Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Are What You Write

Meet today's guest, Danielle Thorne. She's author of the newly-released historical novel The Privateer, devoted wife, busy mom... and pirate?

I'll let you decide.

You Are What You Write
by Danielle Thorne

People look at me funny when they find out I write about pirates. When I start gushing about the British Navy or the Master and Commander series, they stare. Yes, out from behind the computer I’m a suburban housewife in a tee-shirt and Birkenstocks. I spend my free time zipping from Cub Scouts to Marching Band contests to swimming lessons. There are no exotic tattoos on my arms and I don’t keep a loud parrot under a sheet, but I am still a writer. I don’t just write what I know, more importantly, I write where I go. You know that place, the wormhole in your head that whisks you off to fantasyland the moment your fingers touch a keyboard?

It is a beautiful thing to be able to take someone on a trip with you--through time, across the horizon, or maybe into another universe. To be able to do this through the pages of a book is a release that no other person could understand unless he’s ever used the words “The End.” Whether it’s a painting, a scrapbook, a landscaped garden, or ten page short story, we are wired with what I believe is a sacred desire to create.

Isn’t it interesting to see interviews with the authors who have written your favorite books? You view them as a relative of this world that only you know in your heart. You wonder how much they are like their characters, what drives them to delve into this trait, or that experience. You wonder if their art is a reflection of who they are inside?

I’ve always believed that no matter how contrived a story is, throughout the stages of planning and plotting, we all release a piece of ourselves into our manuscripts. A confession, if you will, that in these pages are something we have always wanted to do, or have needed to reveal. So what if I did not really live two hundred years ago and never furled the sheets from a crosstree (sailor talk for taking in the sails from wayyyyy up high), in my secret place where I travel to for my own adventures, I certainly have done so and that qualifies me to write about it. The only essential ingredient to any story in my opinion is imagination.

In 1729, diamonds were discovered in Brazil.. The reign of piracy is over in the Caribbean, or so it’s believed. Despite the cover-up, Captain Julius Bertrand begins to hear whispers. The Spanish guardacostas are dumping log books, and a new French pirate is on the prowl. Distracted by an avaricious woman he could never love, and the beautiful Kate O’Connell who doesn’t need him, he tries to untangle the web of mysterious cargo someone in the New World wants kept secret. When Bertrand’s pirating past returns with the explosive force of a sweeping broadside, he finds he must sacrifice everything his respectable life has brought him, in order to save what matters most.

Such is the background for my novel, THE PRIVATEER. Where on earth did a Jane the Soccer Mom ever get such an idea? I’ve been there. I went, I saw, I conquered, and then I wrote about it. Was there any research? Months. Work? Uh, years. Did I leave a part of myself in the story? You bet I did.

Pirates were rebels who stood up against the establishment. They did all that and survived a brutal life at sea. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina. I never rebelled. It took me nineteen years to find the ocean. I could not take it with me, but I could not let it go. Every day when I climb out of bed, my feet hit the floor and I yearn for sand. There is a part of me that should have been a pirate. There is a hunger in me to live with the Caribbean surf banging at my door.

So look twice next time you meet an author. Think twice next time your creative juices start to flow. We are so much more than words, paper, and postage stamps. We are what we write, and that means something.

Thank you so much, Danielle! It was great to have you here today. Your thoughts are inspiring! It's finding that truth inside ourselves--pirate or not!--that makes our fiction so believable.
If you'd like to learn more about Danielle, The Privateer or her other new release, Turtle Soup, visit her website or blog.
We wish you much success, Danielle! And come back to see us anytime.


Terri Tiffany said...

That was one of the best interviews/stories an author has ever written! Thank you! She really encouraged me and made me think more how a writer writes,

Jessica Nelson said...

What a wonderful post! I loved it. :-)
So, based on this and all of my heroines, I think it's safe to say she's right.
My heroines have been wannabe journalists, private detectives, bookstore owners and tandem skydiving coach. LOL!
Thanks so much Janna and Danielle.

Anonymous said...

The author shows a real passion for her work. Excellent interview.

Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks for a great interview! It looks like a wonderful book full of intrigue and romance! Since I write historicals, I'm always inspired when I read interviews by other historical writers!

Lori said...

Danielle talks so beautifully about the sea and its rebellious pirates! So wonderful to see writing that comes from such passion.

Rebecca Nazar said...

Great interview. It's all about passion and drive--the fodder of great fiction.

WendyCinNYC said...

Nice interview. Thanks for sharing!

Joanne said...

Great insights, Janna and Danielle. I like the suggestion that writing allows us to be who we've always wanted to be, on some level, in some way. Writing takes us, and the reader there. It's a great journey, most definitely!

Janna Leadbetter said...

Terri - I agree!

Jessica - I think I, too, have lived vicariously through my MCs.

Rafael - Fo' shizzle.

Jody - Oh! She blogs, too. I should have included that. Here's her blog:

Lori - That passion is so important!

Rebecca - Absolutely.

Wendy - My mommy taught me well. ;)

Joanne - And what better motivation, than to get a chance to be something we've always wanted to be?

Danielle, you're a hit! :)

DanielleThorne said...

