I love authors and sharing these conversations with my readers and followers makes me so happy. I am honored to have a very talented author who delves into children’s, paranormal, fantasy, and mystery stories. Best of all D.L. loves fairies. This is important for me as Tinker Bell and I go way back, but that’s a story for another day. This Northern California author writes from the heart. I know you will enjoy this discussion and I hope you share it with your friends. Please share a bit of your background with my readers, D.L.
Thank you for having me here today, Rox! What a thrill it is to be visiting with you 😊
Here’s a little about me. I was born and raised in the Bay Area. That shows up in my books often, along with my love of Hawaii. My family and I moved to the Sierra Foothills when I was in my late 20s. We found the perfect home in the middle of the forest. Yes, it has been scary the last couple of years with increased fire danger. But we have created a walking trail that has been named the Magical Trail. I’m sure the fairies are nearby and keeping us safe.
I’ve been married for 38 years to the wonderful man who created this walkway, and we have three kids, two girls, and a boy. The girls and their husbands live near or with us. We are lucky to have all four of our grandkids nearby. Our son went to college in Oregon and stayed there, which is a great place to visit. We share our home with five very spoiled cats, a rescue goldfish, and our patient senior dog who has treed more than one bear in her day. We also have our daughter’s youthful dog in our backyard. He is a proficient digger and ball chaser.
You can find me either at the computer writing or out enjoying nature. Sometimes when my husband and I go on a Harley ride, I will write poetry while riding through the beautiful Sierra Mountains.
So you write as D.L. but how do your friends know you?
D. L. Finn is my pen name, and it sounds like the word dolphin. Denise is my real name so, please call me that. Luckily it fits right in with the pen name.
What is the biggest inspiration to your poetry writing?
I’ve never been good at expressing my emotions verbally. So, when something moved me, or I needed to verbalize my feelings, I wrote it down. This led me to poetry, where I could show what I was seeing, feeling, and thinking. I first used free verse and then found a love of symbolic poetry. It’s a great combination of emotions and putting together patterns. I have a great love of finding patterns within my environment.
What prompted your shift from poetry to short stories and novels?
Poetry is where I express myself. You get to see the real me. When I write short stories or novels, you meet my imagination that’s kept me company for as long as I can remember.
What prompted you to write children’s stories?
I started writing for children. I love seeing the world from a child’s perspective. How everything is new to them, and they are full of hope. I like to say I gave myself an improved second childhood. My first novel, “Elizabeth’s War,” was based on a writing assignment to explore our family’s history. I chose where my great grandmother was born and the time frame during WWl. From there, I switched over to fiction.
Are these such that you enjoy reading them to groups of children via schools or local libraries?
I have not read my work to groups of children, although I used to read books to my children’s classes.
Did you realize how much your imagination would drive your writing?
Yes. My imagination needed an outlet, and writing was perfect for it.
I think paranormal and fantasy writing present some unique challenges. What do you find the biggest challenge with this genre?
My biggest challenge is to make sure I’ve created a world that readers can easily get lost in. The easiest way for me to do this is let the characters take over, and the scenery usually comes later.
Are your human characters created from people you know?
There are times when I’m thinking of someone I know, good or bad, when I’m writing a character. It helps me create a more realistic character. Plus, there’s a bit of me in there too.
In the case of your paranormal and fantasy creatures what is your foundation for creating your endearing characters?
I’ve had some favorite characters throughout my books. They usually provide the humor and tug at the heart a bit. I loved having angels to work with, but my favorite character of all time has to be the evildwel, Nester from “This Last Chance.” I loved how this character battled with what he was supposed to be and wanted to be. I think giving a character a struggle that we all have makes them more likable and relatable.
With the many books you have published, is there one that rises to the top as one of your favorites?
I have five children’s books, one memoir, one poetry book, three paranormal novels, and four short stories. “Tree Fairies” has become my favorite book to date.
Your creative nature extends to your covers that are both simple and endearing like the one for Dolphin’s Cave. Do you design them or do you have a favorite graphic artist?
The only cover I’ve designed is “Tree Fairies.” The rest of my children’s book covers were created by an artist who no longer does book covers. I’m redoing my Angel/Evildwel book covers now. I’ve tried to use my photography for all covers, other than those designed, but that has limited me.
“Dolphin’s Cave” is a favorite cover of mine too.
Many authors have a favorite genre, but you don’t seem to fit in that category with the variety of your writing. I have to ask though; do you prefer one over another?
I love a good mystery/thriller with some paranormal thrown in. My reading taste varies, as does what I write. I enjoy a good vs. evil story which tends to be a theme in most of my stories.
Is one type of writing more challenging for you than another?
