1. Where or how did you come up with the idea for this book ?
I came up with the idea of the book “Dillen Smith: The Knighthood” when I was pregnant with my first baby. The book is named after him. I had a difficult pregnancy and I was always in fear of losing the baby. To calm my mind, I wrote the book. I want my baby to know that I love him despite all the difficulties. He’s now a bouncing two-month old.
2. When you sit down to write do you have an idea where you are going or does it just happen as you’re sitting there? Or is it actually the Characters writing the story?
At first, I have a definite idea on how the story should go and how it should end. However, along the way, a thought or a new idea would come which sometimes change the whole landscape or add a new twist to the story. In the end, it would never come out as I envisioned it at first. Sometimes, the story would be totally different from what it was when it first started.
3. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite chapter is Chapter 11- The Visits. I found it funny, entertaining and enthralling. Dillen, the protagonist, had several misadventures. I cannot help but laugh at them. The mistakes made the character more endearing, relatable and human. It will remind you of some goofy mistakes you made in the past. I have so much fun writing this chapter. I hope the readers would find it entertaining too.
4. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Some of the characters are based on real people I know. Mr. Bach Ridley, the 79-year old widower is based on my dad. Linda is partly based on my mom and my sister. Dillen is partly based on me and my experiences in life. Others are characters I have encountered like the bullies. Dillen’s friends are based on the characteristics I have observed on my friends.
5. What is your favorite quote from a book of fiction?
“Circumstances deranged what man arranged” – Victor Hugo – “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. This quote stuck with me through the years because I found it to be true – time and again. Our plans do not always end up the way we want them. Might as well roll with the punches.
6. On that vein who would be your favorite Author? What writers influenced you?
I have a number of favorite authors – Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Sidney Sheldon and J.K. Rowling. All of these writers influence me. I know their works by heart.
7 Do you have a favorite fictional character?
I love Portia of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”. Her character is so wise, tough and smart. She is the driving force of the story. I enjoy reading about women who put up a good fight. Not just women, anyone who strives to overcome an obstacle in his or her life is a hero in my eyes. Stories that showcase triumph of the spirit are my favorites.
8. What five words describe you?
I see myself as resilient, determined, strong, loyal and generous.
9. What if any project are you working on now?(go ahead promote away!)
I’m working on the second volume of this book “The Adventures of Dillen.” “Dillen Smith: The knighthood” is the first of a 3-part series.
10. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
The rejection letters I received from publishers saying my book was not what they wanted but they would never go into specifics, it is hard to improve if I don’t know what I did wrong.
11. What has been the best compliment?
One reader told me that she loves my work. And, in one instance, a professor wrote to me saying I outdid myself in my recent work.
12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Yes, I did. I didn’t finish writing the book but I love the story.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from some readers. Some say they like my book. Others are more critical. But I think reading a book is like appreciating a woman – beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder. It is highly subjective. I don’t expect everyone to like my style of writing or love my story.
14. What do you think makes a good story?
A character breathes life to the plot. But it is a good plot that drives a story. The plot creates the situations the character must live with. So, a good plot will greatly affect the outcome of the story.
15. I think I know your answer but , what’s more important to you Characters or plot?
To me, it’s the plot. The plot enables the character. It explains why they are who they are.
16. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I enjoy traveling and dining out. Of course, being with my baby, Dillen.
17. How about a snippet from your book that will hook a prospective reader and make them want to read your book.
Chapter 6. The Tests
Dillen took his own sweet time as he walked home with Bobby. Bobby chatted animatedly about the audition. Dillen answered on monosyllables.
His mind was on King Artos. He needed the time to mull on King Artos’ offer and go over the day’s events. He recalled what transpired at school today. He weighed his options.
By the time he parted ways with Bobby and got home, he had made up his mind. He knew what his answer to King Artos’ offer would be. There was no doubt in his mind. All signs pointed to that direction.
