Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I started out as a reader. Throughout my childhood, I read voraciously. It really was a natural progression to become a writer, but I didn’t know any writers when I was growing up. After I graduated college, I learned about MFA programs and decided to take a fiction course. That was really the beginning, but my lifelong affair with books began as soon as I learned to read.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
I have two young children, so I have to play a lot of mind tricks to get to the page each day. Over the years, I’ve become a morning person. Some days I get up earlier than my family to get to my desk. Other days, I write as soon as the kids are off to school. I used to write at night. Now I can barely stay awake past 10 pm!
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?
I write longhand in a notebook or I use a laptop. It really doesn’t matter. I prefer libraries, but I can also get it done at home or in a coffee shop. I really don’t have time to be picky about my writing environment these days. I do wear noise cancelling headphones, however. I don’t like interruptions once I get started.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
My favorite part about writing is the act of imagination. I love making things up. It is probably why I prefer fiction over nonfiction. My least favorite part is that it takes a long time to finish a book. I am a slow writer. I wish I could write faster, but I can’t.
How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?
The idea for my first book Wench came while I was reading a biography of W.E.B. DuBois. I discovered that DuBois had taught at Wilberforce University in Ohio, a school that had once been a resort where slave owners frequently vacationed with their enslaved mistress. I was shocked, and I could not stop thinking about it. The idea for my second novel Balm was a bit more organic. I did not want to write a sequel to Wench, but I did want to explore the next chapter of history: the Civil War era.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
I use social media a lot. I also travel frequently and speak at libraries and universities.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
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My most recent novel Balm just came out in paperback this February 2016. It is a novel about people rebuilding their lives at the end of the Civil War. Set in Chicago, it tells of two women with magical powers who share a love for healing. It is a meditative historical novel about the resilience of the American spirit.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
I’m at the very beginning of a new project. It is very different for me because it is set in the 1970s.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
Don’t worry about comparing yourself to other writers. There is a story in your heart that is yours to tell. Nobody else can tell it. Take it one page at a time, and tell it the best way you know how. Just have fun!
Thank you, Dolen!
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