Tuesday, September 1, 2015
The Exercise of Writing: Interview with Donita K. Paul
Escape, a contemporary romance, was published in 1999. I had written it for my daughter when she was thirteen. It came out the year she got married. I was fortunate in that I targeted the right publisher almost by accident. When I switched to fantasy, the same smooth entry astonished me. I don’t believe in luck. I do believe God prepares you for the adventures ahead and opens and closes doors as part of His direction.
At what time did you think you could make a career at it?
I decided to make a career of writing when I was waylaid by a serious strep infection which disabled me. My mother actually encouraged me to write, saying I had always wanted to and now I had the opportunity. Mothers are great and should always be listened to.
Why did you make the change of genres from romance to fantasy?
I dropped into fantasy to try something different. I am still writing romance and am working on a historical novella for Barbour.
I am working on different age levels, including picture books and easy readers. I also have follow-up fantasies for Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball. They should be fun to write this winter.
Did you start off with the idea of writing a series?
No, I was just playing with fantasy.
What key elements are needed to make a fantasy tale work for the reader?
Strangely, it is reality that makes fantasy work. Your characters must come across as real with real problems and real solutions available. Your story must be credible, a dilemma, a crisis, a hard road to follow that is plausible. It is hard for a reader to relate to the absurd, but not to the fantastical.
Have you ever considered becoming an indie author and publishing your own books?
Yes, I am actually already involved. Taming the Wild Wind and House on Troll Hill are both indie published. Taming is romance set in what is now Oklahoma and deals with a young woman sent to establish an Indian school on a reservation. House is a elementary level reader with a poor real estate agent trying to sell a house on Troll Hill.
Your daughter, Evangeline Denmark, has her first book coming out soon. How did you help her to improve her writing to make it marketable?
I’ve always said that Evangeline is a better writer than I am. I just encouraged her along the way.
Do you critique each other’s work?
We’ve been in the same critique groups and offer advice when asked.
We have written two together: The Dragon and the Turtle and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari These are picture books that emphasize the special bonds of friendship.
What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. Read to widen your experience of good and bad literature. You will be subconsciously fine-tuning your own skills. Write in the same way that an Olympian trains for her sport. Daily exercise is nothing but good, good, good.