Saturday, August 11, 2012

Interview with Deanna Lynn Sletten

--Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

I grew up in southern California and moved to a very small town, population 200, in northern Minnesota when I was a teenager. That is a novel in itself! I went to college to study accounting but was sidetracked when two of my English professors asked why I wasn't majoring in writing. From then on, I was hooked on writing. I began my first novel years ago when my children were young and wrote three complete novels over time, which I have now finally published. While trying to establish a novel writing career, I also wrote non-fiction articles for print media, newspapers and eventually for websites. In November, 2011, I decided it was time to pursue my novel writing career and polished and published the novels I had written through the years.  I have not regretted a moment of it!

Memories is in the contemporary romance genre. I have been reading romances since I was twelve, so it wasn't too much of a leap for me to write one. When I was young, there weren’t many novels in the young adult genre, so I read adult romances, some very tame, some very spicy. I love delving into relationships and what makes them work, so writing a romance seemed right to me. 

--Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

In Memories, the male protagonist, Michael, is a Vietnam War Veteran who struggles to reconnect with society and people after his experiences in the war. I found him interesting to write about because he was a complicated character. He had flaws as well as redeeming character traits and he was tortured by his memories of war. I had read many personal accounts from soldiers who had fought in Vietnam in order to form the character of Michael. The research I did, as well as the process of creating Michael, was an interesting experience.

--Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

Before I sit down to start writing a novel, the first thing I do is write down the name, physical appearance, age, birth date, background, and all of the character traits for each main character. I want to know them like I would a friend I've known for years so when I write about them, I can do it without thinking. Of course, as the story develops, the character may change or evolve, because in novels you want a character to evolve and not stay the same. And I often add supporting characters as I go. No one lives in a bubble, so unless your novel is two people stranded on an island, then they are going to have friends, family and even their favorite check-out clerk in the grocery store.

--What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

One of my favorite scenes from Memories  is when Michael and Dani visit the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall (The Wall) in Washington D.C. For years, Michael has tried to ignore his feelings about the war and hasn't wanted to face the painful remembrances of the friends he lost in Vietnam. The Wall brings all these painful memories back, but in the end, helps him cope with his loses. Here is an excerpt from that scene:

She knew the instant Michael found the right spot for he stopped and became tense, his hand growing cold in hers. Slowly, they both scanned the strip of Wall before them in search of one solitary name among the many. It was Michael who found the name first, and his eyes locked onto it like a magnet to steel.

 He slipped his hand from Dani's and walked slowly to The Wall, raising his fingertips to touch the name before him. William J. Berry. "Billy," he whispered, and as his fingers met the cold stone it was as if he was transported back in time. He could see it all before him in the deep reflection of the black granite. The rice fields with the dense jungle beyond, artillery fire ablaze in the background, the choppers whirling overhead and the intense smell of smoke all around. Then Billy, in fatigues, flak jacket and helmet, his gun slung casually over his shoulder, walking up to him, telling him it was okay, the wait was worth it, he was finally here. Michael bowed his head; his fingers still adhered to the stone, his shoulders shaking as tears spilled from his eyes.

--Do you write in different genres?

Yes, I do. Aside from romance, I have also written one women's fiction/family drama novel and a middle-grade action/adventure novel.  I don't write stories because they are in one particular genre, I write the stories that come to me, no matter what genre they will end up in.

--Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

No. The stories I write are stories that have already been bouncing around in my head for years and they don't all fall into one genre. I'm pretty sure in most cases, my upcoming novels will fall into the range of romance or women's fiction, but I also have ideas for stories I plan to write in the historical genre, family drama and even young adult. My characters come to me, I don't go searching for them, so whatever genre they fall into is fine with me.

--When did you consider yourself a writer?

I have been writing for over 20 years, and it took me most of those years to finally say with confidence that I was a writer. When I wrote non-fiction articles, even though I was paid for them, no one took me seriously as a writer. Then I began writing for a well-known women's magazine website and was paid quite well, and that's when I began to seriously consider myself a writer. In truth, I had been a writer all along, but I guess I thought I had to achieve some level of success to claim the title of writer. Since self-publishing my three novels, I now proudly say I am an author or a novelist, and I won't let anyone take that away from me.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?

--Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

I have to say my hobby and passion has always been writing because all the years that I had to work at other jobs, my goal was to be a full-time writer. Writing is not only a way for me to earn a living; it is also the one thing I love to do more than anything else. Some of the other things that I do enjoy besides writing are reading, traveling, walking the quiet wooded trails with my dog, and relaxing in the boat on the lake with my husband.

--What was the last amazing book you read?

I support self-published authors and try to read as many novels by indie authors as I can. The last amazing one I read was "Leaving Serenity" by Alle Wells. The story not only draws you in immediately but Ms. Wells' beautiful writing style is a pleasure to read. I liken her to southern author Anne Rivers Siddons. All of Ms. Wells' books are wonderful but I believe that "Leaving Serenity" is her absolute best!

--What can readers expect next from you?

I am currently finishing up another romance novel titled "Sara's Promise" which I plan to publish in December 2012. This novel is a little different than my other ones in that the story probably won't make you break down in tears, however, I can't promise that in some spots of the story, you won't break out in goose bumps!

--Where can readers find you on the web?

Twitter: @DeannaLSletten

--Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Excerpt from Memories:

Dani turned and walked across the living room toward the couple. She stopped short as Michael's face turned in her direction. My can't be, she thought, her heart pounding in her chest. The room swirled around her in that one instant she recognized him. No, this isn't happening. It's not him.

 Michael walked up to Dani, his hand extended in greeting. "It's so nice to finally meet you," he said, unaware of the turmoil brewing inside her. "Cathy has told me so much about you that I feel like..." Michael stopped mid-sentence when he was only inches away from Dani. "Well, I'll be," he exclaimed so softly that only Dani heard him.

 It was him! Dani's mind raced between past and present, as her eyes traveled slowly over the figure before her. His silk suit was impeccable; his dark hair was groomed and neatly trimmed as was his beard. A complete opposite from the shaggy-haired man in blue jeans, sneakers and T-shirt she once knew. But it was the same man. From his wavy black hair to the tips of his polished leather shoes he was every bit the businessman. But to Dani, he was the past come alive. "Miguel," she whispered, and only Michael heard and understood.

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By Deanna Lynn Sletten

Genre: Romance/Women’s Fiction

Book Description:

Michael DeCara came home from the Vietnam War a wounded man, both physically and emotionally.  He tried putting his life back together, but found civilian life difficult after all he’d experienced in Nam. Raising his young daughter, Vanessa, by himself after his wife left, he found it difficult to commit to one job or one woman for any length of time. 

Then he met a young woman who made him feel good about himself again and who fell in love with Vanessa as well. But a life-changing event occurred and he had to choose between his past and the present. He chose to leave without a word to the young woman, believing he was doing what was best for her. Now, years later, she has walked back into his life and he believes they may have a second chance at love–except she hates him and he doesn’t understand why.

Danielle Westerly fell in love when she was only eighteen and her heart was broken when he left her without a word. Her heartache was increased when she made a fateful decision that would alter her future, and she blamed him for her loss. Years later, she is single and has built up a successful career when she accidently runs into the man who was responsible for her past pain. Yet, their chemistry is undeniable. Can Dani give up her anger and let go of the pain of the past and fall in love again with the man she has hated all these years?

Dani and Michael share a journey of heartache, loss and painful memories that threaten to keep them apart. Can they break past these and finally find love again?

About the Author:

Deanna Lynn Sletten is a novelist who writes women's fiction and has also written one middle-grade fiction action/adventure novel. 

Her novels include Memories, Widow, Virgin, Whore and Outlaw Heroes. She started her writing career as a freelance writer for parenting publications in the early 1990s and transitioned to writing for blogs and websites until she made the jump to novelist.  

Deanna is currently working on her next novel which will be released in December 2012. Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, Deanna enjoys walking the trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd.

1 comment:

Deanna Lynn Sletten said...

Hi Roxanne,
Thanks for being a host on my blog tour for MEMORIES. The post looks great! I appreciate all the work that you put into this.