Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My name is Donna Dillon. I am an author/illustrator of five published works. A YA series called The Snake Pit: Jr. High Can Be Torture and Return to the Snake Pit: Saving Hargrove, both of which deal with bullying in the public school system. Through The Gloaming is a YA novel about a young man who lived a very selfish life. He falls through the ice and winds up in the Gloaming, the twilight through which everyone must pass to get to the other side. His gloaming is dark and dismal due to how he lived his life and he is given a chance to go back and change is life,and his gloaming, for good. My first children’s book is called Why Did It Have To Rain Today? and is about a young boy whose plans get ruined by a rainstorm. His mother encourages him to read a book while he waits for the weather to clear and he discovers a whole adventure watiting for him in the pages of those books. My second children’s book, Christmas Child, is a story about a woman disenchanted with the holidays but finds renewed Christmas spirit with the help of an unselfish little boy.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
I actually wrote Christmas Child in 1987, nearly 25 years before it was published as a children’s book. I wrote it on a whim for the Canadian National Bedtime Story competition where it came in 3rd place. I like to write in verse for children, I think it is fun and keeps them interested.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write at night, after eveyone else in the house goes to sleep. I am also a fan of M&Ms. They are my writing partner, and a surefire cure for writer’s block. I am an author/illustrator and I have ADHD, so if I’m writing, I can’t wait to get to illustrating, and if I’m illustrating, I can’t wait to get back to wriing. I have to force myself to finish one project before a start another, otherwise I will have a hundred unfinished projects, and nothing to show for it. This is also why I have over 100 college credit hours, and no degree.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Stephen King has been my hero since I was a kid. I love everything he writes. I have very eclectic tastes in books. I read Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, as well as the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent series. If it is an interesting story, I will stick with it. I am not generally a romance reader, although I have found some Indie authors who are definitely turning my head in that direction.
What are you working on now?
My latest work is The Dreamcatcher Chronicles: Little Girl Lost. It tells the story of Delilah, a teenager who has a special gift, she can see what people are dreaming. Her whole life changes when she taps into the mind of a serial killer. I am not sure where the idea came for this, it’s just one of those things that happen when you least expect it. When I was younger, I used to love to write in the horror/thriller genre. Once I had children, I wrote for them. Now that the kids are older, I figured I would give that genre a shot and have been having fun getting back into it again. It is very intimidating jumping genres after writing for YA for so long, but I think i’m up for the challenge.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have not gotten a handle on promotion yet. I am still trying out new ways to promote my work and it is frustrating. This year I am going with paid advertising and entering some contests. We’ll see how that works out.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Surround yourself with people who know the business. There are facebook group full of illustrator, formatters, editors, cover designers , you name it, you’ll find someone who knows something you don’t. When I first published The Snake Pit, it was a mess. I knew nothing about formatting, or editing but found great groups full of great people who all pitched in and taught me everything I needed to know.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
You cannot edit your own work. More often, than not, your mind will see what you intended to write, not what you wrote. I don’t care how grammar-savvy you think you are, hand it off to fresh eyes. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.
What are you reading now?
I just finished reading the Divergent series. Taking a break from starting anything new until I finish my own work in progress.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Dreamcatcher is almost finished. Once that goes to edit, I will start working on the first of two children’s books that need illustrating, Who AM I? and What AM I? which are rhyming riddle books. Then it’s on to the third and last installment of the Snake Pit series and after that the second installment of the Dreamcatcher series. I have enough work to keep me busy for a good while.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Oh goodness, to narrow it down to one book would be impossible. I love the Harry Potter series, Of Mice and Men, and Roots. But, I think my favorite book of all time would have to be Stephen King’s The Stand. I just could not put it down.