Lisa: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Danielle: I knew from a very early age that writing was one of my talents, and it suited me because I always had a book in my hands. It all started with Pippi Longstocking...During the times in my life when I felt I didn't have a plethora of abilities, writing was always there for me. I started writing stories about second grade.
Lisa: What is your writing and educational background?
Danielle: I have an Associates Degree in the Science and Humanities. I tackled publishing seriously after my toddlers grew into school-aged children and have been working in the industry for over twelve years. I've reviewed, freelanced, edited and published everything from poetry to novels.
Lisa: What makes you passionate about writing?
Danielle: I get very excited when I am moved by another art form. Good books, music, plays, and movies inspired me to stretch my imagination. I love getting lost in my own worlds and sharing adventures with readers. When someone finishes one of my books, I want them to either smile or pump their fist in the air and shout, "Yes!"
Lisa: Besides writing, what other talents do you have?
Danielle: Being left-handed makes me a terrible and impatient crafter. I don't sing or play an instrument, and I'm not super athletic. When I'm not writing, I like to dabble in gardening. Genealogy is a beloved hobby of mine. I try to geocache and scuba dive. I sew a little and love to bake, but don't ask me to decorate a cake. Disaster! Too much talent required for that!
Lisa: What is your writing schedule like?
Danielle: I work anywhere from six to ten hours a day, five to six days a week. It's a thankless job until a reader sends a kind note or a good review comes in, but like most writers, I'm driven. It's very important to me to take care of my family, friends, and home, so there's definitely a balancing act. I try to write while my kids are at school and fit other things in between.
Lisa: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the ideas good enough to write a book about it?
Danielle: Most of my ideas are inspired by my interests. Most of my interests are inspired by other books and films that have caught my attention. Once I experience something that sparks my imagination, I come up with all kinds of tall tales. Later I work characters into them and that's how my stories begin. If I can't get past a first chapter, then I know my ideas aren't strong enough for a book.
Lisa: When did the idea of writing a book first come to you?
Danielle: The first time I sat down to write a complete book, I was driven by the fun stories of my father's childhood. It was quite a feat, but I managed to finish a ten chapter juvenile story when I was in my early twenties. Only then did I realize how much I had to learn, and that set me on the path to novel writing.
Lisa: What do you hope readers will someday get from your books?
Danielle: I'd like to think I'm sensible enough to know that I do not have any great secret of life to share. My books are adventurous escapes. When I read, I like to escape to a magical place or situation. That's what I want to bring to my readers. I'd like to take you away on an adventure, if only for a little while, so that when you return you feel excited and refreshed. And ready to take another, of course.
Lisa: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Danielle: Oh, yes! The first two or three chapters of a novel come easy but once the wall hits the rest depends upon my commitment. When I feel blocked, I sit down and brainstorm and draw out a story map to help me see how to get where I want to be. Daydreaming helps, too. I stare into space more than I should.
Lisa: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Danielle: I need silence to work creatively. I do my best creative writing in the quiet hours of the night while the rest of the world is sleeping. Luckily this is only for the first draft, so my family only has a few weeks a year of a zombie mom.
Lisa: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your creation periods?
Danielle: I read for inspiration. I use the Internet to research different topics to incorporate into my work. I also watch movies and documentaries. For example, when I wrote my pirate treasure hunting novel, BY HEART AND COMPASS, I came across some fantastic West Indies proverbs that helped me shape the tome of the chapters. Later, I was able to quote these proverbs in the book, which was a lot of fun.
Lisa: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Danielle: So many people have been there for me at the right time and at the right place. I'd have to say my biggest support has come from my parents who have always encouraged me, and an online friend I have known for quite awhile who has been there for me, loyal and true -- author Linda Swift.
Lisa: What's your secret to making the characters in your book come to life?
Danielle: I have to know who my characters are before I can write about them. Once I have a name, I think about how they look physically and draw on people I know or have seen to create a patchwork physique. Next, I determine their archetype, (what kind of personality they have) and explore their strengths and weaknesses. Last, I write their history -- a little backstory -- to get me started with the creative process of writing a novel. If I can't "hear" a character's voice in my head, then I know we're not ready to go.
Lisa: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Danielle: Lay's Baked Chips in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. I try not to eat too much candy but it happens.
Lisa: What are you working on now?
Danielle: I am currently working on a young adult novel tentatively titled, The Sea King. Without giving too much away, it's about a boy, a ship full of pirates, and a fantasy world over the horizon. About halfway through, I am hoping to get it done before spring. Being a full time editor, it's a lofty goal at this point.
Lisa: What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Danielle: Waiting. I think the only worse waiting I do is in the doctor's office and post office. And those places are still faster. Writing takes a lot of commitment and hard work. Getting published is an excruciating wait filled with lots of rejections. It's the acceptance letters and contracts that make it all worth it. If even for a short time!
Lisa: What is the best thing about being an author?
Danielle: Sharing your most creative, inner self with the world. It's not like washing a dish and doing a good job. Being an artist means cutting out a piece of your soul and holding it up for all the world to see. It can hurt, but the pain means nothing when someone loves what you do.
Lisa: Where is your favorite place to write?
Danielle: I like to be shut up in my office, cut off from the world. I know other authors are able to work in the middle of cafes and parks. It's cool and everything, but I can't do it.
Lisa: How do you come up with your characters' names?
Danielle: I don't know! They pop into my mind from nowhere. Later, it's fun to see where the unconscious influence came from. In one of my recent novels, my neighbor called me and wondered why my heroine was named after her dog. I had no idea. It just happened!
Lisa: What is the best compliment you could ever receive from a reader?
Danielle: Four simple words: I loved your book!
I'd like to thank Danielle for taking the time to share her experiences with us. Keep watching for the review of her book The Privateer.