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Greeley author John A. Daly’s thriller finalist for Colorado Book Awards

April 23, 2018 


Terry Frei  


Information on John Daly’s books: johndalybooks.com.


Thriller Category

“Broken Slate, by John A. Daly (BQB Publishing)

“Red Sky,” by Chris Goff (Crooked Lane Books)

“Trafficked,” by Peg Brantley (Bark Publishing)

Greeley-based novelist John A. Daly has created a popular protagonist and the third book in his Sean Coleman Thriller series, “Broken Slate,” is one of three finalists in the 2018 Colorado Book Awards’ thriller category.

Daly’s own story is a bit of a page-turner, too, but he is not a “phenomenon.” Truth is, few novelists are. He’s not getting rich, but he is enjoying the process and building a loyal following as he takes advantage of the revolution — and evolution — in publishing.

In the changing marketplace, there usually are better novels out there, somewhere, than many of those cranked out by the usual suspects and displayed at airport shops. His fans would argue Daly has written three of them.

His publisher, Boutique of Quality Books, or BQB, bills itself as “The Writer’s Publisher.” Arrangements outlined on its web site include initial payment from the author to the company, so it has elements of self-publishing.

Yet it also assigns an editor to each project and provides considerable support, in addition to royalties, so it’s representative of newer publishers with hybrid approaches. The strategy is especially viable now with internet sales, most notably including availability on Amazon.com. While being aligned with traditional mainstream publishers still is a huge advantage, in the cases of many of the newer companies in the field, the term “self-published” is out of date. It has become more a cooperative venture.

“I think I would have trouble supporting myself entirely off the royalties,” Daly said over lunch in downtown Greeley recently. “I do well for the independent scene, but my wife (Sarah) has a job she enjoys and between the two of us, we do fine. If I was going to do this and it was my sole thing, I would have to be selling more books than I currently do.”

Sarah Daly is a financial analyst at Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins, and John is in charge of getting their two children — Chase, 13, and Olivia, 11 — to school and picking them up. He calls himself a work-at-home dad, and he spends about four hours a day chronicling Sean Coleman. He also does side work for BQB — on its website and helping its authors with promotion — and writes commentary for various outlets, most frequently for former newsman Bernard Goldberg’s website.

It represents a recovery for Daly, a University of Northern Colorado graduate with a degree in business administration and computer information systems.

During lean times in the most recent recession, the software company he worked for was sold to a competitor and, he said, “died a slow death.”

At the time, Sarah wasn’t working. Daly even made twice-weekly trips to Evans to donate blood plasma before getting back on his feet financially.

Daly did contract software work until about two years ago before stepping away from that. “I’ve probably dried up my skills in that as technology continues to advance,” he said.

He has turned the pages.

And at least for a while longer, he will remain doggedly loyal to Sean Coleman.

He tried to say farewell to Sean and write about other lead characters. He really did.

Starting out, in fact, he never intended to make his novels a series. As his first book, “From a Dead Sleep,” was about to be released in 2013, he was well into his second — which turned out to be “Blood Trade” — when the realization about Sean struck him.

He’d miss the guy.

He’d miss the flawed protagonist with bits and pieces of his different friends from his youth in Lakewood and Green Mountain High School.

“They’re people who are sort of their own worst enemy,” Daly said. “Not bad people, but people who make bad decisions.”

With Daly’s misgivings gathering momentum, “From a Dead Sleep” hit the market and drew a positive reaction. He got the impression readers wanted to know what would happen to Sean from there. And he did, too. One of the realities of the novelist craft is the stories often are unfolding in your head as you’re writing, and your quest is to see where the narrative and characters take you, not where you take them.

Plus, Daly felt comfortable with the cast of “From a Dead Sleep” and decided the in-progress narrative would work better with them brought back. He went into the rewrite mode.

“The main character ended up staying in the second book, but as a smaller character,” he said.

Several years later, Daly is 45. In “Broken Slate,” Sean finally gets word of what ultimately happened to the father who abandoned him and disappeared many years earlier: His father was murdered.

Which leads Sean to search out answers and …

Wait. There will be no spoilers here.

Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book will announce the Colorado Book Award winners June 2. If “Broken Slate” wins, it will add some promotional leverage for Daly and his publisher.

A fourth Coleman novel is in progress, prompting the question: Will Daly ever write about someone else?

“I think eventually,” he said. “I don’t know when. There are other genres I like. I’ve thought of doing some post-apocalyptic stuff.”

That would be a sharp turn.