Exclusive Interview With Danielle Jensen, Author Of The Malediction Series
1) Can you tell me about your early life, where you grew up, where you went to school, and when you realized that you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up in Calgary, Canada (which is where I still live). I was always a big reader with a head full of stories, but it never crossed my mind to become a writer. Instead, I went to university and got a Bachelor of Commerce and worked in finance for a number of years. During that time, a coworker of mine suggested we write a romance novel, and the idea of writing a book really stuck in my head. After a few years of secretly working on a novel, I went back to school and got a Bachelor of Arts – English (Honors), and have focused on my writing career ever since.
2) Who were your role models growing up, both within and outside of the writing world, and what inspired you to become a writer?
Ultimately, it was a love for reading that inspired my desire to write, and that love of reading came from my parents. I have never really looked at anyone as a role model. I like to choose what direction I take in life, and allowing any one person to overtly influence me runs counter to my personality.
3) This is probably an unfair question, but who is your favorite writer or what is your favorite book? Or to put it another way, what literary work has influenced your writing style the most?
I wouldn’t say any particular author has influenced my writing style, but my love of fantasy stemmed from my dad reading David Eddings novels to me when I was a little kid. My favorite novel is Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. The characters in that book are so real… If I can instill half that much life into my books, I will feel as though I’ve done my duty.
4) Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process, from first draft to last?
I don’t have a consistent process at this point, because each one of my novels has been written under different life circumstances. Stolen Songbird took quite a long time to write, because I was going to school full time and waitressing at night. Hidden Huntress took about a year to draft and edit, and I have a couple manuscripts that will never see the light of day that took me only a few months to write. I don’t like to plot novels – I prefer to see where the story takes me, which often requires a lot of editing and rewriting. I am very critical of my own work, so I spend a lot of time self-editing before I let anyone else read my writing. I don’t have a critique partner, but I do run my books by my family before they go anywhere. My agent is a very strong editor, and I rely on her a great deal to get my manuscripts in fantastic shape before they go to my publisher.
5) Do you ever encounter obstacles or challenges while you are writing? If so, how do you deal with them? Are you, for example, ever plagued by writer’s block? What kind of practical advice can you give to writers who are facing such challenges?
My single greatest challenge has been finding the time to write. I’ve always had a full time job, so I’ve had to fit writing around my work schedule, often at great consequence to my personal life. There was a time when I’d sacrifice just about anything to spend more time on my books, but now that I have a family, I work hard to find a balance. I’m learning to be more efficient about how I use the time I have to work, to not let social media have a constant presence in my day, and most importantly, how to say no to certain demands on my time, which is something I’ve struggled with in the past.
6) I need you to understand something, I loved your book, Stolen Songbird, I thought it was really amazing and I am very excited for the second book, Hidden Huntress. When is the second book coming out, exactly?
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! I’m extremely excited for everyone to get his or her hands on the sequel. Hidden Huntress releases June 2 in North America and June 4 in the rest of the world. It’s available for preorder now for anyone who is interested!
7) Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind your book series, The Malediction Trilogy?
Stolen Songbird was somewhat inspired by a dream I had about a city covered by rubble, but mostly it came swimming out of my imagination.
8) I think that Cécile is a very fascinating heroine. She is strong but flawed, beautiful but not regal, and just as confused as you would expect any young girl to be, and that makes her more attainable than a lot of lead heroines in young adult fiction today. What was the inspiration behind her character, and what path is she going to take up in the second book?
I’m glad you like her! I had no singular inspiration for her character other than my desire to make her as real as possible. I wanted her to possess admirable characteristics, but I was very careful to avoid making her too perfect. I don’t like reading about people who are fabulous at everything they do. I prefer characters that achieve their successes despite their weaknesses. Basically, I wrote Cécile to be the perfect character for ME in the hopes that others might have the same taste.
In Hidden Huntress, Cécile is back in the human world, but is still a bit out of her element as she’s now moved to Trianon. She’s living a double life, spending the bulk of her time at the opera and fitting in her hunt for Anushka where she can. While she has the help of her friends, Sabine and Chris, she’s very much reliant – even more so than in Stolen Songbird – on her own initiative. The novel is driven by just how much steel she has in her spine – especially where hard choices are concerned.
9) I think that the fan favorite characters are obviously Cécile and Tristan, but I think that my favorite character is actually Anaïs. She stole my heart, her character is filled with so much depth and she is so complex. Her fate was left in a cliff hanger in the last book and I wanted to ask if you could, maybe, comment on whether we are going to be seeing more of her in the second book?
Anaïs is one of my favorite characters, primarily because she has such complex motivations. I really liked setting her up as the mean girl, and then allowing readers to slowly discover that she’s not so easily typecast. One of my greatest regrets was not being able to fit more of her in Stolen Songbird, because I have at least a novella worth of her story up in my head. You won’t get any spoilers from me on her fate, but I will say that she has a role to play in Hidden Huntress…
10) Can you tell prospective readers out there why they should pick up your book, what you think that they would enjoy most about the series?
People who enjoy a blend of fantasy, romance, and intrigue are my favorite sort of readers, but I think it’s Cécile’s character that really captures hearts. It’s very easy to imagine yourself in her shoes, which I think helps readers lose themselves in the story.
11) Can you tell us what to expect from Hidden Huntress?
Hidden Huntress is a much darker novel – it doesn’t have the moments of levity thatStolen Songbird has, mostly because even the best natured of characters are in bad situations. Everyone is faced with tough choices, and there are nasty consequences no matter what direction they go. One of my favorite things about the novel is that readers will get much more depth and understanding of the antagonists, especially Tristan’s father.
12) Are you currently working on any other books or actively exploring ideas for other books besides your current series?
Always! I have another epic fantasy project on the go, but I’m not talking about it too much until it proves itself worthy of being read.
13) What advice do you have for aspiring writers out there?
Publishing is a really tough business, and to succeed, you need to be able to keep hustling despite rejection and disappointment. Write as much as you can. Seek out as much critique as you can find. And LISTEN to those critiques.