I recently read Out of the Shadows by Dana Fraedrich (which incidentally turned out to be my 100th book of the year!) It is a steampunk adventure following feisty heroine Lenore and a fantastic cast of characters. You can check out my spoiler-free review here.
Dana was kind enough to agree to an interview which I’m delighted to be presenting to you now! Make sure you read right to the end for an exclusive reveal… 😉
Hi Dana, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! I really enjoyed Out of the Shadows and it’s a pleasure to have you on my blog.
Thank you so much for having me, Alex. It’s an absolute pleasure. 🙂
For readers who don’t know you from the ‘bookstagram’ community, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure thing! I grew up in Virginia but live in Nashville, TN now, which is a little funny because I have no musical talent whatsoever. Not that it stops me from singing very loudly (and very badly) in the shower, car, grocery store, etc. I’ve always written. Pretty much as soon as I could read, I started writing down whatever little stories came into my head, and writing assignments were always my favorite in school. I still have a lot of my old pieces too, though I think only one will ever see the light of day…after I do a lot of work on it. I wrote it over ten years ago, so it’ll need a lot of editing. Besides that, I enjoy video games (Skyrim and Dragon Age FTW!), cooking, and reading.
When did you decide to start writing Out of the Shadows and why?
I actually started writing Out of the Shadows as a lark. I wanted to see if I could write a steampunk story. I never imagined it would grab me like it did. I adore that world and the characters now! I finished the first draft in under a year. Given that I wasn’t writing regularly back then and only did it whenever the mood struck, that was pretty impressive for me.
How would you describe your writing process?
I think I write in layers, if that makes sense. The first draft is always a rough skeleton of what I really want to end up with. Then I go through and start refining details and setting scenes—I always think of action and dialogue before settings. I plump this or pare that down. When I get to about the third or fourth draft (it’s hard to keep track), I do all the fiddly work of searching for problem words like “very” and “that” and trying to refine it. Only after that do I send it to my editor.
The steampunk elements in Out of the Shadows are particularly detailed and fascinating to read about. Did you have to do a lot of research?
Sort of? See, my dad is an engineer, so I grew up learning about how things fit together and work. If I had a question about how a machine functions, I’d ask him first. Anything that had to do with chemical reactions, though, I had to research those. That made for a really unsettling browser history, especially when it came to gunpowder and poisons.
If you absolutely HAD to choose, which of your characters would you say is your favourite and why?
Ugh, this is like choosing between children. Haha. My answer would probably change day to day, but right now I have to say Lowell Thorne. He has such a beautiful heart, and he’s so clever and fun to write. He’s featured more in Into the Fire and the new forthcoming novella, so I’m excited for people to get to know him better.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Oh my gosh, there are so many amazing ones. Okay, Robin McKinley is my all time favorite. If I ever met her, I’d probably just giggle uncontrollably. Also, JK Rowling for her world building and Chris Wooding for action scenes.
Do you have any hobbies that you use to switch off and unwind when you’re not writing?
Playing video games always helps me. Everything I play is pretty immersive, so I can’t think about writing or problems or whatever when I’m busy talking to NPCs and fighting baddies.
Are there any aspects of your work that you find particularly difficult or challenging?
This might sound kind of unbelievable, but I never really dealt with proper insecurity before I started pursuing my career as a writer. I’ve always been pretty confident and good at adapting to general life stuff, but publishing my writing introduced me to a whole new world of self-doubt. You go into these spirals of “Actually, I don’t know if I’m any good at this…like, at all” and “Is this entire story terrible? Because I really can’t tell anymore.” Because I’ve never had to develop coping mechanisms for the kind of deep, soul-wrenching insecurity that comes from putting your passion out there for the world to see, it feels like I’m flailing at the bottom of a pit when it hits me. I still struggle with regaining objectivity when I start slipping down that path, but I’ve never been good at sitting still. Thankfully, so far in this journey, when I’ve fallen prey to dark thoughts, the urge to move and do something—whether it’s going to someone I trust for encouragement or just pushing forward even if I’m not certain what I’m doing—has outweighed my fear.
I’m especially eager to read your second book, Into the Fire. For those readers who might not know what it’s about, can you tantalise us with anything specific (but non-spoilery!)?
I’d be happy to! In Into the Fire, readers get to explore a part of Invarnis we haven’t seen before. Of course, all the loose ends from Out of the Shadows cause trouble for everyone. I found myself really challenging my characters in this second book. They’re in unfamiliar, disadvantageous, painful, and/or dangerous situations wherein they have to make difficult choices. Not gonna lie, my heart hurt for my characters as I was writing this book.
Can you give us any hints about projects you currently have in the works?
My current WIP is a standalone story set in the Broken Gears universe. In it, readers will see the history of Invarnis and how we got to the current point in its history. A lot of secrets will be revealed in the book, and some familiar side characters will get spotlight roles. I plan on releasing it during the first half of 2018.
Is there anything you’d like to add that I haven’t included?
I do a lot of live events like book festivals and author signings because I love meeting people and geeking out about books. If any organizers/bookstore owners/etc. out there would like to have me attend their event, drop me a line on my website. And speaking of book festivals…Alex, I didn’t tell you this was coming. I haven’t announced this anywhere just yet, so what better place than here? I am very excited to let you all know I will have at table at BookCon in New York City this June. I’ll be at booth #1140, so feel free to come by and say hi. I met some amazing people there last year and cannot wait to go back!
Well, I absolutely loved finding out more about Dana! It’s great to remember that those authors are real people 😉 If you are interested in finding out even more or following any of Dana’s social media accounts, I have included some handy links below.
Website and Blog: http://www.wordsbydana.com/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Fraedrich/e/B008QB3QXI
And there you have it! I hope you all enjoyed reading this interview – huge thanks to Dana for giving up her time for it! If anyone goes on to read Out of the Shadows, be sure to let me know so we can chat about it!