Welcome to another edition of Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm chatting with paranormal romance author Dana Marie Bell. Enjoy - and remember, each comment you leave today counts toward my drawing this week...so let's hear from you!
Hi Dana, and welcome! Can you tell us a little about your background?
When I lived in Philadelphia I went to CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts High School). But my parents moved and decided I'd do better in a Catholic high school. (Can't you just hear the Psycho shower scene music?) I kept telling them that torture was against the law, but they just shook their heads and pointed to the bus stop.
I met my husband during my brief stay in college. I met him in February, and in April I told my dad that I'd found the man I was going to marry. We started dating in August, and we'd moved in together by October. I'd call it a whirlwind romance, except it took us seven years to finally get married. Now I'm a thirty-nine year old mother of two boys who keep me on my toes. I've been with my husband for seventeen years, and everyone who knows us thinks we're still disgustingly cute together. I write paranormal romances, though I've been known to pen contemporary romances or the occasional fantasy story. I love weres, vampires, mages and things that go bump in the night.
What a great story of true love! So when did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?
My grandparents had a small beach house in Wildwood, NJ. I remember coming home from the beach with this story running around in my head and asked them for pen and paper to write it down. On a bed in the guest room I wrote my first short story. I've been writing ever since.
Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.
The Wallflower is a novella that's part of Samhain Publishing's Cat Shifter Anthologies. It's also my first published work, and I'm really proud of it. It's about a woman named Emma who's dreamed of Max, her high school crush, for years. When Max comes home, it turns out he's been hiding a secret: he's a werepuma. And he's not just any werepuma, but the Alpha of the pride. He realizes Emma is his mate and marks her as his, but his ex is anything but happy over it. Emma has to prove to the pride that she has the strength to be the Alpha's mate as well as deal with a jealous ex who is hell bent on taking her position not only as Curana but as Max's lover.
To me it's a great story. I got my husband to read it, and I consider it a triumph that I actually got him to laugh out loud in at least two places.
Sounds intriguing! How do you go about developing your characters?
Develop? You're assuming I have control over them! In The Wallflower the main characters decided to have a fight in the middle of a scene where no fight had been plotted. They poked at me and hit me over the head with blunt objects until I agreed to let them hash it out. Turns out it worked, and they've been taunting me in a "we were right and you were wrong" sort of way ever since.
To me it's like I'm watching a movie, and my job is to put down on paper what I'm seeing in my mind. It doesn't always work out the way I planned, and the characters aren't always quite what I had in mind, but I'm usually pleased with the end result.
OK, what kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
Wait. I have to pick one? Only one? What about one for each genre and/or sub-genre? Can I get away with that?
I love sci/fi, fantasy, romance, paranormal, horror, mystery; I even read true crime stories. My husband and I own over two thousand books. We bought a house with enough rooms in it that we could have our own personal library just to house all of them. (My husband put the romances on a wall by themselves so the other books won't "catch their cooties".) My favorites? Sheri L. King, Lora Leigh, Mary Janice Davidson, Patricia Briggs, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Lois McMaster Bujold, Ann Bishop, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, Terry Pratchett, Lauren Dane… the list goes on and on. A friend of mine has a t-shirt that reads, "First I buy books. When I'm done buying books, I buy food and clothing." We're not quite that bad, but we're close.
Ah, I love that quote! And speaking of which, how do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
Each day is different. Some days, I can't stay on that tightrope. My toddler needs me, or my older boy is home sick from school and needs me, or I'm sick and need me, lol! Other days I can walk that tightrope on my hands while juggling six different things with my feet. A positive attitude helps, along with boatloads of caffeine and a Wiggles marathon.
I'm sure many of my readers will agree with you on that one! Can you describe your writing space for us?
There is a small black cat on top of my computer. His name is Gremlin, and he is evil, in a cute cat way. He likes to bat at my cursor in the middle of love scenes. (I kid you not. I made up an icanhascheezburger-type picture with the caption "Editor kitteh shows u wat u doin wrong" and posted it on my blog.) I have books piled up, music disks, files, and other assorted stuff that's likely to fall on my head if anyone sneezes too hard. Oh, and a desk lamp to light my way under the rubble, maybe alert the rescue team as to where I'm buried.
Dana, thanks so much for being here today. Readers are welcome to stop by her website and see what's up with her latest writing adventures!