Given that his debut novel, “Running Out,” focuses on an ultramarathon runner, it seems appropriate that Dave Essinger’s creation of the novel was itself a marathon.
“I’ve been working on this novel for 10 years in some form or other!” Dave says.
Dave, who along with his wife runs ultramarathons, defines an ultramarathon as anything longer than a marathon. Anything father than a marathon (26.2 miles). He says he’s done a few 100-mile races.
“Well, add a few extra miles because of getting lost! My best time for a 100-mile race is under 23 hours. The elites run them in 15-17 hours,” Dave says. “There are aid stations every 5 miles, and there are opportunities to stop, eat, and rest.”
Running provides rhythm and time for thinking, and Dave says that he found himself thinking that there is much nonfiction focused around long-distance running, “but very little mainstream fiction.”
The premise of his novel, just out now from his publisher, Main Street Rag Press, is, according to the publisher’s website, “Two elite endurance athletes and their child survive a plane crash in the remote wilderness of northern Quebec. With no rescue expected, one of them laces up his trail shoes and sets off for help. As a medical professional and an experienced ultrarunner, Dan understands what the human body can be made to do, and he’s ready for the stages of biological breakdown he encounters, but he underestimates the landscape before him.”
“I certainly hope what I’ve written is engaging for readers who are not runners,” Dave says. “My investment and research in the running itself has been meticulous, and if a serious or elite runner could pick up my book and say, ‘Yes, he got our sport right,’ that’s an important thing to me, but it’s hardly the only thing.
"More importantly, I think that all good fiction (and much nonfiction) is about vicarious experience: telling us about people whose lives we don't know. I mean, very few of us in our real lives will stalk serial killers or climb Everest or rustle horses in the Old West, or pilot starships or roam Middle Earth in alternate universes; not many of us will put in the effort and sacrifice to train as elite athletes, either. But I think that's the cool thing that fiction does, allow us to put ourselves in those experiences we can't actually live. And I think my characters are relatable in that we all have things we strive for and long for."
Dave was recently the keynote speaker at the Writers Who Run conference in North Carolina.
"Running and writing are in many way similar pursuits," Dave says. "Both take persistence, and you can't give up if either are not going well on a given day. My advice to students is to write every day. Engage with some active piece of work every day even if it's not good. The delete key is your friend! Give yourself permission to write poorly. It's paralyzing to think that everything you produce has to be good. The more you can train yourself to get into habit of writing every day, the better off you'll be. Writing and running take a while to become enjoyable, but if you make it a habit, you'll come to a point where you like it."
Dave is also an Associate Professor of English at the University of Findlay. He also serves as the editor of the university's literary journal, Slippery Elm Literary Journal (slipperyelm.findlay.edu).
Dave will teach on July 8 at the "Saturday Seminar: Building Blocks for Your BEST Writing" at the Antioch Writers' Workshop at University of Dayton (www.antiochwritersworkshop.com).
Learn more about Dave and his novel at dave-essinger.com.
Order his novel, "Running Out," via his publisher's bookstore, mainstreetragbookstore.com.
Upcoming Literary Events
• Tuesday, June 27, 7 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene — Lisa Boucher will discuss her book "Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture."
• Wednesday, June 28, 7 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene — Kimberla Lawson Roby will debut her novel "Sin of a Woman," the latest book in her acclaimed Reverend Curtis Black Series.
• Wednesday, July 5, deadline to register for A La Carte Options for Antioch Writers' Workshop at University of Dayton — options include attending a Saturday Seminar (July 8) featuring novelist and Writer's Digest editor Jessica Strawser, John Scalzi's Sunday Morning (July 9) craft class, sponsored by the Greene County Public Library, morning only classes July 10-14, or the "Getting Started" afternoon seminar July 9-14. Visit www.antiochwritersworkshop.com for details. Register on the website or at tinyurl.com/AWWSummerALaCarte2017