I am so excited to have Dawn as a guest on my blog today! Author of the Everstone Chronicles, The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, and The Captive Imposter, Dawn is a beautiful storyteller with a delicious trilogy to show for it.
I don’t want to keep you waiting, so here she is! :)
Hi, Dawn! I am beyond thrilled for you to be a part of my blog today! :) Can you tell me a little of how you came up with the story for The Captive Imposter?
I knew I wanted Estella Everstone to be separated from everything and everyone she knew well for this story. From researching Amaryllis Brigham’s backstory in The Hesitant Heiress, I knew all about the central mountains of Maine (plus Maine is where my husband is from), and I’d always looked forward to using the area in a future book. Moosehead Lake, for some reason, caught my fancy, and the fact that there used to be a high class resort situated on a peninsula right there at the heart of the lake. Once it was time to really start thinking about Estella’s story, everything about this hotel in the mountains kept bombarding my mind. And then there was Dexter Blakeley, the hotel manager who came on the scene of my imagination, taking me by surprise…. and more importantly, taking Estella by surprise as well–because for the longest time we’d both been convinced that we knew who her hero would be. And we were both wrong.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your books?
That the characters are so real! Sometimes they do things that surprise me! For the most part, their personalities come to me as I find myself picturing them in scenes. They do what they do because it’s part of them, and so I string these scenes together (sometimes in the wrong order at first!) and write the book from there.
Out of the three books, which is your favorite and why? Which heroine do you relate to the most?
I haven’t been able to pick a favorite between the three of them! I love them each so much for different reasons! Though, I am definitely most like Amaryllis from The Hesitant Heiress (book 1).
How did you choose the actors to represent your characters? I had read all three books before I saw your choices. I was amazed by how perfect they were! They matched your characters flawlessly! Did you have them in mind before you wrote the books, or stumble upon them afterward?
I don’t usually have them picked out before or even while I’m writing the books. I have a general idea of what they look like, but I try to focus more on the inner-most things concerning what’s going on with my characters. I want the heroine’s emotions to come through to the reader as if they are the reader’s own feelings. I also need to focus a lot on knowing the hero–who is always seen 100% by the heroine’s point of view. I need to know him really well from inside out so I can be sure to correctly convey to the reader (and the heroine!) what his every word and action mean to him. When the book is almost finished, and I’ve got past the point of knowing my characters as well as I possibly can, that’s when I go searching for their look-alikes.
Tell us briefly about your publishing journey. (Isn’t it amazing??? Swoon!)
I’d always wanted to someday try my hand at writing a novel ever since I was in high school–although I could probably say the desire was there way before that. However, the desire was never cultivated, and I never really even told anyone about it for the longest time. Then I got married in 2005, and my husband found out about it. But, even with his encouragement, I still didn’t start writing The Hesitant Heiress until 2010. In 2012, my husband sent me to the national ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. I pitched to two agents, had requests, sent the requests within 5 weeks and had two offers of representation by the next week! That was the easy part, I guess, because my proposal for The Everstone Chronicles series was on submission to publishers for a year and a half before I was told of the book contract from Whitaker House near the end of 2013.
Do you have a specific writing style? Do you like to write books start to finish or as scenes come to you?
I write very deeply from first person point of view. I like to outline the books first, but while doing that the scenes and chapters do seem to come to me randomly. While I’m writing the chapters in the order that I have them in my chapter outline, I do usually have to rearrange a few of them before I’m finished with the book. And I don’t usually write a rough draft. I’ll edit as finish chapters so when I finish editing the last chapter, it’s ready to be sent to my critique partners.
If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change in The Captive Imposter?
I had deleted a few chapters in an effort to keep it from getting too long–but then when I was cleaning it up (I didn’t write this one the way I wrote the first two, but as a “dreadful rough draft that I hated” turned slowly into the wonderful book it is now!), I ended up merging some scenes, and then my editor at Whitaker House ended up cleaning up even more of my “over-writing” so that the finished book came to only about 80K words! The first two books in the series were closer to 90K words each. They story is perfectly fine without the two chapters I deleted, and actually, I changed the last half of the novel so much in rewriting the rough draft that they probably wouldn’t have exactly fit into the grand scheme of things in the end anyway.
Who designed your gorgeous covers?
The graphic designers at Whitaker House! Oh, how I love these covers! I emailed them descriptions of my characters and scenes and the overall setting and mood of the stories, and they were able to make these gorgeous covers that matched the insides of my books to perfection!
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Cleaning up the first half and then rewriting the last half of the book AFTER my son was born. I’d been away from the book for over a year (except I did write chapters 17-20 when I had a burst of brain activity while I was 5 months pregnant!), and I hardly felt like I knew the characters or the story anymore. And then I needed to focus so much time on launching The Hesitant Heiress and The Bound Heart so quickly (in August and November of 2014), it wasn’t until December and January that I finished it and turned it in–two months before The Captive Imposter’s release!
What’s next? Can we expect more of these amazing characters, or are your books headed in another direction?
Right now I am super excited about writing another Everstone book about Vance Everstone and Violet Hawthorne (who the reader will meet in The Captive Imposter)! I’m not sure about any definite plans about when it will be available to readers, but it’s definitely coming. I also have quite a few other books/series that I’ve brainstormed up and put notes away for. They are all historical romances from first person perspective of the heroine, though the times set in history might be a little different from series to series.
Why did you choose first person point of view?
Basically because it’s the only way that the words will come out. I’ve heard the advice that a new author should not start out writing anything from first person point of view because it’s incredibly difficult to be done well. But it was the only way The Hesitant Heiress could be written and end up the way I wanted it to be perceived, that was what I did. And at that point I was simply writing it for my own enjoyment–and writing it and reading it from first person was what I wanted to do.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Join ACFW and connect with other serious writers. Go to conferences and find a critique partner who you match well with. When I was looking for a critique partner as I began The Bound Heart (I didn’t have one while I wrote The Hesitant Heiress), I was incredibly choosy and said “no thanks” to quite people who had sent me their work to read. It wasn’t that they were bad writers, but I could tell they didn’t match my writing. Fortunately God has blessed me with a few ladies who get my books almost as much as I do…and vice versa about their writing/books.
Go to the national ACFW conference!–if not smaller state-run ones! Join the ACFW email critique loop and get feedback about your writing/your book! Have paid critiques done of your ms by published authors. I went to my first ACFW conference in 2011 right after joining, had meetings with two agents (which I didn’t really want to go to, but because of the crazy-encouraging things the author who did my paid critique had said about my writing, I HAD to!), sent my requested partial proposal to both of them within the month, and then had two agent contracts of representation to choose from within the week. Not that this NORMALLY happens, but it WON’T EVER unless you go there and TRY!
Do you have anything specific you wish to say to your readers?
I know it’s been eight months since my debut released, but I’m still not used to having readers! Oh my, do I value my readers though–when I have a moment to convince myself that they’re real! I’d love to hear from you on my FaceBook fan page, Twitter, or Pinterest–wherever you hang out online!–or even email! Connecting with readers helps convince me that all this is all really happening! :)
Thank you so much, Dawn! I have absolutely loved having you as a guest on my blog today. I pray you are wildly successful, and you keep bringing us more of these lovely books!
(Seriously, you guys, these books are SO GOOD!!!)
Have a wonderful day! :)