I can’t believe it’s only been a little over a year since I met Dawn at one of the most amazing youth camps, WordsWorth, where I was presenting a few writing workshops to teens. Here’s a vlog I created during the camp (unfortunately, Dawn’s not in it – she’s quite camera shy, silly girl). While I may have been out of my element hiking through the snow, I felt very much at home with those brilliant kids and the other writers / facilitators. We were of like minds. Inspired types. Kooky and creative all at the same time.
Dawn and I became fast friends, practically spilling our guts as we tried to share as much about each other’s writing, projects, lives and goals in a finite amount of time. A year later, our in person meetings are much the same. There’s a deadline, a bus or ride home to catch, and so we race to squeeze everything in. It’s how we work / write / relate. And it’s probably the most unique writing relationship I’ve known.
So I’m pleased as punch to have Dawn leisurely chatting with us today and answering a few questions about her work. Oh – I forgot to mention – Dawn is one hell of a writer. Goes right for the heart, so to speak. (Go HERE and you’ll see what I mean.)
SPIRITED is a haunting collection of paranormal fiction for young adults; 13 chill-inducing stories from some of the hottest authors in the industry, including bestselling authors Maria Snyder, Candace Havens – and of course, the brilliant Judith Graves
I’m honored and thrilled that my short story Thread of the Past was accepted in the anthology. Here’s the blurb on it:
Letitia Hawke is used to feeling invisible and the only thing that makes her senior dance bearable is the location – one of the most haunted houses in the country. Then Tish makes an unexpected connection with Elijah and it’s bye bye wallflower, hello gothic rose. Too bad the Franklin House is a jealous host.
I write very few short stories, so this was a new process for me and I loved it. Writing Thread of the Past has actually inspired me to consider writing more short stories. In the past, I’ve tended to dream in novels or scripts.
You write young adult fiction, as well as adult thrillers under the name, Dawn Ius. Do you find it challenging to write for such different audiences? Or are they more similar than one would originally assume?
Definitely there are some challenges when writing for different audiences, but I think that’s part of the allure for me. I love pushing myself, and with each new genre, age category, or writing style, I’m learning new skills, and hopefully telling great stories.
I have an overactive idea factory that doesn’t like to be pigeonholed.
We’re talking about fear and nightmares to celebrate the launch of Second Skin. Fess up…what really scares you? Do any of your characters share this fear? (Love this pic of Dawn and her husband, Jeff, the talented artist who created our MWM skull images, dressed for Halloween – or possibly just another Monday night – you never know with these two.)
I have so many fears it’s ironic I write thriller. Spiders and snakes top the list, though since moving to the country I’ve learned to appreciate the role spiders play in the overall food chain. Unless they’re hairy and the size of my fist, of course. Then they’re fair game! My character Jagger Valentine (www.jaggervalentine.com) is also afraid of spiders and snakes…and bats. Oh, and rats. Me too, come to think of it.
I’m also afraid of heights, much to my father’s dismay. He’s an electrical lineman, and when I was a kid, he’d come to the school with his bucket truck and offer my friends and I rides. Lunch at 50+ feet up. They all thought it was cool. I considered it torture.
Over the years, there’s been a few movies and books that have given me the chills, but I’m pretty good at filtering out reality from fiction. The original Exorcist still gets me, though.
If writing YA and Adult fiction isn’t enough to keep you busy, you also write screenplays. How has tackling scripts impacted your fiction projects? Your background is in journalism, are there cross-over skills that have helped shape your writer’s voice?
I started writing scripts to appease my inner competitor – the little voice on my shoulder that insisted writing for TV or film is harder than writing a book. It’s not. But it’s not easy, either. Truthfully, I’ve always been a visual writer, so making the leap from fiction to film hasn’t been as hard as my inner competitor led me to believe. If anything, writing scripts has reinforced the need for “tight writing” in ALL forms. Not a lot of room for superfluous text in a typical script…and there shouldn’t be for most other writing as well.
On the flip side, I became a Journalist to appease my parents who were concerned pinning my dreams on creative writing would mean I’d end up penniless and starving, begging for a place to live. Though I obliged under a bit of duress, I admit, I loved my Journalism career, and sometimes pine for those days as a small town editor. I’ve been fortunate to write for international publications such as Cosmopolitan and Soap Opera Digest, as well as edit national and local publications like the Prairie Hog Report. But my heart has always belonged to fiction.
All forms of writing are difficult and challenging. They’re also rewarding. And with each style of writing – from Journalism to screenwriting – I’m honing my skills and doing what I love. It doesn’t get much better than that.
OMG, my friend, you have a bevy of projects on the go, care to share / tease us with anything?
I could…but then I’d have to kill you.
Kidding. Mostly. The truth is, the publishing industry is volatile and I tend not to count my chickens until they’re fully hatched. That said, I do have a lot on tap, a full slate of youth and adult projects that cross all mediums – from short stories and novels, through to screenplays, TV scripts, and even graphic novels.
And, the second book in my children’s series starring Chase Duffy launches at the end of March. Here’s the blurb on Gotta Jet:
As a young track athlete, Chase Duffy is mesmerized by the speed travelled by Prairie Gold, the world’s first and only Jet Fuel Funny Car that runs on 100% canola biodiesel. It could be even faster than Superman!
After meeting the infamous car’s driver and hearing his inspirational story, Chase is driven to build his own race car and looks to his faithful grandfather for support. Together they build a soap box racer – and learn a lot about canola’s potential for biodiesel in the process.
For more on Chase Duffy, check out his blog at www.fieldsofhome.blogspot.com.
PS – You can’t be too hard on me for project generation – half of my list is comprised of projects I’m working on with you
What is the book on your bedside table right now?
Second Skin by Judith Graves. No, seriously.
I also have the first 6 Walking Dead graphic novels. I started watching the show and am obsessed with the series.
I haven’t started on the GNs yet, but I agree, the show is crazy-addictive. And scary. Thanks for chatting today, though I wish it was in person…perhaps at Albert’s…until they kick us out again. For the “author exchange” side of things, here’s my interview over at Dawn’s blog.