Name: Guy Donovan
Where are you from? Northwood, North Dakota, though I was born in Georgia and have lived in many, many places in the U.S.
A little about yourself, `ie your education, family life, etc.:
I’m a military brat (Air Force) who did his own time in the military (Marine Corps) before going to college at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA (where I met my wife) to learn to be an animator. I then moved on to Los Angeles, where I worked for ten years as an animator, storyboard artist, and designer for most of the big animation companies in Hollywood, notably Disney, DreamWorks, Marvel, Hana-Barbera, and Warner Brothers.
After 9/11, the animation industry largely dried up and moved overseas so the Hollywood fat cats could pocket more of the money and I wound up (like most people in animation) leaving the industry. Needing to feed myself and my family, I gravitated to working for the Federal Government, where I remain to this day. I write in whatever time I can scrounge in order to fulfil that creative side that the Gubmint really doesn’t endorse or encourage.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just released ‘A Cold, White Home,’ the second book in my Dragon’s Treasure Trilogy.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
About six years ago, though I started out writing Star Wars fan fiction as a kid (nerd) in the ‘70s.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Hmmm…I guess it was when I was writing those Star Wars fanfics but it really wasn’t until I uploaded ‘The Forgotten Princess of Mona’ to Amazon in the summer of 2013.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My wife (an author in her own right) had previously written a spec script for a Barbie direct-to-video movie in which Barbie was to play a French-ish princess who befriended a dragon. The two of them were to team up in order to save her kingdom from an evil pretender to the throne. In the end, Mattel ignored her script completely and when I suggested that she take the story and ‘adult it up’ a bit, she basically threw it back at me (I was in a real creative funk at the time due to my job with the Government being so phenomenally uncreative) and said “Why don’t you do it?” I thought about it a bit, realized I liked the idea and, well…now I’m two books into a trilogy with the third done as a first draft.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think that’s really for me to say. Someone told me a long time ago that my writing reminded him of Isaac Asimov but I’ve never seen that in my writing, myself.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For ‘A Cold, White Home?’ Well, it’s basically something that my main character tells herself at about the halfway point in the book. She is living in the wintery wastes of the Scottish Highlands while her only firm memory of her father is his white marble tomb in the home she has been forced to abandon, so she takes some minimal comfort in the fact that they both reside in cold, white homes.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess it would have to be that no matter how bad your situation is, life is a precious thing and not to be wasted.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Much of it is realistic, as it is set in the very real locations of 5th century Wales and Scotland shortly after the Romans abandoned Britannia. Of course the main character is a (in this second book at least) 12 through 16 year old girl who was born autistic but cured by a telepathic link with a dragon, so there’s always that fantastic element as well.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Many of the characters in The Dragon’s Treasure are based in real people I have known, many no longer with us, but overall, they are generally all reflections of myself, both the good aspects and the bad.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
By mentor, I assume you mean favorite authors. Those would be Victor Hugo, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clark, and Anne McCaffrey. As for books that influenced me the most, I would have to go with Dandelion Wine, Les Miserables and Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lord of the Rings, 2001: a Space Odyssey, and The Dragonriders of Pern series. In fact, ‘A Cold, White Home’ is dedicated to Anne McCaffrey.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently torn between The Worlds of the Orb by W.C. Quick and Escape from Neverland by Nils Visser. Haven’t decided yet but it will be one of those two.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Good God, yes! The aforementioned W.C. Quick and Nils Visser but also Denice Garrou, Raven Williams, Jena Baxter, Susan Stuckey, Ellen Mae Franklin, Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Lee Pierret Perkins, Morgans Smith and Sheppard…the list is long, longer in fact than I currently have time to read.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am beginning work on an as-yet-untitled novella for an anthology. My part of it is a sort of prequel to The Dragon’s Treasure Trilogy. I’m also deep in edits and rewrites of the third book in the trilogy, currently titled ‘Memories so Distant and Brief, Yet Ever Green.’
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
One? Hmmm…so limiting! Okay, I’m gonna basically ignore your rule there and go with two separate writers groups: Flavour of Fantasy and Dream-Time Tales, both of which are largely comprised of the authors I listed above.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
As a career? No, not really. That implies that I can live off it and that’s not possible now. But as a long term thing? Absolutely. I can’t imagine not writing now.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. Not really. I’m very happy with it. It might even be my favorite in the trilogy. Ask me again when I’m done with book three though!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yep. As stated above: Star Wars. I was already a geek before that, but watching Luke gaze wistfully into that double sunset in a tiny little rinkydink movie theater in Twin Valley, Minnesota (unarguably moister but not altogether too different from Tatooine) was when I realized that I wanted to work in movies. I did that, of course, but now feel more at home writing, just like when I wrote all that crappy Star Wars fanfic when I was 11!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Sure! (see below)
Excerpt from ‘A Cold, White Home,’ chapter one:
The approaching dawn colored the eastern sky a rosy pink when Cerys stirred and Talorc nuzzled her affectionately with his great, wedge shaped head. She rolled up into a sitting position, rubbing at her tear-crusted eyes with her hands still bound before her. Cracking her eyes open, she beheld her surroundings as though still dreaming.
