Interview with D L Richardson, author of Feedback
D L Richardson: Thank you so much for inviting me to share a little of my work to your readers.
Lilac Reviews: I saw that you are teaching a session at the ACT Writers Centre on motivation for writers. Do you think folks give up too early on themselves? Or do you think they underestimate the level of work necessary to make a dent in the career path? Or is there another unique personality trait to creative types that makes them second guess their choices or distracts them?
D L Richardson: I think a lot of writers underestimate the amount of work that’s required. I know I certainly did. I’d finished the novel and then what came afterward was the real work and it was hard to stay motivated, which my session was about providing tips I’ve learned over the years to keep me motivated. Often, all it takes is for a person to have what I call their “moment on the mountain” to decide if writing a book is driven by a need to check something off their bucket list, or driven by the need to make a career out of it. The motivation to finish a book is the same for each “calling”, but the motivation to stick around for what comes afterward takes a mixture of resilience as well as determination. Personality types do play a part in motivation, which is why it’s helpful to learn what the triggers are and create strategies to deal with them.
Lilac Reviews: Tell us something you learned about yourself through your writing career that you previously didn’t realize or appreciate?
D L Richardson: Just a few months before I got my first book published, someone said to me, “You must love writing if you’re happy to keep doing it without ever getting published.” This little voice inside my head said, “Not true. This is not a hobby for me.” Sometimes it’s good to get that clarity from a third party. If I’d walked away and said to myself, “Yes, I would be happy if I never achieved the success I dream of”, then I would probably have given up after getting my first book published or even beforehand. The fact is I won’t be happy until I’ve achieved the success I’ve dreamed of. Up until then, I didn’t really appreciate how badly I wanted to succeed until someone else pointed it out. This isn’t just a hobby or something I do because I love it. This is what I’ve chosen to succeed at or die trying.
Lilac Reviews: Was the second book easier? Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
D L Richardson: Yes, the second book was much easier. Going through a professional editing process meant I learned a lot of what not to do. It was also easier because I was able to pitch to the same publisher and they accepted it right away. The challenges for getting the first book published were the same as most writers. It’s impossible to get someone to take a chance on you. Maybe they did this in the past, nurtured writers, but these days there is so much competition, you have to catch a publisher on a day when they’re interested in publishing exactly what you’re offering. And you can’t be a moment too late. When I pitched my first book, publishers had too many angel books on their program and they just didn’t want to look at it. It’s also different to many YA books. It’s really a contemporary story with a paranormal setting. Sometimes that can be hard to pitch because it doesn’t have a definite slot.
Lilac Reviews: A lot of writers are now also having to learn how to market their books and themselves as a brand. What avenues have you tried and been pleased with? What things have you attempted that you didn’t feel were worth the time/or money?
D L Richardson: Writing and publishing really has evolved. Effectively, a writer needs to do their nurturing and growing external to the publishing. They need to know how to market themselves and their books. Even if a publisher has a marketing team, a writer still needs to be available for interviews, willing to give interviews, and be good at talking to people and public speaking. We can’t be the shy bookish people who never venture out of our writing towers anymore. Marketing is part of that evolution. However, I would much rather have publicists do all the work. It can take up to 50% of the day’s writing time. I’ve found that newsletters work best for me. The trick with newsletter though is to keep coming up with new things to say so they don’t get boring.
I won’t mention the name of the website, but they have a giveaway section and the aim is to giveaway an ebook copy in exchange for a review. I gave away 30 books and got 3 reviews. So that is not worth the exercise.
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Lilac Reviews: What are your five favorite words? Why these?
D L Richardson: “Never ever ever give up” in that order. Did you know that if a shark stops swimming, it dies. That’s how I feel. If I stop, I’ll get old, break down and rust, and fall into a heap. I don’t ever want to retire from life. And considering I’ve decided that writing is my life, his means I don’t ever want to give up on writing.
Lilac Reviews: The plot of Feedback involves some medical and spy aspects. How did you research these industries to layer realism into the story?
D L Richardson: I read medical journeys about organ transplants so that I could be practical with what the kids could do after surgery. There was no point giving one of the kids a lung transplant for example. The recovery time is just too long. I had to find which organs patients recovered for the fastest and that turned out to be kidney and liver. And kids recovered faster according to the journals I read. It was my mother who read the preview copy of Feedback and suggested that I add in the mobile medical unit that greets the kids at their homes after they save the world. She thought that so much exertion after surgery would have busted their stitches, and she was right. It added a whole new level, and more research to find out names of instruments used in hospitals. Researching spies was fun and scary. Particularly because I was researching online where I was forever looking over my shoulder expecting men in black suits to take me and my computer away. I mean, I had to research what a suitcase bomb looked like and how it was made. And then information on submarines and biochemical warfare. It was fun, but as I said, scary that someone might take that information as anything other than research for a teen adventure novel.
About the Book
Ethan James, Florida Bowman, and Jake Inala are three teenagers who need organ transplants. When they receive the organs of deceased CIA agent, Dylan Black, they inadvertently take on the task of completing the mission Dylan died midway through, that of deactivating bacteria bombs threatening millions of lives. The teenagers are kidnapped by a man who believes in the theory of feedback, that information is retained in the memory of organs, in this case those of the dead CIA agent. And their captor will stop at nothing to get the information retained inside their bodies. With their lives under threat, the memories stored in the CIA agent’s mind begin to awaken within each of them, except the one piece of information they are abducted for – the location of the bombs.
Review by Felita Daniels / 300 Pages
This spy thriller with teenagers is fun to read. I appreciated that we got to know the three teens in advance of their run-in with an evil doer. Anyone can acknowledge that the author did her research on the process and emotions of having a need for transplant surgery. I felt that the interactions of the teens with their friends, parents and teachers had a realistic feel. The author really teased us into each of their lives with descriptive passages.
This bit of realism morphed into a spy adventure and a little bit of science fiction with what happens after they are the recipients of Dylan’s (CIA spy) donations. No longer are they literally fighting for their lives. Now they are fighting for others’ lives and health. It is a bit of an interesting change when earlier in the novel they were basically self-centered on their own situations.
Wonderful action and storyline accompanied by solid writing.
About the Author
D L Richardson writes speculative fiction. She currently has three young adult teen novels published and one short story anthology. Her first two YA novels The Bird With The Broken Wing and Feedback were best sellers and highest ranked YA fiction at OmniLit. Her third YA novel Little Red Gem was runner up on Paranormal Books Best Standalone YA book of 2013 and the book trailer was featured on USA Today website.
Upcoming works include Curious, a limited edition bundling of three YA novels, a serialized science fiction novel, Fear of Falling Further the second anthology of short stories, and Poison in the Pond, a novella adapted from of an unpublished novel written in 1996.
She lives in Australia on the south coast with her husband and dog.
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