Today I will be interviewing Dana Burkey! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me!
My name is Dana Burkey and I am a YA author. I attended college at Youngstown State University in Ohio, where I graduated in 2009 with a degree in theater with a minor in creative writing. Since graduating college I have been living in Washington State where I work full time at an after school program run by a local camp. I live at home with my cat Cato, and in my free time I enjoy running half marathons, community theater, and geocaching!
What inspired you to become an author?
When I think back to when I started to really write I think of one teacher: Mr. Cordon. My 6th grade English teacher really encouraged creative writing in class, and would give us writing prompts based on mysterious photos. It was the first time I ever experienced something like that, and really enjoyed the process of writing something new and different. From there I began writing poetry, short stories, and plays, but it was in Mr. Cordon’s class that I really started to see writing as something I might want to do. I was still not a big reader back then, but found writing something I took to immediately!
What was the main inspiration for your book?
My YA suspense novel Locket Full of Secrets, which comes out today, was actually inspired by a writing prompt! I had not been writing for a while, so about three years back I downloaded some writing prompts to look through and found one that caught my eye. It encouraged you to write a story about making contact with someone you had not seen in years. I immediately thought of a friend from middle school I only knew for my 8th grade year. She was from Romania, and thanks to that influence the story was born. I wrote out an outline and everything, but never touched it again until NaNoWriMo this past year. The book has a lot of European history in it as well, but I don’t want to give away all its secrets to readers!
Who influenced you the most in life?
Aside from my teacher who I mentioned earlier, I have been really inspired by my parents. Growing up we always had a lot of arts and crafts in our home, so creativity was a part of everyday life. I think my love for creating beads, clothing, or paintings later grew into a love for creating the written word. Their support and encouragement as I played instruments, did theater, and now write books is truly amazing and helps me keep going even when it is tough sometimes!
What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
One thing that sticks out to me that someone did was give me a job! Right out of college I applied for a job at a camp in Washington State, somewhere I had never been. I was interviewed by a woman I had never met, for a job at a camp I had never even heard of before I applied. But, when she got to know me, my boss offered me a job and chance to move across the country. It was a dream of mine for years to work in full time camping, so when my boss went out on a limb and hired me, someone she had never met, it really changed everything in my life completely!
Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
My favorite authors include Ted Dekker, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, and Rick Yancey. I also have a lot of books that serve to by favorites, so those authors are also really great and mini-favorites for sure!
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
I think the best advice I heard about writing came from one of my college theater professors. In my intro to short film making class he taught us that “everyone has a story in them waiting to be told.” I think that idea really made me want to get back into writing more after college. Thinking back on his words I seemed to find confidence in my stories, and the idea that people out there would want to read it because it was a story that I made.
Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
When I write I actually don’t listen to music. Instead, I watch TV. I know it sounds like a distraction, but when there is a TV going and I can take a minute or two to watch something it helps me. I have found that if I am watching something brand new I do not always get to see all of it, so I like to watch something I have seen before. This way I can miss parts without really “missing” anything, and I also might be more inclined to not take a break from writing since it is something I already know.
What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?
One thing I do that is not a great thing, is I start working on a new project! This tends to get me in trouble, since I want to get one story done, and instead put it aside while I start something totally different. I am currently facing that battle, but love the new story I am working on so I can’t really force myself to go back! The other thing that I try to do is just write until something clicks. Even if I hate what I am writing, if I am getting words onto the page then it is not all bad. This was a big push I used during NaNoWriMo.
After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?
I actually LOVE watching TV and movies all the time. I watch action movies mostly, and when it comes to TV I love reality shows! If you want to know more about the shows I watch, check out the blog from yesterday, and tune in for the blog tomorrow as well.
What are you working on currently?
Well, I “should” be working on a book called All For Fame about a Hollywood starlet caught up in a love trainable like never before. But, since I hit a block on it I started a new story! So, I am currently working on a book I am calling His Senior Year. It is a YA contemporary romance about a girl trying to win over the guy she likes before he graduats high school. My hope is that once I finish this project I will go back and work on All For Fame once again!
When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?
Since I have a degree in theater I spend a lot of my free time doing community theater. I work with a theater group in my town, so I am always busy with them. I also run half marathons, so training for those keeps me pretty busy a lot of the year. On weekends I also LOVE to go geocaching, which usually involves a lot of hiking.
What are some of your most favourite books of all time?
I have a lot of books I really like, but I think I have to say my “favorite” is the Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan. I first read this book when a camper of mine told me to read it. It was the first time I read a book that was labeled “YA” since it was not really a common term yet. The book helped me get more into YA and from there I realized that it was the genre I had always been writing for. In college I was told my writing was “juvenile” and “childish,” but once I read Percy Jackson and then others like it, I started to see that I was just having the wrong audience read what I had been writing. So, that book really means a lot for me since it lead to a lot of realization on my part!
Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
I actually really love my character Summer from my Hearts to Follow Series! Readers have agreed that she is a strong character that goes through a lot in a short time. Facing love, bad friends, and high school, Summer was a fun character to write and also for readers to learn about. I have had some requests to write more about Summer, so I am working on having a little appearance from her in my book His Senior Year.
What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?
I am actually currently reading Jurassic Park. I have loved the movies since I saw the first one on VHS when I was 9, but I am just now finally reading the books! I have been busy with work and getting Locket Full of Secrets out so I am not reading super-fast this time around, but look forward to continuing on with the series soon!
Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
I have a lot of ideas that I am working on right now, one that I hope I can work on as a part of NaNoWriMo this year. I don’t want to give away too much, but one involves space and the other involves zombies. I know, totally opposite ideas, but I like writing books that are different from others like it. I want to write a new twist on a style or topic of book a lot of people are writing. Hopefully I can share those with readers soon!
What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?
I really LOVE baking cupcakes! For the last five or six years I have gotten really into making special cupcakes for people. Even before Pinterest I was getting creative and making some interesting ones with bright colors, cool decorations, of fun tastes. The last cupcakes I made were a butter-chocolate cake and a double chocolate frosting, with a butterscotch drizzle and chocolate sprinkles. I would add a photo, but I have a feeling you are already drooling enough. Also, the photo is on my Instagram, so you can check it out there!
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?
I have actually thought long and hard about this one! First of all, it would be an X-Men power. My power would be truly 100% photographic memory. I could remember things like Sean on the TV show Psych, and if I touched someone I could see their memories play out like a movie as well. This could help in crimes and things like that, but then also in helping people get memories back. Since I would no doubt be working with Professor Xavier, he would help me make a special machine that I could attach to myself and show people their memories as well. Then, I could help elderly people with memory loss actually see their memories, help people with amnesia remember things, and also allow someone to see a perfect image of lost loved ones. I might also need to turn all of that into a story one day, or at least pass it on to someone who writes action!
Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
The big thing I hope readers know is that my new book Locket Full of Secrets comes out today! It is a YA suspense novel and is available on Amazon kindle, and will be available in paperback as well soon!
Where can we find you on social media?
MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT DANA'S BOOK!
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