Publish date:

Philip Danze's Conjuring Maud

Philip Danze has been a copy editor for Fairchild Publications for more than 30 years and is a member of the New York Press Club. His first book, Conjuring Maud (GreyCore Press, October), is a novel chronicling one young man's adventurous affair with a fictionalized version of 19th century British explorer Mary Kingsley.

At age 72, Philip Danze seems the embodiment of writerly passion. Celebrating the release of his first book this October, Danze sees writing not only as a lifestyle, but as a state of mind and a state of existence.

"Writers are strange animals in a way," he says. "We've got to stay very aesthetic, very focused. We can't allow for any distractions to come along. It's difficult, but that's the price you have to pay—there's always a price for dedicating yourself to something."

The product of Danze's most recent dedication is Conjuring Maud. The novel follows the life of David Unger who, born in the late 1800s in Equatorial West Africa, witnesses tribal wars, gold rushes and ritual killings. But Unger's defining moment is a chance encounter with Maud King, a British trader, explorer and lover of all that is Africa. And while Unger's life is filled with adventure, it's Maud who, though 16 years his senior, captures his soul.

Mixing a sense of romance with the adventurous search for one's natural path through life, the book's themes mirror Danze's own assorted journey. Evolving from a professionally scouted baseball player, to New York University student, to copy editor with Fairchild Publications, to published author, he's always stayed true to his inner course.

"I've worked at Fairchild all my life, but I never belonged to them—not even for five minutes," he says. "A writer can't. You've got to be a part of another world, the world you're trying to discover in your own works."

It's keeping that chastened world from shattering that often proves most difficult though. In the early '80s, two different publishers accepted and then rejected his first novel. But recognizing that the "admission of defeat is a writer's downfall," he continued to write privately for another 20 years before contacting a publisher about Conjuring Maud. But those two decades weren't spent dwelling on what could have been.

"To me, if you're really writing, you're not writing for money. You're writing to save your own soul ... to carry your life to a certain depth," he says. "You're trying to write to put some meaning into your life—that you existed for some purpose."

Thanks to GreyCore, Danze can now share his reality with readers. And as he works to complete his next novel-one he hopes will be viewed as his life's work—Danze is still apt to marvel at the wonder and power of fiction:

"For me, fiction isn't pure escapism; it's sort of a deepening of our own lives. Hopefully, readers will come face to face with something in themselves—that's what I'm trying to do.

"I'm really just trying to capture the essence of things—that which never changes—and reveal the reality behind the veil of appearances."

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 588

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a last poem.

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

The Differences in Writing a Memoir vs. a Novel

Where fiction writing is about concealing emotional truth for interpretation, memoir is about exposing it for what it is. Writer Jenna Blum discusses the differences she experienced in writing a memoir vs. a novel.

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

17 Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

When choosing your publishing journey, it's important to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks in order to make the right decision for you and your work. Author Rick Lauber lays out 17 pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.

Spooky Season

Scary Season

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write something that has to do with the scary season!

Parker, 10:26

Christopher Parker: On Learning to Let Go in the Publishing Process

Author Christopher Parker discusses how he celebrated small victories in writing his debut novel, The Lighthouse.

NovemberDecember2021CoverReveal

Writer's Digest November/December 2021 Cover Reveal

Revealing the November/December 2021 issue of Writer's Digest: Magical Writing. Featuring advice from R.F. Kuang, Alix E. Harrow, Maggie Stiefvater, Tobias Buckell, Ran Walker, and many more.

The Lane Report: Market Spotlight

The Lane Report: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at The Lane Report, the business publication of Kentucky.

Exercise vs. Exorcise (Grammar Rules)

Exercise vs. Exorcise (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between exercise and exorcise with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Your Story #115

Your Story #115

Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.