Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meet Donna Parker

Donna Parker was born in the rural Missouri Ozarks during an ice storm. Despite some circumstantial evidence to the contrary, she did not grow up in the 1800s. The most important things in her life are her Christianity and her family. She loves books, both reading and writing them; old things and their histories; and music, especially Celtic and Bluegrass fiddle music. She and her husband of over three decades currently live in Alabama. They have two adult sons.

When Donna  and I met years ago, she had already started writing mystery fiction. My kids were still little at that point so that was just a distant dream for me. Since then, times have changed and so have we. Donna now has several novels to her credit and occupies an interesting niche. These days, when a lot of books are praised for being, "edgy" and "gritty" Donna's novels are, well, novel! There is no graphic violence, sex or foul language.

Donna has a new book coming out soon and agreed to answer some questions about her writing life.

K: How long did it take you to write Constancy’s Waltz, your first published novel?
D: I can never keep track of how long it takes me to write a whole book.  I think Constancy’s Waltz took several years.  I can tell you that Waltz wasn’t the first “Fiddling With Murder” book I wrote.  I wrote Dark Diamond Reel, then realized I had put so many hints about back story into it that I had some pretty good material for another book.  So Constancy’s Waltz was born.  I don’t recommend that method.

K: How many novels have you written and which one is your favorite?
D: I have seven novels out now, the four in the “Fiddling With Murder” cozy series, and three “fairy-tale mysteries”.  The three aren’t exactly a series, but some of them share some common background and/or characters.  I think my very favorite is Donovan’s Dream.  I have a sentimental attachment to the real-life setting of that one.

K: Who is your publisher and how did you get started with them?
D: My books are all published by Wings e-press.  I think I originally found them by an internet search.  I loved that all communication was done via email and I didn’t have to wait months to hear whether my manuscript had been accepted or rejected.  My experience with them has been great and I’m happy being with a small publisher.  By the way, they are open to submissions now, if any of your readers have a good manuscript ready to send out.

K: Do you have an agent? If so, who?
D: I don’t have an agent. 
K: Where do you get your ideas?
D: Oh, wow!  Ideas can pounce on you from anywhere.  Usually I don’t know where mine come from.  I like to imagine that all the stuff I’ve seen and heard and read and experienced during my lifetime has gone into a big cauldron in my head.  It all simmers around in there, breaking down, recombining, taking on new flavors, until it’s done just right.  Then something bubbles up into an idea for a story or a character.
I do like to blame my fairy-tale mysteries on my (now deceased) Aunt Edna.  When I was six, she gave me a big book of fairy tales with the most beautiful, imagination-stirring green cover.  It was my first big book.  I was hooked on fairy-tales forever.  I still have that book, although the poor thing has been read nearly to death.  Sometimes I wonder.  If my aunt had given me a book on animals or flowers or sports, would my writing have been different?

K: What is your writing process like? (Do you outline or not? Do you write every day? If so, for how long? Etc)
D: I have tried to outline.  I’ve read about and tried various tricks and methods other authors use, but I think my brain just isn’t made to be that orderly.  I usually know what the final outcome will be, but I have to write the story--walk along with the characters as they experience the story--to see what happens between the beginning and end.  What that means in practical terms is a whole lot of dead ends and re-writing, but eventually I get there.
I have a goal to write a certain number of words per day, but life gets in the way.  So, I write when I can, think about the book(s)-in-progress when I can’t, and somehow books come into being. 

K: Has your writing changed over the years?
D: I don’t really know the answer to this question.  I would like to think I’ve become a better writer, but maybe only a reader would be able to tell. 

K: Tell us a little about your new novel.
D: Here’s the back cover blurb for Dullahan Mountain Breakdown:  “At age seven, when Maura Tasgall saw her parents murdered, she gave up on happy endings.  Now, if she stays alive long enough to unearth the evil that killed them, she may find justice and closure, but still no happy ending--not unless her mother’s fairy tales weren’t fiction.” 
The book is set in the Missouri Ozarks and, among other things, explores a possible origin for the Fair Folk.  If you’ve read The Cameron Connection and Donovan’s Dream, you will meet a few familiar characters and ideas.  The books don’t constitute a series, but let’s just say they, along with Breakdown, share the same fictional world. 

K: When does it come out?
D: Dullahan Mountain Breakdown will be released on August 1, 2011 from Wings.  All the books are available there in e-book formats (including Mobi-pocket, which will work on Kindle).  They’re also available directly from Kindle and from Amazon.  Best prices are at Wings.  (blog)

I wish Donna the best of luck with all her books and look forward to reading Dullahan Mountain Breakdown on my Kindle when it comes out!

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