A lifelong reader of most types of fiction, she has always had a passion for writing. Legacy of Darkness is the first book in a fantasy series called The Graces, which Dawn has been trying to write in some guise or another since she was sixteen years old. Now in denial about turning thirty, she plans on bringing the next book in the series out much sooner.
Dawn was born in Warwickshire, and now lives in West Sussex. Whilst still enjoying reading, she also spends much of her days telling people to turn their computers off and on again. When she isn't being a professional geek, she is being a casual one. She blogs, reviews, and enjoys mountain biking and running.
It is much cheaper than therapy!
For me, there was never a question about it; I always wanted to be a writer. For as long as I can remember, storytelling is all I ever wanted to do. Essentially, it’s a hobby; I’m lucky enough for it to also provide me some sort of rudimentary income, but having contracts and deadlines hasn’t numbed any of the joy when I put pen to paper.
Also, it’s still cheaper than therapy.
Tell us about your current or most recent writing project, and what you wish to accomplish with it.
My current project is a self-published effort. It’s a fantasy trilogy called The Graces. I have recently released book one; I’m currently working on book two. I’m looking to get all three out by summer of next year. This will be my first completed series, and I’m hoping I can use it to start building up a reputation for kick-ass heroines and fantasy world building.
In your mind, what is your greatest accomplishment?
Apart from getting my first writing contract? Still being alive is a pretty good one (I was born 3 months premature, and wasn’t given very high chances of survival). I think though, for accomplishments I had a knowledgeable hand in, it would be a skydive done in 2008. I was scared of heights, and had resolved to conquer a fear for the New Year. The choices were heights or spiders. I picked heights, and did a tandem skydive from 10,000 feet later that year.
In your mind, what is your biggest failure?
Being a horror author that can’t watch horror films?
If you could be one fictional character—it can be anyone, modern or classic, movie, book, TV show, legend, myth, or even comics—who would you be, and why?
Ah, this is a tough one. There are so many characters I would love to be. I think I would have to pick Jill, from Katharine Kerr’s Deverry series. I’m a sucker for strong female characters. Jillian was so awesome, Within Temptation wrote a song about her. It’s called Jillian (go figure). She is a fighter, in more ways than one, and conquers both her fears and her limitations. She is flawed, but she is essentially fearless. I’d love to have a taste of that kind of confidence.
Dr. Who was a close second. There will be a female Doctor. Wait and see.
What is your ideal writing environment, and can/do you attain it, and if so, how?
If there is an ideal one, I haven’t found it yet. I write where I can; living in a one-bedroom flat means I don’t have a range of options, and I’ve even succumbed to the writer-in-a-coffee-house trope, much to my shame.
I live near the sea, and would love to acquire a beach hut for writing purposes. Then, I think I will have reached my writing zen.
What is your primary writing inspiration? It can be anything: people living or dead no matter their occupation, or places, concepts, groups, inanimate objects, etc.
I have various inspirations. My zombie fiction is fueled by anger. I have what I would consider a non-impact stressful job. When I say non-impact, I’m not saving or changing lives (like EMTs, servicemen and women) but suffice to say I have clients to keep happy, and constant targets and deadlines to hit. When I finish for the day, sitting behind the keyboard and being able to send a character on some kind of rampage (completely relevant to the plot) is a great way to let off steam.
My fantasy, I started writing as a response to bullying. I was on the receiving end of quite a lot of it in my younger years, and that’s where my predilection for strong female leads came around – they had the personality that I wanted, and the confidence I dreamed of one day possessing. I started channeling this emotion through fantasy, and building up an entire world as an outlet for your anguish is very effective.
I’m no longer the 16 year old who started building that fantasy world, but the veins of it still wind very close to my heart, and world-building remains a brilliant way for me to set life aside and have some quality "me" time without having to walk out of the door.
You’re stranded on a deserted tropical island full of life-sustaining fish, game, and flora, and don’t know when or even if you’ll ever be rescued. You get to choose three people to be stranded with you, and it can be anyone, whether you know them or not. Who would those three people be, and why?
Just three? Hmm.
