Welcome! Today we’ll be talking with DeAnna Zankich who’s coming in from West Hollywood, CA. DeAnna, will you start us off by telling us a little about yourself and where you are from?
- I’m a born and raised Angeleno, currently living in West Hollywood, CA.
- BA in English Lit / Creative Writing – Novel from CSU Long Beach; Semester study program in Cambridge, England, where I learned without a doubt that the UK and America are two countries separated by the same language. If I weren’t so terribly allergic, I would be That Crazy Cat Lady living with ten of them.
Oh, dear. Hope my pair of misfits don’t come calling while you’re here then. The seem to know when someone doesn’t want them around. Did you first consider your self a writer before or after you entered college?
- I wrote my first story when I was nine just so I had somewhere to put my “imaginary friends”. Before that my mother kept threatening to send me to a doctor for talking to them.
- My imaginary friends told me do it. J
- I wrote a long epic fanfic series in the Queer as Folk fandom in the early 2000’s. Those readers made me a thank you book filled with their wonderful praise for the story and support of my work. That was when I first felt like I might have something of value to share and that a very real audience was there waiting for it.
- I had a friend in my late teens who lead a dangerous, mysterious life. He shared some of his amazing adventures with me and I turned those stories into a novel. That book was my college thesis, as well, and my first copyright—but it remains unpublished at present.
Are you at a point where you can talk about your current projects yet, or are they still in development?
- I self-published Book 1 of my series Arabesque on June 5, 2015. In between doing everything I can to raise awareness about the book, I’m deep into editing Book 2. I’m hoping to have it ready by October of this year.
- Here’s the first part of the book’s description on Amazon: Elijah Paulson is a phoenix rising. Redefining himself after the brutal demise of an eight-year marriage, he’s finding his wings. This transformation is vigilantly shepherded by Michael Ward, the founder of an elite SMBD club tucked into the underbelly of the Los Angeles arts community. In Elijah, Ward sees the makings of a great Dom, as well as a second in command for his growing fraternity. Elijah meets Reid Hayden for the first time during this vulnerable juncture and is irresistibly drawn to the young man’s sensual magnetism.
- [I’m also] doing my mental outline of Book 3. And losing twenty pounds—that’s a massive project. 😉
Knowing what you know now, would you change anything in your current book or projects if you had to start over again?
- I changed so much of it from the original draft that I hardly recognize it. I can’t imagine changing anything more. I’m very proud of how the published version turned out.
I can agree with all of the above! And, I love the name of your book. Do you have a specific method when selecting titles?
- The overall title, Arabesque, is meant to suggest the elegant world of ballet to the reader. Each book has its own subtitle and the first—Honey in the Rock—is a line from a gospel hymn I adore.
That is an interesting combination. I’ve enjoyed ballet, and gospel music separately. The blend is intriguing. Does the unique view flow into your voice when you are writing?
- I like to move the plot with dialogue rather than a lot of exposition. I strive to have the reader know who’s speaking just by the tone of the dialogue. The reviews of my book so far have mentioned that the dialogue is strong and witty, so I’m encourages by that. Hemingway wrote a short story called “Hills Like White Elephants” that remains the gold standard to me in how to tell a story with dialogue. I refer to that work often.
Was Hemingway the only author who influenced your life, or are there others?
- Hemingway’s story “Hills Like White Elephants” is huge, and Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy were a major influence on me. I was very moved by the depth of emotion in Stephen King’s novella The Body (which became the film Stand by Me), and also his novel The Green Mile. Jay McInerney’s second novel Story of My Life is a work of character development art. Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is an absolute marvel on all accounts. I can only aspire to that level of talent.
Since you referred to Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, do you consider him to be your mentor, or does someone else hold that position?
- [I consider] Oscar Wilde [to be my mentor]
What about your favorite author?
- I admire different writers for different skills. If I had to say one was my favorite, then Stephen King would get the vote. He constantly amazes me in new ways.
When you’re reading, do you stay with your “old friends” and authors you’ve known for a while, or do you include new (to you) authors in your reading habits?
- I [just] read a great story a few months ago called The Dead Key by a new author named DM Pulley. Fun, exciting stuff; very strong debut.
Are you reading a “new friend” right now, or are you revisiting one of your “old book friends”?
- [Right now I’m reading] Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes.
One of your “old friend” authors. That’s always fun. Going back to your own book… Arabesque … how much of the book is realistic or based on events from your experience?
- Most [of the events are realistic], I think. It’s a story that could happen in real life—but it would be quiet extraordinary!
- No, [none of the experiences are mine] at all; purely made up of inspirations from other books and art forms. I am nowhere near as interesting as my characters.
Since you’re fabricating the stories – always an exciting prospect – do you weave in messages for your readers to find?
- Know a person before you judge them. Walk a mile in their shoes.
Now that you have a book or two out on the market, do you feel that writing is your career?
- Yes. I very much hope it will be.
What about support? Anyone outside of your family who’s helped you when things got rough?
- My fanfic readers. They were so wonderful and helpful while I was learning the ropes of gay erotica. They were the best teachers imaginable.
Sounds like you encountered some challenges along the way. Can you share some of the lessons you learned, and how you overcame them?
- In Arabesque, the most difficult thing is to write about ballet so people who have never seen it can understand. Writing about dancing is very challenging.
- Constantly being turned away by agents and publishers simply because of the word count of Book 1. None of them read a word of it so they had no idea if it was any good or not. That’s ultimately the reason I had to self-publish.
- Never lie to yourself as an artist. Accept what your muse has for you and do your very best with it. If you try to alter it or attempt to make it more “marketable”, you’ll get exactly one result: crap work.
One of the hardest things I had to work with was the cover art. Did you face that challenge alone, or work with someone for yours?
- My beautiful cover was designed by James at GoOnWrite.com.
As our time comes to an end, we come to the big question everyone seems to like to ask: What advice would you pass on to new, or up-and-coming authors?
- Just don’t quit on yourself. Finish and then be braver than you ever imagined by letting the work be seen.
DeAnna, thank you so much for stopping by today. Any last words while we wrap up?
- Welcome! Let’s have some fun together!
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Thank you all for coming by today, and supporting another indie author!