Monday, 4 April 2016

Author Interview: Donna Milward

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Spotlight on an Author
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Donna Milward lives in Edmonton, Alberta in a tiny house with a huge yard. She’s been writing all her life, but decided to put writing on hold to get ‘a real job’ as a meatcutter and build a future with her beloved troll, Dan and her cat Freya.

Twelve years later, an invitation to a Romance Writer’s Conference in Washington D.C. led not only to new friends and new knowledge, but to the inspiration to write again. Thoeba was completed the following year.

Donna likes to mix her fascination with reincarnation and all things paranormal with her love of mythology in her work, and has even written her own myth ‘The Sacred Truth” (on as the lore behind Thoeba and future novels to come.

Donna enjoys fishing, gardening and canning. Despite these hobbies, she much prefers city life.


Which books have influenced you and your writing style the most?
I was reading a lot of Dean Koontz when I decided to write seriously, and I remember how his powerful characters struck me. They felt so real. I told my critique group that I wanted to write character driven novels like his and went from there. Even now when I read my work alongside his, I can draw a lot of comparisons.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Stephen King, because I must be a masochist! One of my critique partners went to his workshop, and she said he was a perfectionist and a brutal taskmaster, but that she had nothing but respect for him. The information she passed along helped shape MY writing as well. I devoured those tips like Cadbury Mini-Eggs, and I would endure any criticism he gave me for more.

Did any of your characters turn out differently than you first envisioned them?
Yes! Ares from Aphrodite’s War is my favorite example.  He was supposed to be a charming rogue, but he said something so offensive in the prologue, I threw my hands up from the keyboard. I thought, “So THAT’S who you really are!” From then on, I let him be himself. When people tell me how much they hate Ares, it makes me grin-- Even if I’m not sure I can take credit for him.

What are the most difficult and the most fun parts of the writing process for you? I used to find editing so painful, but even that’s getting better. I find that as I learn more, I automatically write tighter and avoid my previous mistakes. It’s still hard, but not such a tooth-grinder. These days I find the thing I hate about writing is marketing. That sucks all the joy out of the work—to push myself on strangers and try to entice them to buy my books without being obnoxious? Ugh! The squeeze of the synopsis looks comfortable in comparison. Could I just write those instead? If it were up to me, I would do nothing but write. That’s the best part. To create people and worlds and have the words flow freely is pure bliss. When it’s good, it’s like a drug. Highly addictive.

How do you research your books?
I’ve been studying reincarnation, mythology, and the paranormal for decades. I LOVE those subjects, and have collected quite a library over the years. And whatever I don’t know, I Google. I LOVE Google! I’m still getting used to having all the knowledge of the world available to me at the click of a mouse.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Tough question! An acquaintance from my hometown  recently read THOEBA, and she told me “It’s so you.” I’m not sure what that means, but I did work hard to create my own brand.  I think ‘The Sacred Truth’ would sum it up. It’s myth I created for my ideas. You can read it on a page available in the right hand corner of my blog

Would you say that your books have any kind of underlying themes or messages, even if you didn’t really intend there to be? I would have to say yes. I’m not comfortable pushing my opinions in my work--it’s supposed to be entertainment--but they leak through anyway. I’ve noticed my views on feminism are actually very prominent, but I’m glad it turned out that way. I think strong female characters are important.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn't so?
Haha! I went to a Writer’s Convention, and when I told someone I wrote paranormal romance, they grimaced and asked, “Vampires or Werewolves?” I said. “Neither. Angels, demons and gods.”  I got raised eyebrows, nods, and smiles for that.

What does your writing space look like?
Ack! There are half-burned candles, a mug of pens that don’t work, glasses that I never wear, cat toys, a back scratcher, my dictionary and thesaurus, journals, and a multitude of LISTS. I’ve just counted five lists on my desk, each for something different. Oh, and a pouch full of USB keys.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring authors?
I think the word is ‘perseverance’. Writing is NOT easy, no matter what your friends think. Self-doubt is a part of being a writer—we all get it. If you get bored or find yourself drifting away from it, maybe you don’t want it badly enough. If you do, you have to pick yourself up, and keep writing. It’s okay to get frustrated and even think about quitting.  I get those feelings too. But you’ve got to persevere.


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