I would firstly pick my best friend, Victoria. We’ve known each other for 23 years (I’m 30) and she’d make being stranded on a desert island quite frankly hilarious. I’d pick Eddie Izzard; mainly for the same reasons, but also for his sharp intellect. There will have to be lots of meaty conversations to carry us through the night. And whilst I’ll be happy doing the fishing, gutting and so forth (who needs fruit and veg) I’ll pick Bear Grylls. He’ll be sure to have some handy survival tips we can all use. :)
In 5 years, I will have finished (hopefully) all my current WIP. That is 18 novels and around 12 novellas. I would love to be a full time writer by that point, but that’s more realistically in the ten year bracket. In 5 years, I’d like to be Chartered in my field (IT) and with at least one bestseller on the list. Check in with me in 2019 and we can update that. ;)
You can speak briefly with any one dead person, and ask them one question. Who would that person be, and what would you ask them?
I’d like to ask Gavrilo Princep if, if he knew the consequences of killing Franz Ferdinand, whether he would have gone ahead with it. I often wonder how much more civilization could have progressed by now if there hadn’t been a WWI – also, I wonder if somehow, we’d have managed to start a war a different way. Mankind is so very self-destructive.
Share one weird dream you had with us, and what you learned, if anything, from it.
I have so many of these, and many of them turn in to book plots. I had one recently about a massive dolphin that could leave the sea, and it created rivets in the ground for smaller dolphins to be able to follow it off-land. I was subsequently told this was in an episode of the Simpsons. From this, I have learned I should watch less television and, perhaps, drink less coffee.
What advice do you have to share with other aspiring writers?
Write. Just write. No matter how bad you think your ideas are, you can only get better at your craft by practicing it. Also, when your novel is finished, *don’t* just put it on KDP. Proof it. Get a professional editor. Get a professional cover. You can’t spent hundreds of hours creating something, then just throw it up on the internet. That’s like building your own house, and getting a near-sighted hedgehog to do the exterior and interior design.
(The Reality Bender has just fired his near-sighted hedgehog exterior and interior designer)
In your mind, what is the most rewarding thing about writing?
The reader feedback. Not just in the form of reviews (though they are fabulous, and I do wish people had the courage to do reviews more often). I get messages direct on Facebook about how my books have affected people. When that happens, it makes all the toil worth it.
In your mind, what is the most frustrating thing about writing?
The anonymity. There are now literally millions of books on the Kindle store, and whilst some are amazing, some are also sub-standard. We’re in an industry now that has been rocked by the self-publishing phenomenon, and whilst I take clear advantage of that with my fantasy work, I take the creation of a book seriously. I see so many Powerpoint book covers, works without editing, and “books” with three pages, that it makes me want to headdesk, not just facepalm.
(The Reality Bender often facepalms and headdesks over this same thing)
How do you respond to negative criticism, including bad book reviews?
Thankfully I haven’t had much negative criticism yet, but I’m guessing that’s because not many folks have bought my books!
Alluding to the mini-rant above, I used to be one of the self-publishing crowd that thought it was okay to just upload your book. No one bought it; when they did, there was no review. Then I got a three star review that told me the writing needed to be “tightened up”. After I’d got over myself, I realized that yes, I had to get the book done properly. I withdrew it from sale, and went through re-edits, before commissioning a pro editor to review it for me. Best money ever spent.
My traditionally published zombie horror has only had one negative so far – that the main character is sexist. Well, the character was meant to be sexist (he improves over the series, that’s the point of his character development) so as far as that comment is concerned, my response was “nailed it”.
Both members of a married couple are close and well-loved friends of yours, and you discover beyond doubt that one is cheating on the other. What, if anything, do you do? Does sex (gender) enter into your decision, and why?
Gender doesn’t enter in to the decision. If you have gone so far as to indulge in the ass-hattery of adultery, then there is something fundamentally wrong in the relationship. I would address the cheater first – they’re the ones who are unhappy, after all – and challenge them to do the right thing. Be that ending the affair, or ending the relationship, either way, perpetuating that kind of behavior is healthy for no one (I’m writing from experience. It ended well, in the end.)
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what are your favorite flavors to listen to?
I do! I create playlists for each book, but sometimes those don’t get you in the “right mood”. Therefore I have Spotify playlists ranging from Slipknot to Florence and the Machine, from Dubstep to classical Chinese music.
The book playlists end up being songs that evoke certain scenes or traits from a particular character; I challenge readers to follow the playlists, compare them to the books and figure it out for themselves!
What is the biggest distraction or impediment to your writing, and to completing your writing projects?
