Saturday, December 6, 2014

Donna Cook Interview

I recently had the pleasure  of meeting the well-spoken Epic Fantasy Author, Donna Cook, and she agreed to an interview here with the readers of Eye on Ashenclaw. The following is the result of that interview...

First off, tell us a little bit about you.I grew up in the cradle of the Arizona desert but relocated to Boise about 3 years ago. It was an unplanned move that ended up being exactly what I needed. I’m married to a fellow creative, artist Kevin McCain, who keeps me going when I want to quit. I have three sons and three step-daughters and a strict no-pet policy because we’re doing good just to keep up with all the people who live here. I’m a freelance book editor specializing in fiction and, of course, an author. I love to dance. I love to travel. I don’t love to cook but I do love to eat.

Tell us about your books/What genre do you consider your books?
Gift of the Phoenix
is an epic fantasy adventure. Readers and reviewers often draw comparisons to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Two very different stories, obviously, and mine has its own unique feel as well. What they have in common, though, is that big, fun, adventurous, magical feel. Who doesn’t like that? :)

When did you start writing? According to my mother, before I even knew how. My pre-writing scribbles are long gone, but the desire to write has never left me.

Why do you write? I can’t help myself. It’s playtime for grown-ups. I absolutely love inventing new worlds, new characters, new stories. Whenever I hear people talk about retiring, I think, “I’ll never retire.” I hope to spend the rest of my life playing with stories.

What would be your choice for a superpower?Either flying or invisibility. Or decisiveness.

Who is your favorite author? Several. Kate DiCamillo. Patrick Rothfuss. John Steinbeck. Rainbow Rowell. How much time do you have?

What are you reading now? I just finished re-reading These is My Words by Nancy Turner. One of my favorite books. It’s on the short list of books I’ll actually re-read.

Who is your favorite character to write? Ooooh, that’s a tough one. (I do not do well with favorites lists.) I love so many of my characters. Even the bad ones are fun to write. I’d say the character that lingers with me the most, though, is Nashua. She’s a side character in Gift of the Phoenix. I ended up writing a novella about her and plan to write more. Her stories are a pure labor of love. I don’t think they’ll have the broad appeal Gift of the Phoenix has, but I’m so drawn to her. It may be no one will read her stories, but I feel compelled to write them anyway.

Do you have a writing process? Yes. I brainstorm plot, subplot, characters, and world building in a spiral notebook. Some ideas make it to the first draft, some don’t. I don’t sweat it. The notebook stage is all about pure exploration. By the time I start a draft, I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen, but there are always surprises along the way. I focus on big picture corrections in the second draft (plot, pacing, etc), then polish up the language in the final draft. I bring my editor in after the first draft.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? I think aspiring authors sometimes read the answers to this kind of question looking for the magic bullet. Some new trick they haven’t heard of yet. There really isn’t a trick. Learning to write is like any other advanced skill. You must practice. You must learn the tools of your trade. So it comes down to three things: read a lot, study the craft of writing, and write a lot. For years. If you do that, there will be no stopping you.

What inspired you to pursue writing?It’s just always been a part of me. I could no more answer the question, “What got you interested in breathing?” For whatever reason, writing has always been in my blood.

What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?Any movie about writing or writers inspires me. Finding Neverland, Miss Potter, Little Women, even something like Julie and Julia. Anything dealing with the creative drive.

What are your current projects? The Lost Branch is the follow up to Gift of the Phoenix. I finished the second draft and my editor gave it a green light for the final draft, which means all the story elements are solid. It’s time to look at the language. I’m currently letting that book rest before I dive into the final. I want to re-read it with fresh eyes to see if there are any opportunities I’m missing. Meanwhile, I’ve started the rough draft of a completely new story, The Crossroads. I may or may not get the entire draft done before going back to The Lost Branch. I’ve also been letting the second Nashua story rest, but have been itching to pull it back out. My Muse is fickle and secretive. I literally have no idea which of these projects I’ll be working on two weeks from now.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?Thank you! One of my favorite things is meeting readers. I adore them. I’m grateful to them. Without them my stories would feel so lonesome. Thank you, thank you for reading.

Quick Fire:Cats or dogs? Dogs
Coffee or tea? Tea
Favorite food? Mexican
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream? Chocolate
What are 3 things you never leave home without? Keys, phone, notebook and pen.
Laptop or desktop? Laptop
Who are 3 famous people you would to hang out with? Kate DiCamillo, Rainbow Rowell, Maya Angelou.
TV or Movies? Movies


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