Author Dan Kalla on Finding the Groove

Dan Kalla is one of those super humans who can manage both a literary career as well as a medical career. He began writing medical thrillers with PANDEMIC in 2005. But this time, he's changing genres. His new book THE FAR SIDE OF THE SKY is an historical novel about German Jews who escaped to China. I had a few questions for Dan about the publicity challenges of changing genre.

Q. As a doctor who first wrote medical thrillers, did you feel that promoting those titles got easier over time? Is there a "groove" you found in the process, or was each book launch a completely new experience?

A. Easier? Not really.  I will say this: with each book I have become more comfortable in promoting the book through means such as traditional interviews. I don’t get nervous on TV or radio any more. Also my skin is thicker when it comes to review coverage. However, the actual mechanics of promoting, if anything, have become tougher for me. First, while my passion for writing is stronger than ever, I cannot say the same for the art of promotion. I have yet to find my groove when it comes to the book launch. I’m often disappointed to learn that others are not as obsessed with my latest effort as my mother is! Seriously, it’s so competitive out there. Also, I’m not as social media savvy as everyone tells me that I should be. But I’m working on that.

Q. While there is clearly a strong medical thread running through all your writing, it appears that your new book is a departure from the established thriller genre into something at once literary and historical. And the book has been beautifully reviewed. Do you feel at all that the departure means you have to start over in finding your readership?

A. Yes and no. My most dedicated readers are giving this book a chance. After all, it’s a war novel that is loaded with suspense and medicine, so possesses many of the elements of my earlier thrillers. Still, it does represent a new genre and only time will tell how readers will embrace it. But this novel was so personal and the history—the amazing and little-known story of war-torn Shanghai and the twenty thousand German Jews who escaped there—is so important to me that I’m thrilled just to see it in print. And the very positive reviews from bloggers and reviewers have been incredibly validating but even more so, the wonderful feedback I’m hearing from readers has made the whole effort feel even more worthwhile.

Q. I notice that you do not list a Twitter account on your author website. Not every author can use every platform, and I'd love to know how you decided which electronic "tethers" to embrace, and which to live without.

A. At the urging of the professionals, I just signed up for Twitter. And my relationship with Facebook has thawed over the past few months. I cannot explain it. I have always been fairly computer savvy and I embraced the Internet early. And yet, I have been so slow and clumsy when it comes to social media. I realize what an amazing tool it is for raising awareness of a book, but somehow I have never been comfortable with the platform. But I’m determine to improve. After all, my daughters live on Facebook!