Author Interview ~ Dana Delamar

I would like to introduce my followers to a wonderful author, Dana Delamar; Dana wrote the novel ‘Revenge (Blood and Honor)’ which is the first book review I have done (and which created a monster, now you know who do blame, lol). Since early this year, since that initial request for a review, Dana and I have become friends, (I would like to think so anyways) and we continue to email, talk about things other than books and that has been an added bonus to getting to read her exciting and alluring Romantic Thriller/Mystery Novels. After reading Dana’s answers to my (some not so conventional) questions, I had a smile on my face and know that I made the right choice in taking a chance on Dana when she asked for reviewers for her first novel earlier this year; Dana’s follow-up novel ‘Retribution (Blood and Honor’ is currently out now; I am currently reading this exciting novel, so please look for my book review in the near future (August some time). Please enjoy this glimpse into author, Dana Delamar.
*Please tell me about your first novel. What or who inspired you to write it?
The first complete novel I ever wrote was a contemporary romance set in Italy, and it was based in part on something that had happened to me during a trip there. Like most first novels, it was a mess–I tossed in just about every idea I’d ever had for a romance novel, and I rambled on way too long. My beta reader liked a lot of it, but she suggested I rework the story so it wasn’t so episodic. That was her nice way of saying that I needed to plot first! She was right.
I knew I wanted to keep the Italian setting, but everything else was up for reevaluation. I started asking myself “what if” questions about my hero and heroine. When I asked myself “What if the hero isn’t such a nice guy?” that led me to “What if my hero is in the Mafia?” and from there the characters and the plot of “Revenge” started taking shape. I ended up having so many ideas for “Revenge” that I realized I had enough stories for several books, which is how the “Blood and Honor” series was born.
You could also blame this whole thing on my love of “The Godfather” and “Romeo and Juliet.”
*Who are some of your favorite authors and books? Did they influence or inspire your writing style and give you ideas?
I’m always reading something, and I read just about everything–fiction, nonfiction, literary fiction, commercial fiction, YA, suspense, true crime, biography, memoir, and of course, romance.
In romance, my favorite authors are J. R. Ward and Larissa Ione. Love, love, love their books! Greg Iles, Cody McFadyen, Chelsea Cain, Harlen Coben, Jeff Lindsay, Stephen King, Jane Austen, Mary Doria Russell, and Anne Rice (especially her early vampire books) are other faves.
I’m sure I’ve learned something from every one of them. For example, Anne Rice taught me about the importance of setting and sensory description–she can put you so firmly in a character’s shoes that you get lost to the world around you. Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books dramatically illustrate the importance of voice–even though Dexter is the most “anti-“ of antiheroes (a serial killer of serial killers!), his clever, slyly humorous voice sucks you in and makes you empathize with him from the first sentence.
*What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest complement? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
The first public review of “Revenge” was a two-star review; the reviewer hated the heroine of the book. That was hard to hear–I knew Kate wasn’t always the easiest heroine to like, but I didn’t think anyone would hate her!
However, enough other reviewers have been tepid or neutral toward Kate (though some have loved her) that I realized I could have done more to develop her character. I didn’t spend more time on her in part because I didn’t want the book to be overlong (in fact, I’d cut a lot of Kate’s back story and two subplots involving her family), but I should have compensated for that by giving her a well-defined character arc. I’d always thought of the book as belonging to Enrico, but that’s no excuse for letting my heroine languish.
So, big lesson learned about making sure both my main characters are fully developed, and I’m glad that reviewer gave me the benefit of her unvarnished reaction to the book. She also suggested working a little more levity into the proceedings, and I’ve tried to do that in book 2 as well. Praise is great for gauging your strengths (and sometimes for keeping you going!), but honest constructive criticism can be much more valuable in terms of growth.
Interestingly, that same reviewer thought the book was “extremely well written” and was curious about the rest of the series, which I took as a big compliment considering how much she disliked the heroine. I’ve been gratified to hear that most reviewers love my writing style and the pacing of the books; I always get a big smile when I hear that people couldn’t put the book down. And RT Book Reviews gave it four stars, so I must have done something right.
*This or That – Chocolate or Vanilla?? Coffee or Tea?? TV or Movies??
CHOCOLATE!!! (The perfect food substance, except for those pesky calories!)
Tea–I have a zillion different kinds. One of my faves is Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile. I also love chai. Mmmm…
I love many, many movies, but lately, a lot of the very best screenwriting around is on TV–Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Southland, Hell on Wheels, Dexter, The Borgias, Game of Thrones, Deadwood, Rome, Boardwalk Empire. And for good plain fun every week–along with heaping buckets of angst– one of my all-time faves: Supernatural. I love my Winchester boys! I also enjoy Castle and White Collar because I can’t resist Richard Castle and Neal Caffrey. I adore them both! (Yes, I know they’re not real.)
*When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?
I tend to write my first drafts on pen and paper. I worked as an editor for almost twenty years, so my first inclination when working on the computer is to start fiddling with my text because it’s so tempting to edit! The problem with editing too early is that it’s far too easy to get bogged down with perfection (or discouraged by the pursuit of it) and not finish the story. You’ve got to save perfection for the final polish.
Another big bonus: when I’m working in a notebook, there’s no alluring Internet to distract me. I’ll often go to Starbucks to make sure I don’t get tempted to “do a few minutes of research” on the computer when I should be writing.
*What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?
I usually have two or three books going at a time, so that’s the first thing I do. I also usually have a crammed DVR, so that’s another way I unwind.
