Danie Ware spent her early years in Sussex, England where, she says, “absolutely nothing happened – everything interesting was in my head.” At thirteen, she became one of the first girls at an all-boys boarding school, then went on to study English Literature at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. There, she met the local re-enactment group and spent the next decade running around castle grounds with an assortment of steel cutlery. She also began writing, amassing three completed novels and enough additional fiction to paper her walls. She’s worked as a shop manager, local theatre, document designer, and kiss-a-gram girl, trained as a fitness instructor and joined the Territorial Army. Then moved to London and Forbidden Planet where she did marketing strategy, event management and planning and social media. She also found herself with a mortgage and a child, ending her thoughts of writing for the moment. In 2008, after attending her first Con in 15 years, she started writing again, rediscovering the well, so to speak, and her debut novel Ecko Rising released from Titan Books in September 2012. She’s had various stories published online and in venues like Geek Planet, Hub Fiction and Vivisepulture, an anthology. She can be found via her website at http://danieware.com/ or Twitter as @Danacea.
Danie Ware: From a love of mythology when I was a small cub – Greek and Viking, then Incan and Mayan and Chinese. Then at 14, I was lent a copy of The Illearth War – and that was me hooked!
SFFWRTCHT: Who are some of the authors/books which influenced you?
DW: Stephen Donaldson’s Covenant series – though I think his Mordant’s Need duet are probably better books. Julian’s May Saga of the Exiles, then, I grew older, I read more SF – Gibson and Stephenson. In my thirties, I took a break from genre fiction and picked up Palahnhiuk and Bret Easton Ellis – I’ve come back to it more recently, and am very much enjoying the harder, grittier edge to fantasy, bought by authors such as Richard Morgan and Joe Abercrombie. I’m also a fan of classical military fiction!
SFFWRTCHT: When/how did you decide to become a storyteller?
DW: I’m not sure it’s ever been a conscious decision! When we were younger, we told stories because we could – amongst ourselves, playing with concepts just because it was fun. I wrote reams during that time, but never really thought of myself as a ‘storyteller’ because we all a part of the same shared creativity.
SFFWRTCHT: How did you develop your craft? Study in school? Workshops? Trial and error?
DW: Pretty-much trial and error, though there were a couple of workshops. I have three previous manuscripts, evidence of years of work, tucked away in the back of my MacBook. In my twenties, I made an attempt to get them published, and have a rack of rejection letters to prove it!
SFFWRTCHT: Is this your first publication?
DW: There have been a scattering of short stories on the web – I’ve even been paid for some of them! – but yes, this is my first proper publication. And it’s pretty scary stuff!
DW: From the stories we shared as kids – concepts that grew over time and with far more input than just my own. We threw random ideas around because they were cool, and because we wanted to know what would happen if we messed with reality and put someone through hell. And it carried on into the fiction because it was just so much more fun to explore!
SFFWRTCHT: It seems a mix of fantasy and scifi in many ways. Did you find it challenging to make that mix work?
DW: I honestly didn’t think about it. The book was always going to a ‘culture shock’ story, a ‘crossing of the streams’ as Publishers Weekly have just called it, but the fact that this was somehow difficult or significant had absolutely escaped me until quite recently. Ecko’s point of view is so strong, and so distinctive, that it was a heck of lot of fun looking at classic fantasy archetypes through his eyes and seeing what he would make of them!
SFFWRTCHT: Which came first: character, plot, world?
DW: What actually came first was the Banned, the bikers-on-horseback were the original idea that I sat and wrote up in 1989 with an ink pen and a pad of A4. Growing from that point, everything has been organic – the world has adapted and changed as I’ve expored it, and has Ecko has travelled through it, and I think it’s had its effect on him too.
SFFWRTCHT: Are you an outliner or a pantser?
DW: Mostly an outliner – I break the narrative down by chapter and then structure it backwards, starting from the end. Having said that, though, nothing ever goes completely to plan and Ecko, particularly, had a habit of not doing as he was told…
SFFWRTCHT: How long did the book take to write?
DW: Six months – and twenty years. This is the eventual distillation of the writing I did through my twenties, all brought up to date and given the eyes of a good editor! Seeing its eventual culmination has been a magical and very surreal thing.
SFFWRTCHT: I can relate. My first published novel was something I dreamed up 27 years before. Ecko is an anti-hero who becomes a reluctant saviour. Rebel, assassin, cynic, not very sympathetic or likeable. What are the challenges to writing such a protagonist and making a book work? Was it hard to sell as a result?
DW: In fact, Ecko was the book’s major selling point – his biting sarcasm and bad language, his attitude and unpredictability, were apparently what made the concept work! Love him or hate him, he’s a character that provokes a strong reaction, and that’s exactly as it should be – if he were a fluffy bunny, his dissonance and impact would have been completely lost.
SFFWRTCHT: Is this book a standalone or do you plan to continue the story? When?
DW: The sequel has just been handed in – look out for it next September!
DW: No rituals – I have a job and a child and I have learned to write and when and where I can fit it in! The closest I manage is getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning, when it’s quiet and before my son’s awake, to get it my days’ words before the madness of working-single-parent begins. I use MSWord, on an old MacBook white, and prefer quiet to music – though will use music to set a mood. Fitting writing around a commute and a job and a child and homework and everything else… well, it can be a challenge!
SFFWRTCHT: What’s the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
DW: That would be telling!! The worst writing advice came from someone who constantly told me that I was writing (and reading) the wrong thing, that genre fiction was frankly beneath anyone of any credibility or note. The best writing advice actually came from the same person, and it’s the only one that matters – put bum on seat, put fingers on keyboard.
SFFWRTCHT: What future projects are you working on that we can look forward to?
DW: I have an urban fantasy novel completed and sitting with my agent – more than that, we shall have to wait and see!
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun,forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.