Author Revealed

About Douglas Waller

Q. What is your birthdate?

A. 6/30

Q. Previous occupations

A. Before writing books full-time, I was a correspondent for Newsweek then TIME magazine. Before that, I worked in Congress as a legislative assistant.

Q. Favorite job

A. Every job I've had has been my favorite at the time. I enjoyed being a newspaper and magazine correspondent. I enjoyed as well taking a break from journalism and working on Capitol Hill. Book writing is now my favorite job.

Q. High school and/or college

A. I went to high school in Richmond, Virginia. I received my undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and my master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

A. For my generation it had to be the Beatles.

Q. Favorite movie

A. Usually, it's the last one I saw and liked, such as "The King's Speech."

Q. Favorite television show

A. The murder mysteries on PBS.

Revealing Questions

Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

A. Constantly experimenting, writing, trying new and different things.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. Get the most out of life. It's shorter than you think.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?

A. Writing historical biographies. I had a wonderful time prowling archives in the United States and overseas researching my latest biography of Wild Bill Donovan. Producing biographies can be difficult and time-consuming. But the work can be immensely gratifying.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?

A. Not having another book idea.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

A. I'd probably stay in Washington, D.C. For a journalist writing about politics, national security or military history it's the best town.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?

A. I don't know if I identify with him, but I think Franklin Roosevelt was our greatest modern leader.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

A. I can't think of one. Reporters tend not to hero worship in the present.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?

A. My wife and kids say I have a number of them, which they always point out in my early manuscripts.

Q. What do you regret most?

A. Not studying harder in college.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

A. To be a novelist. Nonfiction writing is the best I can do.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?

A. Marrying Judy Berson and raising three kids.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?

A. I'm not the best stylist in my writing.

Q. What’s your best quality?

A. I am a dogged and meticulous researcher.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

A. I'm pretty happy just being me.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?

A. I tend to be low key and easy going.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

A. I love the heroes in Hemingway's novels.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

A. None stand out for me. I tend to read and forget them.

Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

A. I've said in book talks that I would have loved to have been a reporter during World War II and to have covered Wild Bill Donovan. He was such a fascinating character. And I probably would have covered him. Donovan liked to leak to reporters.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

A. Demagogues and stupid politicians.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

A. Teaching, reading, and jogging.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?

A. Writing books full-time.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

A. Honesty, integrity, and compassion.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

A. I like a good steak, but I'd certainly get tired of them if that was my meal the rest of my days.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?

A. I love tuning into the "Oldies" station on my radio but I'm hopeless remembering the titles to songs.

On Books and Writing

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. My favorite authors are Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and Theodore H. White.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

A. A Tale of Two Cities, A Farewell To Arms, and the Making of the President series.

Q. Is there a book you love to reread?

A. I don't reread books. Even for my favorites, once is enough.

Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

A. Write, don't just talk about it, write.

Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

A. They tell me I succeed in placing them in the action of the book. They feel like they are there with the characters, which is gratifying for a nonfiction writer.