Interview with Indie Author D.M. Guay - Halloween Book Blog Tour 2017

The Paranormal Romance Blog Tour 2017 Starts Today! Check out more guest posts and interviews on author Marilyn Vix's blog.

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Happy Halloween!

Today it is my honor to have as my guest, the talented author, D. M. Guay. She's an author who writes about the intersection of real life, along with the supernatural. If it’s Sexy. Kick Ass. And magical? Than that's her thing. 

By day, she is an award-winning journalist living in Ohio, a hobby urban farmer, a painter, and a retired roller derby player. I had the pleasure of interviewing D. M. and asked her about her life as an indie author

I always like to start with a little background, how old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer? 

I wrote my first book in the fourth grade, and it won me a spot at the young author's conference that year. Oh my gosh, I was so excited! I got to miss a day of school to go hang out with authors and talk about books. I met Marc Brown, who wrote the Arthur series, that day. I was hooked!

Do you have a specific writing style?  

Most of my books are first person, but with heavy description of places, people and things. I love to be in characters' heads, but also want the reader to see and feel the rest of the world those characters' inhabit. I work really hard to make the imaginary places in my novels seem real, and to make the story seem real enough that it could actually be happening out there in the world at this very moment. 

What genre are you most comfortable writing? 

I generally write paranormal and urban fantasy. I've just always been drawn to stories and movies that are magical, supernatural, sometimes dark, sometimes funny, as a reader and a writer. I can't help myself! I love everything from the Addams Family and Elvira to Dario Argento and Stephen King. If it's supernatural? I'm in!

How long does it take you to write a book? What is the average word count?

Oh geesh. It really depends! The first book is always the hardest. It took me nearly six years to finish Jess, Rising. When I started, I was working in journalism and had just had a baby, so to say I wasn't giving it all my time and attention would be an understatement. 

Now, I spend the majority of my free time writing novels. The more you write, the easier and faster it is to get to The End. Now, it takes me two months to write the first draft, and two months to revise, polish, and proofread a novel. All of my works are considered full length, which is about 65,000 to 80,000 words. 

Do you have a critique partner(s)? 

Of course! My current partner Laura Bendoly, who also writes paranormal novels. Her latest book, Laerka, is a modern retelling of the Little Mermaid tale, set in modern day Georgia and with a strong element of human trafficking. 

What did your voyage from unpublished writer to published author entail? What were the key highlights along the way to achieving your dream?

Like most authors, I didn't know anything when I first started. I thought my background in journalism would help, but alas, no. Book publishing is its own ecosystem, and it takes work to learn how all the pieces fit together. When Jess, Rising was ready, I queried and was rejected by 30 agents. I entered it into some contests sponsored by the Romance Writers of America. These were valuable experiences, both for the feedback and for the prizes, which included readings by editors and agents.  

I won the Joyce Henderson contest for Young Adult romance, and placed third for the RWA Emily Award in the same category. An agent requested the full, but ultimately declined, despite loving my writing and style, because she said the big book publishers weren't buying Teen Paranormal Romances at the time. My options were to let the book sit in a drawer until the market changed or to put it out there myself. Guess which one I picked!

When did you write your first book and how old were you? Tell us about it.

Jess, Rising is my first book if you don't count the one I wrote in the fourth grade. For most of my 20s, I was too busy in college and in journalism to get a novel down on paper. When you write all day at work, it's hard to come home and write more. That part of your creative brain is just done. But, I learned a lot in those years that have helped me as a novelist. For instance, that you have to sit down and write every day. If you wait for inspiration, you'll die before you finish a book. 

What was one of the most startling things you learned during your experience as an indie author? 

