This week I've got a bonus guest. Debra Dunbar, one of the lovely authors in the Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft anthology, is here to talk about her writing process and, well, the rest of her life. I haven't had the chance to read her Beltane short story, "Love Mackick", but her paranormal novel, A Demon Bound , was a heck of a lot of fun. Debra's a smart lady, and I know you'll enjoy getting to know her.
LR: What’s the most compelling thing about your most recent project, the thing that’s kept your butt in the chair through hours of writing and revising?
DD: I really love short stories because they force me to be a better writer. There needs to be a tightness of plot, an economy of words. There is no room for wandering, or information dump.
Readers need to fall in love with the characters in such a short time that every word counts.
With Love Magick, taking what was originally a discarded back-story idea for another novel, breathing life into it, spinning a wisp into a short story, the motivation was in the creative process itself.
LR: If you had to recommend one writing resource, either a class or a book or a workshop, what would that be? What’s had the most impact on your work?
DD: My most valuable resource is the feedback I receive from my beta readers. For Love Magick, I used three teenage girls as beta readers. They gave me valuable insight into slang, and validated that young love, mean girls, and high school social dynamics hasn’t changed much in thirty years. For a mom who is repeatedly told she is ‘not cool’ by her teen son, it was important that I get it right!
LR: Which book or author has influenced you the most? What is it about their work that grabs you?
DD: Marie-Louise Von Franz. She’s a Jungian whose books on redemption themes, the shadow, and individuation have had a huge influence on me. Growth and self discovery are key themes in all my writing, whether it’s a romance or fantasy, whether it’s about a demon or a young Wiccan girl.
LR: We’ve both got short stories in Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft. How did you research your story? Do you practice witchcraft in RL?
DD: My protagonist is a Wiccan, so my research was easy! I was a practicing neo-pagan for quite a while after college, and participated in a variety of rituals including Wiccan ones. I designed a few Wiccan ceremonies for our small group of solitary practitioners, and have kept in touch with several over the years. I’ve met some parents who have raised their children in the Wiccan faith, and always thought about how that might affect them in a predominantly Christian society, especially in the pressure cooker of High School.
LR: How to you juggle all your hats (spouse, parent, worker-bee, housekeeper, writer)?
DD: I’m a parent of three boys, have a full time corporate career and I’m desperately trying to keep the writing schedule of a full time writer. Sadly, something always has to give. I try to rotate the ‘loser’ in the battle for my time, so no one thing bears the constant brunt.
LR: What’s your favorite non-writing activity? Like, are you a closet Zumba addict? Could you macramé a plant hanger if you had to? Maybe you secretly want to appear on A Prairie Home Companion?
DD: My daily jog is part of my writing so it probably doesn’t count! I love to horseback ride. We have three horses on our farm, and my gelding, Treasure, is my true love. (Shhhh, don’t tell hubby!) I particularly love to foxhunt. Something about being up early in the morning, seeing both you and your horse’s breath in the air, hearing the horn and the baying of the hounds as you both race across the fields. . . it’s magic. I fully expect to see elves pop out of the mist one morning. And no, we don’t kill the fox J
LR: What’s next on your horizon? Describe your current WIP(s) or other upcoming project.
DD: The second novel in my urban fantasy series, Satan’s Sword, is due to release late October. Right now, I’m finishing up a prequel novella, and am about forty percent of the way through writing the third book in the series. I’m also really exciting to be working on a graphic novel, which should come out midyear 2013.
LR: Halloween is nearly on us. What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Samhain? Dios de los Meurtos? Trick or Treating?
DD: This year I’ll probably be hosting a costumed release party for Satan’s Sword, but I absolutely love taking the kids Trick or Treating. All those enthusiastic, sugar fueled, children, racing from house to house in their costumes. It’s one of the happiest moments in my year. Plus I get to enforce the ‘parent tax’ on my children’s pumpkin full of treasures. Yum, yum!
Debra Dunbar lives on a farm in Frederick County, Maryland with her family and a multitude of four-legged friends. Her novels feature supernatural elements in local settings. In addition to her young adult short story, LOVE MAGICK, included in the anthology BELTANE: TEN TALES OF WITCHCRAFT, she also has published an urban fantasy novel A DEMON BOUND, the first novel in her Imp Series.
Samantha Martin is an imp living among humans. She tries to keep her identity a secret, but when she spots an angel one night, clearly hunting demons, the imp comes out of the bag. Sam ends up smack in the middle of trouble, dragging her human neighbor, Wyatt, along for the ride.
A DEMON BOUND is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com, Nook at Barnes and Noble, and a variety of formats at Smashwords.com. Catch up with the author at http://debradunbar.com
From Amazon: After majoring in English Literature with a concentration in Medieval and Folklore studies, Debra promptly sold out to the corporate world, occasionally dabbling in writing marketing copy and op/ed articles for a local city paper. By day, she designs compensation programs, after dark she stuffs her nose into obscure mythology, and feverishly writes her novels. A DEMON BOUND is her debut novel. Debra lives on a farm in Maryland with Sweetie, three sons, and a Noah’s ark of four legged family members. Unlike her protagonist, she drives an old PT Cruiser, couldn’t carry a tune if you duct taped it to her back, and enjoys an occasional cosmopolitan (heavy on the vodka). On a good day, she jogs and horseback rides, hopefully managing to keep the horse between herself and the ground. Her only known super power is ‘Identify Roadkill’.