I would like to give a warm welcome to DANI HARPER!Dani graciously agreed to an interview so check it out below and keep reading for contest information following the interview!
What’s it like to be Dani Harper?
When I woke up this morning I was Dani Harper. But that could change at any moment thanks to an unruly imagination the size of a small planet which I’ve had since I was a kid. Just ask my poor teachers. They had to deal with the epic fantasies that I was forever writing about, talking about and sometimes acting out, usually in the middle of class.
I still have a tough time staying focused. I might suddenly morph into Dani the Pirate Queen while I vacuum. Or Dani Demon-Slayer or Space Captain Dani while I load the dishwasher. I generally have several adventures before breakfast, all in my head.
I’m living a real-life adventure too. I’m a Canadian transplanted to an island in southeast Alaska. You see, I met this salmon fisherman while I was on vacation one summer… Maybe that’s why writing romance is a natural for me. I’ve got my own personal HEA every day. And yes, my husband is my very best source of inspiration.
What genre do you write?
At present, I write paranormal romance. I didn’t plan it that way. I started writing a story one day and my hero turned into a werewolf. I told him not to but my characters never listen to me.
I’m fascinated by the different ways people come together, and how they react to each other. That makes for an infinite variety of stories to write because no two relationships are the same just as no two people are the same.
I’ve chosen paranormal romance in particular because I’ve loved all things supernatural since I was a kid. There’s just endless fuel for the imagination! At present, the heroes in my books are usually werewolves or vamps, so they have an extra gift or two, but it doesn’t make their lives—or their love lives—one bit easier. In fact, a gift like that usually comes with huge complications, and I love to watch my characters learn to cope with those.
One day I’d like to venture into fantasy and science fiction as well, because those are the genres I grew up reading.
Where and when do you do your writing?
Anywhere and everywhere. My laptop goes with me on the salmon boat for instance. If the seas aren’t too choppy, I’ll hammer out a few paragraphs between pulling and cleaning fish. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to vacuum dried fish scales out of your keyboard! My laptop’s gone to hunting camp too. And of course I write at home. My sweetie built me an office but I’m seldom in it except to toss in more junk. My favorite spot is either a recliner in the living room, or an armchair on the porch. Sounds relaxing until you’ve been there a few hours at a stretch and try to stand up. It’s not pretty. I’m thinking I may have to be buried in a seated position.
For those times when the computer just isn’t practical, I have pads of paper and numberless pens stashed in the car, every purse I own and on every horizontal surface in the house. My husband says he can always find me by following the trail of post-it notes I leave behind. I’ve been known to jot ideas on paper napkins, event programs, the edges of newspapers and even my checkbook. I wake up in the middle of the night and scribble ideas on a steno pad by my bed. When I sit down to write in the early morning, there’s often a little stack of notes to work through first.
Yes, I said early. I’m one of those annoying morning people. My brain is alert and at its best in the dawn hours, so I start writing at about 5 or 5:30 a.m. every day of the week. I write as much as I can until I hit a plot bump and then I take a break and do something else until I think of how to solve it. Although I believe in writing every day, I don’t try to produce a set number of pages or words.
Tell us more about your writing process.
Once upon a time I thought the writer was in charge. After all, in the newspaper industry, especially as an editor, I planned, planned, planned. Then I started writing fiction and the first thing I discovered is that the characters run the show. It doesn’t matter what I think the story should be about — my characters do what they darn well please. It isn’t unusual for me to be talking to them while I’m typing. Or yelling things like “You can’t do that!” Most of the time, I’m just trying to keep up. Story endings? It’s a surprise to me too. For instance, my new book, Heart of the Winter Wolf, has a couple of twists in it that I never saw coming. I’m still surprised.
I prefer dead silence when I’m working, at least to get started. Once I’m in the zone, though, Martians could land in the front yard and I wouldn’t notice.
One thing essential to my writing is Scooby the Pug (at least he thinks so). He’s my Official Muse. When I’m writing, he’s always by my side, on or under my feet or trying to get into my lap (despite the laptop computer that’s on it). Always. Nothing will entice him to go elsewhere. That’s just what a faithful little guy he is.
His steady “ZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZzzz….” has been the background noise for every word of Heart of the Winter Wolf. (And by the way, that’s just Scooby’s normal breathing — you ought to hear his world-class snoring!) And since reader response has been so positive for my book, I’m forced to concede that there must be some benefit to all the “white noise” that Scoob provides.
You mentioned Heart of the Winter Wolf, can you please tell us about it?
Jillian’s dreams of a great white wolf have helped her overcome trauma… but what happens when she discovers that her lupine friend is every bit as real as the annoyingly sexy stranger she’s just met?
Heart of the Winter Wolf was first released in May as an e-book. It’s my first published novel and I’m still filled with wonder and awe. I’ve been a newspaper editor and written for magazines, so I thought the whole book thing would be no big deal. The day after the release, my best friend called up to tell me she’d bought my book online and I burst into tears — omigod, this is REAL!