I'm startled by how many good independently-published books are out there and how hard it is for them to be discovered by the general reading public! It's hard, if not impossible, for indies to get their books into libraries. Thankfully, independent bookstores are open to carrying books by local authors. Really, though, I'm most alarmed that literally a handful of large publishing companies have become the tastemakers for modern America. They reject so many good books, not because the aren't good or people won't love them, but because they want books by celebrities and authors who've been selling millions of copies for decades. They only want guaranteed winners and are reluctant to take chances. It's a bit of a disservice, in my humble opinion, to all of us. Where are the next Stephen Kings going to come from if publishing houses don't take chances on new writers?

Thankfully, there are so many ways for writers to get their work out there. 

All in all, I love being an indie author. Love it. But, I was unique in that I had a lot of experience in the work world that translated well to being indie. I freelanced, so I was already familiar with the tax and accounting side of things. I once worked in the marketing department of a small publishing company, so cover copy, blurbs, and press copy wasn't that scary to me. I also worked, briefly, as a graphic designer, so I can format my own books for print and ebook, which is super duper handy!

Do you have any helpful suggestions to help struggling writers become better novelists? If so, what are they? 

I have coached a lot—a lot a lot!—of people on this. It all boils down to butt in seat, hands on keyboard. If you're serious about writing a book, you have to sit down and write it. It's that simple. Dreaming about it and talking about doing it someday doesn't get the job done. 

And, on that note, a lot of writers get hung up on their first draft because they want so desperately for it to be the good and perfect story they envision in their heads. Well, folks, here's the reality: first drafts suck. Frequently. Get over it! You make it good by revising it. Think of the first draft as you learning who the characters are and what the story is going to be. Once that's finished, you can go back and change it. The first step is finishing!

How much editing/revision did you have to do before you felt that your MS was ready to be self-published?

It depends. My first book needed tons, just because I was new and didn't know how to put all the theory of story like plot, acts, crisis, etc. into action. The more I write, the faster and easier it gets, and the less revision the story needs to shine. The first book took six years. The second, took two months to write and two months to revise. 

Five rules for writing fiction that you live by?

Butt in seat, hands on keyboard.
Finish the book, no matter what.
Write. Every. Single. Day.
If I'm bored, the reader is bored, too.
Make it as good and entertaining as you can, because a reader's time is valuable.

Tell us about your newest release. How was your story birthed? 

I'm working on the Guardians of Salt Creek, a series about Jesse, Flowers, a girl who moves to an isolated rural town in Ohio only to discover it is populated by theikos, a race of people who have super-human powers. The first book in the series, Jess, Rising, is out now. The second book, Jess, Resurrected, comes out Nov. 13th 2017. 

I started writing it in a $19 a-night motel room at the now-defunct Sahara Casino in Las Vegas while I was on a trip to see Tom Jones live at the MGM Grand. Long story, but I do outline most of it in the back of Jess, Rising. I include a chapter at The End of every book called “Book Sausage” where I spill my guts and share all of their weird and embarrassing tidbits of my life that ended up in the book!

Who came up with your book title? Was it the original title or did it change along the way? 

The original published title was Salt Creek Rising. When I realized it was going to be a series, I changed it to Jess, Rising, so that I would have more options for future book titles. The draft title, when it won the RWA contests was, Girl with the Sun on Her Heart. But hey. How on earth was I gonna fit all that on a book cover?

What's your secret to creating a realistic character? 

I just make sure none of my characters are perfect, because people aren't perfect. No one has it all. I also try to make sure they are logical in their actions and reactions, as much as a real human can be. Everyone feels justified taking certain actions, even bad ones, sometimes, and I try to reflect that in my work. 

How do you come up with your character's names?  

That depends! In the Guardians of Salt Creek series, I used cemetery records from the real towns in Ohio near where my fictional town was located. I used that primarily for the last names of the town founders. Every town has certain last names that are common or unique to that area and reflect the origins of the original settlers. This was another way I could anchor Salt Creek in the real world. 

Which is more difficult to write: dialogue or action?

For me? Dialogue. Definitely. I have to revise it many times to get it to a place where I'm happy with it. I look like a crazy person sometimes, sitting at my computer reading all the dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds like real people talking!

