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Author Interview: Mike Thayer and The Double Life of Danny D Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author Mike Thayer here to share about his new MG contemporary/fantasy The Double Life of Danny D. It sounds like a funny contemporary that also has fantasy elements.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A boy who lives every day twice uses his ability to bring down bullies at his new school in Mike Thayer's humor-filled middle grade novel, The Double Life of Danny Day.

My name is Danny Day, and I live every day twice.

The first time, it’s a “discard day.” It’s kind of like a practice run. At the end of the day, I go to bed, wake up, and poof everything gets reset, everything except my memory, that is.

The second time, everything is normal, just like it is for everyone else. That’s when everything counts and my actions stick. As you could probably guess, “Sticky Day” Danny is very different from “Discard Day” Danny.

When Danny’s family moves across the country, he suddenly has to use his ability for more than just slacking off and playing video games. Now he's making new friends, fending off jerks, exposing a ring of cheaters in the lunchtime video game tournament, and taking down bullies one day at a time ... or is it two days at a time?

Hi Mike! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I’m a proud father of three, lucky husband of one, passionate author, budding podcaster, lifelong gamer, viral blogger, degreed engineer, decent impressionist, inept hunter, erstwhile jock, and nerd.

Even though my dad was a creative professor for over half a century (teaching the likes of Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, and Brandon Mull) I didn’t do much novel writing in my youth. Heck, I hardly even read (outside the required books for school, of course). I was far too busy with football, video games, and thinking about girls. I went on to get a degree in chemical engineering, got married, had kids, and started my career in oil & gas before I even thought to put pen to paper. I always enjoyed writing and storytelling, but never thought to actually try to write a novel until watching Return of the King for probably the fifth time. I wanted to know if I could come up with something that awesome. I tinkered around on ideas for a long time before jumping headfirst into writing. I did online courses, listened to podcasts, watched lectures, but most importantly, I wrote. I spent 7 years cutting my teeth on a 200,000-word behemoth of a novel that will thankfully never see the light of day. After that, I began work on The Epic Adventures of Techno Wizard, which I self-published in April 2018. I’ve got three of those books out now. I started writing another novel (The Double Life of Danny Day) as a little side project between Techno Wizard 2 and 3 and it got actually picked up an agent and then a major publisher (Macmillan). That’s how it works sometimes. The big moments come when you least expect them.

2. Wow! Your dad taught some amazing authors. Glad you followed in his tradition of getting into creative writing. Where did you get the idea for The Double Life of Danny Day and the idea of living each day twice?

All my ideas basically come from two thoughts: “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and “Man, I wish I could…”

Techno Wizard was “wouldn’t it be cool if in a portal fantasy, the main character still had cell phone signal back to earth?” Danny Day was from all the times that I thought “man, I wish I could redo today, knowing what I know now.” It was a such a cool hook with endless possibilities, I just knew I had to write it to see how it would play out.

3. Those are great thoughts to generate story ideas. How did you plot out your story and keep track of Danny living every day twice?

As you can imagine, writing a book like this comes with some pretty unique plotting challenges. To map out the days I used a gigantic sheet of paper and laid out each of the days, making sure that not only were the “discard” and “sticky” days aligned for every calendar day, but that all the actions that Danny performed on discard days were completely forgotten by everyone else. It definitely added a layer of complexity that I wasn’t used to. The editing was the most difficult part. If my editor wanted a scene pulled up or pushed back, I had to either move around both iterations of the day or completely unzip the discard day from the sticky day and try to perform literary surgery with what was left. I had some definite head-scratching moments pulling this one off. 

4. Your first series, The Epic Adventure of The Techno Wizard, is an epic fantasy series. This is more of a contemporary story with a bit of fantasy. Do you have a preference for either genre? Why?

I obviously enjoy both, but my heart and soul is with big epic fantasy and superhero stories. It might not be immediately obvious, but Danny is a kind of super hero. He has a very unique power and he uses it to “fight against evil”, which in his case is taking on bullies. I even sneak in a pretty fantastical environment by having a bunch of action take place inside Champions Royale, the video game around which a lot of the main conflict revolves. I could write a dozen more Danny Day books, but I very much want to return to writing epic/super hero fantasy.

5. I love fantasies too. Humor is hard for many writers to include in their stories, but it really appeals to kids. Share how you incorporated it in The Double Life of Danny Day. What advice do you have for other writers on how to make their stories more humorous?

