Author Spotlight – Danielle Ellison

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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!)

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.)
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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!!!

4 thoughts on “Author Spotlight – Danielle Ellison

  1. I think it's great that you can separate Editor Danielle and Author Danielle. Back in the day, I used to be a newspaper editor, and (if I may boast) a good one. But as I've written more and more, I find it harder to not edit someone else's work into my style. (Especially since everyone says that reading both my fiction and nonfiction is like talking to me.)

    So Fiona, dear friend that she is, should have a pretty good idea of how I talk.


  2. Both her books sound great, and like she said, at opposite ends of the spectrum. I enjoyed the interview and her pantsing-to-outlining progression. I wish her much success! 🙂


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