Goodness me, it’s been a while since I’ve last hosted an interview! I’m still open to submissions, friends – get in touch if you want to be interviewed 😉
Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to Dana Fraedrich, a steampunk fantasy writer with a love for dogs and everything geeky. Today she’s here to talk about Out of the Shadows – and there’s exclusive insider scoop on the sequel, too! 😉
Hi Dana, and welcome to Cookie Break! I’m excited to hear more about Out of the Shadows!
Could you tell us a little about your book? No spoilers, please! 😉
No problem, Sarina, and thank you so much for having me. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
Out of the Shadows is a steampunk fantasy story wherein the main character, Lenore, is a thief in the city of Springhaven. Getting caught would mean very bad things for her, the least of which being a life in prison. She’s given a second chance at life when she meets the Allens, but that offer comes with its own dangers to navigate. Lenore has to figure out how she fits into this new identity, all while the shadows of her past continue to pursue her.
Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?
Lenore was having such a good time she didn’t even object when someone took her hand and swept her out to the dance floor. It wasn’t the first time it had happened that night, after all. She turned to whoever had stolen her for the dance and felt her blood run cold. It was Rook! He was dressed as well as any of the other young men there with his hair slicked cleanly back, but it was him without a doubt. Before she could do anything, he spoke sternly through his smile.
“Act normally. There’s more than one Enforcer here.”
Lenore held her smile in place as she went through the steps with Rook.
“I know. It’s Fourth Hawkins, the debutante’s father. One of his Fifths is here as well. Why are you here?”
“I haven’t any other choice. You won’t answer my letters.”
“You really expect me to come and meet you…alone? You must think I’m a complete fool.”
“Look, little bird, I’m trying to help you, so why don’t you stop dodging me and listen?”
Lenore wouldn’t wish an Enforcer’s justice on her worst enemy, so she said, “I suppose I haven’t any other choice…until the dance is over, that is.”
It was a challenge, and she was surprised to see the corner of Rook’s mouth twitch upwards in a genuine smile.
“The Enforcers are looking for you. Not you now, but you from before. They suspect the girl from the gardens is the same one that helped that little pup making eyes at your friend over there.”
“You mean Fifth Sawyer?”
“Of course. They’re furious she got away, though I’m not really surprised. She’s a bit of a firecracker.”
Lenore felt the heat of a blush in her cheeks, and Rook smiled again. This time the real smile stayed.
“The description is muddled, but it’s close enough to make them pursue the lead. It’s doubtful that they can really connect the old you to the Allens, but, if they do, you’ll all go down.”
Lenore’s heart began to pound in her chest. No! It couldn’t be true, but if Rook knew about her…
“Keep smiling, little bird,” Rook said, bringing his head close to hers and resting his nose against her forehead.
She quickly smirked and said, “Why are you telling me this? Why not just leave us to whatever our fate may be?”
“Because I owe your father a debt, and I’d rather risk the Enforcers than an unpaid debt.”
She couldn’t blame him for that. It was how she had come to be with the Allens in the first place.
“What do I do?” Lenore asked softly.
The dance was coming to an end, and she was panicking.
“Meet me tomorrow at midnight behind the pasty shop. We can talk there. Don’t tell anyone you’re coming.” He came close again and whispered in her ear, “Promise me.”
Lenore didn’t have a chance to promise, however. The dance ended. Rook bowed and kissed her hand. She curtseyed appropriately and watched him disappear into the crowd. She would go meet him, but would she keep it to herself?
Do you remember what sparked the idea for Out of the Shadows?
Strangely enough, it was at least partly inspired by a dream. I think I had already begun to write Out of the Shadows on a lark to see if I could write a steampunk story. I might have had two chapters at most already written. I was also reading a book in the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding* at the time. In my dream, a character from Ketty Jay called Malvery was trying to help a woman who was lying in an alleyway. Her hand had been cut off, and she was bleeding onto the cobblestones. There was a mad dash to save her, and I saw so much of what would become the city of Springhaven during that adventure. As soon as I woke up, I wrote the dream down in my dream journal, and the woman from my dream became the character Gadget from Out of the Shadows.
*If you’ve not read the Ketty Jay series, I highly recommend that you do. I love it so much I named my car after the airship for which the series is named.
(*adds Ketty Jay series to Goodreads*)
What are you working on right now?
I just finished the first draft for the sequel to Out of the Shadows a few weeks ago. Oh! Sarina, you get an exclusive scoop! (EEP!) I haven’t announced this anywhere yet. The sequel now has a title to go with it too. Are you ready? The next book in the series will be called…*drumroll*…Into the Fire! You heard it first! So I’m letting Into the Fire marinate, as Stephen King would say, for a few weeks before going back and starting on the next draft. In the meantime, my life seems to be consumed with marketing and the other business-y parts of being an indie author.
What draws you to the genre you write in? Have you always been drawn to it?
