Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Interview with DL King

Almost Wednesday, folks. Which means almost half-way through the week. Woohoo! Let's celebrate by partaking in an interview with a very interesting and fascinating writer, DL King.

Welcome to We Do Write! Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm going to have to quote Alfred Lord Tennyson: "The words 'far, far away' had always a strange charm." Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the wrong era. I think if I had one wish, it would be to have a time machine. Nothing sounds more fabulous than visiting writers like Wilde, Poe, Austen, the Brontes, Stoker, Dickens...I could go on forever.

I'm also fascinated by the origin, meanings, and importance of fairy tales and mythology. I remember writing a paper in college on the significance of the Prometheus myth and how it’s been recycled throughout popular culture (Frankenstein, Jurassic Park, etc.) That was one of my favorite assignments. I think if I wasn't a writer I would be a mythologist or archeologist.

But for now, I am a proud YA and picture book writer currently querying literary agencies for representation.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was about five. I remember writing short stories in elementary school, and one of our homework assignments was to write a story, make a book, and read it to the kindergarteners during storytime. I was enthralled. I also kept a journal all throughout junior high and high school. However, I really started considering a writing career in college, but debated if that was what I really "should" do. When I finally got over that psychological hump, I took the plunge and got involved in SCBWI and a critique group and have been writing seriously for five years.

That's great. What is the name and genre of your manuscript?

The name of my novel is SCARLETTE HOOD and it's a dark, historical YA.

Love the title! Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

It is a retelling of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD set in 18th century France against the historical Beast of Gévaudan "werewolf" attacks (1764-1767). Laced with horror, romance, and gothic undertones this novel explores the dark side of the fairy tale, yet it's grounded in historical reality. It answers the question: "What if Little Red Riding Hood had been a real person?"

I love it already! How did the idea of the story come to you?

Back in January of this year, I was very ill and knew I was going to be spending some hard time in bed and on the couch. I needed some type of artistic distraction besides writing to keep me sane, so I looked into finding cross-stitch patterns. After doing some research, I found some really hip designs and finally decided on the Japanese designer Gera's scene from Little Red Riding Hood.

As I was stitching away, some questions pulsed through my brain: What if LRRH was a real person? Where would she have lived? And if she was real, wouldn't that make an awesome YA premise? My fingers walked their way over to the keyboard, and before I knew it, I came up with a rough outline and notes for a story.

After reading Charles Perrault's version of LRRH, I was shocked to find that his original tale was much darker than the common story we've all grown up with. Told as a cautionary tale warning young women of men's wolfish sexual appetites, this early telling was very moralistic and resulted in a tragic ending for the heroine: The wolf "devoured" her.

I knew I wanted to make my story dark like Perrault's version and also thought the novel would be more interesting if the wolf in the fairy tale was a werewolf. Lo and behold, as I was reading all the different versions of the tale, I found another French version entitled The Grandmother were the wolf was in fact a bzou (werewolf).

So I had my werewolf, knew I wanted to use a dark angle, and set the story in France, but I still wanted to pin down a real setting to use as a backdrop. After a little more digging, I got lucky. After researching werewolf history and mythology, I found out that nearly 60 years after Perrault penned his version of LRRH, (1697) one of the most famous alleged werewolf attacks happened in the south of France.

An unidentified animal known as La Bete, The Beast of Gévaudan, killed almost one hundred people between from 1764-1767 in the Gévaudan province (now the department of Lozère and part of the Haute-Loire department). I knew this would be the perfect setting! So I made the wolf in the original fairy tale The Beast of Gévaudan and wrote the story as if Little Red Riding Hood might have really happened in history.

Holy researching, Batman! I'm blown away. So, do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

Just as it takes an army of stylists to glamorize a celebrity, so it takes a legion of literary artists to beautify a book.

I'm a firm believer in critique groups/partners and beta readers. Writing a novel is like tightrope walking blind folded. You can't trust yourself to see your project clearly and need help getting across and keeping on track.

That's an excellent analogy. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part of writing is preparing to write. I think most forms of writers block happen because we haven't prepared to come to the keyboard yet. Doing your outlining, plotting, daydreaming, and brainstorming before coming to the computer is key. Everytime I sit down I want to be lost in the process of raw creation of words, emotions, and images and not have to think about the "prep work."

Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Music. And it's usually blasting. It is not uncommon that I will think of the scene I'm about to write, pick out a song to match its tone, and play it over and over until I've fleshed it out perfectly. And when I have my earbuds in, everyone knows that they are not to disturb me or they will suffer my werewolf bite. ;)

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: cartwheel, snoring, and electricity.

Melvin got zapped by a lightening bolt, and the shock of electricity made him do 500 back flips and a cartwheel, but now he's sound asleep and snoring after his trip to the hospital.

Excellent sentence! Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?

Dennis Foley my writing instructor and mentor, my on-call-all-purpose historical advisor John Bladek, Kathy Dunnehoff my screenwriting instructor, my mom, and my beta readers: Logan, Wendy, Tessa. And Coley for your undying support! You all rock!

And finally, where can people find you online?

Feel free to stalk me and add me here:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dlkingwriter
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/DL-King/100001612312924
Blogger: http://dlkingwriter.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4349663-d-l-king

Thank you so much for chatting with us. I look forward to seeing your book on the book store shelves someday soon.


Ruth Horowitz said...

I enjoyed reading this. Good luck with the book!

*-- D. L. K i n g --* said...

Ruth: Thanks for your support and well wishes!

Dorothy: Thanks for doing the interview. These were great questions, and I had a lot of fun answering them. You are blogtastic!

GMR said...

Wow...that's a lifetime of writing...definitely curious to see what it pans out to. The book description is certainly intriguing; isn't it funny how inspiration comes from so many places? Thanks for sharing ladies! Wishing you much success in your future endeavors...

Slushpile Slut said...

Great interview Dorothy! D.L. does indeed rock and Scarlette Hood will be on my reading list once its published :)

Eileen Schuh: said...

A lovely interview as always, Dorothy. Intriguing research, DL King. Combining facts and fiction with a vivid imagination is so much fun!

You go, girl. Good luck with Scarlette Hood.

Eileen Schuh, Author
Schrodinger's Cat

John Bladek said...

I've watched Scarlette Hood develop from the beginning, and it's gong to be awesome. Everyone's intrigue by the concept, and they should be. D.L. is a fantastic talent.

*-- D. L. K i n g --* said...

Thank you so so SO much for all your comments, everyone!

Regina said...

This is a great post and awesome interview with DL. Thank you.

Paul Joseph said...

You both did a fantastic job with this interview. It flowed so well, and you included so much. It was very real for me, almost as if I was watching a TV talk show.