Interview With Derek Williams: The Man Behind “The Disillusioned”
For the past fifteen years, Derek Williams has worked in the non-profit and entertainment industry. He has produced media projects that have raised awareness to help those in need. With the DNA of a world traveler, Williams was born in Hong Kong, has ventured into the jungles of the Amazon, the bush of Africa, and the slums of the Far East, to share stories of those who are overcoming incredible odds.
And now his first novel, The Disillusioned, tackles a very interesting issue. Here is a brief summary:
A mother’s suicide threatens to destroy a family legacy. Her sons, Sam and Daniel, are forced to leave their comfortable worlds behind and search for a woman they believe can unlock the secrets that have remained hidden.
They are propelled into separate journeys from Los Angeles to the heart of the Zambezi, where they are forced to confront a man known as Die Duiwel, the Devil.
On their adventures they will find themselves in a place where death is one breath away, where thousands of children are disappearing into the darkness, and where the woman they are searching for is on the hunt for revenge. When they stand face-to-face with the forgotten slaves of Africa, they will fight to redeem what has been lost.
In the conversation below, the author shares more about his inspirations and his research process:
Why did you decide to write about human trafficking?
When I began writing The Disillusioned I planned on the story being centered around family secrets, but I never intended for the story to involve human trafficking. The more I developed the characters, the more I was drawn in by the idea of placing them face to face with the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. As I talked with friends who are involved with raising awareness and building aftercare facilities for those rescued the decision was made. I hope that not only will readers be drawn in by the suspense, mystery, and adventure, but they will also see the truth within it’s pages.
How did you research the book?
Spending months researching for a novel is something that is hard for me to do. I find that its better for me to just start writing a first draft and see where the story leads. Anytime I outline, or research too much in advance, I spend more time reworking my outline than I do writing. So, I work more towards zones, or plot points, in my novels and allow the story and characters to unfold. I only research when I’m looking for something specific. In The Disillusioned, I was able to draw on personal experiences and experiences of friends in regards to what happens behind the scenes of religion or in the fight against human trafficking. While there is nothing in The Disillusioned that I would consider non-fiction, I have taken what I’ve learned and added my own fictional twist.
What was the most difficult in the process of writing?
I think the biggest challenge was carving out the time to write within my current production schedule. I had to make a choice that I was going to finish the novel no matter how long it took. I would write early in the morning, late at night, on weekends, and when I traveled. Whenever I had a few minutes I’d grab my iPad and try and get something on the page.
Over time the flow grew stronger and before I knew it I had a first draft. The process was more challenging because I added in a few extra characters throughout the novel that I didn’t have in the first draft.
So, there was a ton of rewriting that happened which made it more difficult. Of course, writing a novel is never a quick process, but I’m learning that the art of telling a good story is to endure those moments of difficulty and maybe even put some of them on the page.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m writing a novel that connects a present day homicide with a real life mystery from the twenties. For those interested, I’m pulling back the curtain during the writing process to give exclusive access of snippets from chapters, characters, videos from various locations, a glimpse into my writing life, and readers will be able to share their opinions through various polls.
Can you give us some notable mystery books which you have read recently?