When I created this blog almost two years ago, I wrote (and I use that term loosely) a post entitled “My Life in Aristocats.” I had recently discovered the GIF, and while that post was merely a product of me being an idiot, it became the first post I’d ever written that got a comment from someone I didn’t know whaaaat.
Danielle E. Shipley was that commenter. Since that post in 2011, we have become followers of each other’s blogs and readers of each other’s musings. So naturally, when Danielle revealed on her blog Ever On Word that she was going to be published (and multiple times over), I jumped at the chance to EXPOSE HER FOR THE FELLOW CRAZY PERSON SHE REALLY IS AHAHA.
But actually, you guys are gonna love her. Danielle is one of the most lovely people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know, and I could not be happier for her as she takes these next steps in her writing career!
Danielle’s self-published novella The Swan Prince comes out tomorrow, May 31, 2013. Her short story “A Morrow More” will appear in anthology One More Day, which hits shelves December 2, 2013, and if that’s not amazing enough, Danielle’s debut novel Inspired is scheduled for release on March 17, 2014 with J. Taylor Publishing! But I’ll let her tell you about it.
So, Danielle, you’ve got a million things going on right now! Congratulations! Tell us about the things!
The things! There are so many! I’ve got a novel debuting in March (INSPIRED via J. Taylor Publishing, holy cow!). The December before that, out comes my short story, A MORROW MORE (part of the young-adult anthology ONE MORE DAY, also via J. Taylor Publishing, holy smokes!). And in the meantime, there’s THE SWAN PRINCE and its subsequent “Wilderhark Tales” (a series of reimagined fairytales via little old me, holy yikes!). All that + weekends hijacked by a Renaissance Faire = my life.
THE SWAN PRINCE is your first of a series of novellas. Would you grace us with a little overview?
I love the way the book was described in an advance review: “An enigmatic prince with a moonlight curse. A wild young woman with a crippling secret. A canny village doctor whose quest for answers draws him into a triangle of deception.” (Quote attributed to Tirzah Duncan, my writing bestie for life, whose book needs to hurry up and go on sale so I can own her thief lord.)
Essentially, it’s “The Wild Swans” meets “Beauty and the Beast” meets a trio of characters who make the story all their own. The series as a whole will be a kind of fairytale mash-up soap opera – like ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”, minus the modern day and world-hopping elements. (Those tricks come later. Stick around after Wilderhark for the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” trilogy, kids!)
What inspired you to write THE SWAN PRINCE—and what did you turn to for inspiration while you were writing?
Once my head’s deep inside a book, I don’t tend to need much in the way of outside inspiration. My characters provide it for me. (They spoil me, like that.) And in the case of THE SWAN PRINCE, it was character inspiration that got me started, too. I didn’t even know how much I wanted to write fairytales before this book entered my life. I knew I loved reading them, but I hadn’t dabbled much in writing them, aside from a few “Hansel and Gretel” pieces that never took off. Then I got this idea out of the blue about a boy with some sort of swan superpower, and after a short period of brainstorming with myself, I’d developed a fairytale plot. (‘Cause if your childhood included the “Swan Princess” videos, it’s hard to see swans without wondering whether they’re under an enchantment.) To my pleasant surprise, taking the story in a fairytale direction made for relatively smooth sailing, and I soon found myself craving more. Like, five books more, not counting short stories and spinoffs.
The decision to self-publish is huge for any writer, and you made it before you knew you were going to sign with J. Taylor. What’s the process of self-publishing been like for you?
Emotionally exhausting. My morale is fried from getting yanked up and down with no reprieve.
Yay, I’m piloting the ship of my own destiny! / Oh, gosh, what did I just screw up?
Yay, an early reviewer adored my book! #Success! / Oh, woe, nobody “liked” my post about my book in the last half-hour. #Failure!
Yay, only X many days ‘til Release Day! / OH, HECK, only X many days ‘til Release Day!
I’m on top of the world! / I’m doooooooomed!
