Please welcome my special guest, D.L. Reynolds. Reynolds is the author of the YA Christian fantasy, Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe, the first book in this his new series for fans of fantasy and adventure fiction. I had the pleasure of reviewing his book last week. You can read my review here. I hope you'll enjoy the interview!
About the book:
Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe is the first book in the Guardian series. The main characters are a group of teenage Guardian Angels, well, Guardian Angels “in training” led by Darla Jade a feisty thirteen year-old girl. They go on a fantastic journey to retrieve the Sacred Light and the Staff of Calling in order to bring Striker back and stop the evil army being created by Johnny and his Demons intent on destroying all that is good.
Congratulations on the publication of your young adult novel, Darla Jade and the Balance of the Universe. What makes you passionate about writing for children?
The media has swayed too far from good values and moral ethics. Most popular stories today forsake solid values and instead emphasize bad messages and poor choices by dressing them up to look like fun.
In part, the Christian market has brought some of this on themselves by not supplying the stories that kids want to read. Unless we capture their interest, they won’t read our books.
I hope to bridge that gap with the Guardians, by supplying the same type of darkness and fantastic adventures in my stories that are popular today. Then I sprinkle it with the light and goodness as a message that we need to hear.
Let’s work together to bring back good values that our children can carry with them for the rest of their life.
We can make a difference!
Are you a fantasy author or do you also dabble in other genres?
I’m a Jack of all Trades…
• I am an award winning poet.
• I am an award winning writer of short stories and other types.
• I have a children’s picture book in publication that should be on the market early in 2012, (Map Time, book One of the Sidewalk Chalk Series).
• I am a script writer, and actor along with other areas in the film industry.
Tell us something about your protagonist, Darla Jade. What kind of girl is she and why do you think young readers will love her?
Darla is a typical teenager. Even though she’s in Heaven, she’s still the same person she was before. Darla struggles with the same issues every teenage girl faces and feels, like boys and onward. However, in Heaven she doesn’t get away with it, Demerits! She has to accept her sins and make them right or suffer the consequences. This is the get out of jail free card that we all can use. Make things right by doing goodness and facing up to your wrong doing. Then the slate is clean again!
Even though things may seem too scary or un-doable at times, Darla Jade has tenacity and faith in herself, her friends and God. Darla Jade and the Guardians are a group of underdogs, who’s capabilities fall substantially short of their needs. But they stick together “no matter what”. The reader will see themselves in this adventure as a Guardian, a personal member of the team. They will face insurmountable obstacles along with the Guardians. In doing so, they will see that the challenges in life can be overcome though hard work, goodness and having faith. Face the challenge with your fellow Guardians, and the mountain becomes a pebble on your path toward victory!
Tell us about the bad guys, too!
There’s some interesting twists on the Bad Guys in this adventure and the upcoming novels. Can you say… I didn’t see that coming!
Johnny was pulled from the grave the same night as Darla Jade and he’s the mastermind behind taking over the Balance of the Universe. As you well know, most Demons are not too smart, but Johnny has brains. He sets up alliances with some very powerful, and some not so powerful Demons and his plan is launched by a team of evil that clashes with the Guardians every chance they get.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing fantasy?
For me the most challenging part is staying focused on finishing a single adventure. I have so many ideas that it’s hard to work on “only one”. However, that has its advantages, 4 of the series novels have been completely outlined. This is important, because it allows me to foreshadow significant plots and twists in future books, while still wrapping up an adventure per novel. There are foreshadows in book one that will play out in the final novel, Darla Jade and the Prophet.
I also have issues finding the time to write and deciding when it’s “good enough” to quit editing.
How long did it take you to write the novel?
About a year, the first draft was 130,000 words. After focus group readings, feedback, and my editing, I ended up with about 85,000 words. Yeah… it was tough to cut a full novel out, but I’d rather have a good story. It’s important to test your work outside your family, and listen to what people suggest.
My novel was stalled for two-years waiting on an editor at Simon and Schuster to publish it. They never came through, so I took it back and went elsewhere. That means this novel has been in the works for nearly four-years.
Do you do school visits? Do you have any events coming up?
My book is hot off the press (Nov 11th), so I’m still setting up a lot of stuff. I will be speaking at schools, churches and other venues. I will be conducting book signings and stocking the book in many bookstores. I also have several friends across the globe, who are going to launch the book in their countries and start word of mouth advertising.
What is your writing schedule like? Are you disciplined?
My schedule is tough. I spend 8 -12 hours a day on a computer for my job and then write after I get off work. This is hard on my eyes… and tiring. However, I work through weekends (when not doing movies), and use vacations to write. In fact, I am on vacation now writing a new novel. However, I could be more disciplined.
What do you do when the words ‘just won’t come out’? Do you stay and force it until something begins happening on the page?
No, I draft outlines and several supporting documents in parallel when I write. I always go back and forth between them and the story, as I write. It’s pretty unusual for me to not find the words. On the rare occasion when that happens, I drop back and edit earlier writing, and then I’m back on track with the story. I am more likely to want to start a new story… and then the old one goes on the back shelf!
Do you have any tips for aspiring children’s authors?
Yes, do your first run through as a draft and resist the urge to edit until you’re done. Stick to your story’s “core concept,” but test it with non-family readers. If several say the same thing, listen to them. I didn’t do everything they suggested, but I did pay more attention, and when several readers said the same thing, then in many cases implemented their suggestions.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
This isn’t going to be easy, but you can see your book published. More than anything “don’t quit”. You must push hard “at every step in the process”, nobody else is going to do it for you. Don’t accept anything but the best from yourself and everyone who participates in the process.
Some points to remember:
Every writer starts with a first word.
Every writer thinks their writing isn’t good enough.
Every writer thinks the task is too big.
The published writer takes it one word at a time.
Then next thing you know… people are reading your book, and liking it!
Causes Mayra Calvani Supports
World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary