Dave Milbrandt fell in love with writing in junior high and has been a storyteller ever since. A former reporter and Southern California native, he spent five years in journalism and public relations before becoming a teacher. He has taught government classes to high school, community college and university students since 2011 and gained on-the-ground experience by working on several political campaigns. Dave is the author of the Jim Mitchell Erilogy (Chasing Deception, 2013; Undue Pressure, 2016; and Running, 2018) and also has written High School Declassified: An Insider’s Guide to Helping Your Student Succeed (2016).
In this interview, Dave talks with us about his latest political thriller, Fool’s Luck.
FF: What inspired this story?
One of the benefits of being married to another novelist is that our dinner conversations can become quite interesting as we bounce ideas off each other. One day, we were talking about people who win the lottery and what they did with the proceeds and we wondered what it would be like if someone did something really significant with that money…like run for president. Thus, the idea of Fool’s Luck was born.
FF: Why did you pick the locations you did for the campaign stops and conventions?
I like to give my books a local vibe wether or not they take place in Southern California where I live. So, I reached out through social media to my friends across the country and those who responded got to share with me what their neck of the woods is like.
For the convention, I decided on Salt Lake City because I had visited several times for business and thought it would be an interesting location for a political convention. Again, because I had visited, I knew things like where the good Mexican restaurants were.
FF: How did you get the research you needed for the hospital scenes?
A friend of mine was my general medical consultant, but for the nuts-and-bolts details of the harrowing diagnosis and treatment at the heart of this story, I leaned on a parent of a former student who opened up her life and shared from her soul. While I changed details to fit my story, I hope I was able to reflect the pain she felt and the courage she needed to endure that experience.
FF: Your story opens at the Oval Office of the White House. Have you ever been, and if not, is it on your bucket list?
I have done the normal White House tour before, but I was two weeks away from touring the Oval Office when the pandemic hit and those plans were put on hold. Hopefully in the future I get to spend at least a few minutes in the most famous office space in America.
FF: How did you decide how much faith to put into your story?
Fool’s Luck was a much different faith story than I have told before. Previously my main characters became Christians or were living through the challenges a life of faith brings. In this story, I wanted a character that had more questions than answers, because I think many people, even those of strong faith, have questions they don’t have an answer for yet. I hope the process of grappling with an invisible, but all-wise God connects with readers.
FF: What is the most challenging part of the writing process?
For me, the editing process is challenging, as I have to decide what stays and what goes. I have been blessed with good editors, and have been happy to receive correction in the form of grammatical and syntax errors. But, when it comes to plot points, I have to ask whether my own pride is getting in the way of a necessary change or whether I need to stick to my guns because the element is crucial to the story I am telling. Sometimes that is not an easy decision to make.
FF: What is the biggest difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing?
The biggest difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing is one of time and control. While the people at Ambassador has been wonderful to partner with, at the end of the day, they are the ones making the decisions. They picked the publication date, they set the price per copy and so forth. Now, all of these decisions are based on solid business practices and are completely valid, but it is different than when I am making all those choices. Then again, having someone make those decisions frees me up to focus on the marketing and other aspects of the process. It is not all on my shoulders and that is a relief.
FF: What is it like to turn one of your novels into a screenplay?
The most important thing I have learned about converting one of your own books into a movie is that the story on the page is not necessarily going to be the story on the screen. People often say that a book is better than a movie and that is partly because details are omitted when you go from 250-400 pages to 90-120. I have a very gracious writing partner who is helping me to think visually and to understand that the two storytelling mediums are distinct. There is also a much more intense revision process and fundraising is much greater part of the overall process. I will be very curious to see the core of this story come to life on the silver screen.
FF: You and your wife were both writers. How do you support each other in the creative process?
Like I said, we often are talking about ideas and characters. Beyond that, however, we encourage each other through the hard patches. Since her stories have not been published yet, she has the benefit of learning from my mistakes along the way. Similarly, she has been such a beacon of hope during the dark days when my work wasn’t ready for the world. There is no way I would be where I am without her.
FF: Your book is about a teacher who wants to run for president. You’re a teacher. Do you want to run for office?
I only want to be in the White House as a visitor, not a resident, thank you very much. While local politics intrigue me, and working on regional campaigns is enjoyable, national politics are another thing altogether.
When high school teacher Myles Bradford wins the Powerball lottery, he decides to do something truly unexpected: run for President of the United States.
Bradford is eager about the opportunity, but his family clearly is not. With little time to sway them to his side, he’s thrust into running a quarter-billion-dollar nationwide campaign, complete with cross-country flights and road trips, expert staff, and armed security. But like most dreams, Bradford soon finds that what he imagined is completely different from what is real.
Thrust into the spotlight, he faces attacks from newfound political enemies and false accusations while striving to climb the ladder of success. As Bradford gets closer to achieving his dreams, danger lurks on the home front. As his attention is pulled farther away from the things that matter most, Bradford may learn that even success has its price.
Will he be able to have it all? Or will his thirst for power come at a tremendous cost?
Emerald House Group
Genres: Suspense, Political Thriller
Release Date: July 13, 2021
Buy Fool’s Luck from the FF Store HERE!
Buy Fool’s Luck from Amazon HERE!