How long have you been a member of NOWW?
About three years. I was on the NOWW board for one year.
What do you normally write?
Young Adult – magical realism.
Do you have a favourite book or favourite author?
Don’t really have one – so many to choose from depending on my mood. Like everything from Ayn Rand to Calvin and Hobbes.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to writing:
I started writing much in the same way I do anything in life – dive in and learn as you go! I threw myself into writing a YA magical realism trilogy having no experience in writing at all. Sure, I dabbled in writing here and there: Christmas letters, the odd children’s story for my kids. But nothing serious until I heard a story from a young child soldier in Uganda and felt very compelled—almost obligated—to share his story with the world. From then on, it has been writing and editing and learning ever since.
Tell us a bit about your writing and your writing style:
My Stones Trilogy (two are available now) are Young Adult magical realism novels suitable for anyone 12 and up. Although they’re considered YA, I have a lot of adults reading them too, which is nice because it means my stories are reaching a wide audience.
I do a great deal of research for my novels: I read whatever books I can find on the subject, make notes that I refer to time and time again, and I go to the places I’m writing about. You can’t write about a subject as intense as Joseph Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and child soldiers and have not visited Uganda at least once. I travelled extensively throughout the northern region of Uganda, interviewed many former child soldiers, including one of Kony’s wives and one of his body guards, and listened and watched and recorded everything. It was difficult at times because the stories were horrific but I felt, and still feel, very drawn to sharing these stories simply because they need to be heard.
Right now, I’m finishing up book #3 in the Stones Trilogy and have a couple plans for another novel. I just came back from Malawi where I did some research on the child labour situation there and hope to put out a YA novel that will bring this dark subject to light for a teen audience. I would also like to return to Uganda to interview a woman I met who has an incredible story to share about her nine years of captivity with Kony and the LRA. Too many people gain recognition in the news for things that really aren’t newsworthy or admirable. I like to share stories about people who deserve to be heard, because of their courage and their actions, not because of their status or cruelty or stupidity. There’s enough of that in the world.
Who has inspired and impacted your writing?
My inspiration comes from the people I meet. When they have a story that needs to be shared I am compelled to write it. I’m not really inspired by any author. I like simplicity in stories though. Never been much of a descriptive writer or a poet, although I do enjoy it in other authors.
My tip for writing? It comes from advice I gained from the ladies at Laughing Fox Writers, a local writing group I belong to: read five good quality books in the genre in which you wish to write. Read them again and study them with pen in hand. Make note of how things are done such as dialogue, description, action scenes etc. Absorb it all and then write. You’ll see a big change, a sort of “maturing” in your style. And you’ll like it.
Where can we learn more about you and your writing?
You can check out my website at www.donnawhitebooks.com and visit me on Facebook: donnawhitebooks, and twitter: donnawhitewrite, and Instagram: donnawhitebooks. I post a blog, every two weeks or so, on my website about my travels and interviews.
My books, Bullets, Blood and Stones: The Journey of a Child Soldier and Arrows, Bones and Stones: The Shadow of a Child Soldier are available on Amazon as a paperback and as an ebook. You can also get them at Chapters/Indigo and Coles across Canada. Here in Thunder Bay you can also get them at Gallery 33 and The Bookshelf, and of course any author signing events during the year. You can see where and when I’ll be signing by visiting my author page on Amazon.
And to end things off, tell us something surprising about yourself!
I do a pretty mean turn on the barrels and can do a fine zig-zag through the poles during the local horse show gymkhana. However, I’ve had to put that part of my life on hold for a bit since I became busy with writing and teaching. Right now, the closest I get to barrel racing is riding my little black Arabian mare who is more or less shaped like a barrel due to lack of exercise. Oh well. Maybe next year.