Humor has always been such a big part of my life. Growing up, conversations in my family were often clever and witty with a lot of word play. Any time I’m with my old friends, I laugh so hard my body hurts. Humor is such an essential part of my life that any story I read or movie I see that doesn’t have humor ends up lacking a certain degree of authenticity for me. Some humor comes naturally when you write, but there are a lot of jokes or opportunities for jokes that I won’t see until later drafts. Sometimes I won’t know the joke off hand, but I can just tell the situation has set itself up for a joke or two if I kick it around long enough. I guess my advice would be to always look for where you can believably slip in a joke, especially in later drafts. Think of the funniest people you know and try to imagine how they would react or the kinds of things they might say in a certain situation. Heck, you could even ask them what they would do or say in a given situation.

6. Share a bit about Danny and your three favorite things about him.

1) He has a unique super power that I would LOVE to have. 2) He’s not afraid to really push the boundaries on a discard day and really have some fun. 3) He loves his family. Too many books have family members always at each other’s throats. He loves his little twin sisters and he loves his mom enough to try and protect her from all mayhem that his sisters cause. I also focus a lot on Danny’s relationship with his dad, which is always a meaningful thing for me to explore since I lost my dad in 2017 to cancer.

7. You started out as a self-published author. The Double Life of Danny Day is being traditionally published. What was your road to getting a contract with a publisher like?

Like many authors, my road to getting published was full of rejection and a lot of waiting. The Techno Wizard, while an incredible book series, never landed an agent or a book deal. The book I wrote before Techno Wizard also never landed an agent or a book deal. By the time I had written Danny Day, I was actually pretty disillusioned with the whole traditional publishing route. I really considered not even querying agents, but ended up writing a really quirky query letter and sent it out, thinking I had nothing to lose. I got agents biting immediately. I couldn’t believe it worked. My current agent was one of the first ones who got back to me. She loved the story, always believed it, and it was because of this that I ended up signing with her. We did some pretty hefty revisions and then put it on submission to editors. I thought the offers would come flooding in immediately as they had done for many of my friends. I was wrong. Weeks went by, then months. I had all but given up hope when Macmillan finally showed interest after five months. Then a bunch of other publishers showed interest. It’s a weird thing. No one cares until someone cares, then everyone seems to care. I eventually signed a two-book deal with Macmillan and it was as glorious of a moment as I had always dreamed it would be.

8. That’s an awesome way to get an agent. I saw on your website that you’ve done a lot of school visits, which I assume were before COVID. Some of them were with big groups of kids. How did you set up all your school visits and presentations? What advice do you have to other authors wanting to set them up once schools are open full-time again?

Yes, my school visits were pre-COVID although I was recently able to return in person to one school, which is awesome. Even though I did virtual school visits during COVID, nothing compares to doing a big group in person. It’s one of my absolute favorite parts of being an author. I’ve always loved presenting and public speaking, so doing school visits was a very natural thing for me to do. I started by doing presentations to my kids’ classes, then just began contacting librarians at nearby schools. I did the presentations for free at first and then was quickly told by a librarian that I needed to charge for my assemblies and workshops. Librarians talked to other librarians and more and more schools started getting back to me and opening up doors. I would tell new authors to start small, really hone your presentation (it’s very similar to a stand-up comedy routine), notice when kids laugh and play up those parts. Take note of when they seem bored and cut those parts out. To get good, you need reps and you don’t want your first one to be in front of 500 kids on a Friday afternoon. Talk to librarians, give out free bookmarks, free books, make yourself available, be flexible. If budget is an issue to a school, be flexible. My goal is always to just get in front of kids, educate them, inspire them, and entertain them. If you have a passion for your stories, public speaking, and engaging with kids, let these emotions shine through, dial it up.

9. Those are great tips. How are you planning to market this book? Are your plans any different than for your first series? If so, why did you decide on these changes?

I’ve gone much more aggressive with this book on contacting book reviewers, bloggers, bookstagrammers, doing giveaways, etc. I haven’t been able to do in-person school visits, so that’s hurt, but I’ve tried to do as many virtual visits as possible. My wife also went around to all thirty schools in my town and handed out bookmarks. I’ve chatted with local bookstores about coordinating events (COVID protocols willing). Some of what I’m doing this time is the same, some of it is different because I know the ropes now, and still other parts I’m able to pull off now because I have the backing of a major publisher. I really prefer to do as many in-person events as possible, which in the current environment is limited, but things are opening back up, so I’d love to hit schools hard in the fall.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the final edits of my next novel, which comes out June, 2022. It’s called The Talent Thief and is about a girl who suddenly gets the ability to steal people’s talents for a day. It’s my first book with a female protagonist and I think it turned out awesome. Hopefully I’ll get a contract to work on sequels for The Double Life of Danny Day because I have a million ideas for cool scenarios for Danny.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Mike. You can find Mike at www.Mike-Thayer.com, www.TheTechnoWizardBooks.com, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  

Giveaway Details

Mike has generously offered a hardback of The Double Life of Danny Day for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 3rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The giveaway is U.S. (Contiguous 48 states).