*If your protagonist was a real person, what would they think about you? Would they want to hang out with you?
Hmm… considering my protagonist is a Mafia don, I don’t think we’d be hanging out. And he’d probably think I shouldn’t be writing about him and giving away his secrets! However, Enrico is well-educated, intelligent, and capable of forgiveness, so I’m sure we could find something to talk about. Perhaps our mutual love of Lake Como.
*What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
A juicy premise–danger, forbidden love, lots of sex!
*When you go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, what do you order? Do they know you by name or drink?
Starbucks should name a kid after me. And yes, they do know me by name and drink in at least four different Starbucks around town. In winter, I’m all about the chai. In summer, I switch between iced green tea and iced chai.
*What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
Favorite: Hearing from people who love my book and can’t wait for the next one. The first fan letter I got made me cry happy tears.
Least favorite: Trying to balance promotion and writing without both suffering.
*When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
Paranormal romance, then suspense, then whatever else catches my eye. I’m a bit of a magpie–ooh, that cover looks pretty (or shiny or sexy or…).
*Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?
I quit my day job, which was very lucrative, but also very stressful. I had to write my first book (the one I didn’t release) between 1-3 AM most days because that was the only time I had open. I loved my job and my co-workers, but the stress was killing me.
When I turned forty, I became increasingly restless and dissatisfied. I had the completely unoriginal epiphany that I wasn’t going to live forever, and if I was going to follow my “someday” dream of being a writer, I had to get off my butt and do it now or risk never achieving it. So I quit that job shortly after I turned forty-one. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but I knew if I didn’t do it, I’d always regret it.
Right now, writing is far from lucrative, but my health is much better and I’m much happier because I’m doing what I love.
*What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?
No one’s asked me anything too wacky. Mostly I keep getting asked if Antonio is getting his own book, and the answer is yes. But you’ll have to wait for book 3. I’m evil that way.
*What is your favorite junk food vice?
Chocolate, especially Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (more chocolatey and not as frosting sweet as Nutella, so I feel slightly virtuous while eating it). Ooh, and those tiny little peanut butter cups from Trader Joes. And the chocolate-dipped Dunkers from Trader Joes. Obviously, I have to stay away from that store. And anything chocolate.
*Is there any movie you have seen that was based on a novel, which you think lived up to the novel?? What made it live up to the novel?
The movie adaptation of “L.A. Confidential” was masterful. The plot of that book is the very definition of labyrinthine–layer upon layer upon layer looping back on itself. If Curtis Hanson had filmed that story exactly as written by the brilliant James Ellroy, the movie would have lasted for weeks. Instead, he made perfect, judicious cuts. Casting the right actors (Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, Kevin Spacey) also helped. I had a few quibbles with the very ending, but considering that I’d thought that book was downright unfilmable (and I didn’t want anyone to wreck it), I was blown away.
I thought the screen adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings” series was better than the books. Purists may want to beat me with their homemade hobbit feet, but Peter Jackson trimmed a lot of less-than-exciting stuff and made the stories lean and mean without losing their heft.
The adaptation of“Silence of the Lambs” was also note-perfect. Again, spot-on casting and superb directing made the story shine.
*If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?
Nope! Being a Mafia don is too high stress. But being his wife would definitely have its fun moments. I think you can guess which ones. 😉
(Note: In my mind, Enrico looks suspiciously like David Gandy. You know, the guy in all those Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue ads. Go ahead, Google him. Ah, *now* you get it!)
*Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?
Yes. I took a writing degree in college, with an emphasis on creative writing. I wrote short stories and started several books during and after college but didn’t finish a single novel until I turned forty and finally got serious.
*What type of ice cream could I find you eating on a hot summer day?
Chocolate hazelnut gelato–truly food from the gods. While I was in Italy, I had to try it in every town I visited. Purely for research purposes, of course.
*We all have our little ‘things’ when it comes to reading or writing; is their anything that bugs you when you read a novel?
Poor editing (or no editing) bugs me enormously. Everyone makes errors, and I can certainly overlook the occasional typo, but when the errors are egregious enough to knock me out of the story, that’s when I get peeved, sometimes to the point of not finishing. Anytime I’m scratching my head because the text is garbled or laughing because of a hideously wrong word choice (such as “oozy” for “Uzi”–I am *not* making that up), that’s when I’ve been kicked out of the story.
Part of being a good storyteller is making sure your readers forget they’re reading; great (or at least good) editing is a necessary component of giving readers a superb entertainment experience.
*Is there anything else you would like to share or say to those who will read this?
I hope you enjoy the twists and turns of “Revenge”! It’s only the beginning of my Mafia saga. I’ve got a lot more stashed up my sleeve, and I hope to keep you relentlessly entertained.
Thanks for having me on your blog (and letting me blather on), Stephanie! These were great questions and I had fun answering them.
Links to Dana’s first novel, Revenge ~
Amazon:http://amzn.com/B006U5U9PK
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/revenge-dana-delamar/1108117588
Print (Amazon): http://amzn.com/0984931104
Apple: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/revenge/id496501970?mt=11
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Revenge/book-c8xGvzoVt0K60pimjH0n-w/page1.html
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/119140
Diesel: http://www.diesel-ebooks.com/item/SW00000119140/Delamar-Dana-Revenge/1.html
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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jannashay
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 16:54:10

