Good morning! Today I welcome an author who has been entertaining us with her stories for some time. Please help me to welcome D.G. Driver.
D.G. Driver is the author of the Young Adult fantasy novel Cry of the Sea and YA romance novella Passing Notes, both published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (www.fireandiceya.com) She has been a published author for 20 years, originally writing as Donna Getzinger. She still has several nonfiction, award-winning biographies in print (with Morgan Reynolds Publishers) under that name. You can learn more about her writing at www.dgdriver.com
IDI – Think back to the first book you wrote and then the last book you wrote. In what ways have you grown?
DGD – I write much more carefully now than when I was publishing middle grade books in the early 2000s. When I wrote the non-fiction books I really learned out to research. Now I find myself researching small details I might not have back in the beginning – things I might have let slide. I’m also much more concerned with the motivations behind my characters’ actions rather than just following my plot outline. I have even changed my plots in recent books mid-stream because the storyline no longer felt genuine to the character.
IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt maybe to tickle our taste buds?
DGD – I just finished writing a middle grade fantasy novel involving surfers and a reluctant dragon. I’m shopping that around to publishers and agents now. I’m working on some ghost stories along the same lines as my Passing Notes novella with the hope of bundling them together as an anthology. I should be getting the editing notes to my novel Whisper of the Trees any day now (the sequel to Cry of the Sea, scheduled to be published in November).
IDI – How long does it generally take you to write a book, from the spark of an idea to the finished product?
DGD – When I was younger and childless I could kick out a book in about three months. Now it takes me at least half a year, because, unless I’m under a deadline or doing NaNoWriMo, I only write on weekends. Then I like to put it aside and work on something else for a while. I come back to my story with fresh ideas and begin the rewriting process. Rewriting for me goes a lot faster, and I enjoy doing it more than first draft writing.
IDI – What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.
DGD – I come up with an idea and ramble it around in my head for a little while to see if it sticks. When it’s stubborn, I write it down as a one-page premise. I have a lot of those on my computer and in notebooks. When it keeps bugging me, I begin plotting. I plot in paragraphs – what will happen in each chapter. Then I start writing. I often research as I go, unless I’m doing a historical novel.
IDI – There is a lot of commotion about the effect eBooks are having on brick and mortar booksellers. Do you think eBooks have reached their climax or do you believe they still have room to expand in the market?
DGD – eBooks are doing great, especially with adult women. My market is a bit harder, as my readers are primarily teens who like physical books and still get most of their books from libraries and local bookstores. However, I’ve read lots of reports that as parents are upgrading their Kindles, Nooks and iPads, they are giving the old ones to their kids. This will help find new younger readers for eBooks. Plus, eBooks are cheaper, and parents and teens both like that.
IDI – Do you have a blog and if so, what types of posts would a visitor find on it?
DGD – I do have a blog. www.dgdriver.com/write-and-rewrite-blog It primarily focuses on the revision process of writing. I do post personal trials of my writing and promotion efforts, and I feature lots of guest authors. I have month-long themes, where I will host lots of guest authors and give them a chance to promote their titles. I only focus on MG, YA, and NA books on my blog.
IDI – How important are your reading habits to your writing habits?
DGD – I read every day, although I don’t read as much as I used to. I write YA and MG, so I primarily read YA and MG, both to see my competition and to see what is trending with the teen readers. It is rare that I read from the adult section. I like to support my local Society of Children’s Book Writer and Illustrator colleagues and indie authors I’ve met in person or online, so I read a lot of lesser known books. I feel that helps build comradery between authors.
IDI – Favorite author, and why?
DGD – Stephen King is my favorite author because he has an incredible way of telling complex stories without ever slowing down the story line. He knows how to suck you right into a character’s head and see everything that character sees and feel everything that character feels. He doesn’t describe a room and then have a character run through it. He describes the room as the character runs through it.
IDI – I would agree with you there. I love Stephen King and few have his ability to effortlessly weave details into a story.
How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?
DGD – I have very little time to devote to my writing career between my full-time job as a teacher and taking care of my family. Since Cry of the Sea came out in February, 2014, I have to say more of my time is spent on social media promoting than doing actual writing. Sometimes I have to go places that don’t have wi-fi to get any real work done on my manuscripts. I post a mermaid picture of some kind every day on my Instagram and Tumblr accounts along with fun book images or quotes. I post more thoughtful things about writing and what I’m up to on Facebook and Twitter. Follow me.
IDI – What’s the best advice ever given to you, and by whom?
DGD – “I like this idea, but you need to work on it some more,” an agent about my early draft of Cry of the Sea at an SCBWI event in Nashville in 2009.
IDI – Have you ever wanted to give up? What stopped you?
DGD – I want to give up all the time. I have several moments a week when I ask myself why I’m doing this. When writing the sequel to Cry of the Sea, I kept wondering why I was writing a sequel to a book that wasn’t selling like hotcakes. What was the point? But then I get a new review, or someone on Facebook compliments my work, or my husband cooks dinner one night to give me time to do some work. Then I dive back into the words and remember that I love telling stories and have more stories still to tell.
IDI – If each of us waited to write a ‘next’ book until the previous on was selling off the shelves, most of would never have a second book.
Everyone has visions of where they see themselves in the future, be it a year or five. Where do you see yourself in five years? Where did you see yourself five years ago? Did you make it there?
DGD – Five years ago I was determined to have a young adult fiction novel published with a traditional publisher. Fire and Ice Young Adult Books has now published two of my books and a third is coming out later this year. My goals 5 years from now are to have at least one title with a big publisher and to have my books in school libraries all over the country and to be doing school visits on a regular basis.
IDI – What do I consider my genre? (my own question)
DGD – I call what I’m writing these days Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy. Some call it Urban Fantasy or Magical Realism. Basically, I like to write stories set in current day situations with characters living their normal-for-them lives, and then something fantastic occurs. In Cry of the Sea, Juniper discovers real-life mermaids (not the Disney kind). In the sequel, Whisper of the Woods, Juniper discovers a spirit living in an Old Grown tree. In Passing Notes, Mark starts getting letters from a ghost.
IDI – How do you feel about message-driven, or issue-driven stories for young readers?
DGD – Cry of the Sea contains a strong theme about environmentalism. It just won 2nd place in the YA category of the Green Book Festival contest for environmental themed books. When writing a story about environmentalists and mermaids discovered during an oils spill, I had to be very careful to not make this a book about the issue of clean oceans or big oil corruption. That is not the story. The story is about Juniper and the danger, adventure, love and heartache she faces. The reader must care about her and her decisions before they can care about what happens to the ocean. I think authors of kids’ books have to be very careful how they sprinkle in the message they want the reader to take away from the book. It can’t hit too hard.
IDI – One last thing. I’ve heard you have a book trailer for Cry of the Sea. Would you care to share it with us?
DGD – Absolutely. Please go look at it and give it a thumb-up for me: Cry of the Sea
IDI – Great, I’m going to take a peek at it now. Donna, thanks so much for appearing here with me today. You have a lot going on and I wish you the very best of luck with all of it.
DGD – I enjoyed this. Thanks for having me.