Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Author Interview: IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS with D. G. Driver

I love presenting this interview feature of my blog. I get to visit with so many talented writers, get a peek into their writing spaces, meet their pets, see what they like to eat, and see where they live. It makes reading their books so much richer when I can picture the writer behind the story. 

My guest today is author D. G. Driver. Donna, please introduce yourself...

(D.G.) I’ve been a published writer for twenty years now. Every time I write that somewhere, a strange feeling crawls over me. I kind of can’t believe it’s been that long. I began my career as Donna Getzinger and had several award-winning and critically acclaimed educational and nonfiction books published under that name. I really wanted to break through with YA fiction, so I decided to change my name to D. G. Driver and start fresh. Last year my YA fantasy novel about a girl who discovers mermaids caught in an oil spill, Cry of the Sea, was published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Novels. In January of this year, my new book, Passing Notes, a novella about a boy who is learning to write a love letter from a ghostly tutor, was published. I’m excited at this jump start to my fiction writing career, and hope you’ll enjoy getting to know a little more about my life as a writer.

(Lynda) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, if I took a drive in the area I live, what
might I see? (Photo would be good here):

(D. G.) I live a little east of Nashville where the suburban sprawl begins to melt into the country. The houses in my neighborhood are on neat little streets, but they have pretty big yards. If I drive west toward Nashville, everything gets more crowded. As I drive east, away from Nashville, it begins to be more farmland and woods. I love that I see cows on my way home from work, and there is a super cute gopher that lives near me. I have named him Grover. He lives in front of the little red farm in the picture, but it’s winter right now so he’s not standing in the dirt and watching the cars go by like he does in the warmer times of the year.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What things would inspire me?

(D. G.) I find most of my story ideas from tidbits I’ve heard in a news story or something from a documentary. It’ll be a small fact in a bigger story, and I find myself creating a story around it. The premise for Passing Notesbegan when I learned cursive writing was going to be removed from elementary school curriculum. I wanted to create a story showing a reason why it shouldn’t fade away. Cry of the Sea began when the news was doing a lot of stories on the 10-year anniversary of the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill. I wondered what would happen if a mermaid got caught in an oil spill.

(Lynda) I too love prospecting for ideas among the lesser details of a big news story. I never fail to find something of interest that inspires an idea.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I get excited over seeing my book cover for the first time?

(D. G.) The book cover designer for Fire and Ice Young Adults books is Caroline Andrus. When she sent me the cover for Cry of the Sea, I actually cried. It was so perfect and beautiful. She got the face of my main character Juniper Sawfeather just right. I also love what she did for Passing Notes. It fits the book perfectly, and I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I love doing book signings, etc?

(D. G.) I am a performer, drama degree and all, so I love getting up in front of an audience. I have done a few school appearances, and they are my favorites. I’d love to do more of those. I have also spoken at sci-fi/fantasy cons and writing events. Back when my historical novels about the Civil War and Gold Rush were out, I appeared at a lot of reenactment and history related events – in period costumes. Those were so much fun! Right now I’m doing a lot of speaking on the topic of revision in writing and why it’s so important. It’s also the main focus of my blog www.dgdriver.com/write-and-rewrite-blog

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I read a lot? How do I fit it in? Why is it important?

(D. G.) I read all the time. Mostly I read other YA and MG books. I have a long TBR list, and I tend to put books by people I know first in line, so I read a lot of books by local SCBWI writers and authors I’ve gotten to know online. I like to pick up a well-known book in between, too, so I can keep up with what the big publishers are doing and what is popular with readers. I work full time and have a family. What little time I have left I tend to dedicate to my writing and publicity. So, I read a little slower than I used to, usually finding time at lunch and bedtime. I always have a book with me, though, in case I’m stuck somewhere and have to find something to fill the time.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, what would I tell a beginning reader always/never to do?

(D. G.) Don’t be in a hurry. So many people finish their books and want to go straight to self-publishing (or submitting) the moment it’s done. I promise you that it isn’t ready yet. Nobody writes a perfect first draft, I don’t care how genius you are. I know it’s hard to control the eagerness. You print out that big stack of paper, and it feels so good in your hands, and all you can think is “I made this!” I’ve been there many times, and I know the thrill. At that point, though, put it aside. Try not to work on it for at least a month. Do some other stuff in the meantime. Then come back and look at it with fresh eyes and start cleaning it up for mistakes – you’ll find some. If possible, get in a critique group or find some good beta readers to read that new fixed-up draft and give you some honest opinions and then revise again. Writing isn’t a race. No one out there is anxiously awaiting your first book. You have time to get it right, I promise. My other two pieces of advice? Learn how to spell and have good grammar. Also, read books, articles, and magazines about writing, publishing and how the industry works.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, would I have a website or blog? Do I offer promo?

(D. G.) I have a blog on my website: www.dgdriver.com/write-and-rewrite-blog where I mostly focus on posts about revision and rewriting techniques. I invite authors to come and share their experiences with revision and promote their books. Sometimes I’ll have a creative theme, like I’m finishing up a month of “Book Boyfriend Love Letters” where I asked authors to write love letters based on the characters in their books. I did that to promote them and the release of Passing Notes which is mostly about a boy learning to write a love letter. That has been a lot of fun, and I think I’ll do more creative stuff like that in the future. I do review books that I read, but not on my blog and not on request. I post my reviews on my FB page, my tumblr page, Amazon and Goodreads.

(Lynda)  IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, when did I first consider myself a writer? Special moment:

(D. G.) My first attempt at writing something to be seen by others was a play that my high school performed, and I wrote a fairly awful novel throughout my college years. I never considered myself a writer during that time – just a dabbler. I was planning to be an actress and even majored in Theater Arts. In 1994 when my first children’s play A Pirate Tale was produced by Imagination Children’s Theater in Los Angeles, and every performance sold out, that was when I first believed, “I can do this! I’m a writer!” I did another play for them in 1995 and sold my first poem and a short story that year too. From that point on I have considered myself a professional author. I eventually quit acting (and now only do community theater for fun) and focused my creative energy on writing. I joined SCBWI in 1999 and was considered one of the PAL (Published and Listed) authors right away because I’d had stories in established magazines like Children’s Digest and Ladybug. My non-fiction books with Morgan Reynolds Publishers were also considered PAL works. As much as I love SCBWI, the organization doesn’t pay a lot of heed to Indie and digital-first published books, so I was thrilled last year when they included my small press publisher Fire and Ice on their PAL list, making Cry of the Seaapplicable to promote and sell at SCBWI sponsored events. That was a big deal to me personally.

Explore more of D. G. Driver's work:

Publisher: www.fireandiceya.com/authors/dgdriver/index.html

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/D.-G.-Driver/e/B00J70QN64/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1423095033&sr=8-1

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donnagdriver

YouTube, Cry of the Sea Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSXZrIF3VqA

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DGDriverAuthor

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