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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Special Guest: Danielle Thorne

As previewed in this post, I am delighted today to welcome romantic/historical novelist Danielle Thorne to my blog.

Danielle is visiting as part of a Virtual Book Tour to celebrate the publication of her novel THE PRIVATEER.

Without further ado, then, let's get on with the interview...

* * *

ND: Welcome to my blog, Danielle. Could you start by telling me how you first got into writing. What was your first published book or story?

DT: I was born with stories in my head. I won a national Honorable Mention for poetry with Scholastic in Junior High and went on to pursue poetry and then later freelancing. As a young mother I completed two manuscripts and almost had one published but it fell through. Sadly, it took a tragic car accident that almost took one of my parents to make me accept how unpredictable life is. Since then, I've researched and completed three novels of different genres in the last three years. Two are set to be released this year as an e-book and print; the third is under consideration with a New York publisher at this time.

ND: The Privateer is based in 18th Century England, but you actually live near Atlanta, Georgia. What made you choose to write about this period and setting, and how did you go about researching it?

DT: By the time I reached my thirties I didn't think there was anything left to capture my imagination! Then the film 'Master and Commander' debuted and I fell instantly in love with the Age of Sail. Patrick O'Brian is a master storyteller and I have read all of his series, and other seafaring authors, too.

Sea fiction teaches you that naval officers could be either good or bad; they didn't all fall into one category. Of course, this would apply to pirates, too. I love what Disney did with 'Pirates of the Caribbean'; they took a despicable lot of greedy, bloodthirsty criminals and made one very human. In essence, they made the act of piracy gray: Who were these men? Were they all bad guys? What were their back stories?

THE PRIVATEER is my take. It's about a man forced into piracy at a young age. He uses his intellect and ambition to escape the fate that awaited those pirates who were caught. With his pardon and years of swashbuckling experience, my character, Julius Bertrand, knows he can be of use to the British Navy and he determines to ascend society and become a success.

As we all know, nothing ever turns out as we plan it, so Bertrand has to deal with old enemies who put a bounty on his head to stop him from interfering in some nefarious plans involving diamonds.

The research was no chore. I've always loved history and dabble in UK genealogy. Besides buying books about the era and using the Internet, I spent long hours in the downtown Memphis Library reading reference books and documents from the West Indies. I probably have more pages of notes and copies filed then there are pages of THE PRIVATEER. My favorite part of research, though, was a three-day cruise through the Caribbean. To actually stand at the rail and look out over the ocean and taste the salt in the wind...that brought it all to life for me.

ND: The Privateer is being published as an e-book. Is there any special reason you chose this format rather than conventional print publication?

DT: I actually spent several months pursuing a contract in New York and met with some positive responses. It's such an oversaturated market - when you look at how many authors are trying to get their foot in the door, you appreciate the positive feedback and opportunities.

Finding a publisher that wasn't specialized in just one area was difficult. THE PRIVATEER has a broad appeal - it falls into several genres: historical, adventure, and romantic, so after some close calls I decided to test the waters with e-publishing, since I was more familiar with the process. I started at the top and quickly got a contract with Awe-Struck Publishing. They publish historicals and romances, and were very receptive to the premise of THE PRIVATEER. Looking back, it's the best thing that could have happened. These past three years I have seen e-books explode onto the scene and I am committed 100% to helping e-publishing become as accepted and understood as reading in hard copy.

ND: Could you tell me a bit about your typical working day? Do you have any special writing routines or habits?

DT: I am still raising a family so my writing has to be juggled to fit a busy schedule. I write during school hours and mess around a bit in the late evening if I have things to do. However, when I am engrossed in writing a manuscript, it becomes all encompassing. There are many weeks of fast food and dirty laundry. I've been known to go up to 72 hours without sleep. As my experience grows, I am learning how to balance and organize better, so I look forward to being more productive in the future.

As far as habits, I can't do without index cards. I use them to plan, plot, take notes, you name it. My office is littered with them when they're not laid out on the floor in scene sequences. Another habit I have, and not a good one, is snacking in front of the computer screen when I get stuck on a scene. Bad idea, but putting sugar into my mouth seems to make my brain work better. THE PRIVATEER probably equates to somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen pounds of chocolate. Me and the 3 Musketeers are very close.

ND: Are there any tips or advice you would like to pass on to other aspiring novelists?

DT: When you finish something, start something else. Every manuscript is a learning process and you do get better and better. Another tip is to be open-minded about negative feedback. Some, if not most of it, is well-meant and you need to learn the difference. When you start getting the same kind of comments about your story or style, it's time to be honest with yourself. You can't learn if you don't make mistakes.

ND: What other writing projects are you working on at the moment?

DT: Getting the word out on THE PRIVATEER takes up a lot of time but I enjoy getting to know readers and authors all over the world through blogs like this. On the creative horizon is a modern day sequel to THE PRIVATEER where one of Julius Bertrand's descendants discovers a missing diary and a shipwreck - keys to a hidden treasure. Think Goonies - but all grown up with a lot more romance and smarter adventure.

And then this coming August, my contemporary romance TURTLE SOUP will be released. TURTLE SOUP is a fun short-novel set between the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean, the Georgia Aquarium, and a fictional bakery just down the street. I've posted an excerpt of TURTLE SOUP at my website: http://daniellethorne.jimdo.com/reviews/novel-excerpts/

ND: Finally, one question I always like to ask visitors to my blog: What are your three favorite websites, and why?

DT: For absolute crazy pirate fun, you have to check out Swansbrough Manor: http://www.swansbroughmanor.com/

These folks give whole new meaning to the phrase getting in touch with your inner pirate. Every late summer, Mr. Swansbrough begins building his pirate ship as an ADDITION to his home in Central Georgia. The Black Pearl is completed by Halloween night and the whole family and community get involved incognito - swashbuckling around giving pirate tours as visitors come out of their Swansbrough Manor Cemetery...which is actually a private home and front yard. Last year they took donations and were able to buy a kiln for the art department of their elementary school. Everything went to charity, but these pirates put on a great cemetery and pirate show that is funded from out of their own pockets.

My second favorite website would have to be for research purposes. I found more information that I ever dreamed of about Regency England and Jane Austen at Jane Austen's World: http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/

There are even articles on flora and fauna, not to mention the little quirky things no one ever thinks to write up essays on. They have a great search function and always provide up to date programming you can catch to enrich your research.

Last, for genealogical purposes: Ancestry.com is great and I made incredible progress with a membership from them, but I always keep FamilySearch.org on my favorites list because I spend a lot of time there. The best thing about Family Search is simply that it is free. It provides free, no-membership access to the IGI (International Genealogical Index) and has a lot more information on how to get started on genealogy and find other resources. I don't just love the history of Sail, I love my own, too!

* * *

Thank you very much to Danielle for answering my questions in such fascinating detail - I now feel much more in touch with my own inner pirate!


If you enjoyed reading about THE PRIVATEER, do check out Danielle's website - and, if you think you might enjoy reading the book, consider paying the modest fee to download it from Awe-Struck Publishing.

By the way, while exploring Danielle's website, I noticed that she has created a nifty video trailer to help promote her book. I asked Danielle how she did this. She was kind enough to provide a detailed reply, but I'll save it for another time. Something else to look forward to!

I hope you've enjoyed hearing about Danielle and her book today, and that it may have inspired you to redouble your efforts to achieve your own writing goals.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Lindsay Townsend said...

Super interview, Danielle! That period of history is fascinating and the high seas is a wonderful, exciting, romantic setting.

I wish you all the best with THE PRIVATEER

5:19 PM  
Blogger Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Danielle and Nick,

Another great interview. I am amazed at the depth you went to in creating The Privateer. Keep writing and best wishes on a long career.

Rebecca

5:21 PM  
Blogger Miss Mae said...

Loved reading the interview, Danielle. Your imagination is amazing to create a pirate tale, I simply couldn't do that. This is one book I'd really like to read! :)

6:20 PM  
Blogger Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Danielle,
Great interview. Best of luck with The Privateer, sounds like a gripping story. 72 hours without sleep, how coulld you do that? I think I would collapse in a heap after 24 hours.
Best wishes
Margaret

10:50 PM  
Blogger Laurean Brooks said...

You are so dedicated, Dani. Seventy-two hours without sleep. My schedule isn't half that hectic, but still I have to dig out time to write between promoting and book signings.

The Privateer sounds like my kind of adventure. I love anything historical. When men were men. Gallant, tough, and would fight to the death for their women.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Sylvie said...

Interestign interview..many sales with your book!!

11:54 PM  

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