I find poetry and short stories the easiest to write. Trying to avoid the paranormal has been hard for me lately. Historical Fiction has been the hardest to write only because of the amount of research required. I wrote “Elizabeth’s War” before the internet.
Are there other genres you really want to explore creating?
I want to do more Historical Fiction and have one in my idea bin. I would also like to do a mystery without the paranormal influence, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Do your genres cultivate separate fans or allow fans to visit all sides of your imagination?
If someone likes the way I write, they will try new genres or maybe even pick up one of the children’s books.
Can you share with my readers your writing process and maybe tips other authors might consider?
First, the idea comes to me. I write it down and maybe the first paragraph. If I don’t get it down, I might lose that idea. Once I start a story, I might have an idea where it’s going. Every time though, I’m surprised how the story takes off when the characters take over. That’s the fun part of writing for me.
I try not to worry about editing until I get to the end. Then the work begins. For all of this, I need a quiet space. I’m distracted easily.
Do you use beta readers to help make your writing so endearing?
About six books ago, I found beta readers and have had them for each book since. They catch those plot holes or little mistakes. For the “Tree Fairies,” I got some wonderful advice from an amazing author. She suggested cutting some of the beginning and get right to the action. That made a huge difference in the story. Beta readers are a step I won’t skip in the writing process.
I also enjoy doing beta reading too.
How many hours a day do you dedicate to writing?
It depends on what’s going on in my life. I like to get a couple of hours in at least five days a week, but I have to balance that with visiting blogs, doing the social media rounds, keeping up on my blog, preparing blogs, and grandma duties.
Some days, I need a poetry break.
Do you have a book that you believe at some point you might re-release with changes, and why?
Yes. There are a couple of children’s books I’d like to go through and tidy up. I’ve learned a lot since they were released. In my Angel/Evildwel series, I will be doing a once-over and giving them new covers. I hadn’t planned on making that a series, so I need the covers to reflect that.
I’ve been trying to learn to format and creating covers to be more self-sufficient. There is always something new to learn as a writer.
What formats are your books available in and who is the voice of your books?
All my books are available in eBook and print on Amazon, Smashwords, and IngramSparks which gets them to many sellers, including Barnes & Nobel, Apple, and others. Amazon now distributes my print books in other markets, so that has become easier.
I am the voice of my books.
Are your books published in multiple languages?
No, and I haven’t ventured into audio, either.
Can you tell us a little about your next book and when it will be available?
I am working on a story that I wrote in my first NaNoWriMo Challenge in 2019. Its working title is “When the Timid Speak.” I’m going through it with my Critique Group and getting lots of good insight on things that I missed writing it so fast. It has a bit of everything, including a ghost, unusual animals, a serial killer, and lab experiments with alien DNA. I just added in a part which I think tied it all together. Plus, there is a love interest in the mix. There is no time frame for this book yet because there is a lot of editing to do. I would guess an early 2022 release.
Do you read your book reviews and if so, what do you get out of them?
I do. I like to know what the reader enjoyed, and if they didn’t like something, I note that and apply it if needed in the future.
What sort of groups are you involved with and why?
I belong to Northern California Publishers & Authors and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. At the beginning of the year, I became a part of an amazing and supportive group of writers, Story Empire, where I am learning something almost every day.
Most authors I come across are readers. I know this applies to you as well because we have a challenge this year in Goodreads. Do you have a favorite genre to read?
I love the Goodreads Challenge! Last year I broke over 100 books read, and this year I’m closing in on my 75. I’ve learned so much by reading different types of books and authors. I appreciate the new worlds that have been opened me up to. But, if I need a book to wind down, a good mystery, fantasy, or my latest love, westerns are what I reach for to relax.
You are invited as an honored guest speaker at an author event in Sonoma. You are delighted to find the two other author guests you get seated with during dinner are your favorite authors. Who are they and what topics would you enjoy talking with them about? Also, with your fondness for hat’s, what sort would you be tempted to wear to this event?
How fun! There are a lot of authors I’d love to meet, especially all my indie author friends! My list would be too long for indies, so I’ll go with Stephen King because he had a way with humor and horror that captured a young teen’s imagination with Carrie and Salem’s Lot. My second pick would be J. R. R. Tolkien for The Hobbit, which opened the world of fantasy. 😊
Anything they want to talk about is fine with me.
I have the perfect burgundy velvet hat with a slight black veil that would be a nice choice. Although, I wouldn’t be against a hat shopping trip, especially for this amazing event!
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming authors?
To write, you need to read and always keep learning. Be open to suggestions but follow your path too. Above all, never give up.
Where can folks find you and follow you?