Plus an interview with the author!
What if, in a single moment, your entire world was turned upside down? For brothers Danny and Sam Armstrong, the only way for this question to be answered is to look beyond the veil.
A family secret. A major cover up. A shocking scandal. You’ll find all this and more in DJ Williams’ exciting new novel, The Disillusioned. After a family tragedy shatters their world, the Armstrong brothers must put aside their differences and band together to fulfill their mother’s final wish. What they discover goes deeper than anyone can imagine. Will Danny find the woman he’s been searching for? Will Sam step up to the plate and surprise everyone by saving the day? Who is Ali Siatembo, and what has happened to the mysterious Stella Adams? This novel will literally keep you guessing up to the very last second.
What I liked…
This novel has it all. Romance. Suspense. Intrigue. Mystery. Inspiration. I absolutely could not put this book down. The chapters are short, which makes it easy to stop and take a break if you need to (as a busy mom of young children, this feature suits me quite nicely—I never lost my place). Just when I thought I was going to uncover something, Williams switches the point of view character. Every time I said to myself, “Okay, just one more chapter” I ended up reading for at least another hour. “C’mon,” I thought. “The suspense is killing me!”
I review a lot of books, so I prefer to spend my time reading ones that entertain me. The Disillusioned did just this. With complex, realistic characters, descriptive settings, and an intricately woven plot, my craving for a meaty story was completely satisfied page after page.
I also liked that, though a work of fiction, this book addressed the real life issue of child trafficking, a problem that many do not realize takes place right here on American soil. The book also addresses faith and the illusion of flashy religion, without being preachy. I really felt that Williams took his time planning this novel which, as a reader, made me feel valued. I prefer when authors remember that readers are smart. Williams’ made it apparent that he did the research. This guy knows his stuff.
I truly feel that this book will appeal to broad demographic of readers. It really has a little bit of everything, and I couldn’t categorize it as one particular genre. I recommend this book to adults who like a good story that keeps them entertained, inspired, and reading well past bed time.
About the Author…
DJ Williams has traveled all over the world, but currently lives in California with his wife. He has directed and produced over 140 television episodes for mainstream networks and has worked on a number of fiction and non-fiction books as a co-author and ghostwriter. You can learn more about DJ by visiting his website at www.djwilliamsbooks.com or by connecting with him on Facebook and Twitter.
1. The Disillusioned is a fictional story that addresses the real issue of child trafficking; a problem that most people would rather pretend doesn’t exist. What do you hope to bring to light through your story? What role can we play in the war against this awful crime?
My hope is that The Disillusioned will challenge readers to make a decision to get involved. Each of us can make a difference in the lives of so many who are being sold into slavery and trafficked. I was shocked to hear that human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world and generates billions each year. For those who believe this is only an issue in other countries, the truth is it is happening right now in cities across the U.S. This is a fight we can all be part of no matter our religious, social, or economic differences. I believe we can all agree that slavery must end. I have a good friend, Tony Guerrero, who founded F.A.C.T. Alliance, a non profit organization who builds aftercare facilities for children who are rescued. He told me that more children could be saved but they are left behind because there is no place to put them. Once I heard this I knew I had to do something to help. It didn’t matter if it was large or small as long as I made a choice to get off the sidelines. So, with every book sold I have committed to make a donation to organizations who are leading the way in this fight. Each one of us can do something to make a difference in these forgotten lives. We just have to be willing to take the first step.
2. Part of the story takes place in California, while the other part is in Africa. Your bio describes you as a world traveler. How much of the story’s setting is taken from your own experience and how much did you have to research?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, which gave me a unique opportunity to be immersed in a melting pot of cultures from a young age. I’ve been changed by the reality of life that stared back at me as I’ve traveled and discovered new places. Whether it be the slums of Manila or a forgotten village in Africa, the places and people I have encountered have shaped my faith and my calling. In writing The Disillusioned I knew I wanted the story to take the reader to one of these forgotten places. Zambia was an obvious choice because I’ve been to the places and settings I wrote about. I still had to do some research to make sure it was as true to life as it could be but it made the writing process easier. I remembered walking the dirt roads, standing between the tall yellow grass, and gazing out on the Zambezi River. It brought back some great memories, as well as a defining moment in my life that I will never forget.
