In between running around like a madman these past couple of weeks, I caught up with Danielle E. Shipley to ask her some questions about writering and her latest book. So what have you got to say for yourself Danielle, eh? Eh?
This is book 6 in The Wilderhark Tales. So that’s where we are as readers, but what about you as a writer – you must be at least one book ahead in your mind?
Always one jump ahead, Disney Aladdin-style! I’ll be spending at least the first part of Camp NaNoWriMo (the spring/summer version of National Novel Writing Month) in April getting a collection of shorter Wilderhark pieces into publishable shape for Book 6.5 of the series – “The Sky-Child (and other stories)”. That will provide some additional context for how it all ends in Book 7. And I’m putting you all on notice right now: There will be heartwreck. …which may or may not be an actual word, but nonetheless describes Book 7 all too aptly.
People might assume that by book six, you’ve got this whole book writing thing down. What specific challenges did book 6 provide?
Every new story is its own beast – some of them even more beastly than others. Keeping everything straight in “The Surrogate Sea” was tricky, because the story isn’t straight. It twists and tangles all over the place, with a number of motivations in direct conflict with one another, and characters making their moves at supernatural speed. I had to keep a careful watch on the choreography of events to avoid a mess of implausible plot holes, and couldn’t turn my back on anyone for long, or they’d run smack into a corner there was no writing them out of. And then one of the main characters had to go and— well, I won’t tell you what she did, but let’s just say it left a lot of us pretty rattled.
Do you have an end point in mind for The Wilderhark Tales, or will it continue as long as your funny ole brain comes up with ideas?
There’s a definite end for the main series in Book 7, though it’s not the last you’ll see of the characters by a long shot. For one thing, see Exhibit A. For another, I’ve got legendary plans for someone who won’t be properly introduced until the last book, and as for the world as a whole… I’m still toying with ideas for down the road. Even a firm “The End” only means the end of so much. There’s always more story out there, somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
Where do you keep the collected works of Danielle E. Shipley in your home? Special display cabinet? Glass case protected by laser beams? A shrine?
Secreted behind a framed print of a mysterious woman attended by ravens and wolves on decrepit castle grounds. …No, wait, that’s my baby nephew’s room. The Shipley section of our personal library is duplicated on both my bookcase and my parents’, with Wilderhark Tales, my debut novel, and various anthologies in a steadily expanding row. Looking at the parade of spines is both gratifying and an obvious testament to my inclination toward shades of blue.
Any other projects in the works you can give us a teaser for?
Next on the publishing docket: The refugees of Skycastle survived the end of the world only to fall prey to the dreaded Lord of Wings. Together with an assassin princess, a young man gone mad with missing memories must venture into the monster’s mechanized fortress to vanquish him once and for all. But the threat against Skycastle takes a most unexpected shape, forcing both princess and madman to brave the pain of the pasts that left them broken.
“A Mind Prone to Wander”, coming this summer! It will be my third short story included in a Xchyler Publishing anthology, and my first go at Steampunking a fairytale, so I’m pretty darn excited.
You’ve published or been featured in several books now. How does the reality of the position you’re in now compare to how you imagined, all the way back before The Swan Prince?
Oh, gosh, not counting some charity anthologies from a few years back, we’re at 10 books out in the world since the end of May, 2013. That’s… wow. I think I underestimated not only how fast I would move on my own (I’m a machine! Somebody stop me!), but how many doors would open to me through independent publishing houses right when I’d determined to take my career by the horns.
My past self being more optimistic than realistic, she figured I’d have more riches and fame already. And I mean, fatter royalty checks and exploding popularity still have their appeal, but in lieu of that, I’m happy with the work I’m getting out there, and my heart’s been touched time and again by some of the reactions I’ve gotten from readers. That’s worth a lot.
I also probably trusted me to know how to balance work and leisure time better, by now. That’s cute, Past Danielle. Downright adorable.
Does that feeling of holding your latest book in your hands in print form ever get old?
Never. Stroking, smiling, and the sniffing of pages happens every time a new title arrives in the mail. That reliable high is part of the reason I stick with this authorial nonsense through thick and thin.
When was the last time you read your earlier books? Have you ever read them back after all the editing/proofing/launching has been done?
By the time I’ve gone through proofread number gazillion-and-nine with a Wilderhark Tale, I am heartily sick of looking at the text. I recently managed a brief glimpse back at the first few chapters of “The Swan Prince” – (heh-hey! That only took almost two years!) – but since each book of the series is an extension of the ones that came before, part of me is still wailing, “Too soon!” I think it may be different once I’ve had some closure time after Book 7’s left the nest. ‘Til then… time to sicken myself over the perfecting of the next book!