Danielle Ackley-McPhail Interview

Today I am speaking with Danielle Ackley-McPhail, author of Yesterday’s Dreams. Good morning, Danielle, it is very good to have you join us today. I hope that you are doing well today.

Why not tell the readers a little something about Danielle?
Hmmm…something about me…I have the grey hair of a 45-year old…though that benchmark’s nearly a decade away, a commute that was devised by Dante, then left out of the Inferno, and the enthusiasm of a three-year-old currently coupled with the energy-levels of someone one week dead…thanks to the commute.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I’ve never precisely thought about writing, at least not when I started. I just did it. Primarily it was instigated by school, but I’ve always had more imagination than any parent could handle in a child. I survived, my mother survived, and English became my favorite class. Then I finished my education and realized that without something to focus my imagination, I wasn’t writing. I started asking friends to give me “assignments” and then I joined an online writer’s community, where I eventually became a community leader. Interacting with other writer’s kick-started my own efforts and I started posting chapters of an on-going story on a free webpage. Eventually someone happened upon the site, liked it, and emailed me to say they were an agent and if I contacted them when I was done they might know a couple of publishers that would be interested. Turned out the guy was the publisher, and that was that. Two years later the book, Yesterday’s Dreams, came out and I have been barreling along ever since. Who knows where it will take me. Right now, the first book has been picked up by a new, larger publisher, Mundania Press (www.mundania.com), and they have also signed the sequel, Tomorrow’s Memories, which is complete, but has never been published. It will be released sometime this year. I’ve contributed to a few anthologies along the way, even compiled a few, and now I have to gear up to write the third book in my trilogy, Today’s Vision, so I can move on to something new.

What does the future hold for Danielle in upcoming projects?
Lately I’ve been working on a number of anthology projects. One, a non-fiction writer’s guide, The Complete Writer’s Guide to Writing Fantasy Volume 3: The Writer’s Grimoire is due out from Dragon Moon Press (www.dragonmoonpress.com) any day now. It contains a chapter by me on Writer's Groups. Two other anthologies are also in the works: Bad-Ass Faeries, and Breach the Hull. These two are still in limbo as we sort out some issues with who will publish them. There are some nibbles, we just need confirmation.

What are the elements of a great romance for you?
Ah…I don’t write romance, though my work does contain romantic elements, but I certainly read a lot of it. I like character-driven stories where the romantic tension is allowed build and progress so you get a true sense of a relationship forming. I can and do read the sudden-impact type, but they are never as satisfying. I also like when there is something beyond the relationship. Give it a plot, a goal, not just a backdrop for the characters to get busy in. Know what I mean?

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever pull it from the shelf and read it over again?
I am always re-reading my own work. It is a little more effort than reading someone else’s, just because I know what’s going on, so I tend to anticipate things, or focus on mistakes I notice rather than the story itself. This is necessary, though. For one thing, you are always learning something new, and it doesn’t hurt to go back and polish because you never know when someone else might be interested in the book, or if you will get an opportunity to make corrections. Also, if you go on to write additional books that are related you have to touch base again because there are always small details you forget about.

What is the hardest part of writing and the easiest for you?
I love language, I love the poetry of words. Sometimes I let that run away with me. I have a very lyrical style that not everyone appreciates. Sometimes they are right and I have to tone it down because even if it sounds cool, it isn’t always good writing. That is the hardest part for me. Culling my work of the “gingerbread”, to use an architectural term. The easiest part for me is exploring my characters. I love them all and I love to get inside their heads and making them come alive. That is one of the strengths of my writing. People I know that don’t normally appreciate the types of stories I produce have admitted it didn’t really matter because I made them care about the characters to the point they forgot they were reading :::shudder::: fantasy ;)

Have you experienced writer's block? If so, how did you work through it?
Everyone experiences the occasional lack of inspiration or insight of where to take the story next. It’s natural, just like not knowing what to choose when you are faced with a decision in life. What I like to do is read back over what I’ve already written. Polish it, catch mistakes, maybe add a bit here and there to clarify something. I find by the time I’m done, I’ve tweaked my way back into story mode.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
No one can tell you “that isn’t possible”. Anything can happen in my head, and thanks to my God-given gifts, I can even translate it to paper. When you combine that with the heady experience of encountering people that actually want to read it…wow!

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
Creating in some manner or other…I enjoy just about every crafty endeavor…I sew costumes, sculpt masks and other items out of clay, I crochet, I cook…I just love to create, whatever the medium. I’m not happy unless my hands are busy making something.

Do you have any encouraging words for up and coming writers?
Don’t give up. No matter how much criticism you face, no matter how many rejections you receive, you will eventually find your place. Be patient. Polish your work and learn your craft, both the writing and the business of it. If you keep trying there is hope, if you give up, you’ve automatically failed.

Do you have a website that you would like to share?
My personal website, where you can find out more information about my author appearance, published works, and upcoming project (there are even a few pages of costumes!) is www.sidhenaire.com and the website of my on-line writers’ group, Yesterday’s Dreamers is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/yesterdaysdreamers.

Just for Fun: What is your favorite candy? A place you would love to visit?
My favorite candy is red M&Ms I was devastated as a child when they stopped making them, and ecstatic as an adult when they brought them back.

Anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Thank you. That is the biggest thing I need to share. Thank you for caring, thank you for reading. The joy in creating something is when someone else appreciates it.

Danielle, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend with us today. We look forward to reading your excellent books.

Interviewed by: Linda L.