Hello, marvels! Today I’m thrilled to host an interview with author Danielle E. Shipley! Danielle’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.
✖ Thank you for agreeing to this interview. After reading the bio, we’d like to know more about you! What’s the quirkiest thing about you?
That would probably be my status as a willing vessel of character possession. Talking to characters isn’t that uncommon, for authors. But when the characters start talking back – their voices coming through your mouth, their actions driving your body, their physical reactions to your friends making you feel ten kinds of awkward – that’s when that little “h-ha, ha” of concern from strangers comes standard. I’m just glad I’ve never aspired to normalcy, or I’d be a very disappointed young woman.
✖ Tell us a bit about your book! What inspired The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales) or drove you to tell this particular story? What sets it apart from others in its genre?
Like most of my books, my debut novella The Swan Prince came about as a result of me taking notice of an interesting character or two, essentially asking myself, “Okay, what can I give these people to do to showcase what makes them awesome?” and then writing until yay, it’s a complete story! I’m super glad that the stage I set in this case was a fairytale, because I love seeing the magic and whimsy (and yes, the lovey-dovey “happy ever after” factor) of those classic tales played around with over and again. (I drew mostly from bits of “The Wild Swans” and “Beauty and the Beast”, for Book One; Book Two coming in September and the rest of the Wilderhark Tales series will play with far more!) I like that they both have that element of predictability and endless opportunities to veer off the beaten path and take us by surprise. Just throwing around familiar elements like midnight balls and beanstalks isn’t enough for me, though. In case you couldn’t tell by now, I like my stories character-driven. Give me a unique, compelling cast first, and a sensational story second, and I shall ever endeavor to give the same.
✖ Do you think you could share your favorite excerpt or tease us with a single quote even?
Aye, and gladly! As might be easily inferred from the book’s title and cover image, one of the book’s protagonists, Sigmund, doesn’t spend all of his time in a typical human form. In the story snippet to follow, one of his co-stars, Sula, has just discovered this, and… what can I say? Their interaction amuses me.
✖ What was your process for writing The Swan Prince? Did you make a story outline, map out scenes with index cards, or did you just go with the flow?
If memory serves (and it will have to, since the hard drive that held my old brainstorm document crashed this past spring, boo-hoo), I typed up maybe a page of how I envisioned the story’s first act would go, then I opened up a fresh document and started to wing it. This was a good handful of years ago; I’m a much more extensive plotter now, some brainstorms running the length of a novella in and of themselves. I’m not sure when or why my style changed. I guess I just eventually reached the point where I realized I prefer to know where I’m going.
✖ What advice have you most benefited from? Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to impart to all the writers still on their journey toward publication?
“Don’t give up” is a good one, though not terribly useful for me, since I never felt giving up was an option; I love writing and an audience too much. “Write what you love” is better, since you’ll be far less inclined to quit, that way. And “be yourself” is among my favorites. Like I said, I’ve never aspired to normalcy. The crowd is crowded enough. So basically, “Write what you love, your way, and don’t give up.” That is the sincerest advice I can offer.
..a little more about the book itself..
Catching her leg in a bear trap proves the least of Sula’s worries. Haunted by an enchanted monster from a past she dare not reveal, and hounded by the perilously perceptive young village doctor, Villem Deere, the headstrong girl of the woods gambles with fate by binding hers to that of Sigmund, the captivating orphan boy with mysterious nightly business of his own.
The Swan Prince
Book One of The Wilderhark Tales
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An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.
You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.
Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales.
Know them now as Wilderhark’s.
It was a pleasure hosting you on my blog, Danielle! To all you marvels out there, Danielle is donating a prize to one lucky winner! Click HERE to enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win.