Q & A with Doranna Durgin

Recently, Doranna Durgin, author of numberous novels, including Impressions, one of the latest books based on the Angel TV show, took time from her busy schedule to answer our interview questions!

1. How do you come up with the ideas for your stories? In other words, how do the muses work for you?

Any number of ways. I find dreams to be a useful resource, and have based entire books on them (but only because my dreams often conveniently come complete with plot, theme, and various characters). The muse is also really active in that twilight zone between sleep and waking, especially as regards problem-solving in existing projects. Other than that, I'm always finding things in real life that provoke questions in me--I see something about this or that event in the media and wonder what would it be like if..? The muse is never off-duty.

2. Do you have a special routine when you're writing, or can you just sit down at a computer and start typing?

My work patterns change with the seasons (as I fit the rest of life's chores around weather and sunlight). I prefer to be writing to music (soundtracks, mainly) but remain flexible about that and just about anything else. I need access to my resource material and a place to type, and that's about it--though I can't write with television in the background, whether it's in the same room or not. I used to have stronger patterns, but a batch of tight deadlines has taught me to just write.

3. Who are your literary influences?

Will James, Walter Farley, CS Lewis... (I got started young!) Katherine Kurtz was an important later influence, though I don't think it actually shows in my work.

4. Generally how long does it take you to write an average novel? How many different revisions do you usually go through?

It depends on the project--the nature of it and the length. But let's go for an average 100K novel with no dramatic life-interruptions: 3 months for first draft, another week or two for second draft, a gap while first readers have at it, and another week for polishing. Ideally I'd like a gap between second draft and polishing--so my eye is fresher--but it doesn't always happen that way.

5. How do you deal with writers-block?

I avoid it.

Seriously, to me there's not really any such thing, not in that mysterious, inexplicable, hush-voiced way of referring to it. If my muse gets stubborn, there's one of a couple things going on: I'm going in the wrong direction with the story and I need to re-approach it (after which the muse sighs loudly and says, "Finally! What took you so long!") or there's something going on in my life that's so stressful that I don't have the emotional energy to write. When that passes, then the urge to write returns (and it's amazing how deadlines can inspire you to work through such moments in the first place). I think the whole writer's block problem comes in when people don't recognize certain circumstances as a legitimate reason to either reassess the WIP or that it's just plain not a great time to write. At the same time, you have to give writing enough of a priority so it doesn't get derailed by everyday life. It's a balance.

6. Out of everything you've written, which would you say is your favorite; which gives you the most satisfaction of a job-well-done?

Aiieee! That's like asking a mother to choose between her children! They all have their strengths and weaknesses and favorite pieces... I suppose A Feral Darkness, because I think it comes the closest to having what was in my head put down on paper.

7. Do you have a favorite character that you've created?

Oh, Dun Lady's Jess. No question! She's like an old friend.

8. What do you think makes a good fantasy author?

The ability to tell the same kind of gripping stories about engaging characters that any author must tell, using a unique and intriguing (but understandable) setting or world ruleset. Worldbuilding is paramount...but also can't overwhelm the characters. One of those tough balances...

9. Can you tell us what you're currently working on and when you expect it will be available in bookstores?

Currently, Khamsin's Heir (a Mage Knight book) and Exception to the Rules, both of which will be available next summer. (Shameless plug: More info on my web page, www.doranna.net.)

10. Random quote or piece of advice you'd like to share to end this with?

  • Part 1: Enjoy!
  • Part 2: If you're not, change something so you can then
  • Part 3: Enjoy!

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