    Terrific interview. I loved Revenge and now that you’ve revealed Enrico, in your mind, looks like David Gandy – I love the book all over again, especially Enrico.

    Reply

    • Dana Delamar
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:23:30

      Yeah, I figured once I said who inspired me, that’d give you a clear picture… and a very enticing one! 😉 Thanks for stopping by, Janna, and I’m glad you enjoyed the book!

      Reply

  2. Gregory Carrico
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 05:16:01

    Great interview, Dana! My first novel was all over the road, too, but I’m sad to say it wasn’t salvageable. It was a fantastic learning experience, though! I’m glad you had the guts to keep working on yours, and I can’t wait to read it.
    It’s nice to see questions that aren’t recycled all over the web 🙂 Nice job!

    Reply

    • Dana Delamar
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:24:43

      Hi Greg, I’m glad you enjoyed the interview. I had a lot of fun doing it, and Stephanie asked a lot of questions I’d never seen before (as you pointed out), so that made it even more enjoyable. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Reply

  3. Tamara Ward
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 06:23:45

    Wow! Great interview. I love what you said: “Praise is great for gauging your strengths (and sometimes for keeping you going!), but honest constructive criticism can be much more valuable in terms of growth.” Getting a 2-star review is tough, but if it’s got valuable feedback attached to it, or if you take the value from it, I suppose, like you said, it can be a good thing – still tough, though! Thanks so much!

    Reply

    • Dana Delamar
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:27:06

      Thanks, Tamara! It’s never fun getting 1 and 2 star reviews, but if I they tell me something useful, that helps me make my next books better, and I’m grateful that someone took the time to point out where I could have done better. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Reply

  4. Sheila Seabrook
    Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:46:53

    Wonderful interview, Dana. I love that you left your day job to follow your dream. Here’s to a wildly successful series!

    Reply

    • Dana Delamar
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 22:28:36

      Thanks, Sheila! Some folks would say I’m crazy, but I figured if I didn’t take a big chance and go for it, I’d always have some major regrets. And I’d rather not live my life wondering “What if?” Thanks for the good wishes and for stopping by! 🙂

      Reply

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