Today’s guest on my blog is Dillon Watson, whose novels Keile’s Chance and Back to Blue I enjoyed very much. Her newest romance novel, Full Circle, has just been published, so I took the opportunity to find out more about it.
Let’s start with some warm-up questions:
Chocolate or cookies?
Chocolate cookies with chocolate chips.
E-books or paperbacks?
E-books. They’re easier to read on the bus and in meetings, and you can’t beat them for traveling. However I buy paper copies of the ones I know I’m going to want to reread.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
I have to confess I’m the only non-trekkie in my family and that I slept through the second Star Wars movie. I guess I should add I haven’t seen any of the newer Star Wars movies. But I am a huge fan of Fletcher DeLancey’s Star Trek Voyager fanfic series despite having never seen a single episode.
Beach or mountains?
Tough. I like the idea of lounging at the beach, but I think I love to look at mountains more. That’s look, not climb.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work at a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). My team ensures our regional transportation plans meet conformity standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I’m also an avid reader. Because of a medical condition, I exercise regulary, usually in the morning before work. I also enjoy putting together Nanoblock building sets and watching reruns of Castle, NCIS, Law and Order: SVU and Bones. And playing many different versions of mahjongg on my iPad.
Please tell us about your journey in becoming a published writer. What challenges did you face when you published your first book? How did you come to publish with Bella Books?
I didn’t think about publishing until about seven or eight years ago.
I had a couple of stories (non-fanfic) posted on The Royal Academy of Bards and got some good feedback. Then I heard about the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) conference. After attending a number of sessions dedicated to the writing craft and realizing that my favorite writers were humans just like me, I began to think I could be a published writer as well.
I participated in the GCLS’s mentoring program, received excellent feedback, rewrote my novel, and sent Keile’s Chance off to Bella Books. I mainly chose Bella because of the type of books they publish and who their editorial director was. Based on what I heard in some of those GCLS sessions and some of the things she posted, I had the utmost respect for Karin Kallmaker. Bella liked my novel but thought it needed some reworking. I reworked and sent it back, and they said yes. That was the easy part. The hard part was being edited, and by none other than Katherine Forrest! But I managed to survive and write another day.
How did you come up with the idea for Full Circle?
A small kernel came from an episode of CSI: Miami that I saw years ago. The rest came to me organically. I knew I was going to write a romance. I even knew something about each character’s background and that I wanted them to work in the same building. So with that premise, I began writing and 80,000 or so words later, not including the 80,000 words I ditched on the way, a novel was born.
Full Circle is set in Atlanta, the city you live in. What role does that setting play in your novel?
The setting is strictly a backdrop.
What would you say is the most important theme in Full Circle, and what personal meaning does that theme have for you?
The theme is perseverance. The two main characters are working through separate issues, and at the same time, working through issues with having a relationship. That’s something every single person can relate to.
How long did it take you to write Full Circle?
It seems like forever. I’m a very slow writer. Mainly because I edit while I’m writing. I always say my first draft probably is not that much different than the last draft in terms of the story. It’s the words. I tweak, I tweak, I tweak and then I tweak some more. I can say I have gotten better over the years. And how is that for a non-answer?
How do you find enough time to write, even though you have a day job? Any tips for how to be productive as a writer who can’t write full time?
Who says I’m productive? LOL! National Novel Writing Month has done more for my productivity than anything else. For reasons unknown, once I decide I’m going for those 50,000 words, I feel like I have to succeed. That means I come out of November with a decent base to build on.
I’ve also found that exercise really helps with the creativity. While I’m walking, or running, or jumping around to some stupid exercise tape, some part of my brain is still thinking about my story. Then when I sit down to write, I sort of know what I’m going to write. I say “sort of” because thinking about what I’m going to write and what ends up getting written are two totally different things too much of the time.
Let me add that my job is not physically demanding, meaning I’m not totally wiped out at the end of the work day. Except Fridays. I never write on Friday nights.
Your novels Keile’s Chance and Back to Blue are linked by having the main characters of the first book make an appearance in the second novel. Is Full Circle also part of that world?
Full Circle is not part of that world. I’m hoping one of the stories I’m toying with can connect with Sara and Mikaela.
Which scene in Full Circle was hardest for you to write?
One of my main characters suffered a loss when she was young. Writing about her remembrance of that loss had me in tears.
What sort of coffee would Sara and Mikaela, your main characters, order at Starbucks? Black coffee? Soy-sugar-free-non-fat-vanilla latte? Double chocolate chip Frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate sauce? Something else?
Sara wouldn’t go to Starbucks because she’s cheap. Now Mikaela loves coffee, but she’s also worried about putting on weight, so I’d go with the soy-sugar-free-non-fat-vanilla latte.
What projects are you working on right now?
I’m working on the 30th draft of The Secret Unknown. I would classify it as Romantic Intrigue. A woman has to uncover her past after someone tries to kill her. Ideally, I would like to have it come out next year, but no promises.
I also have the beginnings of a romance where two women meet because one of them discovers the dead sister of the other. It’s set in Atlanta and maybe I can work my way to connecting up with Sara and Mikaela. It’s tentatively titled – Trust Not.
Thank you, Dillon, for putting away the Nanoblocks and your writing to answer my questions. I’m looking forward to seeing you again in New Orleans later this year.