a writer’s perspective
Hello and welcome, DelSheree Gladden!
Would you like to share a bit about yourself?
New Mexico has been my home for most of my life. I grew up in a little tiny town with one stoplight. My husband grew up in the next town over (where we live now) and our two kiddos love being near the many, many cousins. I have eight YA novels published and I work as a Dental Hygienist with the public schools during the school year. My novels include, Escaping Fate, Twin Souls Saga, The Destroyer Trilogy, and my newest book, Wicked Hunger.
When did you fall in love with reading?
I’m not really sure. I’ve loved reading as long as I can remember. The library was one of my favorite spots as a child, and yes I do realize that probably makes me a huge nerd! I can’t even tell you how much babysitting money I spent on books as a kid 🙂
When did you fall in love with writing?
My curiosity about writing started when I was little, but I didn’t actually try to write something until my early teenage years. Those first attempts were pretty lousy, but I’ve worked hard to develop my writing skills and learn from other writers.
Do you ever find yourself more connected with the darker characters/antagonists in the books you read?
There are definitely times when that happens, not because their actions or decisions appeal to me, but because the darker characters have the potential to be incredibly deep characters. As a writer, you can take experiences that have affected you or people you know negatively and use them to build a damaged or disturbed character. It can be a fascinating experience to think about how a person’s reactions to bad situations can shape who they are.
If you could introduce two characters from two different books you have written, who would they be and why?
The first character would be Milo, from The Destroyer Series, because he was such a challenging character to figure out and write. The emotions and desires that motivated his actions were complicated and not always what I wanted him to do as a reader, but as a writer I knew it was the only way for him to go.
The other character would be Ivy, from Wicked Hunger, because she is a character whose whole life and all her decisions are dictated by a set of beliefs she holds to absolutely. To her, there is no other choice, but as the series progresses she will find that her world is not as black and white as she thinks it is.
Many authors are avid readers — how can writers separate inspiration from imitation, cultivate their craft, and mature into their own artist?
I read an article once about an author, who before he began to write, would refuse to read anything but his own work for months to avoid sounding like someone else. Personally, that just doesn’t work for me. I get a lot of inspiration from other writers. I’m not necessarily talking about their stories inspiring my books, although a word or phrase occasionally sparks an idea. It is more the style other writers employ, the way the describe characters or weave a backstory into the main plot. When I read, it’s not just to enjoy the story, but to learn from the writers as well.
I think in the beginning, a lot of writers do imitate authors they love, but it’s a way of learning. That is how most painters begin as well, re-painting the masters. The more writers write, the more they’ll discover their own style and voice.
Do you have any recurring themes in your novels?
It’s funny, because I never really thought about this before I was asked a similar question by another blogger and I had to look at my books more closely. I was surprised when I realized there was a recurring theme, and it was that we all have the ability to make our lives what we want no matter what forces are trying to push us in a certain direction.
When do you feel that you are at your most creative?
At night when I am trying to fall asleep. I frequently have trouble falling asleep, and while I am lying in bed I will run through scenes in my head and work out plot problems. It’s usually when I make the most progress on an idea!
What is your process, from start, to writer’s block, to finish?
When I start a new book, I just jump in and start writing. This first chapter usually gets rewritten many times, but the details usually seem to work themselves out as I write. When I get writer’s block, I switch to a different book and keep whatever was bugging me in the back of my mind. If I really get stuck, I force myself to make a brief outline. Finishing a book is usually the most agonizing part, especially if it’s the last in the series. I’ll spend a lot of time going back over everything to make sure I didn’t forget something or mix up some plot point.
I recently read “Wicked Hunger,” and cannot say enough, how much I loved the novel. Do you have a favorite excerpt you wouldn’t mind sharing?
Absolutely! This is from Chapter 8 of Wicked Hunger when Zander finds out Van has broken one of the rules they live by in order to keep their hunger in check.
“Tell me nothing happened to Noah! Tell me right now, Van, that you didn’t just ruin everything for us!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Martial arts?” I snap. “Are you freaking kidding me? You know how dangerous that is! What the hell were you thinking?”
“How do you know what I did today?” Van asks quietly.
I falter for a moment before continuing my tirade. “Who cares? What happened today? Is Noah okay? What exactly did you two do this afternoon?”
“Don’t lie to me, Van!” I warn.
Her growl races through the phone and snaps at me viciously. “I’m not lying. Nothing happened!”
“I don’t believe that. He was teaching you to fight and nothing happened? You really expect me to believe that?” How could she have been so stupid? That was way too big of a risk to take!
“You know, you don’t know everything, Zander,” Van argues. “You don’t know what I’m capable of, either! You think your way is the only way. You laugh at me and think I’m an idiot for having friends and trying to live a normal life. You think I’ll hurt them because I won’t be able to control myself. You don’t know anything about me if you think I’d ever hurt one of my friends!”
A sob breaks through her yelling. “I’m stronger than you think, Zander, and I’m not stupid. I didn’t let things with Noah get out of hand. I paced myself. I was smart about what I let him teach me. Maybe you can’t handle it, but I can have friends and this stupid curse at the same time. I’ve already given up one guy I loved for you. Don’t ask me to do it again.”
She sniffs again, and I know she must be crying. “Please don’t ask me to do that. I just want to be happy for once, Zander. Can’t you understand that?”
I rub my hand over my face and sigh. Most of my anger fell away when I heard my baby sister sob the first time. Right now, all I feel is regret, regret for yelling at her, regret for stomping on her hopes and happiness so often.
“Yeah,” I say softly, “I can understand that.”
What is your biggest inspiration?
As far as writing in general, that would be my husband. He always encourages me and helps me get it just write. When it comes to specific inspiration for my books, a lot of my inspiration comes from local mythology and folklore in New Mexico. This state has such a fascinating history. Some of that history isn’t pleasant, but much of it is beautiful and captivating.
Here is a bit of my review of “Wicked Hunger”:
Van and her brother, Zander, are more than mysterious; they are fascinatingly dark characters, constantly battling horrifying thoughts and urges. Not only are they struggling with cravings revolving around pain, they possess superhuman strength.
This doesn’t begin to explain the layers of fear and intensity in this novel. Every moment I waited and wondered when the gnawing and “hunger” would erupt. I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what, if not human, Van and her brother were. I kept reading, wondering, are they vampires? Werewolves? Extra-terrestrials? For a moment, I wondered, maybe they are human, and they are just plain sick –maybe serial killers?
Wicked Hunger starts in a way, that surprised me. The book is in present tense! It is filled with riveting inner monologue of deeply troubled teenage characters, terrified of what they are capable of.
The book begins with Van, then, we experience Zander, whose portion of the story sent me through a frenzy of emotion. I saw what he saw, believed what he so badly wanted to believe (and I could hardly stand the betrayal he encountered).
The plot thickens yet, again, when the second brother, Oscar and other characters are introduced. The book kept me needing to know more, and even as it has ended, I see the scenes–mild, pleasant moments as well as the graphic thoughts of the characters–in my mind.
I loved the book, and finished it the same night I purchased it. Thanks for sharing the book, DelSheree, and for sharing a bit about yourself! I wish you all the best!!
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Again, thanks so much, DelSheree, for stopping by!!