Interview with Denise Deegan!

Today on the blog, we have YA author Denise Deegan with us for an interview! We are so excited to have Denise on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Denise has been a nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations consultant, college lecturer and entrepreneur. The only she has lasted at has been storytelling. Her favourite books include Holes by Louis Sachar, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo, Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. Her favourite movies include (and go far beyond): Les Intouchables, Forrest Gump, Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, My Cousin Vinny, A Bronx Tale and Toy Story. Denise believes that we all need story to step back from reality. And that stories make us better, more empathetic people. 

Keep up with Denise: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, what's your favorite part of being an author?

Denise: I love living two lives at once, my own and that of my main character. I inhabit my character. I become her and dive into another world. Sometimes this means becoming a teenager again. Sometimes it means time travel. 

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?

Denise: The best part is when your characters take over and all your plans go out the window. This means that your story has come to live. It will surprise readers as much as it is surprising you. When this happens it doesn’t feel like work. It is a joy. The hardest is finding time for everything. At the moment, I’m writing a novel, a screenplay and developing an idea for a TV series. At the back of my mind is the feeling that I should be spending more time marketing. There really is no switching off. Ever. Though I know that this is my own fault! 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the ideas for your stories?

Denise: Each story is different. I didn’t plan to write a YA series. I had been writing women’s fiction. An artist friend and I met to talk about collaborating on a picture book. We came up with a terrible idea – about a father who goes to visit various countries for work then comes home to tell his daughter all about them. So boring we abandoned the idea. But…My friend went to the bathroom. Alone again, a conversation burst into my head. It was between an angry, sarcastic yet vulnerable teen and her dad. I didn’t know where it came from but I wrote it down on a napkin. I’d just finished a two-book deal with Penguin. I was free. So…I decided to see where this story would take me. It became And By The Way, the first in a trilogy of coming-of-age novels. And By The Way features a girl called Alex who is struggling with the loss of her mother. When it was published, a journalist asked me where the idea had come from. It struck me: I think it was my subconscious reacting to the picture book idea, telling me that it’s not necessarily a good thing for a parent to be absent.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character of all time to write? Who was the most difficult?

Denise: That’s such a great question because now I get to revisit all my characters! I wrote a novel called Pause to Rewind about a single mom who has to face two big things she has been avoiding in her past when her little boy, Charlie becomes ill. I completely fell in love with Charlie. When the book was finished, I missed him so badly. When a journalist was interviewing me about this story (and weirdly she had so much in common with the main character), to my shame, I began to cry because I missed Charlie so much. I told her not to print that. She did! I have also two beloved characters who were unplanned but came to life in my historical YA, Through the Barricades. One was a little orphan girl called Lily who had a way of making sense of everything for the main character. The second was an angry teenage rebel called Patrick who was hard on the outside but soft on the inside. Loved him! Oh, gosh, I also loved Louis in the YA trilogy, The Butterfly Novels. I’ll stop now!

The Book Bratz: What surprised you the most about the publishing process?

Denise: The joy of indie publishing. I had been published by a lot of the big publishers, Hachette, Penguin Random House etc. When my books went out of print, I self-published them. It has been an amazing adventure to take control of the process, to reach readers all over the world, to be in charge of your destiny. 

The Book Bratz: Have you felt any significant differences between writing YA fiction and writing women's fiction?

Denise: Yes. Life is never lived with as much passion as it is as a teenager. Writing YA fiction is a much more emotional experience. Also teenagers are such an appreciative audience. They get in touch to let you know how much they loved your characters, your stories, your world. They explain how the books impacted their world. They remind you why you are writing. There is nothing like a YA audience. 

The Book Bratz: What is your biggest piece of advice for aspiring authors?

Denise: Write what you love. Write with a truthful voice. Don’t try to sound literary. Just be you. Also, read. I have been asked to judge so many writing competitions. You can always tell the readers. Their work just shines. They are so familiar with story, they know things instinctively, like writing characters whose motivations are true. They know when the pace needs to be picked up. They know where to take readers. They have learned all this by osmosis, when absorbed in other worlds. 

Thank you so much to Denise for stopping by and answering our questions! We love interviewing YA authors, and we hope that you enjoy these chats, too!

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