JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish “Conversations on the Bench”?

DC: “Conversations on the Bench” was a bit of a different writing process for me. Basically when I start a fiction novel, I first make some notes about what I want to happen and who I want the characters to be. I formulate the story and create an outline of sorts as a guide for the story. Then, I just start writing.

Since “Conversations on the Bench” was based on real people and actual events, I had to take a bit of a different approach. It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea of the project, since it represented a departure from my normal style and genre.

I only met Sebastian and Robbie on one occasion before I started writing the book. Granted, that one occasion involved interaction over a couple days, but that was hardly enough to be familiar with either of them to be able to write the book.

So, after I had committed to writing this, I had many phone conversations and some e-mail exchanges with Robbie. This was a lot of research that needed to be done so that I could capture Sebastian and his lessons in the book. I’d call Robbie and let him talk for as long as he wanted to talk. He’d tell me stories and explain the lessons and in what context Sebastian had made the lessons relevant to him. This part of the process took the longest.

It probably took three or four years off and on. I’d get sidetracked or Robbie would get sidetracked, and sometime it would be tough to connect and talk. But once I got all the information I needed, I sat down to write the book and pretty much took the same approach as with any other book.

I had a good deal of notes about the main characters, so I didn’t have to create them out of nothing. I sorted through all the notes and organized them then made an outline of what I thought would be the best way to present the conversations and lessons. Once I started writing it took me about seven months to finish the manuscript.

All told it was a much lengthier process from start to finish than what is normal for me. “Murder at the Ocean Forest” took me about three months to write. “The Versailles Conspiracy” took a couple of years. “The House of Dark Shadows” and “The Maynwarings” took about seven months each. “Conversations on the Bench” was a much bigger project. It took a lot longer. I don’t rush things, because I don’t want to release a book that isn’t exactly up to my own personal standards, and I think the readers and fans appreciate that.

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