Debut Author Interview: B.P. Donigan

Starting today and running for….as long as it needs to, you’ll find a new feature on this humble blog: interviews with debut authors!

For the past year, I have found great camaraderie and help from my fellow 2019 debut authors. As we seek to support one another, some of us have offered to do interviews for our blogs. So every once in a while, you’re going to see one of them on here. Now, I haven’t read all of these books — some of them just aren’t in my wheelhouse, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in yours or in the wheelhouse of someone you know.

For the first, allow me to introduce you to B.P. Donigan.

B.P. Donigan was born and raised in Wasilla, Alaska (which she reminds us would later become famous thanks to one infamous politician who could see Russia from her house, but at the time was about as rural as you can get).

She attended college in rural Idaho earning a degree in Print Journalism, and then not-so-rural Utah earning a degree in Marketing, and finally moved to very-not-rural Boston where she lived and worked for ten years. After paying her dues to the Extreme Winters, she resides now in sunny California, with her two kids, two fish, two dogs, and one amazing husband. Like any good superhero she spends her days building her cover story behind a desk, and her nights saving the world (on paper, at least).

Donigan’s debut is Fate Forged.

Here’s the description:

Growing up on the streets of Boston, Maeve O’Neill learned to rely only on herself. Paying bills isn’t glamorous, but her life is on a better track—until she starts having agonizing visions of torture. Desperate to rid herself of the paralyzing episodes, she follows her visions to the scene of a murder. Instead of answers, she gets an unexpected gift from the victim: Magic.

With the unwanted power, Maeve becomes the access point to all of Earth’s untapped magic. Now, powerful enemies are after her and staying alive means striking a bargain with an untrustworthy ally with a long-shot plan. Maeve has to keep the magic in check until she can get rid of it, but her control is slipping and everything could go wrong. If the plan fails, her unlikely ally betrays her, or her enemies catch her, she’ll be handing over all of Earth’s magic…and her life.

Interest piqued? Let’s find out more:

What sparked the idea for Fate Forged?
Fate Forged started with a ‘what if’ questions. What if a woman inherited crazy magic powers, but had no idea how to control them?  From there, I let the questions lead me into a story. Who is she? Why doesn’t she know how to control the magic powers? Where do the powers come from? What if she doesn’t remember something critical about herself…

Did anything from your real life influence your book at all?
Definitely! I grew up in Alaska, which is where my characters go to search for a Fate who can remove the uncontrollable magic powers from my main character. They hike over a glacier and to the top of a mountain in a re-creation of a three-day hike I did when I was a teenager. (I wasn’t chased by demon dogs at the time, but otherwise it’s the same hike.) The locations, and even the hiker’s huts where they stop over, are all real places. Also, the book starts out in Boston where I lived for a decade after college, and I mention Davis Square and a fortune cookie factory, which are real places that are near and dear to my heart. I had a lot of fun putting my favorite places into my story.

Did you have to do any research for Fate Forged?
I researched everything! For the story itself, I had to map out the character’s road trip, and Google search weapons, how to realistically kill someone in hand-to-hand combat, and watch lots of videos online just to make a coherent fight scene. For a while there, I was pretty sure my internet searches were going to flag an FBI raid on my house.

How long did it take for you to write Fate Forged?
I first sat down to write a novel four years before Fate Forged was published. The first year was all about learning how to write a novel. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I knew what I liked, but I had no idea how to plan, plot, or pace a novel. An entire second year was spent editing my work in progress and then getting beta readers and critique partners.

Did anything change significantly in your book during the writing or editing process?
Yes! Many of the characters’ names changed, and the title used to be The Lost Sect, which I liked, but the publisher didn’t think had enough depth. After some soul searching, I decided “Fate” was a thread that will reach across the entire series, and then I attempted to find a title with the word Fate that didn’t sound like a romance novel! To make it all cohesive, I ended up coming up with titles for the first three books (as well as the series title) so the extra effort was worth it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter all the way. I’m always looking for better ways to plan out the plot, the characters, and pacing. For me, it’s so much easier to write creatively if I know the bones of the story are solid.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I have a full-time job, two kids, two dogs, and a husband. All that keeps me busy! When I have spare time, I love to dabble in home improvement projects and arts and crafts. I love trying new things, but honestly I have a hard time finishing up the projects I start.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on book two in the Bound Magic Series, which is tentatively titled Fate Changed. Although the main characters overcome a lot of challenges in Fate Forged, there are still some people who need to be stopped, and the fate of Earth’s magic hangs in the balance in a new way.

