“Writing is sometimes like running through the mall naked,” said bestselling author Don Keith. “You literally have to expose your innermost feelings at times to get that message across.”

Keith appeared on This Alabama Life podcast to talk about his now 39 books and his journey to becoming a successful writer while delivering wisdom to those aspiring to write a book of their own.

Keith writes both fiction and nonfiction and is known for his war-thriller novels, such as the “Hunter Killer” series, which he co-authors with Commander George Wallace (unrelated to the former governor).

The most recent book in the series, Silent Running, was released on May 17.

Keith’s first published novel, “Forever Seasons,” was released in 1995, and the Alabama Library Association made it a fiction of the year in 1997.

His 2012 novel, "Firing Point," which he also co-authored with Wallace, was adapted into a film in 2018 titled “Hunter Killer,” which was directed by Donovan Marsh and starred Gary Oldman and Gerard Butler.

“Authors are supposed to not like what Hollywood does to their film,” Keith said. 

Nevertheless, Keith said he was pleased with Marsh’s final product.

Keith said writers have to give up a little bit of themselves to write well. He also stressed the importance of painting a picture that the reader will find memorable.

“The big thing is to tell something that may be very familiar to the reader, something they’ve seen plenty of times before but say it in a different way or in a descriptive way so that the reader can picture in his or her mind what [I'm] trying to show," Keith said. “It may not be what I was trying to show, but they picture in their minds something that’s very vivid and that remains with them.”

Keith said one of his struggles with writing is letting go of his books when he finished them. He still finds things he would change in the books he’s finished.

“We all want it to be perfect when we let go,” Keith said. “We all want every word to be exactly right… At some point, I had to let it go, let it get out there.”

Keith’s 40th book will come out in December. It takes place during World War II and is about a fighter ace who was shot down over France.

To listen to the full conversation, see This Alabama Life here.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com

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