ABK: Tell us a little about yourself to start off.
SD: I'm a former lab rat turned high school science teacher turned stay-at-home-mom who decided to escape the madness by diving into her first love: fiction. Since making that decision in 2007, I've written seven novels (and written large chunks--about 1/3-1/2 of two more), four novellas (and another that is almost finished), and more short stories than I care to count (four of which have gone on to be published). All told, not including re-writes, it works out to about 800,000 words.
SD: Of mine? Uhhhh...this is like picking a favorite kid and I only have two of those to choose from. It honestly changes almost daily, but for today, I'll go with Ever, the heroine of Badlands. Mainly because of her complete balls-out, honest approach to life (okay, and her bad-assery). The only time she falters is when the hero manages to touch on the love thing. She was a bit of (*cough* okay, a major) man-hater prior to him, so I loved watching her try to build her walls back up as they crumbled.
ABK: Same question as above, but for your favorite Antagonist.
SD: My favorite antagonist is actually from one of my (as of yet) unpublished young adult novels. His name is Ian Donnelly, and he's an Irish mob boss. There's a scene that I still remember writing where the hero is in a room with him. Donnelly's holding a letter opener, and the hero can't stop watching the way the light gleams on the edge of its blade. For me, that simple act with a less-than-lethal weapon still freaking the hero out showed in really simple terms just how dangerous Donnelly was. And he was a lot of fun to write.
ABK: Was there one thing in particular that got you started in the Romance genre?
SD: A kick in the ass...or ten. The first novel I ever wrote was a romance, but then I moved to YA for a couple years. It took people pushing me to try something different to attempt to tackle romance again. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I can write other things too.
ABK: What inspired you to write your first novel(la) (published or unpublished)? What got you started?
SD: The first novel I ever finished was started for NaNoWriMo 2007. Prior to that, I'd been slogging through a story that I just couldn't seem to make happen. I decided I needed a break and shelved it for November. Looking back, I know there was something that inspired it, but now I couldn't tell you what exactly. That story (which I promised one of my early readers I would go back and re-write to try and get it published--it's her favorite of mine) was about the island of Avalon and the heir to Arthur's throne and all sorts of magic and mayhem, oh, and dragons.
ABK: What is the most difficult part of the novel(la) writing process for you?
SD: I have a hell of a time with endings. Every time I get close to the end of a draft, my writing feels like it slows down. It's completely a mental block, because the drafting is the fun part. Once it's over the work part starts. I don't want the fun to end, so I hang onto it for all I'm worth. It drives me batty.
ABK: Tell us about an inspiration that arrived from a strange source.
SD: A strange source? Most of those I haven't written yet, so I don't want to talk about something that won't happen. But one of my favorites regards one of my Paranormal Response Team stories (YA). I was driving (I could even show you exactly what stop light I was at when this happened...and thank goodness I was at a light) when David Cook's song "Lie" came on. It's this sad song about a break-up that's about to happen. Love the song. I'd listened to it dozens of times. That day though, I had this crystal clear image of my main character from Pretty Souls, Elle, trapped in a cage and starving to death. At the time, I was barely thinking series, but that image made me examine the characters. Figuring out how she got in that cage spawned the rest of the series.
ABK: When writing Badlands, your super steamy steampunk, did you find writing your particular alternate history difficult or exhilarating?
SD: I loved writing Badlands as a steampunk (it started out as a space western...which didn't go so well). Reimagining the United States was such a freeing experience. More than any other story I've ever written, Badlands made me feel like I could do anything with my worlds and characters. That story is the one that made me realize I like taking risks (and there are certain things I did with Ever's character that some people still get cranky at me for). To me, I'd rather be true to characters and stories than tropes and conventions, and all of that started with Ever and Badlands.
ABK: What book are you reading right now? Do you think that what you read effects how, what you write?
SD: Please do not look at my GoodReads page because I've been reading a bunch of books for a while now (I had to stop each of them to read something for review and most didn't get picked up again...yet). At the moment, I'm back into Heist Society by Ally Carter. It's a YA caper story. I bought a bunch of stuff when Borders closed and I honestly have no idea what's next on my TBR.
ABK: Promo time! What’s your next book and when will it be released?
SD: My first (sort of) self-published short story came out in October. Forever Summer won the 1 Place for Romance summer contest. They provided cover art and editing, but posting it was all on me, so...I guess I'm officially an indie author now too (kind of). I also have a new holiday short coming in the Evernight holiday anthology Stockings and Suspenders (I don't have a release date on it yet, but I'm assuming early December). My story is called Making the Naughty List and is a follow-up to last year's Yes, Alana, There Is a Santa Claus. In this one, readers actually get to meet Santa, which was fun for me. The story, however, follows a young elf named Daisy who is on a mission from Santa to get a certain Mr. Gage Thomas off the naughty list...by whatever means necessary.
If you'd like to check out my review of Badlands, it's here.