Where can we find the book?
You can buy the book on Amazon | Kobo | Red Adept Publishing | B&N | GooglePlay

Where can we find you?
Website www.bpdonigan.com

Facebook (@BPDonigan)

Instagram (bpdonigan_author)

Twitter (@BPDonigan)

Goodreads

Join B.P. Donigan’s Newsletter

 

We Hope for Better Things on Urban Book Reviews

I’m excited to share both a review of We Hope for Better Things and an interview with me on Urban Book Reviews. Here’s a little taste of both:

The Review

“We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels is a one astounding read. This literary debut novel holds so much intensity. I felt the pain, loss, love, and hope. It was like a fresh battle wound that would not fade. A constant reminder of what never died. Still wounds like these exist, today.”

Read more here.

The Interview

We Hope for Better Things blends family drama, mystery, and romance into one intriguing story. How did you come up with the plot for your debut novel?
It started with the idea of the photographer—the invisible presence whenever we look at a photo. From there, the story grew . . . a lot. Once it was clear that race relations was going to be part of Nora’s story, I began to think about how quickly a family’s legacy might change. How long would it take to go from brotherhood to bigotry and back again? How long does it take a wound to heal?

With so many great elements, who would you say is your target audience?
My target audience is thoughtful readers who are troubled by the times we live in and are looking for sense in what seems like chaos. People who want to know they’re not the only ones who yearn for meaning in the midst of what often feels like an incomprehensible world.

Read more here.

 

We’re now just nine weeks away from the release date! It’s hard to believe after working on this for so long, it will actually finally be out in the world for people to read!

If you want to pre-order a copy, the buy links are on my Books page.

Hear Me Bloviate on Publishing!

You may or may not know that my husband, also a writer, is a podcast fiend, both as a listener and as a podcaster himself. He is currently hosting three podcasts (The Gut Check Podcast, Clinch: A Podcast of Fiction and Not-Fiction, and These Go to Eleven) and his sermons are available online as well.

I’ve appeared here and there on the Gut Check Podcast, mostly as a bystander or an interrupter-of-proceedings, though occasionally I am asked direct questions or serve as a reader for Gut Check Literacy Month (which has lasted, oh, I’d say maybe two years). And I bet you can hear my laugh in some of those sermon recordings. But this week Zach actually interviewed me for the not-fiction portion of Clinch.

If you’re curious about what I do in publishing, how annoying I think I will be as an author to the people on my publishing team, or you just want to listen to us talk about Zach getting lost in the woods outside of Owosso, actor Kevin Sorbo, and whether or not we should have closed the drapes to keep our dog from barking during the recording, you should definitely give it a listen.

Also, you should go back to episode one and binge it, both for the fiction portion, where Zach reads his current work in serial fashion, and the not-fiction portion, which gives you an inside look into the highs and lows of publishing, both traditionally and independently, from Zach’s own rollercoaster experience and interviews with other authors. It’s one of the most honest assessments you’ll get of what it’s like to be a writer trying to make a mark in the book world today.

The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Received…and More

I’m over on the Capital City Writers blog today talking about what I’m working on right now, the worst writing advice I ever received, and more. Here’s a taste…

1. What is your favorite part about writing? The most challenging part?

 

It’s hard to say what I enjoy most because I do enjoy all the different parts of the process for different reasons. I love the idea phase when anything is possible, the drafting phase when I am speaking worlds into existence, the revising phase when I am making this lump of words more closely resemble the perfect vision in my head. There are two contexts in which I feel more elementally me than any other: when I am silently and deliberately exploring the natural world and when I am writing.

