Friday, September 29, 2017

Interview With Romance Writer Dahlia Donovan

Photo:  Dahlia Donovan

What influenced you to start writing and how old were you when you started?

I’m not sure what really influenced me to start writing. Reading was always part of my life since I was taught to read at the age of three. The first story I ever wrote was about bears—I was eight. The first romance I wrote was much, much later in life. It was inspired by a crazy dream.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

Not a routine, per se. I need white noise, so I usually have both music and the TV on at varying volumes. I’ll often start writing by hand, and I have to have a certain kind of pen and paper, or I can’t write.

In your book, The Misguided Confession, the protagonist (Elaine Gibbs) is autistic.  How did you come to the decision that she was/should be? Are any of the other characters in your books neurodivergent and/or disabled?

Elaine actually appears first in the Blackbird series, a paranormal romance series that I indie published.  I knew from the moment I included her that she’d be autistic. I’ll fully admit to putting quite a bit of myself into her.  I tend to be a ‘pantser,’ I fly by the seat of my pants when I write, so characters tend to evolve organically and not so much as a product of plot or outline.
After the Scrum featured a character with anxiety and PTSD. My current series, The Sin Bin will feature a pair of autistic twins, a disabled military veteran, and a man who suffers from PTSD.  Almost all of my stories have featured at least one neurodivergent or disabled character.

You write (mostly) gay male romance.  What compels you to pen stories of men loving men?

So, being a pantser comes into play here as well, I just enjoy writing love stories. Sometimes those stories are about two men who fall in love and sometimes they aren’t.

Did you struggle with writing from a male character's perspective when you first started out?  Do you have any tips on writing different genders?

I don’t really remember struggling to write from a male POV. People are people, after all. Mannerisms and reactions are slightly different, but I’ve always been a people watcher. I think this is where being autistic comes in handy. I’ve spent so much of my life observing people to avoid ‘standing out’ that I’ve learnt quite a bit about how men and women behave.

Rugby appears fairly often in your stories.  What draws you to it as a story aspect?

Is it shallow of me to admit that the men are often very attractive? That’s part of it. I think what draws me to it more is the idea of rugby players who have retired. All of the rugby stars in my stories have left the game whether voluntarily or forced. What intrigues me is exploring how someone who has excelled to the point of being a sports star responds to losing that aspect of their life.

The Caretaker (published July 2017) features a May-December romance. Were there challenges in writing a love story with characters from different generations?  If so, what were they? 

Not really, at least not for me. Almost all of my romances have featured an age gap of at least a few years if not more. I think the only challenge is making sure to acknowledge there is the potential for issues either between the couple or amongst their extended family and friends.

Who are your literary influences/favorite writers? (They need not be disabled/neurodivergent.)

My favourite author of all time is Jane Austen. I love her sense of humour and how she approached the absurdities of humanity. She didn’t shy away from showing people at their worst but managed to make it tragically funny.

What were some mistakes you made in writing/publishing when you first started? What has been your biggest validation as a writer to date?

The great mistake I made when I started was underestimating the importance of a good editor and a good book cover. I was very lucky to find a brilliant editor to work with rather quickly, though.

Biggest validation? I’m honestly not sure. Seeing my book in print was pretty epic. Or, perhaps having another author tell me that I was their favourite writer, which was a special moment for me.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on The Lion Tamer. It’s the sixth book in The Sin Bin series. I’m about a third of the way into the novel and enjoying it immensely.
Biography:  Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress.  She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters.  An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

Buy The Caretaker physically here.
Buy The Caretaker digitally here.

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