I have always been drawn to it, YA writing that is. Even before I was a young adult, before I knew what the YA genre was, those were my characters. I think I enjoy YA best because you can be passionate and intense, where everything is the end of the world (even if it’s just a does-he/she-like-me situation) without having to explain yourself. I think there are people who see YA as juvenile and self-indulgent, concerned only with boy/girl drama and teenage angst, but I couldn’t disagree with that idea more. I absolutely believe there’s this false idea out there that once you become an adult and have to start paying bills and doing all those other adult type of things, everything you used to worry about during your younger years disappears. That’s laughably untrue. The YA genre addresses all the things that people deal with their entire lives—relationships, facing your fears, fitting in, performing to expectations—but it makes no apologies for them. It’s more understanding, more forgiving, about those eternal struggles. I do often find myself bridging the gap between YA and adult fiction, though. My characters are often a little older. Late high school/early college age is generally my niche.
Who/what is your writing inspiration?
Oh gosh…everything? I get ideas all over the place, from conversations, writing exercises, pictures, just looking around me. Like I said before, even my dreams inspire me. As for the who’s, I cannot express how much I admire so many of my fellow authors. My first writing hero was Robin McKinley. Since then, though, there’s been JK Rowling and Gail Carriger and Marie Brennan. More recently I’ve been inspired by my fellow indie authors like Beverly Lee, Faith Rivens, Becky Wright, and so, so many more.
What do you do if inspiration just won’t come?
I’m so bull-headed about this, haha. I don’t think this would work for everyone because it’s a bit like hitting your head against a wall until the wall yields to you, but it works for me. If I’m really, really stuck, I’ll go to the Plotting page I keep in every Scrivener file and I start journaling. I’ll write out my problem, what’s happening, why XYZ won’t work, the character’s motivation for that scene, ideas about what I could do, etc. I’ll write and write and the issue will usually unravel itself during that writing session. Sometimes I need to break out a timeline because I often have a lot of moving parts in my books. For that, I go to a big whiteboard I have hanging in my loft and I’ll map out the entire timeline and all the pieces along it.
Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?
I love it when you get into a flow, when the characters are all playing nicely and everything is clear. It’s in those moments that I know with every fiber of my being that this is what I’m meant to be doing with my life. Granted, they don’t happen often, not even once a week, but when they do…man, that’s the best thing ever. (I feel ya, sista!) As for the not so fun bits, that falls under editing. Guh! Editing. Obsessing over commas and torturing yourself over the dialogue. It’s a struggle to remain focused. On the plus side, my house is never so tidy as when I’m supposed to be editing.
What is your number one distraction?
Other people, for sure. Text messages from them mainly. I get text messages on my computer, so when one comes in, a little notification box pops up in the corner. Most of the time, it’s a member of my family sharing something fun, so I’ll go to respond. Then it turns into a full-blown conversation and I’m no longer working on what I should be.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a mix. I’ll usually start by sort of vaguely plotting out a book. It’s more of a skeleton than anything because I’ve found that it’s during the writing process I discover what should actually happen in the story. In fact, I ended up scrapping some huge events that were slated to happen in the sequel to Out of the Shadows because, as I wrote it, I came to the realization that those things weren’t right for the story. That resulted in the second half of what I had plotted getting completely trashed and me re-plotting it.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning to kick my butt into gear and then tea in the afternoon (between 2 and 3pm) to carry me through the rest of the day. And I know this wasn’t part of the question, but a glass of wine or a gin and tonic in the evening to wind everything back down again. 😉
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?
Oh, tough question. Let me see…
1—Keep writing. I’ve heard this from a lot of people over the years (most recently Stephen King in his book On Writing), but the first person to say it was a creative writing professor I had in college. She basically told us to keep writing even when it becomes so hard as to seem impossible (because it will). Maybe that’s where I got my bull-headedness, or maybe it just jives well with my personality, but she taught me to keep going.
2—Don’t make things too realistic. My first editor suggested I take out a bunch of stuff I’d included with my very first book, Skateboards, Magic, and Shamrocks, because it was a little too true to life. I’m glad she did because she was absolutely right; it would have turned a lot of readers off. I still struggle with that, obsess too much over the exact details of things and get caught up in the weeds of realism.
3—Get involved with a community. About six months ago I found the Bookstagram/writing community on Instagram and I can say without a doubt that my life, as a writer and on the whole, has been better for it. All of those lovely people are so encouraging and supportive. We lift one another up and promote each other’s work. It’s the best!
(You’re probably sick of hearing this from me by now, but I second this completely and entirely)
What’s your favourite quote on writing?
Sadly, I don’t think I have one. My favorite quotes change all the time as I discover new ones. One of the latest ones, I think, is good for battling demons of all kinds, writing and not-writing related.
“Don’t let the hard days win.”
– Mor, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Best piece ever? Oh my. That actually falls under another quote I love.
“1. Be Kind. 2. Have fun.”
– John Finnemore
I think that’s a pretty good mantra for life in general. ☺
Where else can we connect with you?
You can also find all my books on Amazon here.
Thanks so much again to Sarina for having me. You can show her how much you appreciate her by signing up to her newsletter, Cookie Break. I did, and I use it as an excuse to eat cookies while I read Cookie Break. Have a wonderful day, everyone!
(Why, aren’t you the sweetest! My newsletter comes with freebies, too!)
Thank you, Dana, for stopping by – and thank you for the exclusive scoop! <3
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