Saturday, December 21, 2013

North Carolina Author Deanna Klingel

Welcome back to the Book Loft, Deanna.
Is there a story behind Cracks in the Ice?

There is, but I didn’t realize it until recently. I didn’t set out to write about teen alcoholism, I planned to write about a girl with the dream of Olympic gold as a figure skater. What happens to Gina when her dream collapses is what happens to a lot of athletes who can no longer compete: they lose their identity off the playing field. But since the book’s publication I’ve realized that I was influenced by another YA book that came out a few years ago. 

I was greatly distressed (actually I was angry!) by this book because the author betrays his YA readers by not telling the truth. In fact, he lies to them. He portrays the young alcoholics as life-of-the parties, laughing, falling down drunk, promiscuous, drunk, no accountabilities, no consequences. My book sets that straight. There are always consequences and we are all accountable. I name it and call it out: alcoholism. 

My book is also the story of two people who never give up on the alcoholic athlete; they love her. The consequences of their actions lead the way to Al Anon, AA, back to the faith of her childhood, restoring a family. There is always hope. I wanted to tell the truth to the readers. It’s not too late; you can make a decision to change the course of events in your life; here’s how to do it. Teen drinking and alcoholism is a huge problem in our communities. Did you know we have eleven year olds binge drinking? Maybe this book can reach some of them. I didn’t plan that, but I think that’s the story behind this story.

What’s the last thing you wrote?

The last thing published was actually one of the first things I wrote. A set of four little tot books, The Little Beth Books, will begin to release this fall. I actually wrote these when my youngest daughter was four. They went to contract the week she turned thirty four! I had just tucked them away. At the time I wrote them I didn’t have any idea how to get published, and I sure didn’t have the time to learn. Beth was the youngest of seven who were all still growing up, most of them teenagers. I was busy.

What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

Recently I went through some old files in the attic and found a yellowed newspaper from Michigan State University Campus Newspaper. It published a poem I’d written. I have no memory of that at all, but I have it.

What’s your favorite genre of writing?

Historical fiction will always be my favorite. It’s my favorite to read, as well.

Who is the most fun character you ever created?

Probably in published work, it would be Avery Junior Bennett, from Avery’s Battlefield and Avery’s Crossroad. One that I’m trying to get published, The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber, is about a wonderful little real character, Jim Limber, who is really fun and loveable.

Who is the most annoying character you ever created?

The mafia don, “Uncle G” in Cracks in the Ice is the most annoying. He’s such a good guy, such a generous man, who masks his evil in family love and I wanted to shake him.

Which of your written plots is your favorite?

It might be the one I’m writing right now, Spokes. This is a teen who is training with her mom for triathlon. Mom is killed by a hit and run driver. With an unlikely new friend, Kelsey sets out on her bike to find the driver of the car which vanished.

What’s the most unusual plot twist you ever wrote?

That would be Cracks in the Ice. Gina Mangalli’s life is an unusual plot twist. Sadly it happens to many young people in real life.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so how often do you get it? How do you fix it?

I don’t believe in writer’s block, any more than I  believe in “I didn’t have time to…” Anytime I don’t get something done it’s because I was doing something else. Maybe when folks say they have writer’s block they mean they can’t think of a story to write at that moment. But they can still write, if they want to make the time. There are always edits, rewrites, revisions, research. How about a letter? Write a letter to an old friend or absent relative. There’s always something to write.

Have you ever written fan fiction?

Probably not since I’ve no idea what that is.

Do you type or write by hand? Computer? Typewriter? Legal pad?

I take notes on a legal pad I keep by my phone, computer and in the car. I scrawl out plot lines and chronology on the back of used computer paper. I write my story on the computer.

Do you archive everything you write?

No. I only keep what I use. My working pages include fresh writes, edits, revisions, rewrites, in various colors. I go back and forth. But my most recent copy is always before me. When I’m writing, for instance, chapter six, I might be revising chapter two. When the copy is totally the very best I think it can be at that time, all the color is gone, and it’s clean copy. That’s what I’ll have when I’m totally finished. An entire manuscript of clean copy, ready for the proof reading. I’m sure writers who zip right through their stories would find that tedious. But, then they’ll be going back and starting the process from the beginning. Sooner or later all those things have to be addressed. I find that weaving back and forth keeps me really in the middle of the plot and what just happened and what’s about to happen. Every writer has a process. That’s mine.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

I have a file with potential ideas I can go to. Sometimes some of those old ideas become part of the plot of a different story, surprising me.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written?

