I’m a little behind schedule this week. Some things going on at work ended up crowding out everything else. But I am trying to get back on track again, and this time we get to meet author Danielle Allen! Danielle loves football, fashion, film and fiction. She spends her days teaching and event planning and her nights writing. She’s the author of the Back to Life Series (Back to Life, Back to Reality, and not yet released spinoff Back to December), Love Discovered in New York, Autumn & Summer, the Heartache Series (Heartache, Heartfelt, and the not yet released Heartless*), Work Song, and The One.
Danielle, thanks for joining us today. I’m sure our readers want to get to know you better, so why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m from Virginia and I still live here. I am looking to move to another state to just experience something new. I am a professor at a college and when I’m not teaching, I enjoy creating female empowerment opportunities. As much as I love to get lost in a book, I also watch a ridiculous amount of TV and movies. I’m a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes!! I love karaoke with my friends and enjoying time with friends and family.
Ooh! I love karaoke and Shona Rhimes too. One of these days I have to tell you about the time my friends and I won a karaoke contest at a country-western bar in Richmond. But that’s for another time. 🙂 OK, so spill the beans, Danielle. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I wrote a short story in elementary school and I always thought it would be cool to write. I didn’t actually make a point of doing it until I created my 30 by 30 list in 2011. And as I approached my 30th birthday in 2013, I told myself that I needed to do it. So I did and I haven’t looked back!
What inspired you to become a novelist? Were you inspired by another writer or was it something else?
Before the big Indie Author boom, I wasn’t finding too many books about African American women in their 20s that weren’t focused on stereotypical depictions. So I decided to write a book that I would want to read and that book ended up being Back to Life.
It was the same for me when I first began writing. I decided I had to write the books I wanted to read. So are you a plotter or pantster?
I’m a total pantser. I just like to see where the characters take me.
Speaking of plotting and pantsing, are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?
I am working on two different novels. One is a surprise sequel — it started off as an extended epilogue and then it just grew into a novel.
What are you reading now?
I’m not reading anything. It’s difficult for me to read and write at the same time. I know plenty of authors who do it, but for me, I just need to focus on one or the other.
I know what you mean. As much as I love reading, reading other books while I am working on something new can be distracting. So tell me–what is your favorite part of being a writer?
My favorite part of being a writer is being able to connect with people from all over the world. Having one of my stories or one of my characters touch someone by entertaining them, inspiring them, uplifting them, etc. I remember when I was looking for contemporary romance novels to read and not seeing myself reflected in the heroines. So being able to create that opportunity for someone else gives me joy.
I love it! I know exactly what you mean. Now tell me–what’s your take on writers being active on Twitter, Facebook, Periscope? Do you think being on social media is an absolute must for today’s authors?
I don’t have a large following or a huge fan, base so being active on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is important to me. With the reach on these platforms dwindling, trying to find new, creative, unique ways to interact with readers.
So Danielle, do you think fiction should take on topical social issues? Some readers say they only read to escape and don’t want to be reminded of racism, social inequality, etc when they open a book. What’s your take on this?
Depends on the story. I believe a work of fiction should encapture whatever message the writer is trying to convey. Some stories don’t need the addition of social issues to tell the story. Some stories need do need it to tell the story. I think it’s most important to tell a believable story. In my novel, Work Song, the heroine deals with dating in the workplace, working in a male dominated field, and body shaming. My novel, The One, deals with the media’s treatment of minorities and women (specifically on TV). Although, both novels are primarily romance novels and focus heavily on the love story, they address those social issues.
If you could work on a collaborative project with any writer, who would be your dream writing partner?
My dream writing partner would be Shonda Rhimes!
Me too! I would love it if she read my books and developed them into a movie or limited run series. Now tell me–what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
You can’t please everyone, so write for yourself.
So true! And what advice would you give to novice writers?
Write the story that you want to tell! Your novel is a reflection of you so make sure you put out your best possible product.
Many thanks to Danielle for joining us today! Don’t forget to check out Danielle’s novels and make sure you follow her on