I was coming out of a difficult year both personally and professionally. There were two unexpected deaths in my family only thirty days apart. That was followed by a business transition that left me at a crossroads. I found myself wondering what the next chapter of my life was going to look like. I still remember driving up the freeway questioning why all of it was happening and that’s when I felt something in my spirit that compelled me to chase after my childhood dream to write. It was a seed that eventually evolved into the first chapters of The Disillusioned. The more the story evolved the more it was rooted in my soul. While it is definitely a work of fiction I believe at its core it is very much reality. Once that was rooted in me I knew I had to finish it so I would know how it ended. In the beginning I didn’t know that human trafficking would be part of the story, but the characters took me there. For a while the story was put on the shelf as life and responsibilities took over. Then about a year ago I decided to dig in and finish what I started. I wrote whenever I had time, whether it was on a plane or late at night when the house was silent. Along the way I discovered my voice and style in storytelling. I kept the pace moving and endured. I’m still surprised where the story took me and how it ends. I hope readers will feel the same way.
4. Would you mind sharing a little bit about how you came to know Christ? Is it difficult as a TV producer and director to stay strong in your faith? What encouragement can you offer others who are surrounded by worldliness?
I remember clearly the day I accepted Christ. I was eight years old sitting in the back row of a Chinese church in Hong Kong. There wasn’t an altar call or anything. I just bowed my head and prayed. It was that simple. Faith has always been rooted in my life and I’ve tried to pursue God’s will for me no matter where I am. Sometimes I’ve succeeded and other times I’ve failed. I think that’s the reality of of anyone who authentically pursues Christ. As a TV producer and director living in Los Angeles, I’m still learning how to walk out my faith in the real world. I’m careful not to force my beliefs on those around me because I’m convinced God will open the door for me to share about my personal faith journey at the right time. The last thing someone who is searching for answers needs is a Bible thumping Christian hitting them over the head with a list of their sins.
For many years I had a front row seat behind the religious curtain and I have to say that far too often it looked no different than the world of Hollywood we are quick to criticize. We are surrounded by worldliness whether it be watching an R-rated movie, negotiating a business deal for our personal gain, or sitting in the pews of our congregation. It took me a long time to understand that my faith needed to be rooted in Christ alone. Not in my career. Not in following a uniquely gifted religious leader. Not in setting my faith aside to get the next deal done. If I can keep my eyes focused on Christ then everything else will take care of itself. The right people will come into my life, the right doors will open where I can share about my faith, and my life will be used for something more than my personal ambition.
5. Though you’ve been writing for sometime, The Disillusioned is your debut novel. Can you share a bit about your writing process? How do you maintain balance between your current career and your writing? What is one thing you would say to aspiring authors to encourage them in their writing endeavors?
I’ve written non-fiction for authors and ghostwritten fiction of others. I’ve enjoyed the uniqueness of each project. I am energized by the process of bringing something to life whether it be my idea or someone else’s. I will say that writing The Disillusioned was probably the hardest one yet. I put even more pressure on myself to deliver. Since it was my first fiction novel I wanted it to be as great as it could be. I took a different approach than in the past. It required rewriting often as an idea would reveal itself which meant going back and rewriting earlier chapters. The further I found myself in the story, the more I identified the zones I needed to write towards. It was like points on a map that would get me to my destination. I didn’t really outline the book at all. Whenever I tried it just slowed me down. So, I kept focused on the zones that were part of the story and headed in that direction. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat, like I hope readers will be, until the very last page.
Writing is a discipline that requires choices. It’s like going to the gym everyday. Sometimes you’re pumped to exercise and other days you’re dreading the very thought of dragging yourself onto the treadmill. Still, at the end of the day you’re glad you did it. I’ve had to learn to be disciplined with my writing. I already have a full production schedule working on various projects and try hard to keep time for my family. I write around both of those pieces of my life. I try to write everyday for at least a few hours. Some days its early in the morning or late at night, and other days its slipping away to a coffee shop in the afternoon. It just depends on my production schedule. I learned early on that chasing a dream required sacrifice. Sometimes more blood, sweat, and tears than I imagined, like losing weight after thirty-five. If I was going to see my story ideas come to life then that meant discipline and sacrifice were the only ways to make it happen.
6. The cast of characters in The Disillusioned is complex and diverse. How much of your own personality, if any, can readers expect to see in your characters? Is there one character in particular that you identify with? Why?
I tried to develop characters who were unique, whether it be their personal ambition or their walks of life. I wanted them to have traits that were recognizable and current. I wanted readers to find themselves thinking of people in their life who resembled each one. I’m sure there are pieces of my personality woven throughout, but my hope is that the characters are believable and authentic. I tried to leave myself out of it. I didn’t want someone to come back to me and say, “I think that character is you.” Each one took on a life of its own, I was merely a storyteller trying to stay out of the way. If I had to pick one who resembled my personality…well, I can’t give that away until readers have read the book!
It’s giveaway time! Just tell me why you would like to win a copy of The Disillusioned. Enter now through 3/22. You must leave a blog post comment to enter. Earn extra entries by connecting with me and DJ on our social media sites.
Copyright © 2013 SaraElla.com