HEIDI'S PICK SIX
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I have to say my sprite, Beag Scath, from my novel Yesterday's Dreams (Mundania Press). He is one of the ones that crept in when I wasn't looking and just made the universe his own. He's quirky and wise in an instinctual way, fierce and fun and definitely fae. You can't help but love him. He is so simple and accepting one moment and quite profound the next, and it all works. Amazing considering he never says more than about one line in the whole book. He likes to spend much of his time in the seeming of a cat, which wins him points in my book right there ;)
2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
Oh my! How much time do you have? I enjoy just about every creative endeavor. I don't do all of them with the same level of skill, but if it is making something I am happy. What I do most when I'm not writing is either sewing or creating polymer clay masks and sculptures. Because I go to so many conventions to promote my work I find that costuming is a nice way to introduce fun into something that could all to quickly become just about business. For those that are interested in some of the final results, they can go to the craft section of my web page. There is a pretty complete list of my costuming and craft efforts, with pretty detailed explanations of what techniques I used, as well as any awards received. The fun bit is, I even appeared in the paper once, because of one of my costumes, but sadly they did not mention my books...that time ;) You probably can still find it on line, it was in an article on the first year of Ravencon, a new convention in the Richmond, VA area. The paper was the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
5. Who are you reading right now?
I could be a smart-ass and say this email...but no :) Actually, I am splitting my time between The Heart of Stars by Kate Forsyth, and my second novel, Tomorrow's Memories, which I'm giving a final edit before I send it off to the publisher. It is to be released by Mundania Press sometime in the Fall, with luck.
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Wow, where DON'T I find inspiration? I have a very creative mind and I like to view situations and things I see in a slantwise way so there is no telling what the world around me with inspire. I like to enter writing contests that have a particular theme or requirement and find the most original way to meet that requirement that would be completely unexpected. For example, I entered a contest where the theme was Leaving. I immediately went to my dictionary and looked up all the various meanings of the word. I discarded those that would be done to death, and ended up with the definition. To leaf or to put out leaves and turned that into a story about dryads waking in the spring after a long winter. To hedge off any objections I included the definition at the end of the post. Other than turning what I experience around me on its ear, I also turn to mythology. I LOVE using mythology as a base for whatever I am working on. There are so many layers of meaning you can add to a simple passage by using a name or a description or mirroring an aspect of a tale. My Eternal Cycle series of novels is an excellent example of that, as are many of my short stories. This goes for history as well as mythology. I'm currently working on a science fiction story about an exploration team that settles on a seemingly unpopulated and untouched planet. The ship is named The Cortez. Of course, you will have to read the story to find out more and why the name is significant...The story is called Building Blocks (for now) and is being written for an upcoming anthology Barbarians at the Jump Gate. Here's hoping the editors like it :)
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Celtic music...most definitely Celtic music, and following that any kind of folk music. I love the beat and rhythm of it, the passion and life. I also love that they are often either purely instrumental, or the vocals are in another language, which makes them perfect background music for when I'm writing :)
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Why bother with an outline? The characters would never follow it anyway! I write completely freeform. I'll get an idea for a scene or even just a line of dialog and it will spark something in me. If I have time I run with it, if not, I get down as much as I can. That will often lead to another idea and I'll write that scene. Meantime I'm keeping in mind what has happened and start to get a feel for what I would like to happen. Sometimes the characters cooperate...more often, they do not. I even had one die on me, leaving me in the lurch because I'd started to plan on her being around for several more books...but there was no other way, and I never saw it coming. Once I start to get a good number of scenes down, I start to string them together. Take some clean-up and some things end up never working, but I never was very good at outlines or synopsis. The whole process takes me longer, but I feel it brings the work to life letting it form the way it does. It is more natural, rather than strong-arming it in the direction I planned.
13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over a decade. Her works include the urban fantasy, Yesterday's Dreams, its upcoming sequel, Tomorrow's Memories (Mundania Press), the anthologies, Bad-Ass Faeries (Marietta Publishing) and No Longer Dreams, (Lite Circle Books), both of which she co-edited, and contributions to numerous anthologies and collections, including Dark Furies (Die Monster Die! Books) and the upcoming "Consigned to the Sea" in Sails and Sorcery (Fantasist Enterprises) and Breach the Hull, also from Marietta Publishing.
Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy
On the non-fiction side, she has written a chapter on Writers Groups for The Fantasy Writer's Guide: The Author's Grimoire, which will come out from Dragon Moon Press in September. She is the member of electronic publishing organization EPIC, as well as Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on women authors. Keep an eye out; she has four more anthologies coming out over the next year and a half.
Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats.