Hi everyone – Nicole Murphy here. For this Darklight On, I’m turning the light on one of my best friends, and fabulous author, Donna Maree Hanson. Donna writes young adult as herself and paranormal romance under the name Dani Kristoff. Her latest book, Bespelled, is out now through Escape Publishing.
Take it away, Donna/Dani!
How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre?
I've always liked the strange, the fantastic, the futuristic and space adventures. I grew up on a diet of Jason of the Argonauts, Astro Boy, Prince Planet, Lost in Space, Star Trek, UFO and the Thunderbirds to name a few. Saturday mornings consisted of the Samurai, the Phantom Agents and b grade Japanese and American sci fi movies - think Godzilla and When Worlds Collide. So I suppose it is no surprise that when I got a burning idea for a novel it was science fiction. A few months earlier I had tried to start a historical romance and thought it was crap. I didn't know then that most first writings are crap.
I've loved paranormal for an age because it combines two elements I love romance and speculative fiction. For many years, I focused on science fiction and fantasy in my writing but there was always an element of romance. Now, I'm diving in the deep end and taking up the challenge to write romance and paranormal romance.
My favourite part of writing speculative fiction is the invention of stuff 'n guff. Characters are always fun.
Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between?
I used to be a panster. I'd have characters and a situation and work from there. Nowadays, I write an outline. It's not quite planning in the sense that a sentence from my outline may take 5000 words to write and a paragraph a page in the actual manuscript. I find I have to write outlines because I forget stuff and that sucks. For Bespelled, I wrote a detailed outline (my first) but I was writing another novel when I got the idea entire so I had to write it down. So when it came to drafting Bespelled a few months later, I was ready to go. Writing plans also frees your mind up I think. You know you've got something off the back burner in your brain and it's safe and you can roll forward with whatever your doing.
Do you have a favourite of your characters?
Mm... this is hard. I have lots of favourites but as Bespelled is out there now, I'll focus on them. Elena is the main character and of course she's going to be a favourite for me. She's had a bit of a sad life, but she doesn't dwell on it. She's part of a coven, but she knows she far down the ranks because she's a half-witch. She's lived with humans and understand them and is pretty firm in treating them right. She also wants to be independent and I really like her outlook on life. Earn enough to live on and that's enough. Quite the opposite to me, but it's fun exploring that outlook. Jake is a bit of hunk actually. He's tough and smart, but utterly adorable when his guard is down. As for sidekicks. Grace, Elena's cousin and adopted sister is lovely. So lovely I have to write her story. I also think Elvira, the powerful witch will be interesting to explore.
What are you currently working on?
I'm working on a few things. Exciting though is Spiritbound, which is Grace's love story and it also explores the history of Elena, Elvira and Fel, the cat. I'm currently revising this novel in the hope of sending to my beta readers by the end of the month.
What is your favourite part of the process of writing?
This is a hard question because sometimes it moves around. Drafting has to be my favourite. Revising and rewriting is hard work. However, they can be rewarding and awesome too, particularly when new things are created that enhance the story. These days, challenging myself is what I aim to do. This can be painful too, because we can be our worse critics. But I love writing fiction so much that I will just keep at it.
What can we expect from future instalments of the series?
I plan to write more stories. I've mentioned Spiritbound, which is more like a prequel to Bespelled. Then I plan to go a bit darker and write Bethanea (Nea's) story. You meet her very briefly in Bespelled. Then I think there are quite a few candidates out there. It really depends on my level of enthusiasm and whether readers like the stories.
Who are your favourite authors?
I have a few of those. Glenda Larke, Trudi Canavan, Garth Nix, some Stephen Donaldson and Julian May. Romance wise I really adore Anna Campbell and Anne Gracie, some Johanna Lindsay and Julie Garwood.
What are you currently reading?
I've just finished Puberty Blues and I'm near the end of Ugly, a memoir by Robert Hoge. I also just finished Aurora: Darwin by Amanda Bridgeman, which was an SF, with some romance, and I was hooked. I have a range of books to read on my Ipad, mostly romance and I have a Georgette Heyer ready to start by my bed.
Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or TV series?
I'm sorry? This blog couldn't fit them all in. Firefly, Star Trek, Star Wars, Riddick, LOTR and Hobbit movies, Willow, the Fifth Element, Sherlock!!!! And the list goes on (and include retro SF movies).
Do you have advice for emerging writers?
Today's advice is perseverance. If you really want to write and get published. Write, write and write. Read, read and read. Get feedback on your work from objective readers and persevere. I've been doing this for 13 years now and I've seen people give up, people who have talent. I've seen people who were rank beginners get better. Writing has to be your holy grail if you want to achieve your goals.
Thanks, Donna/Dani, and congratulations on the launch of your new book!
Blurb for Bespelled by Dani Kristof:
Elena Denholm is a mild-mannered half witch. As a favour to her cousin, she agrees to meet with top Sydney lawyer, Jake Royston, to negotiate a property deal. Sparks fly immediately, but before they can even take a sip of wine, let alone explore where the sizzle might go, Jake is hit by a love spell and is helpless against his feelings for Elena.
Jake may be at her mercy, but Elena is keeping her hands off – exploiting humans is a no-no. But Jake's good looks and powers of persuasion are breaking down her resolve, and Elena knows she must do something fast.
Desperate to set things right before her resolve crumbles, Elena begins a frantic search to find the witch or warlock who hexed Jake and return him to his right mind, even if it means breaking her own heart.
BUY LINK: Escape Publishing