Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
I’m Donna Steele and enjoying 66 years so far.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m a native North Carolinian. Grew up in one of those don’t blink or you’ll miss it towns in the foothills of NC. I’ve lived here except for about seven years and love the proximity to beach and mountains. NC really does have it all.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Left that little town to attend UNCG and never really left. I majored in business and eventually ended up working on campus and became the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs – great title, to make up for the salary – LOL! Married a fellow graduate 40+ years ago and have two grown kids and one grandson. None of them live close by so we take weekend trips to visit whenever we can.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My 27th book comes out October 5 – Budapest Fairy Tale – is a continuation of the Conall Clan series. This is Marcel’s story and was a very special book for me. (see below)
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I used to say I’ve always written but never let anyone read anything. I proved that when we downsized after retirement and moved into our incredible condo. I found a manuscript I wrote when I was seven. Since I learned to read and write at six, that’s pretty much true. There have always been stories in my head and it’s so wonderful to finally have the guts to share them.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I got caught up in the fanfic craze in the early 90’s and wrote X-Files fanfic for 10 years. The experience taught me a lot (and gave me some bad habits I’m still working on) but mainly it gave me the confidence to share my work. I didn’t plan to move beyond that.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’m not really sure. I had a story that kept growing in the back of my mind that wasn’t X-Files and I decided to flesh it out (and put it under the bed). That was Rth Rising (pronounced Earth Rising) and I shared it with another X-Files writer. She’s the one that pushed me out of the closet.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Rth Rising is a colonization story where we had to find a new planet after our abuses to this one. They’ve been there three generations and have slowly lost some of the language from their home planet – I don’t recommend using a non-word in a title, because it made it hard to find (and pronounce) but I still enjoy the name. Book three in the series is now in editing.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m definitely a pantser and quite often look over at my characters and say “WTF”. I’m slowly learning the art of plotting since I’m writing more series now. That said, sometimes I’m still surprised at the turn a story will take and I have to scramble to catch up.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I write a lot of paranormal/science fiction, but I still find scenes that I’ve witnessed or experienced. I love it when I can weave something my husband often says or something we enjoy into a story.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t, as a rule travel, but for Budapest Fairy Tale, I got to! For our 40th anniversary, Hubby and I took a Viking River cruise down the Danube, beginning in Budapest. Actually seeing the things that Marcel got to appreciate was an experience I’ll never forget. I hope I get to do it again.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’m a hybrid writer, so SoulMate Publishing handles the covers for my time travel series – The Guardians of Now. The third in that series, A New Time, is tentatively scheduled for April 2020. For my self-published works, Robert Steele (one of a multitude of cousins) works with me and I’m constantly astounded by his creativity and ideas. It’s also wonderful to have that much input into what I’m visualizing.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t want to hit anyone over the head, but a recurring theme in all of my books is recycling and protecting the environment. Even my contemporary books will at least mention it – my heroine will drive a Prius or something like that. It’s important, and unlike my Rth Rising series, there really is no Planet B.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
That’s like asking which is my favorite child! I discovered Dianne Duval a few years ago and loved that she wove the UNC and Duke campuses into her action (believe me, it explained so much about working there!!). I never miss a CL Hadyn book or anything by PK Corey. They write totally different genres from me, which is a treat when I’m struggling, and it takes me out of my head. Laura Browning is on that list as well. As a member of Heart of Carolina RWA group, we have several budding authors I can’t wait to share with you.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
That honour goes to Char Chaffin, my editor at SoulMate and a fellow fanfic writer many lifetimes ago. She’s the one that dragged me kicking and screaming into the light and pushed me to publish.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It is now. Since I’ve retired from going into an office, I set up my own here at home and write every day. My friends and family know not to interrupt me between 8:30 and 12:30 (unless they’re bleeding heavily). I treat it like a career, and while I’m no Nora Roberts, I’m having the time of my life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes – I have yet to read one of my “finished” works and not want to change something. It’s usually a tiny detail, but there’s always something.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Should I admit I learned some Hungarian curse words? That was great fun!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d have to pause and ask my daughter that. She works in theatre and knows a lot more actors and their strengths than I do.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write. Even when you can’t, do. It might be garbage at first, but everyone writes garbage at one time or another. Remember, if you don’t, I won’t get to read it and we’ll both miss out.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
This is for all authors – if you enjoy a book, leave a review. It doesn’t have to be glowing and 5-stars, honesty is appreciated. And it doesn’t have to be a 1000-words, just a “I read this and really enjoyed it, you should try it out” would do.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading CL Haydn’s latest – Fall Back. It just came out this month.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t. As soon as I learned to read, I took off. I do remember taking Slan by A. E. Van Vogt to school in the 3rd grade to read in my spare time. Momma saw it and told me I couldn’t take that to school, because girls didn’t read science fiction. Sealed my fate, I’m still reading it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Well for laughing, my snarky friends and fellow writers are the best. I don’t cry too often.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to have a conversation with Sherri Tepper. I’ve read everything by her and love her strong women and her way of bringing in feminism that her characters don’t even see at first.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I do a lot of counted cross stitch – it keeps me from snacking at night and you only have to know how to count to ten. That, of course, is not true but that’s how I got started and I’m pretty good after all these years. I’ve made my college roommates Christmas ornaments for the last 20+ years and now their kids are squabbling over who gets them.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, though I did binge The Haunting of Hill House with my daughter when I was visiting. Anything like the X-Files, a smart paranormal rather than something campy will draw me in.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Any seafood appeals and I never met a potato I didn’t like unfortunately. For colours, green in all shades with maybe a splash of purple to jar the senses. I’m still listening to soft rock (my kids know all the words to the Monkees songs).
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read, I’d attack that TBR pile with full gusto and get it shorter than me, maybe.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Cuddled up with Hubby and the kids, trying to remember the stories I always meant to tell them and didn’t get around to.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She let her imagination soar.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do thanks, www.steelestories.com, you can find updates and sign up for my newsletter there.
Twitter – https://www.twitter/steele_donna
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/donnasteeleauthor
My page – https://www.steelestories.com