faramir… maybe that’s a “nerd” answer, but it contains a core of truth. Kap shouldn’t be trying to take it all upon himself, trying to be the big shot, making bomb plays that assume his receivers will to turn straw into gold every time. Be humble, set reasonable goals for himself and his team and build consistency over time, show your greatness by not seeking the glory all the time.
That’s just my opinion, though.
What do you have planned for the future?
I have a third book in the Flotilla series and then I have some other ideas to explore, surrounding people and technology in the near future. I like books that suck you in so much that you can smell the air, taste the food and feel the danger… some upcoming books will explore those topics.