With the burden of a decision lifted off his chest, he had a hurried, joyful step when he walked inside the house. He grinned ear-to-ear when he greeted his mom, “Mom, I’m home.”
Linda’s eyes brightened the moment she saw her son entered the door. “How was the audition?” She asked.
“It was fine,” Dillen appeared nonchalant. But deep down, he couldn’t wait to tell his mom the wonderful news.
“Did you get a part in the play?” Linda pressed for more answers. But before Dillen could reply, she said, ”any part would do even it if is not a speaking part,” she assured him.
“Yeah, I got a part,” Dillen said rather coyly.
“Oh really?! I’m so happy to hear that. What’s the part?” Linda asked.
“Well, I got…” Dillen was about to answer but Linda again interrupted his son.
“Don’t worry if they ask you to play a tree, the sun or even a horse. I won’t mind. I’m proud of you, son. No matter what. So don’t be ashamed to tell your mommy your role in the play.”
“No I’m not playing a tree or a horse.”
“Oh God! Is it worse? What is it? A cat?” Linda got a worried look on her face..
Dillen shook his head, “no mom, I was chosen to play the lead part of King Arthur in the school play,” he blurted out. Linda didn’t expect the news. It took a while for Dillen’s words to sink in and for her to react.
“You what?” His mom shrieked. She appeared totally shocked. The look on her face was priceless.
“I got the King Arthur part, mom,” Dillen repeated.
“I know. I know. I heard what you said. But I just can’t believe it,” she ran to his son and hugged him as tight as she could. She littered his face with kisses too, “I’m so proud of you!” she exclaimed. She didn’t expect him to get any part, much more the lead part.
Dillen was happy. For the first time, he saw the unmistakable pride in his mom’s eyes as she looked at him. That made his day.
“I’m so proud of you!” she repeated. If she has doubts about Dillen’s skills before, she definitely had no doubts now. Her son finally came out of his shell. Her husband was right all along. “When are we going to see this play?” she later asked.
“We will be doing rehearsals three times a week after school. It might be done in a month’s time.”
“Well, your dad and I will be looking forward to it. I have the perfect outfit for the event. King Arthur’s mom need to look the part,” she said. In her mind, Linda already picked out the dress to wear to the event.
Dillen smiled then asked, “Mom, can I go play outside?”
“Of course Dillen! You can play all you want. You earn it, son. But be sure to be home when your dad gets home. I’ll serve dinner then.”
18. What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
Aside from good plot, character development and setting, if you want to be a writer you must have:
1. A vivid imagination. This is a given. In your mind, you must see mental images of the plot, setting and characters.
2. Good grammar skills and vocabulary. You won’t be an effective writer if your readers cannot understand what you are trying to convey due to poor grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
3. Practice. Writing is a learned art. You must write to develop your skills. You do not learn to write books overnight. It’s an acquired skill. The more you write, the better you will become. I should know. I wrote for 33 years now.
4. Love for writing. Writing can break your heart. If you do not love this craft, you will give up at the first criticism, the first rejection letter you will get. You are putting your work out to the public, expect adverse reactions. You cannot please everyone. Develop a thick skin if you want to be a writer.
5. Goal. Know your end goal in writing. Is it to entertain? To inform? To inspire? If you have a goal in sight, you won’t get lost. You will know exactly what to write. Stick to that goal and write your heart out.
19. How did you get into writing? Is this what you always wanted to do?
I got into writing because of my love for Shakespeare’s work. I was twelve when I read “Merchant of Venice” and I realized right then and there how words could effectively affect a person. Words could be a tool for good or evil, depending on how you use it.
20. Any last thoughts for our readers?
Reading is one of the greatest pleasures in life. When you read, you do not only enrich your mind but your outlook as well. Reading helps me become a writer because it opens my eyes to possibilities. So keep on reading …. Thank you for your support to us, writers.
Please do check out my ebook “Dillen Smith: The Knighthood” at Amazon.com. Thank you!