Who is your favorite author and what really excites you about their work?

My fav paranormal author is Charlaine Harris, hands down. There is something special about the way she makes pretend places like Bon Temps and Midnight, Texas and the paranormal creatures and elements in them feel so real. Her work was a model for how I approached the fictional town of Salt Creek, Ohio, in my current series.

Harris pulls off a level of detail and description in her characters and places that not a lot of authors can in first person. For instance, she's written scenes where Sookie Stackhouse takes a shower and gets ready for work, and yet somehow those mundane activities aren't boring and don't slow the story down. I mean, how is that even possible?? I'm trying to pull that off, too. 

When I'm stuck in one of my own stories, I read one of her novels and instantly can get unstuck, back to the keyboard and writing again. I hope I can create magic on the page the way she does. 

Of course, I love a lot of other books and authors, too. My tastes are pretty all over the map. I like Chuck Wendig because he writes as if he is speaking to you and he's funny. I also love Barbara Kingsolver because, well, she can really write. Her sentences are just beautiful.

Can you tell readers a little bit about what inspired you to write in this particular genre?

I love all things paranormal and supernatural and I always have. My mom used to take me to see all kinds of horror movies when I was way too little to be watching that stuff, but I loved it. While other kids were watching Gilligan's Island after school, I was flipping channels looking for The Addams Family and the Munsters. I love anything supernatural, anything paranormal, whether its funny or legit scary. I don't know. 

Part of the draw might be the issues and themes you can tackle in these genres of fiction: Things like grief, isolation, racism and fear of people/things that are different than you, plus the experiences and feelings of being an outcast and not fitting in. These touch a lot of people, and paranormal fiction is a way to explore big-picture parts of human nature in a new and interesting way. 

Fun Bonus Questions

What are you currently reading?  

The Kick Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig and American Gods by Neil Gaiman

What’s your favorite TV show?  

The Addams Family! Seriously. But I also like British Comedy like The Mighty Boosh and That Mitchell and Webb Look. And I love Game of Thrones, Vikings, and The Walking Dead. Oh, and Preacher, which is based on the graphic novel. 

Which of your own characters is your favorite? 

In my current series, my favorite is Sybil. She's unhinged and cast out by her own subculture, but she carries on with style and attitude. 

How would you describe yourself in three words? 

Geeky. Funny. Brunette. 

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies, or passions in life?

Ha! Honestly? Rock-n-roll. I go to lots of concerts. Lots. From stadium shows to the local band with three followers. I love live music. I can't get enough of it. I'm also a hobby urban farmer. I have a HUGE garden in my backyard and even completed a certificate program teaching me how to scale up so I could sell at farmer's markets. One summer, I grew nearly 500 pounds of fruits and veggies on one eighth of an acre. As I like to say, you can't beat my beets!

Stalk D. M. Guay online:

                    Jess, Rising: Guardians of Salt Creek Book One

Magic. Loves. Lies. Betrayal. High school is murder.

Seventeen-year-old Jess Flowers has changed into something dark, something powerful, something more than human since moving to rural nowhere Salt Creek. She isn’t alone. It’s a town with a dangerous secret. In Salt Creek, people aren’t what they seem.

Gorgeous outcast Billy Combs is the only one willing to help her, but his troubled past may be darker than he’s let on.

A super-charged killer stalks the town, zeroing in on Jess. Can she tame the mysterious powers surging within her and identify the killer before it’s her turn to die?

Murder, lies, betrayal and supernatural powers collide in this dark love story for fans of Beautiful Creatures, X-Men, Twilight, and Vampire Diaries.

Winner, 2016 Romance Writers of America Joyce Henderson Contest for Young Adult romance. (Under its working title, Girl with the Sun on her Heart.)

Purchase links: - Dark angel Writing and Reviews

1 comment

  1. Please visit the blog again, DM! It was fun having you visit. :-)


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