Greetings Intellectual Minds,
Welcome to this weekend's Locket Full of Secrets Blog Tour featuring Author, Dana Burkey. She's a talented writer offering her readers a refreshing new voice in the literary game. To learn more about her and her novels, please check out the "Blog Tour" tab and find the banner also located on the right hand side of the blog.
So, if you're looking for something different to read, why not feast your eyes on Ms. Burkey's latest novel, Locket Full of Secrets. We're so lucky to have Dana! Check out links and giveaways listed below. Without further ado, get to know this up and coming talented author. Let's go. . .
GET TO KNOW AUTHOR, DANA BURKEY
I graduated college from Youngstown State University in 2009 with a degree in theater and a minor in creative writing. I am currently living in Washington State in a little cabin in the woods with my cat Cato. I work full time at a kids camp, and spend my free time doing community theater and adventuring in nature! I am an avid geocacher, and love watching reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and Big Brother! I am currently working on my next project that includes a few YA romances and a YA dystopian series!
How long have you been writing?
I started getting interested in writing when I was in 6th grade. Thanks to my English teacher who would give us fun writing prompts, I began really using my mind to create back stories and character ideas. From there I began writing poetry as a way to express my feelings, and then short stories to entertain my friends. In high school I began to realize my love for writing, so I started taking more writing classes and also classes where I got to read a lot of plays and books for class. Then, by the time I went to college, I knew I wanted to have writing as a part of my minor. So, I chose a creative writing minor to go with my theater major. After a long time away from writing after college, I published my first story just over a year ago.
Do you research your stories or do you draw from personal experiences?
For my YA romance stories I mostly draw from experiences of my friends or myself. I add in some "what if's" along the way, but a lot of what I write is from real life. In the case of my most recent book Locket Full of Secrets, I did a ton of research. Since the events of the book take the readers to the site of the 1986 nuclear power plant meltdown in Chernobyl, Ukraine I had to make sure I had all the facts in place. It is a subject I have long been fascinated with, but I still made sure to brush up on all the facts going into writing the story so it would feel real for the readers.
Although I write some during the week, I work full time so I tend to write the most on Saturdays. Usually I sleep in on Saturday, not rolling out of bed until around 10. Then, I go straight for the coffee pot! I get it going while I check my phone then fill up a massive cup before plopping myself in front of my computer. Over my first two cups of coffee I write as much as I can, starting with a new document on my computer so I do not get distracted with editing until the whole project I am working on is done. I will maybe make another pot of coffee, since mine only holds 4 cups, but I don't really eat anything until around 1 or 2 when I suddenly realize I have done nothing but write and drink coffee. I'll take a break while I make food, and turn on the TV for a bit if it was not already on in the background while I was writing. More than likely I will find a movie I have seen a few dozen times and put it on for the rest of the afternoon. I will pick a new movie while it is over, but it's always something I don't mind missing but enjoy enough to see yet again! Once I have some food in me I start to realize that I am not getting much else done, so I put in some laundry, or take a break to do dishes. I don't get too far usually, but I get a lot of writing done while avoiding more house work, so I am okay with that. I don't think about food again until quite late. It's usually around 8 or so, and despite not eating much all day I have to force myself to make food. I again go right back into writing, but it is a toss up as to weather or not I am actually making much progress. Sometimes I am super in the zone and writing a lot, and other times I am starting to end for the day. If I'm tired of writing, I will call it quits and watch a movie before bed. But, if I am really in the zone I might sit up until around midnight finishing. When I was writing Locket Full of Secrets last November, there were days I would writing up to 11,000 words in one Saturday. It helped me make up for days during the week where I could not write at all, and helped me write the whole first draft of the book in one month as a part of NaNoWriMo(National Novel Writing Month).
What can you tell us about your latest novel without giving too much away?
Locket Full of Secrets is at its core a book about a girl trying to rekindle a friendship with someone she has not seen in years. Claire is happy to welcome Olena back into her life, but it turns out to be a un-happy reunion when Olena kills a man then once again disappears from Claire's life. This time their separation is short lived when Olena finds Claire at college where she is finally starting to enjoy her school and her time with her new boyfriend Steven. Claire is not sure if she should give Olena yet another chance, but decides to help when Olena explains that she is in a lot of trouble since she killed the man that was sent to murder her. As the story unfolds readers will learn just how much trouble Olena is in, and watch as Claire and Steven do their best to help set things right.
How long does it usually take you to write your novels?
When I write short stories and novellas I can often get them done in just a few days. Sometimes I can do an entire first draft in a weekend. For my longer projects like Locket Full of Secrets it can vary. I often start a project without knowing if I can actually finish it before I get distracted or my brain decides it needs a break for a while. In all, Locket took three years to go from ideas to the final draft, but the whole first draft was written in just a month. Currently I am working on a few projects that have been slow going for a while now. At least one of these will be my NaNoWriMo goal this year, so I hope to have it to readers before the end of the year.
What sets your work apart from other authors in the same genre?
I try to write things that the reader is not expecting. Why does the guy always need to get the girl? And why should everyone end up happily ever after? Sure, I like classic story ideas and fun elements of a genre the same as everyone else. But, I like to also throw in something that keeps the readers guessing and wondering what is coming next. And, just to be fair, I try to hint at things so readers who are smart will pick things up early on, and readers that don't see the signs ahead of time can go back and give it all a second look.
What well-known author closely matches your style of writing and why?
I don't know that my writing is the same as another author, but one author I really admire and look up to is Meg Cabot. The more of her books that I read, the more I want to entertain readers like she does. Her voice is very unique and fun in each new book, and the stories she tells have fun twists that readers do not always see. I hope one day I can be for readers what she has been for me.
Did you go to school to learn to write creatively or did you discover your talent by accident?
I grew up in a home that was really creative, and really encouraged all creativity. I wrote for fun and for my friends for years, so when I went to college I decide to really explore my writing more. I thought about journalism for a little while, but knew that I was a fiction writing at my core. So, I minored in creative writing. It was fun to write in college, but my work was not well received. My classmates often criticized my work as being "young" and "juvenile." At the time I thought it meant I was not a good author, and stopped writing for quite a long time. But, as Young Adult fiction began gaining speed in the public eye, I realized it was the genre I had always been writing for, I just didn't know it! That realization gave me the courage and inspiration to start writing again, and also the desire to finally start self-publishing just over a year ago.
I think it has made it easy for authors to get their work out, and I think it is a great way to share your work. A few years ago I never thought I would share my work with others in this way, but now I am happy that I made the decision to try it out. I have loved the experience so far, and know that I will continue to write as long as I have more stories to tell. And if one day I get signed with a publishing house, great. But in the mean time I am not going to let the lack of a writing contract deter me from sharing my work with readers.
The inspiration seeker or the inspiration finds you?
For the most part I feel that inspiration comes to me. I have a lot of ideas running through my head all day, so often little things make ideas for books spring up in my mind. I usually will write them down and then revisit them later to see if they are any good, or just something fun I thought about for a little while. In the past I have tried writing prompts to get me going on stories, but overall just wait for ideas to strike naturally.
After over 4 years, Olena comes rocketing back into Claire's life, changing everything for the worse. Picking up the shattered pieces, Claire is not sure who to believe. Is Olena who she says she is, or is she a killer to stay away from? Leaning on her new boyfriend Steven for support, Claire is faced with the choice on who to trust: a friend she barley knows, or a history lesson she barely remembers. Together, the three will begin a journey that will take Claire from the safety of her home to the last place she thought she would ever be: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. With the wreckage of rector four looming behind her, Claire will have to see Olena's plan through until the end if she wants any chance of making it out alive.
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