Well, that’s like asking who is my favorite child. The answer is which one needs me the most at that moment.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?

Science fiction, dystopian, erotic romance. I don’t read them so I don’t really understand them.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I’m working with the illustrator and publisher for the Little Beth Books, I’m marketing to readers all my published books, I’m writing Spokes, and trying to find publishers for five finished works.

What are your five favorite words?

I love you so much. (I’m a hopeless romantic. But I don’t read a lot of romance.)

What character that you’ve created most resembles you?

Probably Claire, the female protagonist in the Avery books.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Not that I’m aware of. The mind is an amazing thing. I imagine that ideas could be spawned from dreams that I don’t remember or am not aware of.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Yes. Spelling and grammar are part of the literary process. I get as much right in the first write as I can. It’s less to work over when I return to that page. Besides, looking at misspelled words and grammatical errors throws me off my concentration. I can’t move on until they’re fixed; I can’t read past them or through them. No, I don’t text.

Where do you most like to write?

I have a lovely office in the loft of our log mountain house. It’s very quiet. My eyes can move off the computer screen and rest on beautiful nature. My research is there, my dictionary, pencil sharpener…all my tools. And the chair is an anatomically designed comfortable number. My Buddy lies under my desk. Dave might pop in at lunch time and take up his seat on the other side of the loft and visit for a bit before going on. Gives me a nice rhythm.

Does music help you write?

No. I have total quiet.

How do you find the time to write?

I wish I could find it. I have to make it.

How do people react when they find out you write?

I’m amazed at their reactions. Mostly it’s kind of “in awe.” (They have no idea how much work it is.) I think they assume I’m making money like their own favorite well-known author. If they only knew the story behind that fallacy! Many will say they always wanted to write a book. I tell them to get started right away. Come join our writers’ group in town. They admire me that I have time to do this. They don’t have time. ‘Nuff said.

What or who is the biggest influence on your writing?

Probably American History is my biggest influence. From a world perspective, it’s all relatively “new.” It’s rich, it’s exciting. Our history is peppered with colorful people, heroes and villains, amazing women. I’ll never run out of story based in history.

Do you have a mentor?

I don’t have a mentor. I live in an isolated area. I have a writer’s group in my town with highly literate people. They write memoir, poetry, and new age things. They are great with the mechanics, but none are really interested in YA or Childrens Lit. The first editor I ever worked with, for more than a year, over the internet in London, was a PHD in English who loved Avery and Gunner so much, and was so convinced it was the beginning of a “stellar writing career” that she devoted more than a year to helping me learn. I will be forever indebted to her.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

The next book on the table is Beth’s Backyard Friends. This is a pre K-first grade level, the first of a 4-book series, published by Peak City Publishing. This is a bird identification book for youngsters to learn to recognize specific characteristics about the birds and remember their names. 

Thanks for sharing today!

Connect with Deanna Klingel at:

Facebook page: Books by Deanna
Linked In
Southern Travelers Around the South (SIBA STARS)

Deanna Klingel is giving away a copy of Cracks in the Ice. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


PriviesAndPrims said...

Great book to win and share with our local library!

Doreen Brannan
priviesandprims at yahoo dot com

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

And, Beth’s Backyard Friends sounds great. What a good thing for kids to have and learn.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Jackie McNutt said...

Deanna has hit upon the ugly subject of alcoholism and I want to thank her for that. This is a problem that needs to be addressed in our society. parents are often in denial and it is great that you write about it. Only parents who have faced this can understand how destructive it is .
Thank you

Leslie Lynch said...

Deanna, this sounds like a great book on a timely topic. I look forward to reading it!

Judy Pierce said...

Deanna is a gifted writer and a delightful person. Hope to read more of her work. Enjoyed the interview. I, too, have to have total quiet in order to write and struggle with being disciplined enough to write on a schedule.

Patricia Bradley said...

So great to learn more about Deanna. Cracks in the Ice sounds like a great book. pat at ptbradley dot com

Sharon A Lavy said...

Thanks for all your comments. Diana has tried but for some reason the comment box is not working for her.

Anonymous said...

Thank you readers, for coming by and commenting. I hope you will all enjoy Cracks in the Ice. Deanna

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