Sunday, August 24, 2008

Make-Believe Mondays With Dana Marie Bell

Today on Make-Believe Mondays our guest is Dana Marie Bell.

Dana first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Dana: My current manuscript is book four of the Halle Puma series, entitled Bella Luna. It’s about a woman who, by rights, should have been a hero in Halle, but instead was shunned by all but the most important members of her Pride. She leaves Halle to be with the man who’s declared that she’s his mate. There’s only one problem: He’s a Wolf, and the Alpha of his Pack, and not all of the Wolves are happy about a Puma as their Luna.

Belle’s been through so much, her tolerance for foolishness is, on a scale of one to ten, roughly zero. She puts the Wolves in their place and proves she has every right to stand by their Alpha’s side as their Luna.

I’m a little over half-way done. I gave my husband a sneak-peek at a scene in it, and he laughed out loud in three places. To me, that means I’m heading in the right direction.

Debra: Yes, that does sound like you're headed in the right direction. How nice that you have a husband who appreciates your work that way.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Dana: With the three R’s: Reading, wRiting, and Rugrats. I read just about anything I can lay my hands on, from romance to sci-fi, and let it percolate. I write, because when you don’t use a muscle, even if it’s a mental one, it atrophies.

Debra: Yes, it certainly does.

Dana: And my Rugrats, my kids, who keep the wonder alive for me even as they drive me demented.
Have you ever sat down and watched TV with a child, and asked them what they thought of it? Or talked about a book they’ve read? Or when they play a make-believe game, the ideas they come up with?
It’s scary, but incredible.

Debra: My two sons are grown, in their twenties now, but yes, I remember. I've been visiting with my two year old nephew this week and having a blast. Their little minds are so active, so unfettered and full of wonder. We can learn so much by spending time with children. They understand pure joy.

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Dana: If they aren’t “speaking” to me before I put my fingers on the keyboard, they don’t get written. I need to hear them telling me their story as I do the outline, or it just doesn’t work for me. Trying to force characters to be or do something they aren’t meant to frustrates them. Have you ever heard Pumas singing Kumbaya off-key? Trust me: it ain’t pretty.

Debra: Kumbaya off-key sounds pretty awful. But pumas singing might be interesting. :-)

Some very famous authors have played with language, creating words for people or places that no one has ever heard of. Have you ever played with words in that way and if so how?

Dana: Oh, yes! In The Wallflower, Emma is the Curana, or female ruler, of the Halle Puma Pride. Curana is a play on the Portuguese word for cougar: çuçuarana.

Debra: Fascinating. I love knowing the history of a word. Where it comes from, how it changes.

For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Dana: I actually dreamed the entire plot of book 5 of the Halle Pumas. It wouldn’t stop until I got up at six-thirty on a Sunday morning (my one and only day to sleep in) and typed the outline into my PDA. Once I was done Gabe and Sarah shut up long enough for me to go back to sleep!

Debra: Lucky for you that you got it all down before the dream drifted away. I wish there was some sure fire way to capture that.

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Dana: Isaac Asimov was my hero, as was Ray Bradbury and Robert A. Heinlien. Then I discovered JRR Tolkien, and thought, “Oh, that’s what I want to do.” I must have read The Lord of the Rings at least ten times. (I even managed to finish The Silmarillion!)

Now my parents wonder what the heck happened to “I want to be Isaac Asimov when I grow up.”

Debra: Ah, maybe you discovered it was better to be Dana Marie Bell. ;-)

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Dana: Pretty much what I do now. I take my imagination and allow it to have flight. For instance, I just recently submitted a story about how Loki got a bum rap, and two people are the key to saving him. Sometimes the story works out, and other times it doesn’t. But I won’t know until those voices start talking and I set fingers to keyboard.

Debra: Story telling is such a great adventure. Like life, you just never know if one story or another will work out.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Don’t ever give up following that dream. It may not happen when you want it or how you want it (hello? ex-Isaac Asimov wanna-be here!), but if you keep on trying you’ll eventually succeed!

Debra: Dana, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Debra's News/Debra is watching:

This week I am in Ohio visiting family and talking to local bookstores around my home about doing book signings in the spring after the print edition of my book comes out. Since I will be driving back to TN on Monday, I'm posting this interview a little bit earlier than usual.

I have a calendar on my website,
where you'll be able to keep up with events once I get them listed.

And I'm really looking forward to picking up my mail when I get home, as a friend emailed that I'm mentioned in Flavia's column in the latest Romantic Times Booklovers magazine. It's like Christmas......the anticipation is building....and building.
(So if you've read it, don't tell me yet! I prefer the joy of surprises to peeking,)


mamasand2 said...

Dana, That was a great interview. I can't begin to understand how you get the characters talking to you. I am just VERY glad you do.

I can't wait for the release of your next Halle Pumas story!!!


Dana Marie Bell said...

Thanks, Sandie. I just finished Book 4, and I've outlined Book 5. =)