Welcome to my second installment of Interview Mondays! Today I have the pleasure of sharing my interview with another fellow Month9Books author, Dorothy Dreyer. Dorothy’s debut novel, My Sister’s Reaper, will hit the shelves in May 2013.
Thank you for joining us today, Dorothy! Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an American living in Germany, married to a wonderful German man for 18 years, and together we have a pre-teen son and a teenage daughter. I’m also an English teacher at a private multi-lingual nursery school.
Are you a lifelong writer, or did the passion for writing spring up more recently?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember—back before word processing programs even existed. I wrote stories and plays on paper. But I never set out to get published until after my kids were born. It was then I decided to achieve some of my life-long goals.
Congratulations on your publishing deal! Can you tell us about your debut urban fantasy novel, My Sister’s Reaper?
Sure! Here’s the pitch:
Sixteen-year-old Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she liked she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake was actually doing it.
When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human. To top it off, a Reaper is determined to take Mara’s soul. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper or let Mara die … this time for good.
As a first time author, breaking in to the publishing world is tough work. Do you think living in Germany and selling to the U.S. market made it even harder? What unique challenges did/do you face living overseas?
It’s funny, I always felt like putting my German address at the end of a query letter would make agents and publishers skeptical. Even if agency websites stated they represented writers from all over the world, I wondered if they might tag it as a nuisance to take on yet another author living overseas. I can’t say for sure if that’s why I got rejected from some agents or not. I guess I really just had to rely on my writing being strong enough that the details didn’t matter.
What drew you to write for the young adult market?
When I was a teenager, my stories were always based on teenagers. As I got older I did write a few adult-world stories, but I wasn’t glued to them. My first real pull into the young adult literature world, although it’s technically a children’s book, was Harry Potter. I was inspired not only to write to a younger audience, but to bring magic into my stories.
I think readers are often confused by the wide variety of genres and sub-genres (heck, it even confuses some of us writers). What are some of the characteristics that define the urban fantasy novel?
Add me to the confused list, lol. There’s been a lot of debate about paranormal versus urban fantasy, and to tell you the truth, my book fits into both categories. Here’s what a group on Goodreads defines urban fantasy as:
“Urban fantasy is a subset of contemporary fantasy, consisting of magical novels and stories set in contemporary, real-world, urban settings–as opposed to ‘traditional’ fantasy set in wholly imaginary landscapes. The urban fantasy protagonist faces extraordinary circumstances as plots unfold in either open (where magic or paranormal events are commonly accepted to exist) or closed (where magical powers or creatures are concealed) worlds. A romantic subplot may or may not exist within the context of the story.”
My story has these elements, but could also be considered a paranormal fantasy, magical realism, paranormal romance, a thriller, or a horror novel. It’s got a little bit of everything, I guess.
How did you come to join the Month9Books family? Can you tell us a little about your submission process?
In January I entered the Pitch Slam contest on YALitChat. My pitch made the top ten, but I was not named one of the three winners. Not giving it another thought, I was surprised when I found an email in my inbox from Georgia McBride’s assistant asking to see the first chapter. It wasn’t long before I received another email asking to see the full. Then one morning a couple weeks later, as I was checking my email over breakfast, I got the offer for a two-book contract. I was completely blown away.
You have a sequel in the works. Any other irons in the fire, or are you focused on one project at a time?
At the moment I’m concentrating on edits for MY SISTER’S REAPER as well as fleshing out what I have of the sequel. There are a couple stories kicking around in my head that I hope I’ll have time to write soon, as well as a couple of my shelved stories I’d love to rework, but too many at once would probably send me over the edge.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Are you an outliner, or do you just sit down and write? Do you do any needed research as you go, or get it all done at the start?
I’m a plotter, for sure. I’m a big fan of the storyboard process, laying out scene by scene to get an overview of how my story should go. Of course, when I’m writing, my pantser evil twin tends to pop in and throw the story a curve, but usually it’s a good curve. As for research, I do some before I start my stories, just so I have a general idea of what I’m dealing with, but I do research as I go along too.
What are some of the benefits of publishing through an indie press like Month9Books?
I think small presses are more open and willing to take chances on new authors. They’re probably also more willing to ignore the trends. One thing that made me nervous whenever I queried was the buzz on the web that paranormal was a dying genre. That the big six weren’t going to even consider them anymore. I don’t know if that’s entirely true or not, but I think indie presses look past what’s hot or not and just focus on publishing great stories.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read, read, read! It’s vital. And there are so many good books out there, how could one possibly pass that up? But also, never give up. If you have a dream, and you’re determined make it come true, you cannot stop pursuing it. Make it happen!
Thanks again for joining us, Dorothy!
Thanks for having me, Michelle! And I wish everyone luck on their publishing journeys!
You can find Dorothy on the web:
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorDorothyDreyer
Dorothy on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5815423.Dorothy_Dreyer
My Sister’s Reaper on Goodreads (cover reveal coming this winter): http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13597733-my-sister-s-reaper
Dorothy’s blog, We Do Write: http://we-do-write.blogspot.com/