Bree Despain. Her debut The Dark Divine is set to hit stores December 22, and we have been drooling over the cover and hoping for an arc, (hint, hint) really-- go ahead and send us one, we don't mind;)
When in the process did you realize there would be more than one book? I know you have been working on the sequel. How did you outline the series, and did that affect the plot of the first book? And how many books will there be total?
I originally did not intend for the story to be a series when I was writing the first book. However, as I was writing the last chapter of the book, the character’s started saying certain things about their future that I hadn’t thought of before, and I realized that they were telling me that there was more of their story that needed to be told.
The path to publication for TDD will be just under 5 years from initial concept to the books actually hitting the shelves. I’ve always said the best part of writing is when you find yourself in a groove and the story just flows from your finger tips. And the worst part is when you are so blocked that you end up just staring at your computer for hours until you burst into tears. Writing the book was definitely a rollercoaster of both the best and worst parts, but as I look back on it, the good moments definitely outweigh the hard ones.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you created the characters of Daniel and Grace?
Daniel and Grace were both very strong characters from the beginning. They knew who they were and made that very clear to me as I began writing them. While they definitely share attributes with people in my own life, they are very much their own. Daniel is loosely based on three different guys who disappeared from my life, and I always think of Grace as the version of myself that I wished I had been in high school.
What are your secrets to a great first five pages?
I always try to establish my setting, main character, and story problem within the first five pages. I always think about the question, “What is different about today?” when I write the beginning of a novel. Your story starts when something “different” happens to your character that spurs on the action of the rest of the novel. This “inciting incident” should usually happen within the first 5 to 10 pages. (Some authors even try to get it in on the very first page.)
Can you tell us a little about the creation of the play list for The Dark Divine? Did you listen to the songs as you wrote?
Yes. The songs on my playlist were the ones that I gravitated to while I was writing. After seeking the songs out on my iTunes over and over again, I eventually compiled them into a playlist so I’d have them at the ready for when I needed to get into the mood to write. I’d also listen to them in the car to help me brainstorm ideas. Later, I reorganized them into a soundtrack of sorts where if you listen to the songs in order it will take you through the emotional journey of the book from start to finish.
What do you see as your greatest strength and your greatest weakness as a writer?
Same answer for both: my intense need for dark chocolate when writing.
Can you briefly detail your journey to publication after finishing your first book? (Finding an agent, an editor, promoting the book, etc.)
Um…. Briefly? 1. Sent TDD to agents. 2. Got several rejections. 3. Filed TDD away for a year to work on other projects. 4. Mind kept going back to TDD. 5. Rewrote ¾ of the MS and added another 100 pages of content 6. Queried agents again. 7. Got a few rejections and a few full ms requests 8. Neurotically checked email every 5 minutes for the next 2 weeks. 9. Finally got an offer from my top agent of choice. 10. Did a few revisions with my agent. 11. Agent submitted TDD to a select few houses. 12. Got a wonderful offer to purchase from Egmont USA. :D
Which authors have inspired you the most?
Laurie Halse-Anderson, Meg Cabbot, Sarah Zarr, Elizabeth Peters….and many many more.
What non-literary thing inspires you to write?
Music, my obsession with teen dramas on TV, my kids, random billboards, etc.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Bree!!
You are so welcome. And thank you for the opportunity!