Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Words, With Danielle E. Shipley

D: Nice; I see what you did there!

K: Why yes! Danielle, thank you so much for agreeing to appear on my blog!

D: Are you kidding me? The pleasure is all mine!

K: Speaking of pleasing, the release of "The Swan Prince (Book One of the Winderhark Tales)" is SO close.

D: May 31st, baby! …Yee-gads, that’s 3 days. Breathe, me, breathe.

K: Haha! It must be busy for you with all your upcoming publications, "A Morrow More" for the "One More Day" anthology, as well as your own novel "Inspired", both through J. Taylor Publishing.

D: You’ve got that right. “Crazy busy” is my way of life, these days. But no way I’d turn down a chance for a Wilderhark chat – especially after all the glowing things you said in your review! X)

K: You made it easy by writing such a great book!

D: D’aww. ^-^

K: And the fact that it's a fairytale remix makes it all the more enjoyable! In "The Swan Prince (Book One of the Wilderhark Tales), I noticed several references to, and twists on, the original fairytales. Which of the original fairytales is your favorite, and did it make an appearance in this book?

D: Let’s see, favorite fairytale of all time? Hard to say, since I love bits and pieces from so many of them. That’s why I had such fun writing “The Wilderhark Tales”: I got to throw in elements from a whole bunch of favorites. (Wait ‘til you get to Book Three; I go nuts!)

K: Haha, can't wait!

D: That makes two of us! Picking a favorite that went into “The Swan Prince”, though, I’d have to go with “Beauty and the Beast”. Along with “The Wild Swans”, it’s the story that provided the biggest inspiration for the book – and even inspired half the plot for Book Six! So it’s almost like the whole series goes full circle. Leave it to a tale as old as time!

K: Perhaps that's why I adore your book so much! "Beauty and the Beast" is definitely my favorite, and "The Wild Swans" is right up my alley, too! Something about a charming prince in need of saving by a perceptive/determined maiden speaks to me, I guess. ;)

D: Lol, I don’t know that “perceptive” is the best word for Sula. She’s hardcore determined, though, there’s no denying that!

K: Speaking of determination, writing is a difficult business. Are there any tricks you use to help you sit down and write or edit?

Before I got hooked on Facebook, I needed no tricks. Writing was just what I did all day. It was my cheap and medically safe addiction. Nowadays, I’m trying to learn balance between social media and story-making. …Oh, and mealtimes. Because if you forget to eat breakfast ‘til dinner time, you lose your medical safety argument. :P

K: Food is overrated anyway ;). What writing process do you go through before feeling a book is ready for publication?

D: Step One: Find an idea that excites me.
Step Two: Write the story out.
Step Three: Read the whole thing over the phone to my writing-bestie. (Shout-out to Tirzah Duncan!)
Step Four: Bask in her praise, and act immature when she points out bits that need work.
Step Five: Fix the stuff she told me to until she gives the thumbs-up.
Step Six: Go work on other things, coming back periodically to reread and tweak the book and make sure I still love it; read it over the phone to another friend, if she's got the time. (Shout-out to Jeannie Stine!)
Step Seven: Come up with a blurb and stuff, ‘cause I wanna get this baby out into the world!

K: I've never considered reading over the phone before. I usually pass along an electronic copy, but I have heard that reading your own story aloud helps you see your story in a different light--especially when you know there's an opinionated someone else listening ;) Usually my characters are my opinionated "someone else" even before I have my Beta Readers see it.

D: (Ha, yeah. That, too. Shout-out to my bossy– ahem, opinionated characters!)

K: Haha! That leads me to wonder, which of your characters did you find the easiest to write, and why? Along the same lines, who was most difficult, and why?

D: Answering the second question first, Villem. Doctor Villem Deere is very challenging to write, because everything he says has to be well-thought-out and intelligent and mature – i.e, the opposite of how things will usually fall out of my mouth. So I have to tread carefully to make sure I don’t give him any lines that sound stupid, or he’ll sort of raise one eyebrow at me like, “Come now, Danielle. Do these words sound in any way compatible with my voice?”

K: He was actually my guess because his voice is so different from your own! I know as authors we're supposed to walk through a novel as someone else, but characters who don't quite see eye to eye with the writer can make it difficult. You handled it fabulously though--not only was Villem consistently in character, but he was charming in his own right.

D: I’m so glad; characters like Villem are a crying shame to screw up. X) Chatty, say-anything-and-everything characters like Sister Ariana or Harrold Babbit came far easier to write. I could just let them ramble on, then cut out the useless bits afterward. 

K: Oh yes, I loved them both! I thought it would be fitting if they somehow met and ended up together. However... if they did meet I'm not sure the conversation would ever end... ;)

D: *bursts out laughing* Oh, Highest Good help us if those two are ever called to host an award ceremony or something! In that same vein/in contrast, I guess Sigmund wasn’t too awful to write for, either. Not at all chatty, but his expression tends to be a bit simpler and more straightforward, if in a rather self-important way; that comes more intuitively to me.

