One of the fun things I get to do as a writer is chat with other writers about what we do and how we do it. DJ is one of those special people who went from being an online acquaintance to a dear friend in real life. And she's also a talented writer and master herbalist. She writes both fiction (urban fantasy) and non-fiction (really useful books about herbs in both medicine and magic). Full disclosure: I'm also DJ's editor, but I recommend her books because they're awesome, not because I edited them.
DJ took some time out to answer a few questions I posed to her recently. Here are her comments:
1. What inspired you to write your first non-fiction book? How about your first novel?
The first non-fiction, Herbs: Medicinal, Magical, Marvelous! was due to suggestions from multiple acquaintances that my knowledge was marketable. “You should write a book,” they said. So, I did.
The first Ogre’s Assistant book, Stressed!, started out as a short story that popped into my head one afternoon. Husband said it had the makings of a full-fledged book and I thought, “why not try my hand at fiction?”
2. What does your writing process look like? Are there any little rituals you do to get in the mindset for writing?
No rituals, really. Writing non-fiction usually comes easily to me – it’s probably because it’s fairly logical, just like my day job (accounting). I can clear my desk of client paperwork, pull out my notes and start in. I say “usually” because the one I’ve been researching is thus far only interesting to me. I don’t like “dry reading” and don’t expect anyone else to, either. So, it’s on the back burner until/unless I have an ‘aha’ moment.
Fiction? I write that when I think I can because I don’t switch gears as easily as I used to. If I’ve been up to my eyeballs in numbers, I know I can’t write fiction, and don’t even try. Otherwise, it’s a physical place – I have comfortable spots both inside and out where I write. With a cup of coffee at hand, of course.
3. What challenges you the most in terms of the writing you do – fiction and/or non-fiction?
By far, the fiction. I am logical (to a fault, some might say) and even though the characters really write the book, getting them to speak to me (making things up) is tough. Hence, my need to be away from my logical endeavors.
4. Magic and witchcraft feature prominently in your books. Do they have as major a place in your day-to-day life as well?
They do, and they don’t. Once a witch, always a witch. That’s not to say I whip magic out for every little thing. To me, it’s a last-resort, when all mundane efforts have failed. I do reinforce protections on the house and grounds as I’m cleaning or working outside, check that the land spirits are still okay, that sort of thing, on a regular basis.
5. In your urban fantasy series The Ogre’s Assistant, the ogre from the series title is loosely based on one of your clients from your business as a personal assistant. How often do you find inspiration for characters in real life? Do any of these people know that they’re in your books and how do they react if/when they find out?
Actually, the ogre is based on my last employer, with bits of a former client thrown in. I do meet interesting people in my line of work and pieces of them might find their way into a character, but I don’t think anyone would recognize themselves. If they did, I make no apologies! 😊
6. Since I already know your answer to “coffee or tea,” I’ll ask instead, have you ever used coffee in magic?
Once. I needed something to happen very quickly. Caffeine is a good stimulant, so I used some fresh coffee grounds as part of a sachet to speed up the spell.
DJ has just released the third book in her Ogre's Assistant urban fantasy series. If you like imaginative fiction with strong, snarky female leads, you'll love these books. Clicking on the image will take you to DJ's website with all the details about these great stories, including buy links.
You can find DJ online:
Amazon US: http://amazon.com/author/deborahmartin
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0046UDSM2