Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Inside every reviewer is a writer trying to get out. This may sound like a simple statement but its on that I think holds true. As part of writing I've joined a number of places online where you can get people to crit your work as well as having the chance to read others in the same boat as you.

It was whilst doing this that I originally came across DB Reynolds who's work just lept from the screen into the imagination so when she had her first release we were pleased for her and so with the second we really had to do a feature. Its great to follow a writer from humble beginnings but when you pick up one of Donna's books you know that you've got a treat in store. Here we chat to her to get the low down on life in the publishing lane and to see where she buried the bodies...

Falcata Times: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?

Donna B Reynolds: I definitely wouldn’t use the word “afflicted,” because I find such joy in writing, but I do get the point, and there’s something to it. I am definitely driven to write. I can take a few days off, especially after the pressure of meeting a deadline, or when the latest story is completed. I always take a few days to breathe again, after that. But very soon, I begin to get edgy and (my husband would say) irritable. And I know it’s time to start writing again.

FT: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

DBR: When I was in high school. I’ve always been a reader—I think all writers are. But in high school, when I was maybe fifteen years old, I took some creative writing classes for the first time, and I thought, Huh, I really like this. Real life intruded for many years after that, and although I kept writing and was always working on something in my spare time, it wasn’t until about ten years ago that I had the time again to really focus on it.

FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?

DBR: I’m not sure that’s true. Writing a short story has its challenges, but so does writing a novel, and I don’t think they’re the same thing. A short story demands a burst of intense, short-lived effort, while a novel requires a much longer, labor intensive effort. The writer needs to stay in the story for weeks or months at a time. So while some writers produce brilliant short stories, they don’t have the mindset for that longer journey. I’ve written both short stories and novels, but I think my novels are better, because I like to develop the characters and the story over time, to delve a little deeper than a short story permits.

FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?

DBR: I would never try to sell my novel over someone else’s. I might say something like, “If you like that, maybe you’ll like this.” But in general, I’d rather sell a book on its own merits, which I think include a good story, a fast-moving plot and well-developed characters . . . plus in the two books I’ve published, a strong undercurrent of sensuality. As for defining it, I see my books as character-driven Urban Fantasy.

FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?

DBR: A fast-moving plot with strong characters, simmering sensuality and a race to the finish that has the pages turning themselves. Ha! 20 words exactly, just ask MSWord.

FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?

DBR: There are so many! I really am a voracious reader. I keep track of what’s coming out and when, and I carry a little notepad with all that information in my purse, for when I’m at the bookstore. It’s something of an obsession. Just to name a few, though, I love Patricia Briggs and Charlaine Harris. Charlaine, in particular, has a couple of series that are less well-known than her Southern Vampires, but they’re wonderful. I always read the latest by Suzanne Brockmann, Tami Hoag, Kelley Armstrong and Adrian Phoenix, and I love pretty much anything by John Sandford.

FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your ideas develop as you write?

DBR: I always know how it will end, but I don’t always know every step of how it will get there. I do fairly detailed character profiles for my main characters, and even for the significant supporting characters. I also outline the rough story arc of a novel before I start, with notes on specific scenes I’m carrying in my head. Those scenes typically cover the length of the novel, although not every part of it.

FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

DBR: Mostly I read and listen to music, although I’ve been described as “artsy-craftsy” and I frequently have a project I’m working on. I do make pretty quilts for all the new babies in my rather large family. The last two books I read were (1) Wicked Prey by John Sandford—his latest Lucas Davenport book. I love this series. It came out in May, but this was a hectic few months for me and I didn’t get to it until now. (2) Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs, from her Alpha and Omega werewolf series, which spun off from her Mercy Thompson books. Both wonderful.

FT: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

DBR: Junk food, one kind in particular. But I only indulge once a year, around my birthday. I eat my junk food and go to see a big, noisy action flick all by myself. I love it!

FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

DBR: I don’t have any pets. I travel too much for pets to be practical or fair to the animal. And there are generally no pets in my books—at least none that I turn into characters. I do have nice horses in the epic fantasy I’ve been working at, on and off, for years.

FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

DBR: I always fall a little in love with all of my characters, especially the main characters. But in terms of fun to write . . . I do have a great fondness for Lonnie. He’s a minor character, a not very strong vampire trying to build a niche for himself and get by, but he’s got a slightly warped view of life that made him fun to write.

FT: How similar to your principle protagonist are you?

DBR: I have friends who read my books and see me in the female protagonist, especially Cynthia. But I’d say Cyn is more the person I’d like to be, rather than the person I am. Certainly there’s some of my personality in her, but Cyn isn’t bound by societal norms, because she’s a fictional character. I have to live with my neighbors! There’s actually another character in a story I wrote which hasn’t been published yet—I’d say that character is closest to who I really am.

FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?

DBR: Other than reading, I’m something of a geek. I like computers and neat gadgets. I have graduate degrees in political science and history, so those years of study influence my writing, especially in terms of world building. Plus I worked for more than ten years as a sound editor—which is all done on computers these days—hence Cyn’s technical knowledge of computers and sound editing in Raphael.

FT: Where do you get your ideas from?

DBR: They just pop up! Usually when I’m not thinking about anything in particular, especially when I’m in the shower or sitting in traffic and just sort of free associating.

FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

DBR: I’m lucky (knock on wood) that I’ve never had that problem. If I ever did, I’m a fairly disciplined person and I know there are exercises a writer can do that will push the mind to think the right way. I guess I’ll know if they work if it ever happens to me—which I hope it never does!

FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?

DBR: I suspect uncivilized means late at night, and that’s definitely me. I’m a night owl, so from my perspective, three a.m. is pretty damn civilized. If it were up to me, I’d never go to sleep before five a.m. I do my best writing from about midnight on, because the house is quiet and I can write without interruption for hours at a time. The late hours can cause problems, because my schedule doesn’t mesh with most others. I usually compensate by simply making do with less sleep, but sometimes I just hit a wall and crash for a few hours.

FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

DBR: I write in silence, because I have this weird brain that memorizes lyrics and/or music to any song I’m hearing, even if it’s in the background. I know the lyrics to all sorts of songs, even though I can’t necessarily tell you the title or who’s doing the singing. And if there’s no singing, my brain hums the tune instead. Which makes it difficult to concentrate on writing. The one exception to this is when I’m writing an action sequence. For those, I put on my headphones with some really loud, head-banging rock and roll, I close my eyes and I just write what I see as it unfolds. I don’t worry about descriptions or grammar or any of the niceties, I just write what I see, as if it’s a movie inside my head. And then I turn off the music, go back and make the words pretty.

FT: What misconceptions, if any, did you have about the writing and publishing field when you were first getting started?

DBR: My only real misconception was the time it took, first of all to write and polish an entire novel. It’s very time consuming. And secondly, to hold a book in my hand even after the contract’s been signed and the manuscript submitted. It takes far longer than one would think.

FT: If music be the food of love, what do you think writing is and please explain your answer?

DBR: Writing is the ultimate freedom of the mind! It’s the ability to travel somewhere you might never go, to someplace that might not even exist in real life. It frees the mind and soul of the writer and if she’s good enough, of the reader too.

FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?

DBR: The next novel would be the third book in my Vampires in America series. Book 3 is titled RAJMUND and takes the reader to Buffalo, NY, which is not exactly glamorous! But it’s where a very old Vampire Lord has been nesting for a very long time. Rajmund is his lieutenant, a very powerful, younger vampire, who is effectively the master of New York City—a position granted him by his master who wants to keep him happy and far away. When Raj is called back to deal with the human police in the matter of a missing young woman, he meets Cyn’s friend Sarah, who has a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone for years. Sarah’s secret will prove pivotal to solving the crime of the missing girl.

FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?

DBR:,,,, to see if the world is crashing around us yet, and YouTube where I watched a really cool guitar performance which I then put on my blog.

FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.

DBR: I did take a couple of classes and the best thing I got out them—and the reason I took them—was that the instructor was Amy Stout, a well-known and highly regarded editor of Science Fiction/Fantasy. Her comments and critiques of my work, plus her encouragement and belief that I really did know how to write, came at a critical juncture in my life and kept me writing.

FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

DBR: It’s all a matter of believing in your own writing skill. I’m a fairly confident person. I can listen to a critique, take out of it what I think is useful and disregard the rest. But, as I said above, the endorsement early on of someone who really knew what she was doing, made a huge difference in my ability to believe in myself. The rejections continue, though, even after you manage to get published. Not everyone will love, or even like, what you do. It’s a very subjective business. You just have to know that and move on. Not that the rejections don’t hurt, and they do get me down, I just don’t stay down very long.

FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?

DBR: The worse aspect would be that very few writers can afford to write for a living. I know authors who produce three or four best-selling paperbacks a year and who still have daytime jobs. Unless you’re in hardcover, you’re probably not earning a living, especially not if you live in California like I do. The only writers I know personally who can afford to “write for a living” are the ones who have a spouse bringing in a second income. But then I don’t know any really famous writers like Stephen King. I’ve met a few, but I don’t know really know them.


Angela Addams said...

Great interview...I love to read about a writer's practice, habits and other tid-bits of information!

Michelle said...

I love DBR's writing. Her prose is very visual - she writes like a seasoned pro. Even better than some. Great interview - and chance to know the writer behind the books.

Dot S.( said...

Great interview. I liked learning more about one of my favorite authors. Can't wait for RAJMUND!!