Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A
“Learning to ignore the doubt and continue on has been the hardest lesson.” –Danielle Bowers
Danielle Bowers is a young adult writer and photographer from the Boston area. She’s currently putting the finishing touches on her debut YA fantasy novel, Salem. She’s known around Book Country for her creative analogies. Take Danielle’s dead-on assessment of Fifty Shades of Grey’s protagonist: “Christian Grey has more issues than National Geographic Magazine.”
Nevena: Thanks for joining us, Danielle. Let’s start with the basics. When did you start writing? What inspires you to carry on?
Danielle: I began writing three years ago this August, which makes me a newbie in the literary world. What has kept me going is the knowledge that writing is a constant learning process, and some day my ability will catch up with my ambition. That day will come if I keep writing.
Nevena: How do you manage to fit writing into your life? I’ve seen your beautiful photographs. What else do you do when you’re not plugging at your WIP?
Danielle: With two children, a husband, and work to consider, making time to write can be a juggling act. I learned early on that scheduling time to write is crucial. Too many people say they would write a book if they had the time. I don’t have spare time. I make time. In the evenings when my husband is watching television, I’m writing. If I’m at a concert and waiting to be called to photograph, I’m writing. If my kids are occupied coloring for a few minutes, I’m writing.
One of the things I do when I’m not writing is photography, as you noticed. It’s a form of storytelling in of itself. My job is to capture the moment, to show the viewer the story without saying a word. Writing and photography mesh well as hobbies/careers, and what I see on the road becomes material for my books.
I also blog, write articles, treatments for comic books and film, and manage the social media accounts for a couple of businesses.
Nevena: You seem to have a lot on your plate. Let’s talk more about your book, Salem. It’s set in Salem, Massachusetts and is rooted in the history and lore of the Salem Witch Trials. What drew you to that moment in history?
Danielle: I live close to Salem, and as a history buff I couldn’t help but be drawn to the lore. When I found out that it wasn’t just Salem that held witch trials I was fascinated. For two hundred years across several countries and continents, there were similar witch trials. Close to 10,000 people accused of witchcraft were killed during that time. It wasn’t a stretch to wonder what would’ve happened if there really were witches involved.
Nevena: Liam, Salem’s protagonist, is a young witch who flees Scotland to escape the Brotherhood, aka the bad guys. How did Liam’s story come to you?
Danielle: The entire idea came to me when I saw a runner out on a winter day. He stopped at a light, steam rising off his skin. The idea of magic being shed like body heat clicked, and my imagination took it from there. Liam’s personal storyline within Salem came to me slowly. I wanted to show the reader both sides of the war between the witches and the witch hunters. The best way to do so was to have Liam born into The Brotherhood and have “the brothers” turn on him.
Nevena: How has the novel changed over time?
Danielle: I wrote the first version of Salem two years ago. It was simpler, like a plain white t-shirt compared to an expensive sweater. With every rewrite I’ve gotten to know the characters better, added nuances and depth. Several characters have been cut and the remaining ones refined. The core storyline has matured with time, and I’m finally happy with how Salem has turned out.
I’ve learned the proverbial mid-book slump is nothing compared to the revision blues. The book is finished, and now you have the job of making it readable. You read it and become convinced it’s the worst book ever written and you’re wasting your time. Learning to ignore the doubt and continue on has been the hardest lesson.
Nevena: What achievements are you most proud of as a writer?
Danielle: The blog I kept on Rolling Stone Magazine’s website. The magazine wanted to do an Almost Famous type trip, and I was chosen to follow a country music tour to photograph and blog. It was a mess: I wrote in the back of vans, at concerts, in bars, and even at five star restaurants while we were on the road, but I did it. Seeing my name in the magazine with a page dedicated to the trip was unreal.
Nevena: Wow! So why are you on Book Country? How has it helped you grow as a writer?
Danielle: I found out about Book Country from Colleen Lindsay on Twitter. She was looking for beta fish to test the site, and I signed up. At that time, I was a brand new writer and I was terrible. That is no joke, if there was a mistake to be made, I was doing it. Without Book Country and the friends I made here while getting started, I would have become frustrated and given up within a year. In almost every review there was praise for what I was doing right, and advice to correct what I was doing wrong. It was like having a coach giving pep talks and a cheerleading squad on the sidelines cheering me on.
Nevena: I like that imagery! What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Danielle: When I first started writing I would draft a few chapters, then agonize over them for weeks. Finally, someone on Book Country told me to finish writing the book and then edit.
Three chapters aren’t an entire story, so finish it before editing because you’ll make hundreds of changes to the story over the course of the book.
Nevena: So keep focused on the big picture. Is there anything else you want the community to know about you?
Danielle: I think putting raisins in cookies should be a criminal offense.
Nevena: LOL! Thanks for chatting with me, Danielle!