SC: When did you join SARA and for what reason?
DB: I joined SARA after moving to the area from Fort Worth. I’d been an active member of NTRWA, and I wanted to stay connected with other local writers.
SC: What sub-genre of romance stories do you write? And why do you like it?
DB: I’m kind of eclectic, but so far so far my stories have a few defining similarities. I write YA and NA under my name (or a variation of it). I think I like the coming of age/newness of working within these age groups. The characters hit so many “firsts,” and even little things are such a big deal. It’s fun to write because their issues and day to day life are so different from traditional, more adult fiction. Yes, they might be deciding on a college or what to do with their lives, but it’s kind of a refreshing change from working with characters who’ve moved to the next stage in their lives and are going to work every day.
I’m published (under a pen name) in romantic suspense. I joke that I always wanted to be Nancy Drew, and in writing within this genre, I kind of get that opportunity.
Whether I’m writing YA, NA, or romantic suspense, my stories center around small towns. I have a Southern Gothic trilogy underway where I joke that the town is one of the characters. I like the familiar feeling of a small, close-knit town because that’s kind of like where I grew up.
SC: What about the romance genre appeals to you?
DB: I have a confession to make. Before I started writing it, I didn’t really read many romances. The genre as a whole was kind of frowned upon in my family, and I just hadn’t explored too many books or authors.
I’ve read a lot of contemporary YA, and the contrast with romance really stands out to me. In contemporary and dystopian, there’s so much bleakness – a lack of hope for the future. (And, many times, the characters or their family members really don’t have a future.) I think that’s kind of sad. I enjoy the happily ever after that romance offers.
SC: What are your ultimate goals as a writer?
DB: I’d love to get to a place where I could really consider writing my full-time job. I’ve been a stay at home mom since we had kids, and I’ve started writing during the past few years. I’m still finding, though, that my “job” is more professional errand-runner and chauffer rather than writing. I’d be happy if the contribution I was making to the family was such that it would be as easy to say that I’m a writer as it is to say I’m a mom.
SC: If you could have any actor/actress cast as the hero/heroine of your latest work, who would you choose and why?
DB: When “dream casting” the first book in my Bloodstone Trilogy, it was easy for me to select Jenna Coleman as the actress I think of when I’m writing Reese. She has the overall “look” I’m going for coloring- and size-wise, but I’m also fond of her ability to mix wide-eyed innocence with being a really strong woman who doesn’t back down easily.
SC: What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?
DB: I really enjoyed Save the Cat. It made me think differently about the pacing of a story and key elements that our heroes need to have.
SC: Do you have a writing routine? What does it involve?
DB: Ha! Um, my family would tell you that I have a fairly complicated routine. (And, sadly, they’d be correct.) While I can write without any of these elements, I’ve learned through trial and error that I work better with them.
First off, I prefer to write when no one else is in the house. I hate it when an unexpected yell in the house pulls me out of my train of thought. This aspect of my writing routine was a little challenging when my husband’s job had him working out of the house.
I like candles too. Sometimes I burn more than one if the scene warrants it.
SC: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hidden talents?
DB: Other than being an unofficial taxi driver (I have two teenagers), I suppose my other hidden talent would probably be cooking. I really enjoy baking in particular, but I enjoy watching the Food Network and trying to replicate some of the recipes.
SC: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
While I’d never really consider myself a plotter, I do enjoy the planning process as far as setting up my “world” and finding photos to represent different places, houses, and the characters within my story. I used to keep these in a notebook, but I’ve discovered they’re more helpful if I have them on a bulletin board to refer to as I’m drafting the story.
SC: Name one of the challenges you had writing or as an author and how you met that challenge.
DB: This year has been a collection of tough moments in my writing career. In late December last year, my husband accepted the job that brought us here to San Antonio. During the time I was in single-mom-mode (and selling-the-house-mode), I had to just accept that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up my typical productivity.
Thankfully, my agent was really understanding of my need to scale my writing back for a while. I’d accepted the idea that I was just going to need to get back to writing after our move was complete. And that was the plan – until real life got in the way.
Not long after we moved here, I had a series of medical issues that kind of threw me for a loop again. I’m getting back on a more normal schedule, but this has been a real challenge for me. I guess my biggest thing I learned is that sometimes it’s okay to take some time for myself and stepping back for a little while isn’t going to spell the end of my writing career.
SC: I think that’s something we all need to do now and then. Thanks so much, D’Ann! And a Happy New Year to you and yours!
Article by Mary Brand
Photography credit to Christine Fox