 

The most challenging part is …

 

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

And tomorrow night I’ll be at Schuler Books & Music in the Eastwood Towne Center leading a free workshop called Empathy over Experience: Writing Convincingly from Someone Else’s Shoes.

The fun starts at 7pm. If you’re a relatively local writer, I hope to see you there!

When it feels like the end, that’s only the beginning

Counting down the days until Write on the Red Cedar 2016, which starts this Friday in East Lansing. This will be my third year attending (it’s only three years old) and second year presenting. Earlier this month I was on the WOTRC blog answering some questions about success, failure, the books I’ve read the most, and more. Click here to read it.

Beyond WOTRC, I have articles to work on for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association before the month is up, and I’m still finishing up the renovations in our chapel at church. Just have window treatments and a little touch-up painting to go. When I looked ahead to January back at the end of last year and saw the commitments I had already made, I decided that February 1st was going to be my new year, my fresh start. That’s the month I plan to bring back some good habits I’ve had in the past, namely getting up earlier and using the quiet morning time alone to read, write, pray, and journal.

On the bedtime story front, the boy and I are smack dab in the middle of Watership Down and things are looking bleak. Holly’s team has just come back from Efrafa with many injuries but no does, and Hazel’s been shot after the raid at Nuthanger Farm. As I closed the book Saturday night, Calvin’s voice wavered as he wondered what would happen now. “Don’t worry,” I said. “This is just the beginning of the most exciting part of the story.” It’s a cliché that things are always darkest before the dawn, but that is often how the story goes, isn’t it?

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US. Race relations have taken a serious hit in the past five years. Or perhaps the wider culture is just now noticing how bad things still are despite the work of Dr. King and countless other people who devoted their lives to seeking justice and equality in this country. The national mood must seem a lot like it did fifty or sixty years ago. Indeed, things look strikingly similar. Racial unrest, a long military conflict overseas from which we cannot seem to extricate ourselves, prominent political figures calling for the profiling and restriction of those with differing beliefs. I find it difficult to be optimistic.

Yet, what can make us rise to the occasion like opposition?

The rabbits of Watership Down will have to use all of their courage and cunning to save their warren. They cannot give way to fear, or they’re through. There’s only one way forward, and it’s down the most treacherous road. There are no guarantees of success. But to not go down the road at all means certain failure.

Don’t those make the best stories? When there is no choice but to walk through the fire?

There is nothing like a hard winter to make the spring all the more glorious.

Once in a Great City

Click below for a lovely little interview with David Maraniss about his book, Once in a Great City. It touches on several of the themes (and even a couple events) found in my novel, The Bone Garden, which will be going out on submission later this month. Though it’s not my hometown, I love Detroit. It’s my parents’ hometown, my extended family’s hometown, a city that looms large in my imagination and to which I feel an intrinsic connection. I can’t wait to read Maraniss’s book.

NPR

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/463010089/463010090

Storytelling, Books, and Bookstores

My agent’s blog is full of links to great content about writing, books, and creativity. And in the past couple weeks, she’s shared two items I want to share with you today — partly because they’re simply interesting and edifying, but also because once I’m done with revisions to The Bone Garden (the manuscript we intend to submit to editors first), I’ll be picking up I Hold the Wind again. And it so happens that I Hold the Wind is about books. Physical, printed, paper and ink books. And it’s about a bookstore. So I love reading things like Why the Printed Book Will Last Another 500 Years and listening to things like this:

Both give me the warm, fuzzy feeling of curling up on the couch under a blanket to enjoy a foray into another place and time. And both assure me that I’m not crazy.

Me on the Radio

I finally got up the courage to listen to a radio show that I was on back in…oh, was it last year? Yes. Yes it was. I was sure I sounded like kind of an idiot, but as it turns out, I don’t. I shared this interview time with Alyssa Alexander, a Lansing area author and a fellow member of the Capital City Writers Association. Alyssa also does not sound like an idiot (so kudos to the both of us).

So if you want to hear more about me, what I do for a living as a publishing professional, and a bit about why I still read and prefer printed books to ebooks, please give it a listen.