The biggest distraction, by far, is the Internet. It’s so easy to hop in to different screens. I’ve started using Omm Writer to tackle this – it’s an immersive word processor, and a fab tool. The price is voluntary, so you pay as much as you think it’s worth.
Does time and the world around you ever “disappear” when your muse is upon you and you’re “in the writing zone”? If so, describe the feeling.
Oooh yes. And it’s wonderful, when that happens. It sounds so cliché, but the world really does melt away. Much like when you get in the zone when you read, I start seeing the book in my head, a film reel, rather than seeing the words on the page. Being able to touch type helps this. :D
How often do you edit, and when, and how many rounds of edits?
I do three rounds of edits, when, and only when, I’ve finished the first draft. Editing as you go is prohibitive and more procrastination than anything else.
How do you research prospective literary agents or publishers for representation and publication of your works—i.e., what tools and resources?
Unfortunately, I don’t. I generally always knew I’d self publish my fantasy, and I don’t have a big enough body of work to justify having an agent. My zombie work, I only ever intended to submit that to Permuted Press – I’m a massive fan of theirs. I was therefore very fangirl about life when I was accepted last year.
If you’ve been traditionally published, describe the feeling you had when you received and accepted your first contract/ offer.
It was a surreal day, and a year ago to the day, pretty much. I was ill; Great Bitten had been out for a month and I decided I’d bite the bullet and submit it to Permuted. I was nervous; I hate being rejected. I suppose that’s why I’ve kept my fantasy work to myself. Anyway, I did the submission, and was given the “1 year turnaround” stock response. Three days later, I came down ill with gastroenteritis. I was sent home from work, and hobbling around the house feeling awful and dosed up on codeine. I checked the submission on the off chance to see if it had been read; it wasn’t there anymore. My heart fell. I thought I’d already been rejected. So imagine my stunned amazement when I checked the “declined” section and saw it was empty. I checked the “accepted” section and there it was; the request for contact, that they wanted to discuss a contract. I shuffled through to the kitchen (still dosed up), showed the email to my partner, and just pleaded “what does it mean?”
My childhood dream had just come true, and I was too ill to either realize or celebrate it!
You have one paranormal or psychic superpower. What is it, and what will you do with it?
I already have an optional sense of smell. I use it to survive going home and being anywhere near my father’s bathroom. I’d love to be able to remember everything, including dreams. Conscious recall of every event you experience would be more than a little leg-up in life.
Are you superstitious about your writing habits? If so, what is/are that/those superstition(s)?
I have no particular superstitions; I’m just fastidious about backing things up.
I don’t essentially believe in taking a life to save a life; that’s a self-defeating viewpoint. I’ve never thought about this, and it’s a hard question. I cry when I accidentally hurt other people, so this choice would probably make my head spin so much that it’d come off.
In your mind, what is the ultimate sin?
Deceit. Fundamentally most sin stems from deceit.
(Damn good answer! The Reality Bender agrees.)
In your mind, what is the ultimate blessing?
Life. Without it we are nothing.
Who is your favorite literary character that you’ve ever written/ created, and why?
Arroryn, the lead character of my Graces series. As I have mentioned, this story was an escape from bullying. Arroryn’s story started off as my story, as she was the woman I wanted to be. Eventually, she started telling me the story, and I can’t wait for the world to read her journey.
You discover your best friend is lying to you about something important to you, and hurting you, themselves, others, or all of the above with that lie. What do you do about it?
Confront her about it and stop being such a skin-tube. If you’ve hung around long enough to be categorized “best friend” (see 23 years earlier) then you’ll expect this.
You’re faced with a horde of desperate, hungry, potentially violent people in a world where the trucks and trains no longer deliver the goods. What do you do?
Find a truck and deliver the goods myself.
Why should people read your work?
I do genuinely believe each of my books offers something fresh in the genre. Great Bitten is a UK-based zompoc book (there aren’t too many of those out) and there are different categories of infected. It’s character-driven, too, and nicely balanced with action. Legacy of Darkness is a dark fantasy with deep world building. The nasties are pretty damn nasty, too. The main religion is basically necromancy. How can anyone resist that!
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Book Product Page Links:
Great Bitten: Outbreak from Permuted Press
Legacy of Darkness
Dawn Peers Amazon.co.UK Author Page