I’d say this process isn’t for the faint of heart, but my heart’s been feeling faint on and off for weeks, now, so I guess all you really need is a story you believe in enough to stick with it, come what may.
On a scale of I-Just-Really-Need-A-Bubble-Bath to Eff-The-Police-I-Am-A-Self-Pub-HERO, how has your self-publishing experience compared to the traditional route so far?
Just when I think I’m done sending queries to literary agents for a while, I’m sending requests to book bloggers to give my fairytale a read; can you say “déjà vu”? 😄 Seriously, though, there are a lot of parallels. In each case, it’s all about doing my darnedest to meet the publisher’s standard, and working within and around necessary compromises for the sake of the best finished product attainable. Publishing a book on my own comes with that do-it-yourself satisfaction. Publishing with a bigger entity comes with the unquantifiable joy of knowing they’re believing in my book right along with me. Both come with stress, but, as my mother once told me, “C’est la vie. Que sera, sera. YOLO.” I’m no prouder of one accomplishment than the other, and I’m looking forward to the day when I can hold a copy of a Wilderhark Tale and INSPIRED in each hand!
If THE SWAN PRINCE were made into a TV show or film, what would be the theme song?
Wouldn’t you know, this is one of only two Wilderhark books that I or the world’s minstrels haven’t written original songs for. However, there is one song I’ve long associated with this story. *runs downstairs and back to retrieve songbook from atop the piano* “Legend of the Forest” by Kevin Costley, as found in his “Romantic Portraits” collection for intermediate solo piano. It’s a simple, pretty, vaguely mysterious-sounding instrumental that I loved to the point of expanding upon it in a computer orchestration program. If THE SWAN PRINCE ever makes it to the screen, I’m soliciting Costley to beg for a permit of use.
What’s your writing process like? Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants? More importantly, do you wear pants? And would you agree that pantsless-ness is an important part of the creative process?
This interview just got real, folks.
First off, I’m a straight-up outliner. I tried to write a book without a plan for the second half of last year’s National Novel Writing Month. It was a fiasco to behold. If I don’t have a semi-organized, obsessively detailed, chapter by chapter story map to follow, my writing speed and/or sense of investment in the project drop significantly.
Now onto the heart of the matter. While I will, as a general rule, prefer to be fully clothed for most given activities, ideas have been known to strike me in any and all stages of dress, and sometimes those ideas demand to be typed up immediately. I don’t know about all lines of work, but in mine, ideas take precedence over pants.
I am about to ask you a very important question that should be posed to all writers at some point in their lives—what is your favorite writing snack?
I can hear my characters clamoring in the background to sound off the subject. The consensus around here is that I don’t eat enough when I’m living in Book Land; they think my priorities list should be “food”, “ideas”, and “pants”, in that order. Offer me a bowl of sliced strawberries with a sprinkle of sweetener, and I’ll agree with them. Other fruit or veggie chippy/crispy things are tasty and typing-friendly, too, but such things will never win out over fresh fruit.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger, unpublished self, what would that be?
Me: Stress less! Your dreams will happen if you just stick with it, alright? And trust me, you’ll stress enough then.
Younger Me: Holy heck, it’s me from the future! Have they made teleportation accessible to the masses yet?!
Me: No, darn them. 21st century, my eye.
Can you spill a couple beans about your upcoming debut novel INSPIRED (set to release March 2014)? Any beans whatsoever? If not, do you accept bribes?
As a matter of fact, when it doesn’t come down to a matter of principle, I am quite easily bought. Let’s see, what spoiler-free things can I tell you? Well, know this: If the story of my authorial life were a book, INSPIRED would be the movie based upon it, as directed by Peter Jackson. So while some of the diehards might be like, “Aw, man, they totally changed stuff and left stuff out!” most everybody else will just be like, “THAT. WAS. EPIC!” and break into a dirge about the misty mountains cold. There’s even a character with Legolas-level hair. True story.
BIO: Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it.
Visit Danielle’s website: deshipley.com
Check out Danielle’s blog: everonword.wordpress.com