Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Can an online romance survive in real life?
Internet sensation Madison Nakama has it all! Her pop-culture rewatch site has a massive following, and fans across the world wait on her every post and tweet. Even Madi’s dismal romantic life seems ready to take off as Laurent, a fellow geek (and unfairly HOT French exchange student!) starts flirting with her in the comments section of her blog. But Laurent’s not the only one watching for Madi’s replies.
Internet fame has a price, and their online romance sparks the unwanted attention of a troll. When Madi’s “real life” hits a rough patch, she feels her whole world crumbling. With Laurent’s support, can Madi rally her friends across the globe to beat the troll, or will he succeed in driving her away from everything―and everyone―she loves?
Today we welcome Danika for an interview!
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I always wanted to be a creator of things, but a writer was far from my first choice. While I’ve always been an avid reader, my first passion was painting, murals in particular. Later on, my interests shifted into digital media and eventually I discovered writing. What an experience! Once I started writing books, I couldn’t stop!
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
If I’m just talking a rough draft, it’s about two months, but I don’t really consider that done. Start to finish, a completed book usually takes a year. That breaks down into:
· A month or so of pre-planning, character development, and plotting.
· Two months to completely write a rough draft.
· Three months of beta-reading / editing / polishing prior to sending it to my editor.
· And then six months of work and revisions with an editorial team.
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
For me, the theme usually shows up on its own. I have a plot and I have characters, and when they start interacting I discover all sorts of wonderful things along the way!
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write?
Yes and no. In my case, I have to balance writing with family, so my writing time usually falls during the summer or evenings. I also steal time whenever I can. Yes, I’m that mom with a laptop balanced on her knees at the soccer field.
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
For me, it’s all about boundaries. I need to write the way some people need to breathe, and that means I need to give myself the time to do it. One key element is getting my family on board. When I tell my kids “I’m writing a book this summer”, they know to give me time. My whole family’s schedule works around it. I give myself a word count for each day, and once I start writing, I don’t stop until it’s done.
6. What elements do you think make a great story line?
I think you just need to write the truest story you can. If it’s important to you, it will resound with readers. So stop worrying about what will sell and just write what’s close to your heart.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
You give up something for every book you write. For me, it’s time with my kids. The hardest part for me is saying “no I can’t play”… even though I want to. The best part, on the other hand, is reading my books aloud to them. Then it’s all worth it!
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Currently, I have seven books in stores including two from last year (Edge of Wild, Stonehouse, 2016, and All the Feels, Macmillan, 2016) and, of course, this year’s Internet Famous, (Macmillan, 2017)!
I’ve also written four additional books that are in various stages of publication: two YA, the sequel to Edge of Wild, and a science fiction title that I wrote a few years back.
As to which is my favorite, I tend to obsess over the book I’m currently writing. At the moment, that’s a fun action-packed YA for Swoon! You’ll LOVE it! But the truth is that each and every one of my books has a special place in my heart.
9. Do you have a favorite character?
I love all of my characters! Unlike some writers who invent the character from scratch, I start with a rough sketch and then start pre-writing. Whatever ‘voice’ appears on the page is what creates the character I write. In a weird way, it’s like the characters are already finished and I channel them into my story.
I just reread that answer and it sounds weird but I promise it works! (For me, at least.)
10. Where do you write?
I have young kids, so I need to be handy. That means I write at my kitchen table, amidst the clutter of everyday life. One day I might have an office, but today is NOT that day!
11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
I started the way everyone says you should start: write a book, query an agent and… Nothing. For me, that route just didn’t work.
When I couldn’t find an agent for my first book, I decided to self-publish it, all the while writing other books. Self-publishing taught me so much about the industry and how important it is to become proficient at all aspects! When I queried for my next (newly written) book I had a completely different outlook and I had an agent in a few short weeks.
Signing with Mint Literary led to the publication of Edge of Wild, but I didn’t stop there. I also continued to approach publishing the way I had when I’d been independent, including entering the Swoon Reads contest. I was thrilled when All the Feels was selected via crowd-sourcing!
In the end, I think it just shows that everyone has to find their own path to publishing. There is no ‘right way’ to do it. There’s just the way that works for YOU.
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
I come from a family of professors and I think, early on, there was a lot of head-scratching and what I’d chosen as a career. The feedback when they finally read my books, however, was completely positive. My mom is definitely my biggest fan. And my sister (correctly) guessed all the real life people who inspired my stories.
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I love to paint and I really enjoy the outdoors. I especially love being able to go out into nature with an easel and play with paints! I also love creating videos and working with Photoshop. If I’m not outdoors, then I’m probably hiding away on my computer.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
My advice is that if you really want to write, you’ll find a way to make time for it. If you never have time, you don’t really want to write.
That sounds harsh, but I say that from experience. Until I made my own writing a priority – above my family in many cases – it didn’t happen. I didn’t write a single word until my youngest was out of diapers. I just couldn’t. Now, I can’t stop.
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
I have too many favorite authors and books to choose from, so I’m not going to try to narrow it down. Instead, go take a look at the AMAZING writers in the young adult writing community today. All of those authors are the ones I look to for inspiration as I write. They are tremendous!
16. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
The first draft I write is just for me and I write the story exactly the way that I want it with no consideration of anyone else.
The second draft is for beta-readers, the close friends and fellow writers who I trust with my not-so-pretty rough draft baby. They guide it into a better shape and make it more logical.
The third draft is based on my editor’s excellent advice. This often involves massive overhauls to plots and complete character changes. It’s an exhilarating (and sometimes terrifying) process, but it makes the story so much better!
All subsequent drafts are polishing off rough edges and cleaning it up. Copy-edits are just the final bit of shine on a completely revamped story. While the first draft is for me alone, this last draft is for the world. It’s the best possible version of the story!
17. Are you working on anything now?
YES! I can’t give too many details yet, but I’m working on a very fun, action-packed YA for Swoon and I also have the sequel to Edge of Wild, called The Dark Divide coming out from Stonehouse sometime in the next year or so. Very exciting stuff!
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile.
1. My family and friends!family.
2. The first breath of air when I reach Waterton park.
3. Magpies chattering in the trees.
4. Reaching the very last round of a grueling round of edits.
5. Furry creatures of all kinds.
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad.
2. Lost hope.
3. Climate change deniers.
4. People who don’t see their own beauty.
5. The last goodbye that you never see coming.
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
If it doesn’t have to be this world, then I’d choose Mars, but only if I could get back to Earth safely again! I’m currently working on a YA duology that takes place there.
Now, if it had to be somewhere on Earth, then I’d choose New Zealand. I definitely feel like there’s a little bit of Middle Earth waiting to pop up in one of my books. Maybe a visit would set it free!
Thanks so much for being here today, Danika!
Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.
The first book in Danika’s upcoming Tathagata series (Edge of Wild) was selected as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013). Edge of Wild (Stonehouse CA) will be released March 2016. Danika’s YA novel, All the Feels (Macmillan US), will be released June 2016.
Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.
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