Welcome to another Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm chatting with author Dayana Knight, who has an exciting release coming up soon. Enjoy!
Thanks for being here today, Dayana. Can you tell us a little about your background?
Hmmm...I was born and raised a South Jersey girl. I loved the summers and trips to the seashore so it only made sense that I picked up and moved in my early twenties to South Florida. I picked up a pen early on and never really put it down. I enjoyed classes in creative writing and journalism in junior and senior high school. I published a poem in my 6th grade year book and attempted writing my first romance when I was about twelve years old.
My interest in the paranormal began at a very young age when Barnabas and Quentin Collins, Angelique, Maggie, Julia, et al were household names. Yep, I'm talking about Dark Shadows. I became infatuated with everything paranormal. I watched and read everything I could containing vampires, weres, witches, and ghosts. I studied books on the occult and witchcraft in my teens but dark magic, I must admit, frightened me. I even had some relatives that insisted they had ghosts in their homes. I loved scary stories and the thrill and chills they brought deep in the night. To this day I love the thought of and touring haunted houses, ancient cemeteries, legend and lore.
I remember in perhaps my early teens going to the neighbor's house(she was older probably in her twenties) and playing the Ouija board game. It scared the wits out of both of us, and I never fooled around with one again.
Ooh, I have memories of the Ouija board too! So when did you first begin writing? above Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?
I really have written in some form most of my life whether it be diaries, poems, journals, or stories but I actually hadn't written seriously until the year 2000. I'd had a very traumatic year. My father had lost a battle with the after effects of colon cancer and my eleven year old Sheltie, Kazzy, succumbed to lymphosarcoma. I was devastated and didn't know how to deal with my grief. I was keeping a journal on my computer at the time and was working through my thoughts and grief. One day I started searching the net for creative writing venues and stumbled upon The Writers' Village University who offered a free writing class. I joined and during one of the classes I actually wrote a scene that would turn into my first published novel, a crime suspense romance, which I wrote under another pseudonym. From there I moved on to my present writing career.
Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.
My present genre preference is paranormal, specifically shapeshifters(wolves) and vampires. As a matter of fact, I'm about to release the first novel of a planned series titled The Roma Wolf Tales. Curse of the Marhime is due out in ebook September 5 and print will be released December of this year by The Wild Rose Press.
It's the story of a woman whose routine stop at the grocery store alters life as she has always known it. She is drawn by accident into her seemingly mysterious past only to discover her destiny totally different than anything she'd ever imagined and with it has unwittingly found her soul mate.
How do you go about developing your characters?
My characters grow out of and around my story ideas. They tend to mold themselves once I get a story idea and begin to sketch it out in my mind and then down on paper. Actually, the story premise for Curse of the Marhime came out an actual experience I had when I'd stopped at the grocery store one night on the way home from work. Characters are unique to every story so I believe the grow and evolve much the same way the story does.
As far as character description, I tend to get a picture in my head and then I will look at random magazines and pick out random people who resemble the way I imagine the characters to appear. I am constantly foraging magazines for interesting people, scenes, places, etc. I have a file I keep the pictures and pages in for future reference.
Imagery to me is very important. You want to place your reader into the scene. You want them to see, smell, touch, and hear your scenery and feel what your characters feel. The better picture you draw using the senses, the more a part of the story your reader will feel and the more the reader will identify with your characters.
OK, now what advice would you give to new writers just starting out?
Practice makes almost perfect! Just keep writing. The more you do it the better you get.
What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
My favorites are paranormal namely, shifters/wolves and vamps and other assorted dark sensual creatures. This is a tough one. I like several authors though I'd have to say my most favorites are Laurel K Hamilton, J D Ward, and Katie McAllister. I do dip into authors like Diana Gabaldon, Patricia Cornwall, Linda Howard, and Kathy Reichs, as well.
What do you find most difficult about writing?
I can not write on demand. If I am not in a creative frame of mind, I don't even attempt to sit down and write. I tend to write when the spirit moves me so to speak and that means there are times when I really don't sit down and do a good run for several days or even weeks, so I take advantage of those times when the craft flows.
I think that's interesting, especially since many authors say you must "write every day." It's good to hear from someone who doesn't work that way. What do you find most exciting or rewarding about the craft of writing?
When my characters take the reins. There comes a point when the characters come alive and take over. It is exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. I want them to do something they don't want to and the whole forward motion stops as if someone stepped hard on the brakes. Until I give in and move in the direction they choose, I'm going nowhere. I believe every author has experienced this phenomenon. That is when you know you've breathed life into your characters. That is when you know they've come alive.
Another very rewarding aspect is to finally complete a project and get it accepted. A definite Snoopy dance occasion.
How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
Writing is a natural part of my life. It is a form of relaxation to me. Some people sit down with a good book and read for relaxation. I write. I loose myself in the creation of characters, scenery, love, hate, conflict and I let the tensions of every day life slip away for a while. I create my own happy place or not so happy place depending on what's going on in the story.
My life is busy like everyone else's. I work a full time job during the day, have a home base business I tend to, and a family. Somehow it all works. I'm lucky I guess and I'm never bored. And I hate being bored!
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
Some writers debate that writer's block even exists, but I truly think it has to do with what I mentioned above. The times that I truly cannot move my story forward is when I am not listening to the characters and what they want to do. When I finally stop beating my head against the desktop, sit back, analyze and listen, that's when things begin to move forward again. Sometimes it takes walking away for a while--days, weeks--whatever it takes.
Describe your writing space for us.
My writing space is pretty much anywhere I want it to be. I started off years ago in a spare bedroom that I set up as an office as well. It was light and airy, decorated like a french provincial bedroom and office. It was feminine and felt like my personal and private space. But eventually, I went out and got a laptop because we needed more than one computer with my growing need to write.
Now, I work anywhere I choose. I will sit beside my husband and tap away while he is entertained with NASCAR or Football. I'll work in my living room and enjoy my beautiful fireplace, or I can sit outside on the patio amid my orchid arbor and gardens enjoying the great outdoors.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I take long walks on the beach. I am an avid gardener. I like to do projects around the house, read, listen to music, dance. I keep busy:)
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?
Everything! Writing, editing, cover art, galleys. Its all grueling work. But holding that finished book in my hands and knowing that I did it was awesome. But then, I had to market it. Whoa! Wow! That is something I didn't know or care to do. I'm a writer. I'm not comfortable in front of people, talking about myself or my stories. Marketing was something I'd never thought about but... well... its a necessity. Marketing is how you get yourself and you book out there. Marketing is hard work but I am now learning how to make it fun.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Yes, for more information on my new release, Curse of the Marhime and to view my book trailer, as well, lots of chat and helpful writing information, please visit my blog located at http://www.dayanaknight.blogspot.com/ and my website at http://www.romawolftales.com/. Also, check out the contest/links page while you're there. My "Dog Days of Summer" contest begins August 1st. You will find all details listed. Win great prizes and get to know some great authors as well.
Thanks for being here today, Dayana!
Thank you for having me, Allie. Its been fun.