Roll up, roll up, read all about it!
My apologies for the blog going a little quiet lately – I had the honor of being a Pitch Madness Team Leader and things got kind of chaotic. Needless to say, the quality of entries were astounding. Me and my team captain Sharon Johnston had a tough time choosing!
Now, I know I owe you guys the second part of the author/editor intreview with Danielle Ellison. So without further ado, here it is:
Okay, so the one we’re all dying to know…what types of books do you write?
The ones I have coming out are on completely opposite ends of the YA spectrum. One is paranormal and the other is dystopian.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I have no idea! There are all these people in my head and when I’m busy doing something else, they start talking to me! I’m a character writer, so I usually get a voice in my head before I get a story. The projects that stick are the ones that come out of left field and start talking to me.
With SALT, I was watching Supernatural with my roommate and I had marathoned four seasons in a month. I was straightening my hair when the first line of the book popped into my head. An hour later I had a first chapter and whole freaking story.
With FMTD, I was working as a barista and I will never forget this moment because I was unloading boxes of cups and the truck was late. I was in a panic because it was stressful and we had a huge crowd outside! This line popped in my head, ‘There’s never enough time. It moves too quickly, signalling the end of everything. The end is the thing I fear the most,’ which seems like a simple thing, but it became a scene. (One of the few scenes that survived eight revisions unchanged!)
Tell us about your books SALT and FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS?
*squee! * This is the first time I’ve gotten to answer this question! I hope I do it right.
SALT is a sassy, magical romance with fighting and kissing. It’s the first of a dualogy that releases August 2013 with Entangled DigiTeen. It’s about a world of witches and demons where the witches exist to protect humanity by destroying demons, but if a witch is caught by a demon, he or she can be killed and the demon can consume his or her power. My MC, Penelope Grey, is a powerless witch who finds herself face to face with a demon—and somehow gets out alive.
FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS is the first book in the BOUNDLESS Trilogy and it releases October 22, 2014. It’s really complicated! Let’s see… A girl named Neely has just learned that her whole life is a lie and in order to save everyone she loves—including her boyfriend, Thorne—she must trust a boy Thorne hates to deliver world beyond hers, a world littered with dangerous machines and people who live underground. She only has thirty days to find a mysterious group in the Old World with the power to help her. It’s a dark, romantic dystopian that’s told as countdown. It’s been a long time coming and I’m really, really excited to share it.
Who is your favourite character out of all of your books and why?
I can’t answer this. My books aren’t out yet, so I don’t want to sway anyone in one direction or the other!
I can say that they are all very different characters. Penelope is snarky and kick-ass; Carter is cocky and adorable. Neely is not very forthcoming, but she has this spark and a quiet vulnerability that I wouldn’t mess with; Thorne is loyal and sweet; Xenith is unpredictable. So, you can decide when you read them.
How long does it take to write your first draft?
It depends. About four months for a first draft? I’m a re-writer, meaning I usually do something, get halfway finished and then start over. I have to go the wrong direction before I can figure out the right one, but the positive is that my first drafts tend to be fairly clean!
The idea for FMTD came in August of 2009, and I writing began in September; it was finished by February. But then of course, I had to rewrite about eight times (there were literally seven complete overhauls and then one lighter revision) and the whole process took two years. (I sold in September 2012.)
I started the first draft of SALT in February 2012, re-started it in April and finished it in late July, got the offer in October, sold it in January 2013. (Which was CRAZY.)
Are you an outliner or a pantster?
I’m an outliner now. I used to be a pantser, because I tried to be an outliner, I liked the idea of outlining, but it didn’t work out for me. Then during one of the rewrites for FTMD I had to lay out the whole story so I could reorganize everything. I think that really hooked me on outlining. I had an outline for SALT, too. Now, it’s how I operate. I usually do it with main plot points through the story and then fill in the space between them. It helps me write faster. I used to think I was great outliner, then Page Morgan (The Beautiful and the Cursed) showed me how she outlines—and now I bow down to her excellence.
What are your favourite pieces of writing advice?
C—This post by Jennifer Donnelly where she answers: What advice do you have for young writers?
D—Anything Neil Gaiman says because he’s Neil Gaiman.
How do you find balancing being a writer and being an editor – do you find it helps you represent your clients better as you know both sides of the industry?
Balance is something I’m still working on. I work all day so my hours for writing/editing are 8 pm – 8 am. And I have to sleep in there. So, I try to write at least one hour and edit (when necessary) for one hour. Then, Friday nights I watch shows and all weekend I write and/or edit as much as I possibly can. Sometimes I can steal in other times, but I never know for sure!
I think me also being a writer does help me with my clients! If anything I can relate to them a lot more because I know where they are coming from and what they are dealing with. I’m more than the mean person with the red pen, so to speak. I can empathize. I know better how to phrase things, how to talk them down from the metaphorical ledge. I can help plot, brainstorm, and deal with author paranoia.
The one thing I never do is come at editing someone else’s book as a writer. It’s never, “If I was writing, I would do this.” I try to come at them as a critical reader and editor. It’s important to me to keep those things distinct. I love editing because I love to ask the questions that they wouldn’t ask and watch them find the answers. I do believe that me being a writer helps me see those questions more clearly, since oftentimes I’ve asked them or been asked them.
It’s also fun because since my authors know I’m a writer, we can have this double life. There’s Editor Danielle and Author Danielle and it’s never, ever a problem for us to separate the two. Editor Danielle is business and Author Danielle is fun, ‘let’s eat cupcakes together on Skype!’ It’s a unique experience, and hopefully, they’ll all say the same.
If you could have written any book (other than your own) which one would you have liked it to be?
A NORTHERN LIGHT by Jennifer Donnelly! (I’m a bit of a fangirl, can’t you tell?) That book completely changed my life, so I have to stick with it and spread its love. But to be honest, I don’t know that anyone else could have written it like she did, especially me.
I’m just really happy that I get to write my own books—and that people get to read them! Hopefully, one day someone will feel about my books the way I feel about A NORTHERN LIGHT. Because that would be the most excellent day of my life.
So, that’s it for amazing author and editor Danielle! Come on people – show her some love, give her the support she deserves. Who knows – you could be the next author on the spotlight on the YABookcase!!!