David Chauner is a two-time Olympic cyclist who turned his passion for the sport into a life career. His cycling career spans nearly forty years as an Olympic and international competitor, writer, national television and radio color commentator, international event producer and now developer of a new World Cycling League.
Set in the bizarre and little-understood world of professional cycling when American television was just beginning to cover the Tour de France, High Road by David Chauner offers insight into how cycling, and really all sports, can be affected by the desire for power and riches.
Tell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?
High Road is a novel about the choices a professional cyclist must make when confronted by compelling temptations to break the rules in order to win the Tour de France. How young Kurt Dufour, a privileged Dartmouth student, rebounds from accused murderer to Tour contender in five years is filled with characters who support his drive to the top and those who seek to either control him or stop him.
I’ve written High Road as a fast-paced tale of challenge, intrigue and romance with plenty of action and plot twists to appeal to any reader of good fiction.
What drove you to write this particular book?
My life has revolved around a fascination with cycling as a competitive sport and the characters who are attracted to it as team owners, athletes and fans. Cycling is not a mainstream sport in the U.S. and the many talented people who become cyclists and reach high levels are generally mavericks in one way or another. Unusual drive, ambition and a high degree of self-motivation, whatever the good or bad reasons, are characteristics you find in most of them.
As an incorrigible storyteller, I love to talk and write about these kinds of people, what makes them tick and what drives them to take on the impossible challenges presented by events like the Tour de France.
As an avid reader, I am keenly aware of the fact that there are few good novels with cycling as backdrop. I see that as a niche that High Road can fill.
How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?
I went through the traditional publishing experience as a co-author of the Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling which was published by Villard Books in 1990.
Although this was more or less a writing assignment to meet Villard’s perceived demand for a how-to cycling book (the sport was gaining new popularity in the U.S. thanks to Greg LeMond, the first American winner of the Tour), I realized that to write what I wanted to write was a long process of finding an agent with valuable publishing connections and the ability to sell my vision. I had a business to run and I just didn’t want to take the time or be bothered by the endless lobbying one has to do as a new, unproven novelist. I just wanted to write the story!
Believe it or not, I started writing High Road in 1995 -twenty years ago- when self-publishing was largely considered vanity. A few years ago, at the height of cycling’s widely publicized and “stranger than fiction” doping scandals, I showed the incomplete manuscript to a friend who loved the book and encouraged me to finish it. When I looked into getting it published, I couldn’t believe how self-publishing had grown, both in terms of acceptance, sophistication and minimal cost. It was perfect for someone like me who didn’t want to chase after an agent or grovel to a publisher who may have had different story ideas. Plus I loved the concept of print on demand, ebook publishing and a higher share of royalties!
What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?
I chose Createspace because they are affiliated with Amazon and offer many options from free advice to a la carte services if desired or needed. I designed my own cover and hired an accomplished editor who is also a top cycling journalist and understands the nuances and authenticity important to telling a plausible story in cycling.
I’ve been quite happy with Createspace and have learned a lot about this new world of self-publishing. I love the fact that it keeps the author in charge yet is right there with advice and services when needed.
What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage?
With some solid five star reader and independent reviews behind me, my approach is to get High Road first in front of the large audience of cycling enthusiasts through mention and reviews in the biggest cycling publications and websites, of which there are many. I’m just starting this process and expect to build momentum during July when the Tour de France is running. I know the word is spreading in cycling circles and I’ve been thrilled with the positive response from those folks as well as from non-cycling reviewers. Cycling enthusiasts and readers in general are huge social media users, an area I need to develop.
Who are your favorite authors and why?
I love good fiction, particularly stories with intriguing plots and characters. I’ve read everything by Grisham and consider him a great story teller. I’ve enjoyed most of Dick Francis, largely because he creates great whodunnits around the horse-racing world that can be appreciated by readers with no particular interest in that sport. I’ve enjoyed DeMille, Sandford, Archer, Follet’s epics, Wouke’s WWII novels and even Tom Wolfe’s classics like Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, I am Charlotte Simmons and Back to Blood.
What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?
Since I’m not a full time writer, I write in spurts when I can make the time and feel the urge. I periodically clear my mind by going for a bike ride.
Would you self-publish again?
Most definitely but I would also consider going the traditional publisher route if the deal were right.
Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?
Do it because you believe you are a good writer, have a marketable book and have confidence in controlling the process.