I am so excited to have been able to interview none other than the talented Bree Despain for Utah Book Month! Bree is the author of the The Dark Divine series, as well as her newest series: Into The Dark. She is also one of our fabulous Utah authors, and is very active in the writing community.
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Your fourth book, The Shadow Prince, was released earlier this year. What has been your favorite part of the publishing process with this trilogy? Has it been any different than your experiences with your previous trilogy?
I think the biggest difference is that I am much more down to earth about the whole publishing process. I think a lot of newbie authors (myself included) suffer from what I like to call "debut author syndrome" where you think you must (or can) do everything possible to make your book a success. You think you have to speak at every event, read every review, check sales numbers constantly, say yes to every single invitation or request, blog/twitter/facebook/email constantly, and have a meltdown to your agent with every blip in your progress. You can even start to get a little full of yourself, thinking you can control everything. Then you get a few books into the publishing process and realize there's really very little the author can actually do to make a book successful once it's been written. A book's success is really in the hands of the publisher, marketing department, booksellers and the market itself. So I've learned to back off. I don't read reviews (mostly) and I rarely ever even check my sales numbers. I've learned to say no and prioritize. My job is to write the best books I can possibly write and the rest has been put lower on the list. So I guess my most favorite and different part of my experience this time around is that I feel a lot more sane!
Did you find it a hard, or easy transition from writing The Dark Divine trilogy, to writing the Into The Dark trilogy?
Every book I've written has been a completely new experience and I always think "I have no idea how to write this book!" With my sequel to TDD, I kept thinking, "I have no idea how to write a sequel," and then with the third it was "I have no idea how to end a trilogy." When I started writing the first book in the Into The Dark trilogy, I had tricked myself into thinking it would be easy to write a first book again. But no. I found myself thinking, "I've forgotten how to write a first book!" I realized that unlike ending my first trilogy, I had no idea who these new characters were and the way they would think or react. But discovering who my characters are is always the funnest part of writing.
As a series with Greek mythology at its core, what research went into the Into The Dark Trilogy?
I read a lot of mythology books and marked things I found interesting. I have a couple of books that look like they barfed up a bunch of post-it tabs. I also looked for alternate translations of commonly accepted versions of myths we all know.
What is your favorite Greek myth, and why?
Persephone is such an interesting character and I think she gets slighted by the version of the Persephone and Hades myth that most of us learn in school. Researching her origins and earlier versions of her story is one of the reasons that I wanted to write Into The Dark.
What kind of writer are you: a pantser, or a plotter?
I used to be a pantser who was forced to write plot outlines by my editor. Now I can't live without them. My last two books I plotted scene by scene before I even started writing them.
Do you have plans to speak at any events or conferences this year?
I'll be a panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con September 4-6. I also have a few signings coming up: September 11th at the Orem, Utah B&N with Colleen Houck, October 20th at The King's English in SLC with Sara Raasch to celebrate the launch of her debut YA Snow Like Ashes, and then again with Sara at the Tattered Cover on Colfax Ave in Denver, CO on October 21st.
On your website, you list one of your favorite TV shows as Veronica Mars. Have you seen the Veronica Mars movie that came out this year? What did you think of it? Did it fill the hole that was (presumably) left when the show was tragically canceled?
My husband contributed to the VMars Movie kickstarter campaign on my behalf for an anniversary present--which means I have Logan Echolls as my outgoing voicemail message! We drove to a theater an hour away to see the movie opening night. I enjoyed every moment of watching the movie and felt incredible joy at seeing all of my favorite characters together again. A few days after watching the movie, I started to have some issues with the plot and some of the character choices--which I could go on about for quite some time (and did as a panelist on the VMars panel at FanX last spring)--but that still doesn't take away from the happiness I felt while watching the movie. Side note, in anticipation for the movie, Hubs and I rewatched the entire series while I happened to be drafting my next book, The Eternity Key. Which means you will definitely be able to see the VMars influence in that book!
What do you do when you aren't writing?
We live next to a lake so I try to spend as much of my time as possible in the summer paddle-boarding, kayaking, walking or leisurely riding my bike around the lake paths. I love reading and I'm a big theater buff. I probably watch way too much TV and movies--but hey, it's all in the name of research!
As a wife and mother, how do you juggle your author responsibilities, with your responsibilities to your family? Do you have any tips for those of us who might need help with the juggling act? (Totally calling myself out here!)
It's a little easier now that my kids are in school--I can mostly get my work done before they get home--but I still have to deal with off-track and summer vacation. I think the biggest thing is that you need to treat your writing time seriously if you want others to respect it as well. If you designate a part of your day as your writing time and treat it as sacred, you can train your family to allow you to have that time. If they see you treating your writing seriously, they will follow suit. When my writing time is over and the kids are home, I try my best to be fully present and in mom mode instead of author mode so they know that they are my biggest priority.
Thanks so much for letting me interview you, Bree! I enjoyed hearing about the transition to writing a new series--and of course, hearing anything Veronica Mars. I'm excited to read The Eternity Key, when it is released! :)
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(Photo by Chauntelle Janzer of OpieFoto)
About Bree DespainBree Despain is the author of the Dark Divine trilogy and the upcoming Into The Dark trilogy. Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo.