Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. She graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Stolen Songbird, her debut work is the first book of The Malediction Trilogy series. Visit her here.
NAW- In case our readers have forgotten, can you please tell us about your book series, The Malediction Trilogy. How did you get the idea for it?
Stolen Songbird, which is the first book in The Malediction Trilogy, is about an up-and-coming opera diva named Cécile who is kidnapped by trolls and married to their prince to break the curse that binds them to their underground kingdom. Except it doesn’t work. The curse remains in place, and Cécile must find a way to survive in a city dominated by magic and political intrigue.
The inspiration for Stolen Songbird was a dream I had about a city buried and partially destroyed by rock. It stuck in my mind, and I started thinking about how the city would have been buried, who would live there, and why they would choose to stay. So the plot and characters grew out of an idea for setting, which isn’t at all normal for me. But it worked!
NAW- What do you plan to work on after the trilogy is finished?
I have another epic fantasy series that I’m working on when I have time. It’s very different from The Malediction Trilogy, but hopefully one of these days everyone will have a chance to read it.
NAW- I don’t think anybody can become a writer. You are either born one or not. Do you remember that pivotal moment for you, when you realized that writing was what you coveted?
I didn’t come out of high school wanting to be a writer. My first degree is actually in finance, and I worked in the oil & gas industry for many years before I gave writing a try. The pivotal moment was when a coworker of mine suggested we try writing a novel, and the idea latched on and wouldn’t let go.
NAW- Who are your favourite writers? Are there any who have influenced your writings?
My favourite YA author is Maggie Stiefvater, but honestly, my favourite authors change yearly. I wouldn’t say any particular author has influenced my writing or made me want to be a writer, but many of them have inspired my love for reading. A love for reading, I think, is the central motivator for wanting to write.
NAW- How do you write, do you formulate the entire plot beforehand or let the book decide its course? Take us through your writing process?
I hate outlines. I only write them when I’m required to, which is (unfortunately) part of selling a series to a publisher. Usually I get an idea and I think about it a long time before I start writing anything down. Once I start writing, I go with the flow, but I do tend to have an ending in mind quite early on.
NAW- Tell us about your life. How was the journey to becoming a writer?
Once I started writing, I went through a stage where I started novels but didn’t get very far before scrapping them (they were all very bad!). The first novels I completed were an adult epic fantasy and its sequel, but I had no success in the query trenches with them. The next project I completed was a YA post-apocolyptic novel, which got much further along in the query process, but still didn’t make the cut. Stolen Songbird was my third attempt, and I actually met my agent via an online pitch contest. I sent my very first query letter ever out on April 1, 2009 and my first novel was published April 1, 2014, so it took over five years to get to this point.
NAW- What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater, and then I’m going to read Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rose.
NAW- Have you ever experienced writer’s block and if yes, what is the cure?
Often! When I’m frustrated or stuck, the best thing for me is to turn off the computer. Sometimes I get out a pen and a piece of paper and write a list of things I want the scene to accomplish, and that gets me over the block. When I’m really stuck, I find my best thinking happens in the bath tub. The hot water stimulates my creative side.
NAW- When you are reading, do you prefer ebooks or printed paper books?
Print books, but I do have a Kindle. I tend to purchase books I’m less excited about as ebooks because they cost less.
NAW- Any advice for young writers?
The only thing you have control over is improving your craft. Write often, seek out critique, take those critiques to heart, and work really hard.