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, June 28th I have an interview with Sacha Wunsch, founder of As You Wish Literary, with a 5 first pages plus query critique or 10 first page critique giveaway

Thursday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 7th I have an interview with debut author Kate Norris and a giveaway of her YA contemporary When You and I Collide

Monday, July 12th I have an interview with debut author Cliff Burke and a giveaway of his MG contemporary An Occasionally Happy Family

Wednesday, July 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Analieze Cervantes and a query critique giveaway

Friday, July 16th I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 19th I have an interview with debut author Alysa Wishingrad and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Verdigris Pawn

Monday, July 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Allison Hellegers and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!



Greg Pattridge said...

Great interview. I like how things suddenly fell into place for Mike. Mrs. Yingling Reads calls the new book "Thought provoking and fun" in her review today for MMGM. That's all I needed to have this high on my future read list.

DMS said...

This book really intrigues me. I have read books where kids have an extra day a week, or they relive the same day over and over- but this sounds very different. I love the idea of the two days and the second being the sticky day. Definitely will add this to my list.

Wishing Mike all the best! Thanks for a chance to win a copy. :)

Brenda said...

Love the idea of having a redo day to fix the things that went wrong before. Very intriguing and nice interview. Have a lovely week Natalie. A huge congratulations to Mike.

Tonja Drecker said...

This sounds like such an interesting read...and I love the cover.

Computer Tutor said...

This book sounds delightful and I love the snippet. Great voice!

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

The Double Life of Danny Day sounds like such a creative story, and I can imagine readers will love it! It was fascinating to hear about Thayer's thoughts on humor and experience getting published. I'll pass on the giveaway, but thanks so much for the great interview!

Stephanie Owen said...

This book sounds great. My students would love it!

Danielle H. said...

This book has an intriguing, unique, and exciting premise. I'm making sure I have it on my TBR. Humor in the books I read is important as it is in my life too. I love to make people laugh. Thank you for the interview! I follow Natalie on Twitter.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Nice interview. I love the premise!

Melanie D said...

Details from this interview will make it into my conversation with kids about Double Life and Mr. Thayer, esp. the little nugget about who his dad had in his classroom and how, at the time, that wasn’t a big deal to him! I’m adding this book to my libraries’ considerations lists for the upcoming school year, but it sure would be nice to win a copy for one of them!! Mdulaney@hisd.com

traveler said...

A wonderful story and delightful book. My grandson would love this treasure and enjoy the story greatly. Thanks for your creative ability and talent. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Liz A. said...

That sounds like a fun book.

Randomly Reading said...

Thanks for the review and interview. I hadn't heard of this book, but it sounds interesting and fun. I've certainly had days I wish I could have lived over like this.

Jennifer P. said...

Your story premises are very interesting. Can’t wait to read your books. Congratulations!

Ella said...

Sounds interesting! Can't wait to read it!

Jamie Krakover said...

Great interview. This sounds like a really fun book.

Jamie Krakover said...

jamiekrakover @ hotmail.com

Patricia T. said...

I really enjoyed the interview. Especially the discussion on humor in stories. Readers like to laugh! Very clever idea for a book and I love how you handle it! Will be checking it out! Thanks!

Chaya said...

Enjoyed the interview! Also shows how a good query letter can really make or break it.

Angie Quantrell said...

Oh, this sounds like fun! Great interview too. Congratulations, Mike!

Shared on Twitter and I follow by email. :)

kjmckendry said...

Wonderful interview and I love the sound of The Double Life of Danny Day!

Rosi said...

I don't read much fantasy, but this sounds like one I would like. It sounds like it was an epic job to write!

Debra Branigan said...

I enjoyed the interview with the author. This book sounds like a perfect MG read. Best wishes on the book.

Sue Heavenrich said...

Awesome interview! This is definitely a summer-reading-list book! I know for sure there are plenty of days I would have loved to do over.

Maria Antonia said...

I find the cover intriguing... giving a hint into that double life! Looking forward to reading this.

Julie S said...

Love the idea of this book! Thank you for another great giveaway opportunity :)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie, love the title of this book :)

Sandra Cox said...

Wouldn't it be great to have a reset day?

Crystal @ Lost in Storyland said...

The Double Life of Danny D sounds so good. I love the idea of a power where the MC can redo each day. I also enjoyed learning about the author's writing journey!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction said...

Thanks so much for sharing this interview! I especially loved reading about Mike's journey to getting an agent and getting published. I'll be sharing this giveaway in my Sunday Post tomorrow!

nicole @ feedyourfictionaddiction . com

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Fundy Blue said...

This sounds like a fun read, Natalie! Thanks for posting another great interview!