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A Chat with Danielle E. Shipley



It’s already time for the last author interview this year! Is anyone else shocked it’s December as of today? Did anyone else rip into their advent calendar this morning? (which I’m totally not too old for… I figured if our Sellybean gets one it’s only fair if we indulge, too.)

Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Danielle E. Shipley, who’s here to talk about her novel The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale!

Danielle writes young adult fantasy novels. She’s no stranger to the publishing business and has previously published The Wilderhark Tales series – and that makes today’s interview all the more exciting! Her knowledge and advise is based on plenty of experience, and I strongly recommend you read on if you want to learn something! 😉


Hi Danielle, and welcome to Cookie Break! Congratulations on publishing The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale. Releasing a new book into the world is THE best feeling!

Thanks very much! I’m dreadfully pleased about it. *fondles beloved book baby*

Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉

My Outlaws of Avalon trilogy in brief: Camelot’s heroes and Sherwood’s most wanted are magically alive, conditionally immortal, and ingeniously incognito in a modern day Renaissance Faire. Enter Allyn-a-Dale, a minstrel dropped in (yes, literally) from a far-off fantasy world. Book 1’s the introductory adventure. After that, it’s deeper down the rabbit hole we go!

Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?

One favorite quote from among the outlaws’ unending banter? Ay-yi! Well, here’s giving it my best shot:

“Why do people do that?” Robin wondered, annoyed. “Just break the rules for fun? Breaking the rules is not fun.”

Little John looked at him.

“Well, that’s different,” Robin smiled. “The Merry Men make everything fun. And anyway, we always had our reasons.”

“Right,” said Little John. “Fun.”

“And justice. And slightly convoluted integrity.”

Little John said soberly, “I only joined up for the fun.”

Do you remember what sparked the idea for The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale?

Vividly. There I was, standing outside the gates of the Bristol Renaissance Faire (check it out if you’re ever in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on a summer weekend), and who should appear on the balcony above but the dashing Robin Hood! Not the real Robin Hood, of course and alas; only an actor. But that got me thinking: How amazing would it be if some Ren Faire somewhere housed the honest-to-goodness legend of old? And that very next autumn, “Ballad” was born.

What are you working on right now?

On the publishing front, I’m making ready for the release December 6th of the Outlaws of Avalon holiday special: “An Avalon Christmas Carol”. Writing-wise (at the time of this interview), I’m gearing up to take part in my sixth National Novel Writing Month – my first NaNoWriMo, incidentally, being the one in which I wrote “Ballad”. We’ll see where the muse takes me this time!


What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?

I actually didn’t really get into fantasy until my teens. Then I guess I gradually became aware that I want more out of stories (and out of life, really) than what is generally considered “realistic”. So now I come up with places like Avalon Faire, where – as Marion Hood so pithily put it – “There is a lot of overlap…between the truth and the impossible.”

Who/what is your writing inspiration?

A dash of wishful thinking, a dollop of my misery wanting company in characters’ suffering, a bit of blind creation in the hope of tripping over something cool or funny or painfully beautiful… this, that, and everything, really.

What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?

Either just keep spinning the straw until it starts to turn golden, or walk away until the muse chooses to woo me. The tricky part is knowing when to employ which tactic.

Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?

The actual writing part. Just putting one word in front of the other. That’s… actually the answer to both questions. Pulling the story out of the blank page is my happy place, even if I’m sometimes a chicken about getting started.

What is your number one distraction?

Social media. They say it’s a marketing must, but yikes, what a time-sucking void it can be to shout into!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I must prefer to plot, though I have been on occasion known to pants a project.

Tea or coffee?

Tea, forever and always.

What are the most important three things you’ve learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?

1 = That saying about “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Not necessarily true. The thing you love can be work. Painful work, even. And that’s okay.

2 = Anything that depends on the reactions of others – fame, money, your book’s placement on this or that public shelf – is tragically out of your control. But the art you create is all on you. So make sure that, amidst your literary goals, you can reach at least one all by yourself, no outer validation needed.

3 = There will always be a better writer than you. Keep writing, and that better writer could be you.

What’s your favourite quote on writing?

“How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?

How do you write like you need it to survive?

How do you write ev’ry second you’re alive?

Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?”

“Non-Stop” (Hamilton) by Lin-Manuel Miranda

(Quotes don’t tend to stick to me unless they’re set to music.)

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Hit the save button, close the laptop, and get something to eat before you pass out, Danielle.”

Where else can we connect with you?

That time-sucking social media I mentioned? I’m there, from time to time.

My blog, Ever On Word

The Twitter account of @DEShipley

My book-lovin’ face on Facebook

And because he begged so persistently, I let Will Scarlet loose on Tumblr

Thank you so much, Danielle, for a wonderful and insightful interview! Don’t forget to check out Danielle and her books on Goodreads, too – there’s plenty to discover!


For all other interviews, take a look here.

For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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  1. Another great chat! Robin Hood is one of those lores that I love, along with Arthurian legends. Definitely something to look into!
    Thank you, ladies 😉

    • Me, too <3 I watched the hell out of the Disney movie when I was a child! I can still hear the music in my head sometimes.. 😉

    • Fox Robin Hood = best Robin Hood! His voice makes me melt to this day.

  2. […] collaboration with one Danielle E. Shipley (I did an interview with the lovely Danielle only last month, if you remember) in a genre that’s a bit tough to identify… Let’s call it a “High Seas […]

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