The sight that greeted her was soft and unfocused, as if seen through a veil of gauze. It reminded her of her old simpleminded days and her head swiveled left and right, seeking out anything familiar but failing entirely. Her memories of the horrible events of the night before returned to her then, as did the tears. Gradually, she became aware of the dragon’s warm bulk wrapped about her. An offshore breeze sent tendrils of fog streaming over his great, grey body, softening his spiny and horned shape into something indistinct, yet at the same time wholly solid. She saw him then as if in parts, first the long tail that seemed to shift and slither about with a life of its own, then the stout body, larger than any horse. Following the long and sinuous neck, her gaze ended on the triangular, horned head with its amber eyes staring at her, warm and unblinking.
“It wasn’t a dream, was it?” she croaked.
The dragon she had named after her father made no reply. He only stared back at her, his head high in the air above hers. She felt his concern for her clearly though, touching her as lightly as did the fog or a gentle caress. Then the amber of his eyes became a sharper yellow, signaling anxiety or concern.
“Where are we?” she asked as she struggled to her feet, wincing as the rope bit into her wrists.
With a fluid motion, Talorc rose as well and stretched his dark, leathery wings out wide, balancing on his muscular legs. As he beat slowly at the foggy morning air, the mist cleared and Cerys saw across the water. There, she discerned a dark smudge spreading out from where she guessed her home lay.
It’s not my home anymore, she corrected herself.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes! I have a tendency to be…ummm…verbose. Given my influences, I guess that should come as no shock to anyone, right? I have to really edit myself like crazy and still find that each of my three books in the trilogy run longer than many modern readers are willing to stick with. Some really get it though and for them I am eternally grateful. I keep telling myself though that my next, non-Dragon’s Treasure book will be a standalone that won’t exceed 200 pages. I promise!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Of my previously mentioned influences, I would have to go with Bradbury. His use of language was amazing and, I think, unparalleled by any modern author. To be a tenth the wordsmith he was would be an amazing thing!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
So far, no. I did, however, make a trip to Great Britain in 2013 that was part vacation and part research experience. It was absolutely the best trip of my life and the one that introduced me to mead!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did. My background as a professional artist is a real plus in that regard.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Realizing how (ahem) crappy it was and then fixing it in editorial.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes, that your first draft is dreck and always will be dreck.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you know (incorporate the little things you see around you, no matter the time period or situation) and write often.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you all for taking a chance on an absolute unknown! Every author likes to insist that they write for themselves but without those who dare to take a chance on an unknown, that goal would be depressingly easy to achieve!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was either Sam and the Firefly, by P.D. Eastman or Uncle Wiggily, by Howard R. Garis. My daughter now has both those books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m almost 50 now, so pretty much everything makes me cry but the one thing always makes me laugh is little things hitting each other. (okay…who gets that reference?)
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Jerry Goldsmith, my favorite film score composer of all time. It’s my biggest professional regret that I never got to work on a film that he did the score for.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
I guess I’ve gotta go with “it was all worth it.” I’d like to leave on a positive note
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Sure. I enjoy backyard astronomy, motorcycle riding, drawing, and, especially, hanging out with my wife and daughter.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
On TV: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Top Chef, Person of Interest, Face/Off. In movies: The Hunger Games (all you haters can sue me…the movies are fun!), all the Harry Potters (same message as to the Hunger Games haters!), old Star Trek, old Star Wars (though I’m cautiously optimistic for Episode VII), anything with a dragon in it (especially Dragonslayer!), the list goes on. Suffice it to say that I’m a genre nerd through-and-through!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music:
Food—pizza, hands down! Color—purple. Music—film scores (especially Jerry Goldsmith!), classical (the more bombastic the better!), and Pink Floyd.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I don’t know; I’ve done a lot. I guess maybe film director, since the entertainment thing got a lot more truncated for me than I would’ve liked.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website?
If so what is it? The closest I come to that would be my Facebook page for The Dragon’s Treasure. You can find it at: https://www.facebook.com/The-Dragons-Treasure-Trilogy-172879129537712/?fref=ts