Name: Dana Marie Bell
Where are you from: Pennsylvania
I’m a mother of two boys and happily married. We are owned by some furbabies who run our lives. I’ve also got fibromyalgia and ankylosing spondylitis which make my life a lot of fun, let me tell you. To learn more, check out the links below.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’ve just contracted the book Speak Thy Name, the third in the Nephilim series, with Samhain Publishing. I’m almost finished the next True Destiny book, Hide and Seek, and I’m about to start outlining the next Halle Shifters book, Hope in Darkness. And best of all, it looks like the Halle Shifters series will be going to audiobook!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was thirteen and I just got the urge to write down a story I had in my head. My grandmother gave me some paper and a pen, and off I went until I was done. I was terrified and exhilarated, and I knew I’d found my calling. I went to the High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) in Philadelphia, but life sidetracked me for a while. It was my husband who got me to start writing again, and I’ve been going ever since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got into CAPA. I felt like I was home, and it was wonderful. My first request for a partial just told me that time might have passed but my teenage self knew what she was doing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
MaryJanice Davidson’s Bad Boys book of novellas let me know that I could let my freak flag fly and still get published. I wrote The Wallflower when my husband suggested I try e-book publishing, and the rest is history.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I need to outline a book to keep the flow going, but I have to be flexible enough to change that outline as I go. I’m sort of a goalie rather than a plotter or a pantser: I just kick the characters back into play.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I think of the general plot and come up with one. It will change sometimes, like Speak Thy Name was originally called More Than Words, but that’s normal.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Life isn’t about hurting one another, or going it alone. I write families, whether they’re by blood or by choice. Sometimes there’s pain, sometimes pleasure, sometimes both, but being alone isn’t the answer.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Sometimes I pull snippets of conversation from real life and insert them into books, but I’m not a shifter or a mage or any other paranormal that I write. All of that is made up in my head from fantasies and mythology mixing with my own weird brain.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
As I said earlier, MaryJanice Davidson had a hell of an influence on my writing style. And Monica Burns was a huge help when I was first starting out and had no clue what I was doing.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Mary Calmes. I love her characters. They grab me like no one else’s.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Stephanie Burke! (I’m pretty sure she’d love being called an entity, lol!) She’s the one who smacks me upside the head when I feel like I’m not good enough.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I try not to look back too much. If I do, I’ll obsess and freeze up, then I won’t write at all.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Reading, reading, reading! I read scifi, fantasy, mythology, and classics (love Little Women).
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is an excerpt from Speak Thy Name. It’s not edited yet, so please be aware that it will change in edits:
“Man, we need some dogs around this place,” one of the men said. He had dark hair and bright blue eyes. He was a match for the size of the one on the floor. He looked like he’d broken his nose at some point in his life, and his arms and hands bore scars from what looked like a fire. The scars had to be old, because there was no new, bright skin. Instead they were a darker color than his skin, which was bronzed as if he spent a lot of time in the sun. “What do you think, Zeke?”
A man with platinum blond hair and blue-green eyes shrugged. “Who’d walk them?”
“I would!” The guy on the floor held up his hand, laughing when Precious lunged over him to lick it. “I love dogs.”
“You love everything,” Damien snorted, smiling.
“Vaffanculo, testa di cazzo.” The big guy sat up, rubbing the top of Precious’s head. Her tongue was hanging out the side of her mouth, a sure sign she was happy as a pig in mud.
“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Damien reached down and scratched Precious’s ears, sending her to doggie heaven. “I know Mama Zucco doesn’t put up with that kind of talk.”
The guy flipped Damien off, making Zeke laugh. “Tell Dante. Mama Zucco will know in a nanosecond.”
Ah, the dark-haired, dark eyed guy must be Dante’s older brother, Giovanni, Gio for short.
Donny came up to Sam, his little whip tail going a mile a minute. Precious soon followed, causing Gio to call out, “Hey buddy, where you going?”
Gabriel held up his hand. “Children. I think our other guest is awake.”
Sam bent down and loved on her dogs hard. She picked up Donny and rubbed his ears the way he loved, hugging him tight before turning to Precious and giving her the big hug she loved. When she was done, she found herself surrounded by men. “Hi.”
Damien smirked. “Told you they’d be okay.”
She rolled her eyes before turning to Gabriel. “Thank you.” She hugged him again, surprised to hear the other men choking or laughing, or both. “What?”
“Nothing.” The man named Zeke mimed zipping his lips shut.
“Not saying a word,” Gio added, staring at the ceiling.
The dark haired guy with the blue eyes had his back to them, his shoulders shaking.
A deep bellow came from somewhere near the back of the house. “Food!”
The men practically trampled each other to get to breakfast…or maybe lunch. She had no idea what time it was, or what she’d be eating.
“Shall we?” Damien held out his arm, winking at her.
Gabriel cleared his throat. “I’ll, um, walk the dogs.” He whistled, and to her utter shock the dogs followed him, as docile as little lambs.
“Did I do something wrong?” Sam didn’t want to insult Gabriel. Maybe she’d been too forward in hugging him?
“Nope. Just keep being you. He’s not used to women around the place, that’s all.” Damien led her into a kitchen that would make any chef cream his or her jeans. There was a mix of marble and stainless steel countertops, a huge island with a marble counter, two sinks, enough cabinets to satisfy a hoarder and room for a huge round breakfast table that overlooked the backyard. One glance at the backyard told her it was a paradise all of its own, with a multi-tiered stone deck and what looked like an outdoor kitchen.
