Posted on 12/20/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
As a child, Doranna Durgin responded to commands to play outside by climbing a tree and reading or writing in its limbs.
Unsurprisingly, she hasn’t lost that determination to create, despite what others may want her to do.
Durgin’s first published novel, Dun Lady's Jess, won the Compton Crook Award for the best first book in the fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres back in 1995.
Since then, she’s put out over fifty novels in a variety of genres — fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, mystery, and science fiction — and done so from acreages across the U.S., most recently in New Mexico with the assistance of her dogs and horses.
Hers is the kind of journey that’s best recounted by the person who lived it, so we’ll step out of the way and let her tell her tale.
SADYE: What prompted you to seek publication?
DORANNA: After writing a certain number of books with no intention to stop, I figured maybe I ought to see if I could publish them.
Plus at the time I was with my then-partner Park Ranger in a significantly remote area (log cabin, hundred acres, didn't meet anyone for six months) and with no employment potential.
Publishing gave me a goal on both fronts.
SADYE: How tough was it back in the days of traditional publication dominance?
DORANNA: Well, it was certainly very different.
On the one hand, the “find an agent/sell a book” process took intense, discouraging, ongoing effort.
And succeeding once didn't guarantee you'd succeed again, especially as the market shifted from building authors for mutual success to throwing them out on a pile to see what stuck.
(I had a publisher use pretty much those words with me once.)
On the other hand, back then there was more clarity — and simplicity — to the author role.
Being a successful indie takes multitasking marketing/publicity fiendishness on top of the writing. I'm in the “introvert hermit” brand of author, so I'm not really very good at that.
On the other, OTHER hand, there's a tremendous relief in being able to invest in a project so fully, knowing you'll be able to see it through.
On the final hand, having a publishing gatekeeper, editor, and quality control system as a default part of the process is definitely not a bad thing.
So I think it's much, much easier on the creative process, but ultimately more complicated in terms of book quality and supporting financial success.
SADYE: How has your switch from trad-pub to indie gone?
DORANNA: I'm making something of a face as I formulate a response. It's not an easy question to answer.
It wasn't really a choice on my part; I was halfway through a contract book and, between one day and the next, simply stopped.
Creativity-crushing publisher issues had reached an immutable end point. BOOM. I was done.
That very day I started arrangements to buy back the book, an option for which I was really grateful.
But the moment coincidentally occurred during an extended period (years) of intense family loss that ultimately changed everything about my life, and that means I'm still reinventing myself.
It's hard. I can't downplay it. But I can't live without writing.
I'm really glad to be writing out from under the constraints of the past years. I feel like at this point, I deserve that opportunity.
My writing choices aren't made devoid of market awareness, but the freedom in how I pursue those choices is a glorious thing.
SADYE: Where do you find your inspiration?
DORANNA: Ideas occur to me in passing moments — I see a thing, I hear about a thing, and I think, "What if?"
Or, in observing a thing, it grabs something inside me that wants to be expressed. How I build from there depends on what the story wants.
That sounds so trite, doesn't it? But that's how it is.
I listen to what the story wants. It usually surprises me. (I get to the end of the book and wonder "How did all those pieces ever fit together?")
SADYE: How do your various animals affect your creative process?
DORANNA: They give me a place to go when I need to let story-building simmer beneath conscious thought; they're grounding.
Training takes whole focus! That time allows me to return to writing with a fresh perspective and renewed energy.
Plus, you know, beagle whisker kisses are the best. And riding is most excellent for core strength!
SADYE: What has been the most rewarding or powerful moment of your writing career?
DORANNA: Without a doubt, way back in the beginning when I won the Compton Crook Award.
It felt like love and affirmation and potential all at the same time.
Not that there haven't been some very fine moments along the way, but that one was the most powerful.
SADYE: What is the most challenging part of being an author, for you?
DORANNA: The whole nature of the beast. One writes from a very deep, personal space.
Being vulnerable enough to write from that personal honesty knowing the work will going out into the world, and then actually sending the work out into the world where others will react to it, takes All The Courage.
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Categories: Author Interview