Daniel Martin Eckhart - A First-Rate Dreamer and Cloud-Buster
Daniel Martin Eckhart is the author of the novels Tales of Wychwood, The Champ, Barnaby Smith, Home, The Way It Is - and the screenwriting book Write, Write, Write. Before focusing on his writing career, Eckhart served in the Swiss military, guarded the Pope's life in the Vatican, worked for the United Nations, driving trucks across the Sinai Desert, delivering diplomatic mail to Damascus and driving armored limousines in Beirut. After five years in Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, Eckhart studied acting in New York and became a screenwriter. He has penned several feature-length movies, worked on TV shows and has adapted several novels for the small screen. He lives with his family on an old farm in Switzerland. As our Author of the Day, Eckhart tells us more about The Champ.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Champ is about.
The Champ is the story of Wilber Patorkin, the oldest man alive. He is a mystery and a miracle to anyone he meets because, inevitably, being close to Wilber changes perspectives, clears minds and opens new paths. You see, not only is Wilber a telepath, he's also been reincarnated countless times and just may be the wisest person on the planet. He knows just about everything there is to know, what matters, what doesn't - he even knows that he will die his final death in three months' time... and yet there is one thing that eludes even him - what happens after that?
What inspired you to write about a 115 old man who knows he'll be dead in three months?
Years ago, on my way to work, I would see the same ancient man at a bus stop, just sitting there on his own. day after day. I wondered about his life, his past, his moments now as an old man ... and little by little Wilber was born.
You have worked for the UN, guarded the Vatican and spent time in Israel, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq. How has this influenced your world view and your writing?
Without a doubt. Ever new perspectives, people and countries taught me openness and showed me just how much richer life becomes when one embraces everything.
Tell us more about Wilber Patorkin. What makes him tick?
Wilber could topple governments, cause wars - or solve the challenges of mankind ... what makes him tick at the good things, and the little things. One moment at a time, one person at a time. What makes him tick is helping people and watching swallows soar.
Critics have likened this story to Amelie Poulain and Benjamin Button. Would you agree?
Sure, I can see that. Both of those stories and characters carry a special warmth - and a lot of people have told me that they'd love to have someone like Wilber in their life.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I'm a first-rate dreamer and cloud-buster.
How did you conceive of the unique way the story is told?
Some stories come with a structure and there's no other way of telling them. There, you basically follow the flow of the given direction. In the case of the Champ, it began with the character and, as people approached Wilber, the circles grew and the story, little by little, became a colorfully woven epic tale.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
Among the wealth of characters in The Champ, who was the most difficult to create?
Wilber's best friend Frank, whose story is deeply layered, spans a lifetime and comes with highest highs and lowest lows.
Have changes in your own life affected any of your characters?
To a minor degree. Our kids were little at the time and that special love did make its way into the novel.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
They key message is simply this: There are no limits. Reading the novel will give every reader the sentence's meaning in exactly the way they need it.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I used to have writing habits. I don't need them anymore.
What are you working on right now?
A fascinating story about a ... actually, nope, shall keep this to myself for now.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The usual places, Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook Page and also, of course, via my website > www.danielmartineckhart.com