An Interview with D. L. Rose
Why did you want to participate in the Community Novel Project?
The first reason is that I just love writing. Second, I specifically love collaborative writing. When it works, it can be so much more amazing than single-author writing. Third, I am a huge Lissa Staley fan and I’d pretty much support any project she came up with that could use a writer/editor/blogger/homeschooling mom. And fourth, I find that the publishing world is in an interesting place right now. It’s still really hard for an author to get traditionally published. And even though it’s easy to self-publish, it’s also still hard to make a living doing that. I feel like this project is great experience for those considering self-publishing, and it’s also very encouraging for those who are considering giving up because of how difficult things are in publishing right now. It provides a place to learn all the different parts of self-publishing. It provides a place for unpublished writers to get their name on the cover of a book. And it provides all of that with a nice support system to encourage and help through the trouble spots. Not to mention, after a few of them, I think Topeka will start to become a place known for it’s writers and art community that is so encouraging, rather than being cutthroat and fueled exclusively by money.
What do you like about the premise and characters of this year’s Community Novel Project Speak Easy? What challenges you about them?
I really liked that the premise this year was open-ended. It didn’t even really set up a major conflict like the first year’s did. Last year’s premise had a built-in end point (the conference in LA) that then became difficult to work in after the process of writing led the plot to other places. This year was really just a starting point and some information about a couple characters and the major conflict was not directed from there. That’s good and bad, since it also means that things can wander all over without something to pull back to. But I think we were given some very interesting characters and history to work with. I will say, I was somewhat nervous about the amount of research that I anticipated having to do. But by the time the novel made it to me, that ended up not being a problem.
What was your first reaction when you saw the chapter before yours?
Both novels have had one chapter that ended with a mysterious envelope being opened. And I had hoped that I wouldn’t be left with one of those, trying to figure out what was in the envelope. And then of course, I was. So I had a few moments of “Oh no. Now what am I going to do?” And then I thought of it like a word problem in a math class and I broke it down and thought through it and the answer pretty much came up with itself.
What is your favorite and least favorite addition that you contributed to this novel in your chapter?
Least favorite: The kidnapped mother. It seemed so exciting when I came up with it, but then I found that it was more difficult to write than I expected. A character being kidnapped is really exciting, if you get to write from that character’s point of view. It is not so exciting if you’re writing it from the view of someone who hasn’t been kidnapped and is therefore mostly just waiting around for something to happen.
Favorite: The phone at the end. I felt like my chapter was that space where things in a book get worse, but the characters don’t know what to do next because they don’t have enough information to go on. My hope is that the phone will lead the characters somewhere that will give them the information they need to tackle all the problems that have gotten jumbled together.
What do you hope happens or doesn’t happen in the chapters that come after yours?
I answered some of that in the last question. But I also hope that Pete and Ronnie at least make a plan for a future together. I don’t need it to be all kissing and romance during the book. But I really hope that their connection continues and at the end of everything Pete will say “Well, now that we got all that taken care of, you want to go to a movie?” Or something like that. I also want things to turn out in a way that makes Julia thankful that Ronnie came into her life.
How did you write your chapter – in a burst of inspiration or carefully outlined?
I am normally an outline person, but I outline at a larger level than a chapter. I usually have a general outline of a novel and then I let the smaller parts happen more organically. So I couldn’t really outline for just a chapter. But I did think about my chapter for several days before I wrote anything. And I took lots of notes as I read the chapters before mine. I spent a lot of time making lists and little charts to come up with my thoughts on where things were headed.
Any memorable stories to share about your writing experience?
No matter how well-planned my chapter choice seemed when I made it in January, life had other plans. I ended up writing while moving. It was our longest, most ridiculously last minute and unplanned, disorganized move ever. And I was without a computer for about 5 days during that time. So it was very difficult to get enough rest to think straight and then once my thoughts were straight to find my computer and enough time to get it all written.
What have you learned about writing fiction from participating in this project?
No two authors think alike. I think that’s both the challenge and the beauty of collaborative writing. Two authors could look at the same premise and start it different ways. And each author would continue from what came before in a different way. It is definitely a practice in what it really means to let your writing stand on its own. If you have to explain to the next author what you were doing in your chapter, you probably weren’t doing it right.
What is your writing background? What do you usually write? How was this project different?
When I was in elementary school, I wrote a little story that I showed to the school’s librarian. She really encouraged me to keep writing and she helped me to illustrate it and write it really nicely. Then she published in the school library. I didn’t find out until years later that my brother had actually checked out my little book at one point. I think I was probably in second grade at the time. And there hasn’t really been a time since then when I didn’t feel like writing was something I was made for (even though I didn’t contemplate it as a career until middle school). I normally write fantasy or light science fiction. I greatly enjoy taking normal people and just asking “What would (s)he do if they could see ghosts? Or fly? Or a werewolf was chasing them?” A project like this, is a lot less likely to include those supernatural elements just because people who don’t write the “weird” stuff usually get uncomfortable trying to write it more than people who do write it get uncomfortable writing “normal.”
Who is your favorite librarian?
Lissa Staley! I think everyone should pick a favorite librarian and turn their name into a chant. It would be good for the world (and librarians).
D. L. Rose has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. The Community Novel Project is an exercise in writing without a plan, something she very rarely does otherwise. 30 Days of PreWriting, her ebook, is available on Amazon and her other writings can be found at maidenfine.com. When not writing, she is a homeschooling homemaker with two adorable minions and a cat. Author photo by Morgan Chilson.