Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Author Interview ~ Deanndra Hall

Deanndra Hall writes stories in a world she knows well, with characters that are as fun, kinky, and crazy as she is. Although she’s an international bestseller, she works and lives in far western Kentucky with her partner of 30+ years and three crazy little dogs. She's written for business, industry, religious institutions, non-profits, and owned her own graphic design business, as well as working as a fiber and textile artist. Her personal best was 26,000 words in one day, but she advises against that - it took her the next three days to pry her swollen eyes open. When she's not writing, she can be found working out at the local gym, hiking, kayaking, reading (of course), or working on a healthy recipe. And wherever she is, chocolate is sure to be nearby.


Do you Google yourself? 
I did - once. I was checking to make sure my phone number didn’t show up on the internet! And I’m pretty sure there’s no Wikipedia page set up for me, although if anyone wants to do that, please make me a descendent of the Vikings or some kind of magician. Thanks. 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
I’ve given up so much already that there’s not much left. People ask me if I write so hard and fast, when do I sleep? My answer has always been, “Not much and not often.” So yeah, I’d give up even more sleep to be a better writer, a more prolific writer, and a more successful writer. 

What is your favorite childhood book? 
The first two volumes of the 1961 Childcraft. They’re full of old stories and poems, and I memorized several of them when I was a preschooler. When I inherited the set from my grandmother, the first book was missing. I paid over $100 on eBay to get a copy because it was such a part of my childhood. Other than some textbooks, it’s the most expensive book I own. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? 
Finding a stopping point so I can get some sleep. I’d happily write 24 hours a day if I could. 

What did you edit out of Laying a Foundation? 
I edited out a couple of role-playing scenes between Tony and Nikki, and I also edited out some things that wound up in the other three books. I didn’t know I was going to write a series when I started writing that book, so I pulled some of the things with Vic, Steve, and Kelly, and used them later. 

What ís the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? 
Making sure the voice is authentic. We are a little different: He’s the kind who thinks love and sex are the same thing, and I’m the kind who knows they’re very different. In that respect, I’m more male-thinking than a lot of women. But it’s still hard. An author friend read one of my early books and said, “Guys would never say boobs!” I had to learn to use “tits,” and that’s a word I really don’t like very much, although I don’t know why. 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? 
You mean that I never intend to publish? None. 
If you mean works in progress, over 50. Yes, I said 50. They’re scheduled to come out, one every other month, through 2023. And that’s just the ones I know about now. There’ll be more, trust me. I get a new idea every few days. 

What does literary success look like to you? 
For my books to pay for themselves (as in the production and publication). For readers to love them. And to know I’ve done a great job of writing fun characters and stories that touch my readers’ hearts. 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? 
My mother is the most hypercritical person on the planet. She’s broken me down throughout my life with her words. I know the power they can have, especially when used irresponsibly. That’s the reason I never write about breath play or water sports in my BDSM writing. I refuse to give people fodder that could cause them to get hurt out of ignorance. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Advertising. This is a business, and I treat it like one. 

Does a big ego help or hurt writers? 
It’ll kill you. Ego is one thing; confidence is completely different. I have complete confidence in my writing ability, but I’m also smart enough to know that for every “brilliant” book I write, there are ten more out there that are better. And that’s the truth. 

What is your writing Kryptonite? 
I cannot tell a lie - Game of Thrones. That and Facebook - it’s the devil. 

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? 
I do. Deanndra Hall is not my real name, although it is parts of my real name. I did that so when someone called me Deanndra, I’d know they were talking to me! 

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? 
I try to do both. It’s quite the tightrope. I want to give my readers what they want, but I will be true to the story - always. And somehow, I always seem to make it work. 

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? 
They could write textbooks! I suppose they could be a writer if they didn’t feel emotions strongly, but I’m not sure how good their writing would be. 

What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry? 
Honestly, I think it’s people who never made better than a “C” in high school English, and with no college or training, who set themselves up as editors and take money from unsuspecting green authors who don’t know the difference and don’t have the money to hire someone who’s proven. Your editor should always know more than you do. If they don’t, you need a better editor. 

Does writing energize or exhaust you? 
I find it energizing. It’s exhausting to have a story in you and not be able to let it out. 

Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? 
No. I don’t. Unless someone on my ARC team tags me to show me they’ve written one, I avoid them like the plague. 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? 
Sometimes. My fans pick up on them. I’m really big on planting clues that seem like extraneous info until later in the story, and then the reader goes, “Oh, yeah! I remember reading that!” Did that in Laying a Foundation with a certain car. 

What was your hardest scene to write? 
I think it was in One Poor Choice when Bernie was being held as a sex slave. It tore my heart out. I think I actually threw up a couple of times. 

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? 
I’m almost totally intuition. I do, however, do research on elements of my stories that I’m not well-versed in. For instance, I just finished writing a scene where a woman walks up on the guy she’s enamored with while he’s diving at a pool. I know nothing about diving or swimming competitively, so I had to do some research on that. 

What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time? 
I’m active on social media, but that’s because I love my readers and many of them have become personal friends. Otherwise, I’ve pretty much stopped doing online parties, takeovers, things like that. They’re very time-consuming and they don’t yield the results they used to. I’m also cutting back on events. I have none planned for 2018 except some small library events. We’ve learned we don’t build a reader base that way. Instead, I spend a lot of money on the right kind of advertising, and it’s paying off. 

What projects are you working on at the present? Oh, wow, what am I NOT working on? Three or four paranormal series, several stand-alone novels, finishing up the Legacy series, Harper’s Cove series, halfway through the Witch of Endor series, getting ready to start the Moonlight & Moonshine series. And two secret projects I can’t talk about. 

What do your plans for future projects include? More paranormal/sci-fi and a sub-genre that I’m kind of inventing. Can’t wait to bring out the first book! 

How long on average does it take you to write a book? 
I can hammer out a 60,000-word book in a week to ten days, but I don’t. I often switch between books and work on this one for a bit, then that one, then another one. Keeps it fresh and interesting. But a 60,000 book, while it only takes a week or two to write, is in production for six months before it’s released. 

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing? 
I’ve never felt the need to pursue a traditional publisher; I’m 100% self-published. My books are all in both ebook and print. I love the feel of a book in my hand, but ebooks are far more portable. 

What makes your book stand out from the crowd? My books deal with real subjects that happen to people in everyday life, and the characters are real enough that I’ve had people tell me they thought they saw this one or that one in the checkout lane at the store. I also write a lot of characters over the age of 40, and there aren’t many of us who do that. 

What do you think most characterizes your writing? Plain, clear writing with great descriptive language but not a lot of flowery prose. I’m a very plain-spoken person, and my work is very frank and honest. 

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured in your book? 
Yes. The over-40 crowd. I’m very, very committed to using older characters in my books. I have characters of all ages, but I specialize in characters from 40 all the way up to 90. And my age group, the baby boomers, are the largest generation to ever exist in the United States. We’re out there, we’re living happy, healthy, and productive lives, and we’re still interested in romance. 

Are there misconceptions that people have about your book?  
I think people often believe ALL of my books are erotic romances. They’re not. What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn't so? Oh, don’t get me started on the BDSM “experts” out there. I’m in the lifestyle, and believe me, I can tell when I read something if the author has first-hand knowledge or if they’ve been reading other BDSM romances and are just emulating them. It’s very obvious. 

What is the most important thing that people DON'T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know? 
They need to know that you don’t have to have a billionaire, a bad boy biker, or a Dominant to make a good romance. Everyday people can be just as interesting and have sex lives that are just as powerful. 

What inspires you? 
A beautiful sunset. A baby. A candlelight dinner. A mud puddle. A trash heap. Inspiration is everywhere. 

How long have you been writing? 
Um, how old am I? I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first complete story when I was in the third grade, so that would be 49 years. And I never really stopped. 

How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book? 
My books are about everyday people. I have relatives in the construction industry. I have nosy neighbors who gossip. I have grown kids of my own. And we were kinky back when we didn’t know it had a name. My experiences are varied, and so are my books!

 How do you select the names of your characters? 
They kind of select them themselves. I can’t explain it. Nikki had been with me for 12 years before I wrote Laying a Foundation, and her name had always been Nicolette Renee Wilkes. I think I have a lot harder time with the last names than the first names! 

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? 
 I’d probably go back to editing. But I hope that never, NEVER happens! For me, editing was a soul-sucking job, so I’m glad here are other people who enjoy doing it, and I don’t mind paying them to!

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