Janna, thanks for having me here. Wow, what great followers you have here at Something She Wrote. It's so touching to know that deep down us writers all feel very close to the same, no matter what genres we write--we are ripping out hearts out there! :)

Melanie Hooyenga said...

What a great post!

Cindy R. Wilson said...

That was an amazing interview. My mind was just whirling with all the creativity there. And I love pirates! Thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

Danielle, it's always a pleasure to read your comments/thoughts about the creative process. You are so dedicated to your muse. I know about the "fugue," or black hole you described, that many fictional writers have. I'm curious how/when you find yourself in that place. The thing that inspires you to seek that escape. In "Sometimes The Magic Works" Terry Brooks encourages a systematic escape. For him it's a long drive or classical music. For me, it's syncopated music (dance/trance/electronica) and a deadline that help push me into my escape mode. It's comforting to let myself run away. I guess fiction is a very special thing, in that regard. When the deadline looms and the pressure is on, we are encouraged to run away and hide and then narrate our experiences in those make believe worlds we have all to ourselves. Do you ever find yourself afraid you won't want to come back? Do you ever feel like you're unable to get there at all? How do you deal with what most call "writer's block" (something I personally don't believe in, like Anne Lamott talks about in Bird By Bird)?

Again, thank you for your words. And thank you, Janna, for your insights. I'm looking forward to more.

Okay, now here's one question I am really curious about. Am I the only guy here? Don't think I'm the least bit intimidated... because I am. Oy.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Melanie - Glad you liked it!

Cindy - You may give Danielle a run for her money! ;)

MrJodie - Welcome! Your insights are appreciated - and no, you're not the only man... It's just most of my male readers lurk without commenting. :)

Linda Swift said...

Danielle, this was a wonderful essay and I relate to everything you said. I just wish I'd said it! You have a great talent for expressing deep thoughts and inspiring us. So much insight into the human psyche and to be beautiful besides! You are blessed. Linda

Nadine said...

I loved this post! Thanks for stopping by Danielle!

DanielleThorne said...

"Do you ever find yourself afraid you won't want to come back?"

I thought this was an interesting comment/question by M Jodie. I wonder how many people get too involved (obsessed) with their imaginary world and have a hard time coming out. I have had that experience with one manuscript and it some ways it was not a good thing, I'm embarrassed to admit. Because I do alot of my initial creating in my head daydreaming--I spent way too much time "napping" or lost in space when I was around people. My "world" even became an escape--too stressed out to deal with what was going on in real life and I would shut down, go to my fictional world and work on storylines. Whether that was actually writing, day dreaming or sleep my creative outlet became a crutch--and that's something I had to struggle to overcome. I have learned that trying to be creative that way made my writing too indulgent and I wasn't able to be objective enough to self-edit. So I guess there is some caution in becoming too wrapped up in what we do--writing may be who we are and what we do--but we have to remember that we are real humans with real responsibilities and we have to prioritize. I learned the hard way that doesn't hurt our writing, it makes it better.

Anyway--thanks for the kind comments. I appreciate the thoughts! Cheers, dt

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading this post and also Danielle's follow-up on one of the reader's comments. Great interview.

Anonymous said...

This is so true what Danielle said:"So look twice next time you meet an author. Think twice next time your creative juices start to flow. We are so much more than words, paper, and postage stamps. We are what we write, and that means something."

Excellent post!
--Anne (aka "stormie" at AW)

Melissa Amateis said...

Great post! And so, so inspiring. I think it's definitely true that a part of us goes into every story or creative piece.

JLC said...

What a great post! This is the reason why I love writing so much. I get to be someone else in another place and time. Its the adventure that doesn't cost a thing. Thanks for sharing this!

Janna Leadbetter said...

I'm so glad everyone is enjoying today's post! Danielle, we may have to have you back. ;)

Jenni James said...

Ooh! Danielle is an inspiration to us all! What an amazing post! I'm so glad you had the opportunity to put it on here. LOL! And I feel her pain/glory really I do. So many people raise their eyeborws at me when they find out I'm an author. Mostly, it's because they can't believe I have the time... LOL! You can always make time.

LOVED THIS! Thanks again! Jenni

Anonymous said...

That was a GREAT post! Thank you Janna for having Danielle. Thank you Dannielle. I want to read your book now. I'm definitely going to get it!


Angie Ledbetter said...

I'm a day late and a dollar short as usual, but thanks for the fun post. I don't even like pirates and this looks like a good read. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview and best to Danielle.

Chris Rodell said...

Loved it! And what an interesting topic you've embraced for your books.

But if I'm what I write about, geez, I'm a mess. I think I'm going to write something about what it would be like to be rich.

Good luck Danielle and thanks for the intro Janna!

Gail Pallotta said...

What an interesting blog. I'm impressed by your study of pirates. And, I too love the sand and sea. Keep following your heart. You're going to have lots of readers following you.

Jewel Allen said...

I can totally relate!! Fiction is a wonderful adventure.

Great post, thanks!

Lauren said...

That is a great interview. My favorite line was "that wormhole in your heart." I write fantasy so I definitely have to follow some sort of wormhole to get to the world of my characters.

Sounds like a great book, mostly because of how passionate Danielle is when she talks about pirates and their ocean.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Thanks, everyone! I appreciate your visits, and I know Danielle appreciates your encouraging comments. :)