Douglas Abrams, Writing, & Don Juan

It is my pleasure to introduce my guest post and short interview with Douglas Abrams, the author of The Lost Diary of Don Juan, and he will talk about what inspired him to write the novel, what his daily writing routine consists of, and what he’s working on now. If you missed my review of The Lost Diary of Don Juan, go here.

Doug is currently making his rounds of the blogosphere on a virtual book tour, and you have probably already seen him on Paperback Writer and Review Your Book. He has tour dates selected for Booking Mama, Novel Menagerie, and Literarily, among others. Check out the other dates, here.

Without further ado, here’s Douglas Abrams:

One night I went to bed asking myself a question that I believe every married man or woman asks eventually: how could I stay happily and passionately married for the rest of my life?

The next morning I awoke as if I had been shaken. It was then that I first thought of Don Juan, the universal symbol of passion. I wondered what if he had kept a diary. What secrets would it contain? What could we learn from him about the nature of passion? And ultimately, what might cause the world’s greatest seducer to forsake all women for one woman? I left my wife’s warm sleeping body, walked past our three sleeping children, and sat down at the dining room table. It was as if a voice was whispering the story in my ear.

This is how I decided to write an historical diary exploring Don Juan’s life, his passionate relationships, and his eventual fall into the madness of love. I spent over four years reconstructing the world of 16th century Sevilla, including several trips to Seville itself. The book, which began as an inquiry into the nature of love and lust, took on a life of its own and led me on thrilling adventure into the rich and dangerous world of Golden Age Spain.

So what, you may ask, is the secret to lasting passion and devotion? In the novel, Don Juan finds his answer. I hope that within its pages you will find yours.

For a quick look at the book, check out his sample chapters.

Here’s my brief interview with Doug Abrams about his writing process.

Do you have a set writing routing? Do you get up early and start writing or do you write when the mood hits?

I’m a whenever-I-can-steal-the-time writer, which means I write in the morning and at night, whenever I’m not juggling my three children, my other work as a literary agent, or the responsibilities and joys of marriage. What has really been a lifesaver is going away periodically on long writing retreats. The challenge with novels is that you are working with a very large canvas, sort of like an enormous Delacroix hanging in the Louvre, so it is essential for me to step out of daily routines to immerse myself in the fictional world.

Are you working on any other projects, and if so would you care to tantalize my readers with a few hints?

Yes, I am currently finishing the second novel in my two-book contract. Although quite different, all of my novels will attempt to tell dramatic stories that also convey some of the ancient insights about how we can live on this planet with greater joy and wisdom. My next novel is a contemporary diary, an ecological thriller, and a mythic fiction about a love that is even more powerful than passionate love. I began with the question: can we survive as a species, and if so, how?

I want to thank Doug for taking time out of his busy schedule to write a guest post and answer a few questions about his writing process. I also would like to thank Zoe and Michelle for their help as well. If you haven’t read his book, you should grab a copy from a local bookstore, an online bookstore, or your local library.

Lost Diary of Don Juan, Found

Douglas Carlton AbramsThe Lost Diary of Don Juan transports the reader into a world where honor and piety are praised in 16th Century Seville, Spain, at the height of the Inquisition. But love must be chaste, and not lustful. Don Juan is fabled to be one of the greatest lovers and seducers of women, much like Cassanova. This work of fiction, written in a diary format, examines the inner Don Juan, his philosophies about love and lust, and his desire to remain honorable even as a galanteador. He refuses to tell tales of his “conquests,” a term that really is inappropriate in the context of this novel. Don Juan does not conquer these women, but sets them free from the constraints of a society against passion and living life.

The sexual encounters in the novel are well portrayed and not too graphic, which is pleasing. Don Juan’s humor is inviting as he talks about seducing women on the ground floor so he won’t have to jump from trees to balconies any longer. There is often more than one side to a character or historical figure. These are humans after all and are we not multifaceted. I love the way in which Abrams fleshes out Don Juan as a sympathetic character in spite of his desires to lay with multiple women. He is not only a cad, but one who is afraid of truly loving one woman and becoming beholden to her as her faithful husband. He fears this love because he does not deem himself worthy.

Don Juan is a sympathetic and believable character, but his redemption is short-lived. It’s a classic love story full of redemption, despite its fleeting nature. He loves women, and in some ways worships them. Don Juan is unaware of what he is missing in these fleeting relationships because his adrenaline pumps through his veins as he leaves their homes and seeks to escape their angry husbands and fathers. That is until he meets Dona Ana.

This novel has all the makings of a great historical piece from the duels and the honorable father to the trapped maiden, the wrath of the Inquisitor, and the betrayal of misplaced loyalties. Abrams carefully chooses his language to describe the streets and alleys of Sevilla, Espana, while sprinkling the text with Spanish words. This technique provides the diary technique with greater authenticity.

Although Don Juan is often thought of as a cad, this novel will provide readers with an alternative view–a renewed perspective on why one man sought love in the arms of numerous women and why that one man ultimately met his match.

***Reminder, tonight at Midnight the contest ends for a copy of Writing the Wave or a subscription to Writer’s Digest. Check out the rules and enter here.

Also Reviewed By:
Booking Mama
Bookish Ruth
In Bed With Books
Bookroom Reviews
The Literate Housewife
A Novel Menagerie