A few Questions for April Daniels

april-daniels

I reviewed April Daniels upcoming #LGBT superhero novel on Tuesday, and I asked her to follow up with a little Q&A…

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I went to college. I wanted to make video games, but the part of gaming that I really was interested in was the story, and after looking at some game company websites for game writer job postings, it seemed like the easiest way to do that kind of work was to get published as an author a few times. At the time, getting a novel published seemed like it would be no sweat, just a matter of a year or two. This is not the case.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I really wouldn’t know. I write how I write, and try not to think too much about signature styles or anything. Style is something that happens naturally for most, and while you can develop it with intention, that’s an advanced level skill that I’m only now beginning to come to grips with.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I still play a lot of video games, but I’m getting old, so while I used to be able to play twitch-shooters, I’m now mostly into support classes on Overwatch and grognardy strategy games.

What does your family think of your writing?
Mom’s pretty stoked.

Describe your protagonist, Danny.
Plucky. She’s got miles and miles of pluck.

How long did it take you to write Dreadnought?
About six weeks to rough it out in late 2013. After that, there have been a total of several months work of intensive work, spaced out in fits and starts as I worked on other projects and battled various intrusions from real life and my day job.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing Dreadnought?
I don’t really learn things while writing books. Researching, sure, but once I start writing it’s because I know where I’m going.

Danny’s experiences touch on larger issues, such as the nature of choice, the ramifications of how society sees us, and the pursuit of revenge. What’s your take on some of these issues?
My answer to this will go on sale January 24th on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

What was your grand plan when you first set out to write this novel?
To write the book I wish I’d had when I was 15. There wasn’t anything at that time that showed trans people in a good light. Hell there wasn’t even anything that told stories from our perspectives.

What other fiction influences your work?
I’ve been reading sci-fi and fantasy my whole life. Superhero fiction is great because it’s basically both at once. It’s hard to pick out specific features I took from other work for that reason, though believe it or not, The Black Company by Glenn Cook is probably the strongest influence.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
The book’s not out yet, so I don’t have many readers. The ones that do exist have left a few reviews on Goodreads, but I haven’t had any correspondence with them.

Do you have any suggestions for amateur or aspiring writers? If so, what are they?
It’s gonna take years. Years, and years, and years. You’re gonna hate it. No, really. You’re gonna hate it. It’s gonna take forever and all that time you’re gonna want to splash it up on Amazon or Smashwords and you need to not do that. Self-publishing is something you set out to do intentionally, not as a fallback when the traditional road is taking too long. If you want to self-publish, write something specifically for the self-publishing market, not your manuscript that you’re hugely invested in and have spent years working on.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Dreadnought?
I don’t think I have enough distance from the project yet to be making those kinds of assessments. In twenty years maybe I’d have a good answer.

Tell us about how the writing process is different between Dreadnought and Sovereign.
I learned that you should not do revisions in the document you export from Scrivener. You export, test read, and then enter the revisions into Scrivener itself, and then re-export that newer version for further work. Delay leaving Scrivener for as long as possible, because once you start doing revisions in your exported document you can’t go back and you might discover you need to do a structural edit. Structural edits in Word documents are a fucking horror show. Avoid them with all power at your command.

Tell us about your experiences with Diversion Books.
They’ve been wonderful. Really, truly excellent. It’s been a revelation.

What other project(s) are you currently working on?
I’m doing the pre-production work on a web serial called Panzerhexen that I’ll be launching next year. It’s about an all-female tank crew in the Red Army fighting Nazi zombies in an alternate history 1943. Recent events have made its unifying them of “Die Fascists!” somewhat more relevant than I had hoped they would be, but such is life.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
If you want to call your Congressperson or Senator and tell them to block something the incoming Administration wants to do, the best thing is to call them at their local office. Emails don’t work. Physical mail can be iffy. Their Washington DC office will probably just shunt you to voicemail. But if you call them at their local office, they’ll have to stop what they’re doing and listen to you.

Thanks for taking time to talk to us, April! Everybody should head to April’s site and get the skinny on preordering Dreadnought.

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications and is currently attending Northern Arizona University. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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