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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Making Someday Happen: Author Interview with Dawn Ford

What made you decide to write your YA novel?
Knee-high Lies is a reflection of my teen years growing up in a dysfunctional home. Both of my parents were alcoholics, and there was oodles of drama to draw from. And it was the story that kept trying to come out. I’d push it back into the recesses of my mind, and it would pop out to nag at me. This book just had to be written!

Was there any particular author you read that made you think, I could write like that? 

I don’t believe I ever thought that. I would read other authors and wish I could write like they could—pulling a complicated plot off or creating characters that stayed with you long after you finished reading them. That’s what I’ve always strived for.
How long did it take you to write your first book? 
Seven long, grueling years and three edits. 

Who helped you with the editing? 
My critique group, several beta reader friends, one Professional Writing college student, and a professional editor with Splickety Publishing Group all helped me polish this book. 

Who encouraged you along the way? 
My family and friends were all encouraging. Since I am part of several writer’s groups, there was always someone there to tell me I could do this. Without them I would’ve given up years ago. Are you active with any writing critique groups? I am actively involved with one critique group that I found through the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators). I’ve been lucky to be a member of this group since 2010. They are amazing!

You are the Operations Manager at Splickety Publishing Group, which publishes flash fiction magazines. How did you get involved with them? 
I found Ben Wolf, the founder of SPG, at a conference five years ago. Three years later I found out they were searching for an Operations Manager and I applied. The rest is history. 

I see they are the publishers for your first novel. Tell me about that process. 
It was a roller coaster ride! Two years ago SPG was going to change direction and start publishing books along with their flash fiction magazines. Submissions were open to staff before they were going to go public. I sent in two manuscripts to Sarah Grimm, their lead acquisitions editor, and she accepted one of them—Knee-high Lies. 

I received two professional edits from them before Splickety chose not to pursue publishing full-length novels. However, since we had come so far in the process, Ben Wolf was generous in allowing me to use their brand to publish the book, I just had to do the rest of the work to publish KHL. I contacted a friend who helps in formatting books, and a photographer friend who helped me create the cover. Together with another friend who did a final read-through to make sure we hadn’t missed any typos (hopefully we caught them all!), I hybrid published Knee-high Lies. (It pays to have friends in the right places!!)

Your first published novel is a contemporary YA, but your second one is fantasy fiction. What led you to write in a totally different genre? 
My first love is fantasy. It’s ironic that the first book that I published was in a genre I normally don’t write. But, like I said before, this book is the one that had to come out. So, like the strong-willed child it is, it got it’s way! 

That story won you the 2016 Genesis award for the best-unpublished novel, which is titled Kingdom Come. Do you have a publisher for it? 
Kingdom Come is yet to be published. Unfortunately several personal tragedies happened the year I was writing Kingdom Come—right in the middle of it. Now, though it’s finished, I feel there’s something still missing. But I haven’t given up! I love this story and continue to work on it with the hope one day it will be published. 

Can you give me a short synopsis of that story? 
Things come easily to orphaned scullery maid Tambrynn, literally. She has the gift of telekinesis. But every time she calls an object to her, trouble follows. When her ‘gift’ gets her kicked out of her job, and headed for the stockade, her carriage is wrecked in a dark forest and she has to find her way to safety. However, she’s never safe for long. The wolves who killed her mother to get to her are on her heels, and a familiar shape-shifter claims he’s come to take her home—to another kingdom. Who can Tambrynn trust when she doesn’t even believe she can trust herself? 

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog? Tension? The middle is always the hardest. I know how I want to start the story, and I can picture the end. It’s how to get there that’s the hardest for me. And I’m a panster, so plotting doesn’t come naturally to me.

What does your editor remind you to do most often? 
Oh, gosh! Several things!! However, commas are my kryptonite. Put them in, take them out. I detest them.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing? 
After I published Knee-high Lies I received several messages from readers telling me they were only going to read one chapter and they ended up reading half the book before they could put it down. That’s huge for me. Especially since this book is so close to my heart it was like a part of me poured into every word I wrote. I’ve been so touched by so many positive comments.

We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of one you’ve had, and how you learned to write past it. 
The worst rejection I had was not a rejection at all. I’d met with a publisher at a conference who loved two of my manuscripts and asked me to send him full proposals which included a genre analysis, marketing strategy, back book cover, chapter by chapter synopsis, and full polished manuscript for both books. 

I spent months working on them, and had my critique group take extra time to help polish them. I sent them in and waited patiently to hear back for three months. I then contacted the publisher to see if they’d received my proposals. Crickets. I never heard back from them. All that work and not even a real rejection! It was frustrating. The only consolation I had was that those proposals were ready for the next publisher. Luckily, it didn’t stop me. It just let me know which direction to never go down again.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing? 
When I tell people I’m a writer I often hear from them how someday they’re going to write a book. Someday, like when the more important things in their life are accomplished, they’ll sit down and write a book, just like that. What they don’t know, and what I didn’t know, was how much work it takes to get a book that is not just gibberish, but actually publishable. Readers want something that is worth their time and money. And it takes work. 

What frustrated you the most? 
Writing is so subjective. One person might love my writing and the next one thinks it’s garbage. You’ll never get everyone on board to love what you do.

What do you know now about writing that you wished you had known sooner? 
Just get the story written. I was always so worried about making it perfect as I wrote. You can do that once the story is down. I’ve learned to make my inner editor shut up. 

What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give? 
Keep writing. When you finish one manuscript, write the next one. Don’t waste your whole life on one manuscript that you think is the next revolutionary novel, or your defining work. It’s a book. You’re not going to die if it never gets published, but you will continue to hone your writing. So, keep writing! 

Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add? 
Write the hard stuff. Dig deep into your soul and pull out that thing that you don’t like to think about. Yeah, that awkward, humiliating thing. Because we all have those things. And your reader will identify with it. And they’ll remember it. And they’ll buy your book because it makes them feel and heal. Don’t fear the hard stuff. Embrace it. And then write it. 

That's all for today's interview. If you would like to learn more about Dawn's writing, here are some links to get you started.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Christine for the opportunity to share my story!