Author Interview: Danielle E. Shipley

7 06 2013

Today I have my first ever interview with Danielle E. Shipley, a writer friend of mine, about her debut novel The Swan Prince, Book One of The Wilderhark Tales and about her writing process, and adventures in self publishing!

swan-prince-cover-e-book Goodreads Summary: Catching her leg in a bear trap proves the least of Sula’s worries. Haunted by an enchanted monster from a past she dare not reveal, and hounded by the perilously perceptive young village doctor, Villem Deere, the headstrong girl of the woods gambles with fate by binding hers to that of Sigmund, the captivating orphan boy with mysterious nightly business of his own.

Me: Let’s get this show on the road! The Swan Prince is your first published book, correct? How did you come up with the story?

Danielle: It is indeed! And the story was one of those friendly ideas that show up and develop without too much fuss. I had a mental image of a boy turning into a swan, so I thought, “Okay, what can I make out of that?” I recalled that old fairytale where a bunch of prince brothers are enchanted into swans, and the only way for the heroine to save them is by knitting shirts out of stinging nettles without saying a single word until their completion, even if she almost gets burned at the stake for her trouble. So I ran with that, giving my female lead, Sula, her own nettlesome spell-breaking task and an additional magical problem which she doesn’t feel she can say a single word about.

danielle Me: Speaking of Sula, what can you tell us about her?

Danielle: Sigmund initially brushes off Sula’s offer to help break his curse, labeling her as too “obstinate, egocentric, and insubordinate” to meet the spell’s requirements. His impression wasn’t far off the mark. Sula is very much invested in looking out for number one, and putting the needs or feelings of others before her own doesn’t come naturally to her. However, tied up in those traits is the ability to make herself do whatever she believes to be in her ultimate best interests, even if that means suffering temporary indignities. She’s got a survivor’s smarts…when she bothers to think before she speaks, that is. Otherwise, she’s a bit of a hothead. That’s what makes the coolheaded Doctor Villem Deere such a perfect foil for her.

Me: Sula certainly sounds like a character. Was writing her difficult for you at all? Were there any characters that you had more difficulty grasping than others?

Danielle: I had to rewrite the opening chapters a few times before I got a real sense of who Sula was. My reflex was to write her as nice, when frankly, straight-up niceness isn’t a huge part of her makeup. Once I understood that better, intuiting her actions and reactions became a fairly simple matter. Again, Villem is sort of the opposite. I knew at first meeting what sort of person he was; the hard part was figuring out what that would mean for his part of the script. I knew the sorts of things I needed him to say and do in order to further the plot, but how would he phrase this, and why would he do that? If it’s illogical, he won’t. So I had to try to think like Villem, which was no easy feat, since his intellect trumps mine. Sigmund was more fluid, thank goodness; more of a “choose your own adventure” type of personality, where any number of reactions might be perfectly reasonable for him. I don’t recall him giving me much trouble at all.

Me: Was there any specific scene that just stuck with you more than any other?

Danielle: Appropriately enough, since it all started with him, the imagery of the first and last times we see Sigmund change forms have struck the loudest chords with me. Out of the whole book, they’re the only two scenes I’ve attempted to draw. Characters, I draw all the time, but actual scenes? That’s more significant. Fortunately, the artist I got to do all my official Wilderhark art did a much better job of capturing a Sigmund transformation for the book’s cover than I ever have or could. Check out her Gallery on DeviantArt; so much talent!

Me: The cover is really gorgeous! When I fist saw it, I thought it was a graphic novel! Did you self publish or go with traditional publishing?

Danielle: Ooh, wow, the Wilderhark Tales as a graphic novel… I am in no way opposed to that becoming a reality, someday! In answer to you, I’m going the self-publishing route for this series. While I’m all for having other stories of mine published through somebody else (my short story in this December’s “One More Day” anthology and my novel “Inspired”, due out in March, will both be through J. Taylor Publishing), there is one project dear to my heart that I came to realize I wish to produce on my own: The “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” trilogy, a world-hopping, history-crossing reimagining of the Robin Hood legend, with Arthurian touches. But because I didn’t want to just throw the “Ballad” books out there without any self-publishing experience, I decided to get the snowball rolling with the Wilderhark Tales first, which is chronologically perfect, since the fairytale series is a sort of extended prequel to “Ballad”.

Me: Self publishing is an option more authors are taking nowadays. Any advice for young authors considering self publishing?

Danielle: Don’t go in blind, kids! Read up on what self-publishing entails. Invest in a quality cover (fact: Everyone’s judging your book by it) and clean formatting (we judge that, too). Edit the heck out of your story. Reread and tweak it better ‘til you’re sick of it, then sweep it again for typos. Compare your distributing options (there are enough credible ones out there, so ditch the scammers). Look for places to promote yourself until you’re famous enough that people promote you in your sleep. Don’t expect that day to come for a good long while. Settle in for a months-long emotional rollercoaster and a whole new world of exhaustion. If none of that scares you enough to make you change your mind, then go for it! Seriously. Just ‘cause a thing is scary and hard, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

Me: That’s great advice! Awesome. I think I have enough here unless you have anything more you’d like to say?

Danielle: Two things. One, to you, Krystal, thank you so much for hosting me! And two, to the world, hey, I think you and all your fairytale-loving friends should read my book! Pick it up the next time you’re on Amazon, what do you say? The Swan Prince on Amazon

You can purchase a copy of Danielle’s debut novel, The Swan Prince on the above Amazon link and check it out on Goodreads. For more on Danielle, check out her blog Ever On Word, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter.




4 responses

7 06 2013

Thanks again for the feature, Krystal! It was great fun chatting with you. (:

7 06 2013

Likewise! I can’t wait to get my hands on your book!

7 06 2013

Ooooh, me neither! I hope you love it! Lemme know when you get through!

24 06 2013
“Roundup 3” or “Between the Fine Lines” | Ever On Word

[…] at Between The Lines, I had another writer-to-writer dialogue with Krystal Maestas (or @KeeKeePie, as she’s known around Twitter, where we rub each other’s […]

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