Behind the island, rinsing off some pans, was another man. This guy was smaller than Gio but bigger than Damien. He had dark hair pulled back in a queue and piercing jade green eyes. “Sit. Eat.” He put the pan in the dishwasher before washing his hands.
On the table were stacks of eggs, bacon, pancakes and waffles, along with orange juice in a pitcher, a coffee carafe and another pitcher with ice water. “You made all this?”
The man at the counter nodded brusquely.
“Thank you.” She smiled brightly, her stomach rumbling. “It looks delicious.”
The man looked at her, then looked at Damien’s hand on her hip. “Yours?”
Sam tilted her head. Huh?
“Yes,” Damien replied, tightening his hold.
“Good. I like this one.” He wiped his hands on a towel, then slung it over his shoulder as he walked around the counter. “Name’s Sasha.”
“Sam.” She held out her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too.” He glanced around at the other men. “Any of you dicks introduce yourselves to the lady, or are you just going to eat?”
They froze like little kids reprimanded by their dad. “I’m Zeke,” the platinum blond said.
“Gio, Dante’s brother.” He waved a forkful of waffle. “Sit. Eat. You’re too skinny.”
“Now you really sound like your mother,” the other dark haired guy, the one with the scars, said. “I’m Micah.” He put his fork down and held out his hand. “We’re happy to meet you.”
“Yeah, Seth and Dante didn’t bring theirs around for approval first,” Sasha grumbled as he spooned eggs onto his plate. “Damien’s got better manners.”
Damien coughed and placed Sam in a seat. “Leave her alone, guys.”
“What?” Zeke blinked innocently. “We’re only saying how happy we are she’s here.”
“Yeah, Damien. What’s wrong with telling her we like her?” Gio grinned, and it was anything but innocent. “We like her dogs, too. How long are they staying?”
“As long as I am.” Sam turned to Damien. “How long am I staying?”
“Until we know for sure how much the Shem have on you and whether or not we need to create a new identity for you.” Damien was acting totally serious.
“Oh boy.” She half-heartedly put a spoonful of eggs on her plate. “What’s the alternative?”
“You have a lovely life in federal prison for whatever the fuck the Shem decide to pin you with,” Micah ticked off. “You die in a horrible accident engineered by the Shem. You’re eaten by a Shem, meaning your death will either be swift or a prolonged agony of suffering.”
“Oh.” She squirmed in her seat, thinking over the possibilities. “What if we just kill the ones that know about me?”
They were silent for a moment, then Sasha tilted his head back and let out a full belly laugh. “I like this one.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A schedule. Because I have two chronic illnesses scheduling my time is challenging. Between doctor visits, medication side effects and the general fatigue of both of my illnesses staying on schedule can be difficult.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Nope. Thank goodness for Google Maps.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Very talented artists like Angela Waters, Kanaxa, Kendra Egert and Lyn Taylor.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Hands on keys, butt in chair, and thinking. Always thinking. The research I enjoy, but sometimes the scenes aren’t going the way I want or I get distracted by something shiny, like Facebook.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
When outlining don’t forget to make notes on the previous books so you don’t have to constantly open them up during writing. Of course, I never remember that, and then I relearn it all over again with the next book.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
If I did, I’d start with Bear Necessities (Halle Shifters book 1). I’d love Shemar Moore or maybe Christian Keyes to play Bunny (Alex Bunsun) and maybe Elizabeth Gillies for Tabitha.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Butt in chair, hands on keys, start writing even if it’s crap. Crap can be polished. Not writing equals nothing, nada, zip. Nothing to polish ever.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I read so quickly that I’m through most books in a day, so asking that is difficult to answer.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
My mother bought me Little Women when I was six or seven, and I read it in a week. After that she got me a library card and I was hooked.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Hmm. That’s a difficult question. I attended a talk where Isaac Asimov spoke (he’s the one who inspired the whole “butt in chair, hands on keys” speech); I’ve gotten to email with Lori Foster on occasion. I’ve spoken to Lora Leigh. I think the only person I’m still eager to meet is maybe Jayne Ann Krentz. I truly enjoy her work, just as I do the others. Oh, and I’d like to meet MaryJanice as well, at least to say hi and thanks for inspiring me.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Well that’s macabre. “The rest is yet unwritten.” It’s one of my favorite quotes from the song I say is my “life soundtrack” song, Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFFBSSntZgs (Watch the UK video of the song. I love that version much more than the US one.)
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Video games and watching anime. I like RPG style video games where I’m the main character, games like The Witcher, Dragon Age and Mass Effect. And I enjoy romance anime as well as the occasional scifi, fantasy or sports anime. My current fave, which just ended its first season, is Yuri on Ice.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
We’ve cut the cable cord, so mostly I watch Crunchyroll and Funimation (anime) or I watch YouTube videos. My favorite channels are Markiplier (videogames), Tati (makeup), Zabrena (makeup), Matthew Santoros (top tens), Rob Dyke (horror/top tens) and Cayleigh Elise (horror/top tens).
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food is lasagna. My two favorite colors are purple and blue. My favorite music is whatever fits my mood.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
History professor! I love ancient civilizations, anything up to the, say, Rennaisance. Anything past that and I start to lose interest. Just as I’ve always loved mythology I’ve always loved learning about ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?