Friday, February 7, 2014

John DeDakis

Award-winning journalist John DeDakis is a former CNN Senior Copy Editor for the Emmy and Peabody-Award winning news program The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. DeDakis, whose journalism career spans nearly four and a half decades, served as a White House correspondent and interviewed such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. A writing coach who currently teaches journalism at The University of Maryland—College Park, John DeDakis lives in Washington, DC.

His new novel is Troubled Water.

A brief Q & A with the author:

How would you complete this line: "You might well enjoy my book if you like..."?

You might enjoy my book if you like the authors John Grisham or Sue Grafton -- and not just because both their last names start with G-r. I like both these authors because their writing is lean and unadorned. Their emphasis is on telling a good story -- and doing so unpretentiously. I write like them, not because I pattern myself after them, but because of my training and long-time experience as a just-the-facts-ma'am journalist.

As a writer, my goal is to get you to keep turning pages because you're invested in the characters and you find the story compelling. Grisham's protagonists are lawyers, Grafton's is a private eye, and both authors give their readers a glimpse behind the veil to show how those jobs are done. My heroine, Lark Chadwick, is a journalist. One reason I think you'll enjoy my book is because you'll come away with a more intimate understanding and appreciation of the behind-the-scenes struggles and challenges journalists face.

If they make your book into a movie, who should direct it?

For me, this is not just a theoretical question. Right now I'm working closely with my agent, Garry Dinnerman of Beverly Grant Associates, to adapt my Lark Chadwick novels to the big or little screen.

Lark is a complex, strong minded and strong willed twenty-something young woman who stumbles into journalism after being orphaned and sexually assaulted. Garry is looking for a talented director who will be able to get inside the head of the actor playing Lark and translate that vision to the screen. Garry's "wish list" includes David O. Russell [American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook], Curtis Hanson [L.A. Confidential], Mike Figgis [Leaving Las Vegas], Paul Greengrass [Captain Phillips], Ron Howard [Rush, The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind], Stephen Frears [Philomena, The Queen] and Ridley Scott [The Counselor, Body of Lies] -- all of whom are very accomplished directors who have the ability to help the audience understand what makes Lark tick.

And just who would play Lark? Garry has always favored Ron Howard's daughter Bryce Dallas Howard [The Twilight Saga], but Garry and I would be fine with a no-name actress for whom playing Lark could be a career-igniting vehicle. Right now I'm collaborating with broadcast journalist Jenna Troum [WSPA - Greenville, SC] on a proposal to build a TV series around Lark [Working title: Press Pass]. Not only is Jenna a young, scrappy reporter (like Lark), but Jenna looks and acts like Lark, plus Jenna has acting chops. (During one of our working sessions, I almost called her Lark.)

What is your second favorite art form?

This would have to be playing the drums. I taught myself how to play rock and roll back in 1964 when the Beatles invaded America. I was too shy to join a band -- I was a closet drummer. In 1996, my wife Cindy bought me a set of drums, but it was my oldest son James who banged on them more than I did. Now James is in L.A. trying to make a living as a professional drummer/composer. As for me, I'm now studying with D.C.-area jazz musician Paul Pieper at his Jazz Workshop, trying to perfect my chops as a jazz drummer. I have much about which to be humble, but drumming is a great way to take a break from writing.
Visit John DeDakis's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue