Born in Huntsville, Alabama, the “Rocket City,” Donna K. Fitch grew up hearing the sound of rocket testing at Redstone Arsenal and graduated from a high school named for Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, the astronaut who died in Apollo 1. She also heard tales of the ghost of Sally Carter and the “old Grizzard Mansion” near her home, said to be haunted. This background, when mixed with an early diet of Dr. Seuss, the reference section of the Oak Park Public Library, 1930s mystery stories and the Gothic novels of Victoria Holt, set her to writing her own stories at age 13. Later literary influences spilled into Donna’s writing–Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Tim Powers–to give it more than a tinge of paranormal and the macabre. Her love of research led her to a Master’s in Library Service, and her fascination with HTML led her to switch careers from academic librarian to web designer. For fun, she visits cemeteries–the older the better–and plays roleplaying games.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by ideas of weird occurrences in everyday life. I like the juxtaposition of ideas that don’t necessarily seem to go together. Paranormal concepts always inspire me. Mostly it’s strange bits of ideas that pop into my head and won’t go away.
Tell us about your writing process.
I wrote my first two books by writing draft after draft, so I guess I used to be a pantser. I went through 10 incomplete drafts of my first book before I figured the direction I wanted to go in, then another 7 or so before I got it the way I wanted it. I can’t do that anymore! I read Larry Brooks’ blog just before NaNoWriMo last year, and the ideas he talks about for outlining really clicked with me. I highly recommend his book Story Engineering. I outline in Word, then transfer it to Scrivener.
Jim Butcher’s brief blog series on writing influenced me a lot as well. His idea of scenes and sequels is really helpful for getting your reader to care about the character. Read him at http://jimbutcher.livejournal.com, and scroll to the 2008 entries.
I try to do character sketches as I go, but usually I get the concept of the character by writing about him or her.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t understand people who say they listen to or talk to their characters. Mine just don’t talk to me. That doesn’t invalidate how other writers interact with theirs. I think about them, particularly while I’m not sitting there writing. Sometimes I talk about them out loud while I’m in the car by myself, particularly if I’m working through a difficult scene.
What advice would you give other writers?
Get an editor! Don’t just rely on your own view of what you’re doing. I get so engrossed in my writing that I easily miss errors in spelling, grammar and plot.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For me, self-publishing has been a great way to go. When I wrote my first two books, I had an agent and tried to break into traditional publishing, but it just didn’t happen. When I found out about self-publishing a couple of years ago, I was excited. It gave me the control I wanted over all aspects of my books. I can go directly to readers, without having to rely on someone else to be responsible for marketing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Book publishing is going through growing pains right now. I sure wouldn’t want to predict what will happen, but every author should keep up with the trends. It’s not easy to do.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write:: steampunk, paranormal romance, suspense
What formats are your books in: Both eBook and Print