Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Author Spotlight - Denise Deegan

First of all, I wanted to let Nas Dean know she's the winner of Soraya Lane's e-book!
Congratulations, Nas - we'll be in touch.

Today we have YA author Denise Deegan joining the Minxes. Denise and I had a great time this summer when we went to the RNA conference sitting in the back while Jane Travers valiantly drove, and Ruth Long expertly navigated. We threw sweets around in the back, and asked 'Are we there yet?' I went to the launch of the third of Denise's Butterfly novels- And Actually - last week, and discovered that not only is she great fun to go to conference with - but she's also an author with a huge fan following - many of whom made the launch and adore her writing. So much so, that yesterday she hit #5 in the children's bestsellers lists.

Now here she is answering some serious minxy questions:

What is your writing process?
I write when the kids are at school. I don't have a set place. I move around with my laptop. Usually, I follow the sun. I don't write at weekends. I think it's good to get away from the computer and see what ideas come by themselves. Some of my best dialogue and ideas come when I'm out for a walk, in bed, in the shower.
In terms of how I approach a book, each one has been different. Sometimes, I start with a character and a dilemma and have no idea where I'm going. Sometimes, I know the entire plot but then the characters take over and tell me what to do. With the Butterfly Novels, it all started with a dialogue that entered my head. It was a sixteen-year-old girl who was giving her dad a hard time. She was angry and sarcastic but also vulnerable. Alex Newman entered my head and wouldn't leave. Then came her friends, Sarah and Rachel. I never planned to write a book about a teenager. Now I've written three, one from a different point of view. It's been an amazing experience. And I would recommend anyone to listen to whatever voices come your way.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
I have the opposite problem. I keep at it too much. I gave up running a PR business to write novels. I've always felt I should work just as hard. But it doesn't work like that with fiction. I have to continually remind myself to leave the computer - take a walk, go for a swim, have a shower... so that the good ideas keep coming and so I don't find myself wandering my characters down blind alleys.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Not deliberately. I have a bad back and a dog. The bad back means I do pilates every morning, religiously. I also try to swim about twice a week to stop my back stiffening up. And the dog? The kids are supposed to walk him. But do anyone's kids walk the dog?

Do you believe in writer's block?
Oh yes! For me, it's a sign that I need a break from writing. It happens when I over-think it all.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
Not an actual incident, but definitely experiences. The big one that comes to mind is a very scary time when my daughter was seriously ill in hospital and we didn't know what was wrong. The bizarre thing was, I'd just started a book about a single mum who's little boy gets sick. When it happened my daughter, weeks into writing the book, I felt a bit freaked. As if life had imitated art. As if I'd caused it. When my daughter, thankfully, got better, I was a changed person. I couldn't not use what I'd learned. You can't erase such a traumatic experience. And it wouldn't make sense to. 

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
There's noooo moneeey. And I never get bored.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Ever since I started writing YA, it's been amazing. Traditional media has become so less important. It's all about social media. My life has changed as a result. For the better. Twitter is such an exciting place to be. I've made so many real friends and had so many experiences (including a road trip to the RNA conference) that I would never otherwise have had. I am on Facebook and have a Facebook fan page. That's the great thing about modern technology. Readers have easy access to writers. They can ask us anything. They can chat about the books with us. It's great for them and it's great for us. I run competitions. I show my fans the book covers before the books are in the shops. I give them sample chapters. I try to give them something more.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
NEVER rely solely on your publisher to do it. That was something I learned on my first book. In a way, I'm lucky; I have a media background. That, however, is becoming less important with the advent of social media - which is so easy. It's as much about enjoying yourself, letting your character show and giving back as it is about full-on promotion - which doesn't work anyway on social media - it just turns people off.

What did you learn while writing this book?
The importance of a good editor. It's something I already knew as my editor really inspired my second book in the series. But with this book, 'And Actually...' it was really striking what an editor can add. My editor, Ciara Doorley gave me two ideas which didn't seem huge at the time but which transformed the book.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Seeing it literally transform as I edited it.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s idea of a romantic date be?
Well, Rachel, the heroine of the third Butterfly Novel, is very much helped by nature in the book. She would like a picnic in the mountains with her boyfriend Mark. She's young so she'd like the works - a proper picnic hamper, a rug that isn't prickly, but most importantly, Marcus Delaneyus. (He has a thing about the Romans.)
 When I moved to Strandbrook College, I met Alex and Sarah. They treated me like I was normal. A human being. They actually liked me - though it took a while for me to trust that. I've never told them about my life before I met them. That shame can stay in the past. Weird thing is, they think I'm the strong one. The one with all the answers. The guru. When I'm offered a part on a TV show, they think it's all my dreams come true. And it is. Except that it'll bring me face-to-face with someone from my past - and memories I've kept buried. But I've changed. And I'm sure Rebecca has too. Whatever happens, there's no way I'm going to let my past destroy my future.
And Actually is available in bookshops and also from Amazon Uk, and
There's a permanent party going on (it's busy!) at Denise's facebook page, and she's a tweetaholic @denisedeegan.
Thanks for going minxy for the day, Denise!


Romy Sommer said...

Denise - congratulations on your book launch, and so excited to hear about your fan following!

My best ideas usually come to me while I'm in the bath too. Bubbles help!

Maya Blake said...

What an intriguing blurb, Denise! And that cover makes green with envy! Thanks for a wonderful spotlight :)

Sri Pammi said...

Congrats on your book launch, Denise...and wow, I'm totally sucked in by that blurb, and curious to know what happened in the past and who Rebecca is...

Thanx for visiting the minxes today!!