I thought that would be the best part, but then I started getting emails from readers telling me how much they liked the book and asking for more stories about the characters. Nothing in my writing life prepared me for that kind of a thrill. I’ve had my share of compliments on my news articles and such, but knowing that a reader connected with a story I made up has a magic all its own.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Heart of the Winter Wolf was released as a trade paperback on the Labor Day weekend. Real tangible hold-in-your-hands PRINT! It makes me think of all the times I read a book as a child and dreamed of someday seeing my own name on the cover. I’m grateful and amazed.
What do you think makes a great hero?
My ideal hero is tough and strong and smart, but he also has the capacity to love deeply. He has integrity and compassion, plus unexpected tenderness. I love workingmen who are smart and skilled, who get dirty and sweaty – and who can still be tender with a tiny baby or a puppy. There’s nothing more moving than that.
Plus, a truly great hero is able to appreciate the heroine’s strengths and have confidence in her – he’ll back off when she needs to fight her own battles, but step in when the world is punching her out. That’s a fine line to walk sometimes and he doesn’t always get it right, but he tries.
Do your heroes fit your ideal?
James from Heart of the Winter Wolf really matches my ideal hero description. He has to recover from tragedy and loss and eventually make the decision to rejoin human life. I admire that he’s so determined to do the right thing for Jillian, no matter how much pain it costs him. And he’s a complex character too, always thinking.
Speaking of thinking, that’s something I try to do in my books: give the hero and the heroine equal time. I want the readers to see inside the heads of both characters, watch both of them learn and grow.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read, read, read! I’ve had to conduct interviews for reporter and communication positions, and over the years my top question changed from “What schooling or experience do you have?” to “Do you like to read for fun?”. I’ve been shocked at the number of journalism grads I’ve met who did not enjoy reading for its own sake! And believe me, it really showed in their work. If you don’t love to read, if you don’t read a lot, trying to write well is going to be one tough job.
Writers write. My goal is to write something every day, even if it’s only a few sentences. If I get bogged down on a project, I’ve learned to leave it and write something else, be it silly or serious or even just a letter to a relative, but I don’t let myself get away with not writing anything. Not only does writing improve over time by doing, but creativity is stimulated by doing. However, there’s a fine line between stimulating creativity and trying to force it. For that reason, I don’t believe in trying to produce a set number of pages or words a day. Speaking strictly for myself, I’ve found it to be counterproductive.
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you do?
I find SO many things interesting – and I’ve tried a few too! I could go back to farming and be very happy. I could operate a greenhouse. I’d still like to return to school and study sciences – all of them! I love to work with my hands and I could find joy in being a carpenter or an artist. I’m taking a sculpture class right now and I adore working with clay, but next semester we get to weld metal. I can hardly wait!
Any deep, dark secrets that readers might be surprised to learn about you?
Hi, I’m Dani and I’m addicted to cartoons. Yup, the Saturday morning and afterschool variety. I can’t even blame it on my kids — they’re grown up and gone. My husband often finds me puttering around the house with SpongeBob or Invader Zim on the TV. Fortunately he thinks this quirk of mine is quite funny (as opposed to crazy), and although he’s not much for watching regular cartoon episodes, he does makes a point of taking me to see animated movies on the big screen.
What are you working on at the moment?
Originally Heart of the Winter Wolf was going to be a stand-alone book. And if the werewolf hero, James Macleod, had been an only child, I might have gotten away with it. But I hadn’t even finished his story before his three brothers, two sisters and all their friends in the Pack began clamoring for a sequel. Remember what I told you about bossy characters? They pester me every waking minute, each one wanting his or her story told. So Heart of the Winter Wolf is now Book One of the Dunvegan Wolf Clan series. Book Two is well underway.
(Pssst — don’t tell the werewolves, but I’ve been secretly working on several other stories involving faeries, ghosts, pookas and other bump-in-the-night characters!)
Do you have a website, intergalactic address, etc.?
You can read excerpts from my book at http://www.romancingthewolf.com/. One of them is HOT too! There’s more fun stuff (including photos of Scooby the Pug and his friends) and plenty of interesting links on my website as well. I adore MySpace and I’ve met some fascinating people there. Please friend me at http://www.myspace.com/romancingthewolf .
Thank you so much, Dani, for that wonderful and witty interview. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
Dani has kindly donated a prize to give away. Anyone who comments below on this post will be automatically entered in a draw to win a download of Heart of the Winter Wolf. You have until October 5 at noon to enter…comment as many times as you would like, but only one entry per household (or IP address) will be counted. One lucky winner will be drawn at random by me from those who have commented and announced on my October 6th blog. So please check back to see if you are a winner!
And just in case you missed it don’t forget to check Monday’s post for your chance to win a prize from the ladies of Destination Romance!