Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Danielle Thorne, whose first YA paranormal, Death Cheater, was released in February. She's very excited about it and not only because it's her first, but because she's been able to delve into her past experiences as a high school teen trying to sort out life.
"Everyone has problems, but that concept can be harder to grasp before we fully mature. Sticking my toe into the waters of the paranormal was great fun, and it certainly helped bring out the drama that comes with being young and in need of direction," she said. "In Death Cheater, Athena's always suspected she could somehow cheat death, but she has never fully understood why, until now."
Danielle always wanted to write for teens, because she struggled a lot herself as a young person.
"It would be wonderful to connect with others who has the same insecurities, anxieties, and problems I had," she said. "In some way by relating to someone out there, I hope I can help them a little. Or at least inspire. I found in writing Death Cheater, that my heroine, Athena, reflects a lot of my personality, both in my youth and now. In my past novels, I always tried to be unbiased and let the characters develop on their own. Death Cheater was different. I can relate to how Athena feels because I gave her a lot of challenges that I experienced, if even just in my head. In its own way, I suspect it's therapeutic."
Death Cheater is Danielle's sixth published book. Her favorite is her first book, The Privateer--a historical adventure set in the Caribbean in 1729.
The titles of Danielle's books often come before she begins writing. She's inspired to create characters with specific story-worthy problems, so the titles often flow naturally to the forefront of the first page.
"A funny story about the title for Death Cheater, is that it was inspired by the death eaters in the Harry Potter novels," she told me. "I once overheard someone incorrectly call them by name, and it left me wondering what exactly a death cheater would be. Later, as I began to form ideas about a teenage girl with a haunting problem, I realized that her gift to be able to cheat death would fit perfectly."
"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I asked.
"Character and plot. While some things can be overlooked, a weak or cliché character is hard to like. The story simply isn't important enough to read if the hero or heroine are unlikeable. The same applies to plot. Thoughts and opinions will only carry us so far. Readers need action with purpose."
Danielle has written since she was a small child, but she told me she still has a hard time accepting that she's worthy to be called a writer and being addressed as an author is even harder for her, even though she's had several published works of fiction and poetry.
"I suspect this has something to do with the books I treasure from such greats as Jane Austen and Patrick O'Brian. Who can compare to such talent? Maybe someday it will come easier."
The hardest part of writing for Danielle is finding the time to write. Her family and friends are her first priority, with her home being a close second.
"Because I work as an editor, the majority of my novel writing time comes in snatches of a few weeks here and there, with lots of all-nighters," she explained.
"What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?" I wondered.
"Probably that I research along the way -- and I enjoy it more than the writing. I usually submerse myself in topics that interest me, then create stories, and last write as I learn the polishing details along the way. The only other answer would be… I talk to myself and snack over the keyboard when I'm on a good roll."
When Danielle isn't working or writing, she likes to do things with her family and go out with her friends. She's never been a very social person, but as she's gotten older, socializing has become more comfortable for her and something that helps her rejuvenate. She also likes to try new recipes in the kitchen, to dabble a little with gardening, and to travel.
"What do you envision happening in the YA field in the next five to ten years?" I asked her.
"I think because of the hard things going on in our world these days, fantasy and other themes of escape will continue to flourish. Kids mature pretty quick, and I don't necessarily agree that books need to encourage the things that they are dealing with in order to 'relate' to readers. I hope that there will always be room for uplifting fiction that doesn't have to be hidden from the parents, but on the flip side, I do believe mature material can be handled right under the right circumstances. I'm not dissing authors who write about real life problems."
"What challenges do you think teens face today that you did not?"
"Pornography -- to be blunt. It is easily accessible. Everywhere. When I was growing up, a Playboy magazine was the worst of the worst in my little world. These days, the very definition of what is decent and what is art has been downgraded to rationalize feelings and desires. In short, it has become politically incorrect to label anything as offensive unless it is criminal. Our kids are seeing too much before they are ready. The exposure pressures them into situations they aren't mature enough to handle."
"If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?" I asked finally.
"I'd like to think everyone has that one boy or girl they never stood up for in high school. I can't even remember his whole name, but Jeffery, wherever you are, I'm sorry I didn't take the bull by the horns and defend you. I'd sure do it now."
About the Author:
Other work has appeared with Espresso Fiction, Every Day Fiction, Arts and Prose Magazine, Mississippi Crow, The Nantahala Review, StorySouth, Bookideas, The Mid-West Review and more. She was the 2009-2010 Co-Chair for the New Voices Competition for young writers, is active with online author groups such as Classic Romance Revival and EPIC and moderates for The Sweetest Romance Authors at the Coffee Time Romance boards. Her popular blog, The Balanced Writer, focuses on the writing life and the pursuit of peace and happiness.
Ms. Thorne has four sons with her husband, Rob. Together they enjoy travel and the outdoors, Marching Band competition and BSA Scouting.
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