Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Author Interview with Donna Weaver, author of A CHANGE OF PLANS.

Donna Weaver is the author of A CHANGE OF PLANS, available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and a number of other places. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook, visit her blog, and check out her book on Goodreads.

Heidi: One thing you're most known for is how much you like Harry Potter. Whenever there's a writing discussion, you'll pop up with an excellent example from one of the HP books. Even though A CHANGE OF PLANS is a very different genre, I bet you were still inspired by HP. What were the top three writing lessons from Harry Potter that help you succeed with A CHANGE OF PLANS?

Donna: lol Am I really most known for that? That makes me smile. Jo has spoiled me for many writers because she's such a master at "things hidden in plain sight". I find myself, now, expecting deeper meaning in little items or snippets. I'm frequently disappointed.

Obviously, I'm not tricksy like our precioussss Jo, but I do try to make sure that when something happens, there's some tie to it later in the story. That's good and bad. When you interweave everything, you have to be careful if you happen to edit it out later, or you can end up with bits and pieces that now have no reference.

Another thing I love is Jo's humor. I'm not funny or witty like she is, but I do try and see the humor in situations. Perhaps the third would be names. Jo's character names frequently tell the reader much about the character--if the reader tales the time to do a little checking. Like Sirius--the dog star? Lupin with its lunar relationships and Remus, one of a pair of brothers who were raised by wolves? I don't always name a character because of the name's meaning, but I do research names and try to find ones that say something about the character--either like Jo did or sometimes I choose a name that is the opposite (almost a mockery) of what the character is like. That last one comes into play in Jori's book, the companion novel to A Change of Plans that I'm editing right now.

Donna's son Dave with a Harry Potter poster

Heidi: That's very cool. I'm going to watch for all of those things.

Another thing you're known for is how encouraging and optimistic you are, both about your own journey and about other writers' challenges. Is that something that comes naturally to you or did that develop as part of your growth as a writer?

Donna: I think my optimism has been a part of me for a long time, perhaps reinforced by the things I was drawn to as a teen and young adult. One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison (who is famous for how many times he failed).

"You only fail when you quit trying."

I'm also all about the nobility that is possible in people. The summer after I graduated from high school the movie Man of La Mancha came out. It spoke to me. Following is a soliloquy by the amazing Peter O'Toole, portraying the author Cervantes in a prison awaiting a hearing before the Spanish Inquisition. In order to save his manuscript from his fellow prisoners, he's performing the story. Cervantes is challenged by one of them that his main character (Don Quixote--the guy famous for chasing after windmills he thinks are dragons--and where that term comes from, I'm sure) is just crazy, refusing to face reality.

That's me, trying to see life as it should be. Our perception controls our reality, so I look for what's right in the world. Because among all that's wrong, there's so much that's right if we'll search for it. That's the treasure in the trash, so to speak, rather than seeking treasure where there's only trash.

Heidi: That's such a cool world view. I love that! So how did that optimism come to manifest itself in writing?

Donna: Except for the pirates and the scumbag fiancé, everyone in A Change of Plans is a decent person. Even Jori, who is a real woman user in the beginning, is better than he thinks. I don't know if positive energy follows you around, but I don't see a lot of the ugly stuff I hear people talking about. I'm not speaking of the news; there's plenty of nasty stuff out there. I'm talking about my neighborhood, my congregation.

Heidi: With what a fan you are of Harry Potter, one might expect fantasy to be your favorite genre, yet your book is a romance. What do you typically read, and what drew you to writing romance?

Donna: You know, it's really Harry who sucked me into fantasy. I was a diehard SciFi elitist for years. I did start reading Terry Brooks when my oldest son discovered the Shannara series, but SciFi was my fave. I've been a romance fan since I was a young teen and started reading my mother's gothic romances. I do prefer a romance to have more than just the romance at its core, though I enjoy those once in a while, too.  A romantic element really ups the stakes for the main characters. When I decided to write A Change of Plans, I wanted to put in things I like. That's why there's a cruise (I LOVE cruising), karate (I'm a black belt), piano (I wish I could play and used to fantasize about it), Power Metal (my sons have a band), tropical islands (I love Hawaii and I lived in the Philippines for two years as a teen), and Montana (I spent a couple of summers with my aunt in northern Wyoming).

Heidi: And after all that, what brought you to emphasize writing as opposed to music, art, or any other creative endeavor?

Donna: I've done lots of different creative things, though I'm not particularly good at them. Maybe if I'd devoted the time to them that I do to writing, I might have. I've dabbled at painting--my house is full of wall murals. I've got two artist sons (I've attached a picture the oldest did for his senior project before he graduated from college in art, and a couple of shots from our mural room.) If you notice the wall behind me holding A Change of Plans the first time, I painted that.
A painting by Donna's son (apparently he got the drawing gene).

A painting by Donna's son Dave, who just graduated from art school.
But look at that wall! Donna painted that! She saved some of the drawing gene for herself!

Heidi: Thanks for this interview! Here's the final question: What one thing do you most comes out of A CHANGE OF PLANS, both for your readers and for yourself?

Donna: First and foremost that they're entertained, I guess, but I would hope that the story touches them in some way. It's interesting with some of the feedback I've received about the story making readers cry--and what caused the crying. They've all been things that go back to that particular reader's personal history, something in the story that touched them. And they were all unique things, not necessarily something that happened in the book at all. That's pretty cool.