K: Personally, I've always had a fascination with the shy, straightforward characters such as Sigmund. There's something captivating about a boy with a secret (like in Beauty and the Beast, and The Wild Swans--go figure!) I am curious though, you didn't mention Sula in either list. Where does she fit in?

D: It took me a little while to figure her out, but once I understood her motivations and personality, her voice came naturally. She says what she thinks she needs to in order to get what she wants. If that means employing subtlety and tact, so be it, though she’d much rather just bluntly speak her mind, to heck with silly games. …Oh, dear: And it was then the author realized it sounded like she was describing herself… I think that may be about all we have in common, though.

K: Doesn't every character have a bit of the author in them? ;) Jumping from characters to look at the big picture, what inspired you to create this story?

D: Randomly enough, considering I never read the series, it started with a kind of “Animorph”-like idea; kids transforming into animals, possibly saving the world… I had no clue where I wanted to go with it, at that point, but the boy with a swan form stuck out. After a while of thinking it over, the “Wild Swans” fairytale took over, and I started fiddling around with a plotline on paper. It took a few false starts, but in the end, I had “The Swan Prince”. Even after I’d finished that first draft, I didn’t take the story all that seriously; not until months later, when I was suddenly entertaining ideas for a sequel. Then I was hooked, and started churning them out like a fairytale-spinning factory.

K: Which reminds me, "The Swan Prince" is a self publication. Yet, you've also worked with publishers (the upcoming "One More Day" and "Inspired" with J. Taylor Publishing). What would you say to someone who is looking to get published, and is considering self publication? Or to someone who is considering working with a publisher?

D: Whee, I’m finally in a position to be a voice of experience! …Sorta. I’m totally just getting started. But this I can state with certainty: Both ways present challenges, and both ways have big points in their favor.

K: With the self-pub route, you get to be in charge of everything! The flipside of that being, uh-oh, you’re in charge of everything! So make sure you put in the time and money to create a book of quality.

D: If a publisher takes you on, they’ll help have your back. On the other hand, you lose a measure of control over the product. (Although I should point out that J. Taylor Publishing is allowing me a glorious amount of say in our joint projects’ production. Bless ‘em for it, say I.)

K: With my experience working on "Sleepless Beauty" with J. Taylor Publishing, I'd have to agree!

D: I want to read that! I mean, I want to read the whole “One More Day” anthology, but c’mon – fairytale retelling!

K: My turn! D’aww. ^-^

D: :) Back to working with a publisher, well, you’ve got to get the publisher to take you on, first, so be prepared for a season of weeping over rejections. 

K: Oh yes. Be prepared.

D: *refrains from breaking into any “Lion King” songs*

K: *puts away bongo drums*

D: *guffaws* Happily, when it comes to publishing, it doesn’t have to be either/or. I’d encourage writers to shop around and decide which road to fame and fortune (or so we dream) suits their stories best.

K: That's one of the best parts of writing, I think--being able to have so many choices and options--not only in how to get your book to the public, but also in creating the book: setting, characters, plot, characters, theme, characters, and... say... did I mention characters?

D: And characters, I remind you; don’t forget them. They’re my favorite part.

K: Speaking of characters, say you were able to meet your own characters in real life. How would you envision the first meeting going?

D: Pardon me while I freak out like a fangirl at the prospect. I mean, I hang around with them in my imagination all the time, but live and in person and REAL? Thank goodness Villem is a doctor, because he might need to restart my heart.

K: Lol!

D: After the dramatic CPR scene? Assuming we’re at my house, I’ll probably tell everyone to stay where they are while I grab a camera. These pics are going all over Facebook, baby! Sigmund would make a natural model. Sula would probably want to oversee the photo-editing to make sure her shots give off whatever vibe she’s going for. I’ll leave her in charge of that while I squeal on the phone to my bestie about what she’s missing. Darn her for living so blasted far away! What do you think, characters? Time for another road trip quest? :D

So long as it's after the book is available to the public! Thank you, again Danielle, for appearing on www.theflightreflex.blogspot.com!

Thank you again for having me, Kimberly. It’s been fun!

Any last writing advice or tips for future authors?

My number one, ultimate tip: Write what you love. If you love it, you’ll put in the necessary work to make it awesome and find other people who are willing to share in the awesomeness you created. …Or, if nothing else, you’ll love it alone. I can think of far unhappier endings than that.


  1. Thanks again for the chat -- I had a blast-tastic time!

    1. Right back atchua! I can't wait to get my hands on the hard copy version of your book! Hey! That reminds me! You're doing a PRIZE GIVEAWAY this week, aren't you? At your blog: http://everonword.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/prints-or-giveaway-tease-part-1/. I'm excited! Your character sketches look marvelous!

      And, BTW, point for me! ;)

  2. I've had be prepared stuck in my head since reading this...

    1. Gah! Don't say things like that, or I'll never get it out of my head either!