Hello Donna, can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Donna K. Childree, a writer, originally from the deep south, now living in the Midwestern college town, Ann Arbor, MI.
How long have you been there? How long have you been writing?
I moved to Ann Arbor more than a dozen years ago. I'm originally from the gulf coast. I’ve always enjoyed writing but have kept it to myself. It’s only in the past few years that my adult son, Mike L. Hopper and I began writing together. We have just published our first novel; a coming of age, YA adventure titled The Wayward Gifted - Broken Point.
What first got you interested in writing?
My parents always encouraged me to be creative. I remember making up stories to go with collage paper dolls that I made from old Sears Catalogs.
Do you attend a writing group?
I have in the past but left the group when I began to feel that it was not healthy for me. I think that writing groups can be wonderful, but you need to find the right fit. Because my son and I are writing partners, we have regular meetings to discuss what we are working on.
That's great that you have someone you trust to help you with your writing. What genres do you normally write?
As a writing team, Mike and I write YA, coming of age, adventure.
Are there any genres that you do not enjoy writing?
I don't enjoy being confined to a specific period. For that reason I don't think that I would be good with historic fiction.
I'm exactly the same. I don't think I'd enjoy all that research. Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mike and I work closely. We bounce ideas off of one another. I am also influenced by a writing friend who I meet weekly for breakfast. I also draw from moments of memory, or dreams.
How do you come up with your character’s names and personalities?
Many of the names I come up with are old family names, or parts of old family names. A reviewer who compared our work to Tennessee Williams speculated that the DuBoise name used in The Wayward Gifted might not be a coincidence. In fact, it is pure coincidence. My great-grandmother was Euphemia Phoebe DuBose which was derived from the french name DuBoise. Because one of our main characters is fascinated with anagrams, a number of the names used in The Wayward Gifted were created with anagrams in mind.
What is your writing routine?
I like to begin in the morning when I am alone in the house. I get the bulk of my writing done on days when no one is here. Mike and I make good use of Drop Box and constantly share our work.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
Because Mike and I work as a team it’s very important that we have a solid idea about our direction. We share files, talk on the phone, and also meet regularly to discuss what is happening. Often we make changes, or take a turn here or there. The Wayward Gifted – Broken Point is very different from what we started with a few years back.
Do you have an editing process?
We write, read and edit throughout the process. We read separately. We read together. We each read The Wayward Gifted no less than twenty-six times before turning it over to a group of readers and to our editor for their help.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I enjoy working with my son. Our meetings are energetic and invigorating. We have a great time getting to know our characters and watching them develop. What I like the least is marketing. We’re self-published and realize that marketing is in our hands. It is not enjoyable, but is necessary.
You mentioned earlier that you and your son have published a book; can you tell us a bit more about that?
We are self-published by our little publishing house, MiloNerak Press.
Have you sent your novel to any agents or publishers? Have you received any rejections?
We made the decision early on that we would go the self-publishing route. We have not sent our work to any publishers or agents.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
Sharing is very important. We get tremendous joy from our work and both want to share it with as many people as possible.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?
I have not.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote is my favorite story.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are busy writing the second book in The Wayward Gifted series, Grey’s Case.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies and interests?
I make art. Last year my work was featured in a solo exhibition titled Fractured Realities that was sponsored by UMSL, University of Missouri St. Louis.
What types of books do you read?
I love southern fiction.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
All good things come to those who get up and make them happen – Elizabeth Childree (My mother)
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Write what you love. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that it can’t be done. Believe in your ability. Make your dream come true.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Do what makes you happy. Life is short.
Where can we find you on the internet?
We have a blog located at http://www.TheWaywardGifted.blogspot.com
I have a twitter page located at https://twitter.com/DonnaChildreeOn Facebook you can find us here https://www.facebook.com/TheWaywardGifted
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
A piece from The Wayward Gifted.
… he glanced across his big tall room at the giant, antique world map on the far wall. The map belonged to Ida’s father, Matt Prescott when he was a boy. Turning away, Steuart watched the moonlight streaming through the transom above his dark French doors. He was beginning to understand what it meant to take something for granted. This is unfair. He reached for the cup of water on his nightstand and put it to his lips. The cup was empty. “Great,” he groaned. Steuart took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
He thought about eating breakfast under the oaks. He thought about sitting in the swing at the end of the pier with his favorite books. He wondered how Ida would get along without him. We’re a team. He thought of how he enjoyed throwing a line of cord far out into the bay with a smelly, rotting chicken neck tied to the end. He did this early in the morning as he crabbed the old-fashioned way with his grandmother who refused to use crab baskets.
“It’s not sporting if you trap them,” she’d say. Steuart didn’t object because Ida’s way was the most fun. He loved standing shirtless with his back straight, feeling the warmth of the sun behind him, and the coolness of salt-water lapping softly against his ankles. He loved the morning breeze coming in across the bay as he waited for a little nibble, pulling the cord tight. That’s how he knew a hungry crab—maybe two, feasted on a hearty breakfast at the end of his line. This was the signal for Steuart to slowly reel-in the cord, while motioning for Ida who ran quickly and quietly with the long-handled net ready to scoop up the crabs that were too busy feasting to notice either of them. He thought of how his toes squished into the sand as she pulled and lifted the net filled with crabs and how just as quickly, with a huge grin and a laugh, she’d turn the net towards the water and release the crabs into the bay. “Steuart Dahlin’, I don’t think it’s their time yet. Do you?”
“Not yet Grandmother—looks like we’ll have to find them another day.”
“Maybe tomorrow, maybe next year. Those lucky crabs are safe for now.” Steuart and Ida watched as the crabs scurried back into the murky darkness of the water…
© Donna Childree & Mike Hopper
Thank you very much Donna.
The Wayward Gifted - Trailer
The Wayward Gifted - a coming of age, young adult novel co-authored by Donna K. Childree and Mike L. Hopper is available at Amazon.com
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