Thursday, February 03, 2011

20 Questions with Doranna Durgin

In our 20 Questions feature various Knight Agency authors answer the same set of questions you see below. Learn their go-to sources for information on writing and publishing, how they like their coffee, what they did when they got "The Call," and much more.

Today were spotlighting the talented Doranna Durgin, author of STORM OF RECKONING (Tor, Feb 2011), the second book in The Reckoners series.

1. Where are you at this exact moment?
I'm in my office with dogs arrayed around me, Blackmore's Night coming out of the speakers, and everyone else in the neighborhood gone to bed. The horse is waiting to be fed and I expect to hear some snorting soon.

2. Are you a “seat of your pants” writer or do map out the story like a meticulous cartographer?
In between. I map things out with a lot of hand-waving, and then I see how it goes. I have the big picture of what I want to accomplish, and sometimes I have really specific landmarks along the way, but mostly I discover a lot as I go.

3. What one item is a must have or what ritual do you absolutely have to perform in order to get your writing mojo going?
My brain? Otherwise, it's all fair game. I have preferences--the music, the office, the time of day--but I've written on paper towels in ER (6 pages) and I've written on restaurant placemats. I'm opportunistic!

4. If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book to entertain you, what would you want it to be?
A dictionary. A really, really big one.

5. What is the first thing you did after receiving “The Call” from your agent?
I came from the slush pile, so I didn't actually get That Call. I had a message on an answering machine from the publisher. I went "!!!!!!" and told my family!

6. Do you have an old manuscripts gathering dust that you think should still be published, or, in retrospect, did they turn out to just be a practice run?
I have manuscripts that are still very much stories I want to tell, though I think I'd do it differently today than I did then. I still believe in those books, and want the chance to do something with them.

Now, if you're going to count the books I wrote while in junior high and high school, then yeah...definitely practice! But I'm thinking of the books I wrote after I decided I'd like to really Do This Thing Out Loud, which started in college.

7. Are you a member of a critique group?
Nope. Have been at varying times, but not for ages. For me, their value was in in the camaraderie and moral support; I also learned a whole lot about looking at a book critically. I never found it to be excitingly useful for the pieces I was actually having critiqued.

8. If you were a literary character, who would you be?
The Black Stallion. (Am I allowed a gender change?)

9. Do you prefer reading a physical book or downloading it on your Kindle/Nook/Sony Reader/insert name of any of the other myriad e-readers?
I love reading both ways, and split my attentions pretty evenly.

10. What is your favorite go-to blog or website for writing advice?
Hmm, I think that would have to be the Query Shark. But I wouldn't call that writing advice, really. It lends a certain insight, and persistent reading has trickled into applying that insight to my own endeavors.

11. What is your favorite go-to blog or website for industry happenings?
Tie: MediaBistro (for a constant flow of tidbits) and The Shatzkin Files for deeper ponderings that are usually over my head. By the way, if you search on "Shatzkin," and accidentally hit "images," you get a photo of a show alpaca.

12. What’s the strangest place or incident that’s inspired one of your characters or storylines?
Aurgh! I have no clue, and this would be because once inspired by this or that, I integrate it into the storyline where it belongs, and then it's part of the story itself as far as I'm concerned.

I've gotten a lot of pieces from dreams (DUN LADY'S JESS came from a dream), and a few interesting personal incidents have shown up in books, but more like cameo pieces--nothing that can take credit for inspiring a whole story or character. There was the "my blood is sprayed all over the walls" incident while I was grooming (A FERAL DARKNESS), the "my horse was spooked off a cliff" incident while I was living in the Appalachians (WOLF JUSTICE), and the accumulation of training/handling experience that sifts through all my shapeshifter stuff as well as the mysteries. But I'm really not sure that's what you asked...

13. Rollercoaster rides: Let’s get in line or I’d rather keep my feet on the ground while eating a delicious corn dog? (I know, random right?)
Oh, I'm a hermit. My amusement park is riding my Lipizzan gelding bareback through the arroyos around here. Pretty close to a rollercoaster at times, though.

14. What was the hardest lesson that you had to learn about publishing as a newbie?
To value myself.

15. Coffee: keep it simple (black); liven it up a little (at least cream and/or sugar); everything but the kitchen sink (caramel, raspberry, mocha java latte with extra whip and a few of those dark chocolate curls on top...); I’ll pass (yuck, coffee tastes like cigarettes).
Run away!

16. Animal lover or is keeping a goldfish alive too much to ask?
Animal lover--trainer, handler, performance competition. Stop by my blog and see if Connery Beagle earned his Tracking Dog title in late January to become the first breed champion MACH Beagle to earn a versatility title, or how wild irrepressible young Dart Beagle did in his agility trial debut in early February, or whether Connery and Belle Cardigan are in the running for AKC Agility Nationals again. I've trained horses, taught agility and rally classes (dogs), and plan to be doing these things for as long as I can toddle around.

I do have trouble with goldfish, though.

Doranna's beagle Connery

17. Which one of your characters would you most like to meet in person?
Jess from DUN LADY'S JESS, without hesitation. I hope we would get along just fine.

18. What is your current release about?
" Lisa McGarrity exists to hunt ghosts--but lately, it seems as if the ghosts exist to hunt her. And while fierce, mostly human Trevarr exists to hunt demons, lately he's looking over his own shoulder... and hers. It's time to figure out what's going on in the Southwest-- and fast!"

Although to me it's about people learning who they are all over again after a big change. Also, irreverent characters who say what they mean and two people with more feeling between them than they know what to do with, trying to figure out each other's worlds. And oh--ghosts. And woo-woo. Definitely that.

19. What projects do you have on the horizon?
Another chapter in the Reckoners, though I'm not sure what format it'll take
Backlist eBooks
Fantasy/paranormal projects in development

20. Where is the best place for readers to find out more about you?
Website: The Webstead
Blog: WordPlay, with Friday guest the Write Horse
Twitter: @DorannaDurgin and @ConneryBeagle
FaceBook: Personal Page and Fan Page and Backlist eBooks page



Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Re: #8
Are you a big Walter Farley fan or was it just The Black Stallion who stuck with you?

I read his books so long ago but I remember loving Flame and Black but my all time favorite was Man O'War!

I think you are definitley allowed to change genders. Sounds like another sequel to Dun's Lady Jess!

Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 3:44:00 PM EST  
Blogger Judy said...

I miss my horse. It's wonderful to have so many wonderful memories flood back simply reading some of your experiences. I remember want to be the Black Stallion. :-) I've only explored the shapeshifter genre on a very limited bases, but after reading this: "There was the "my blood is sprayed all over the walls" incident while I was grooming (A FERAL DARKNESS), the "my horse was spooked off a cliff" incident while I was living in the Appalachians (WOLF JUSTICE)" I'm going to have to hunt down some books.

Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 8:34:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Doranna said...

Kyahgirl--ALL the Farley books! But the Black Stallion was the first, and so always special.

Judy--those two books are actually from my fantasy backlist--in paperback, you can find them used; A FERAL DARKNESS is available via my repub on Kindle, and Wolf Justice will be available that way as soon as I take a breath and get it done!

Thanks so much for the interest! I love having the chance to write these books, and I know who makes that possible... 8)

Friday, February 4, 2011 at 10:09:00 PM EST  

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