Interview with Karen Daniels

Q: Can you tell us a bit about “Dancing Suns”?

A: Dancing Suns, Book One of the Zaddack Tales is my first completed novel. I started it in the late 80’s and nearly a decade later it was finally complete. The story began because I had this image in my head that wouldn’t go away–a woman and this ‘animal’ walking in desert-like terrain. The woman became Serall, protagonist of Dancing Suns, and the ‘animal’ became Kafa, a zaddack (a sentient four-legged race more advanced and Zen-like than humans). The terrain, two-sunned planet Riatha. This is a story about psychic bonding, the last humans, and duty vs. desire. What do you do when your heart pulls you in a different direction from your duty to your people?

Q: What has been your major inspiration sources?

A: Writers Anne McCaffrey and Marion Zimmer Bradley figure heavily in my own writing style. My love and time spent with animals as an exotic animal trainer among other animal related jobs, definitely inspired me to write of creatures that are not two-legged. Also my spiritual (psychic) beliefs play a heavy role. But in general I see everything as potential inspiration. I’m nearly always asking “What if?” in my head to any given situation–sometimes I ask out loud. But you have to be careful who you ask ’cause those what ifs can be pretty weird especially when we’re talking the realm of scifi.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the experience of writing your first book?

A: Laughs. When I began Suns I didn’t really know how to write a novel. I just sat down and began. That’s part of the reason it took me 10 years to complete. And when I thought it was done I started sending it out only to find it had a long way to go. An angel editor fell into my life and he taught me how to get out of the way of the story and let it tell itself. So, I completely rewrote Dancing Suns several more times. There was a definite learning curve with this novel–the second in the Zaddack Tales series, Mentor’s Lair, only took me a year. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for in writing a novel was how much the characters were in my head. All the time. Whether I was writing or not. I began to feel a little psychotic. Now I’ve learned better how to live this ‘double’ life.

Q: What plans do you have for the future?

A: Writing and promotion of my books. Mentor’s Lair, Book Two, is about to be released so I’m finally starting to work on this promotion game. But the majority of my time still goes to writing. I’m just finishing the final edits on Mindspark, Book Three of the Zaddack Tales. I’ve already begun my next two novels which are completely different but will most likely still have a psychic component. One’s about a very old woman (she’s 112) and the other is a kind of space-age prostitute story. I’m also doing a collaboration with JD Williams on a book currently titled Reflections of Eden which examines questions around science vs. God. Now that I’ve eaten from the banquet of being a full time writer I can’t give it up.

Q: How much research do you put into yours?

A: I’ve done a lot of living for my 44 years–extensive travel, several marriages, science and spiritual investigation–my life tends to be a large part of my research. However, I do read about things when I need more information. As I go on in my books I’m tending to do more research to make the stories more scientifically sound.

Q: Do you follow a strict outline when you write, or does the story “flow” ?

A: I marvel at authors who can use an outline. My characters dictate the story for me so I never know what’s going to happen until we all get there at the same time. So, I’m strictly a “flow” writer in that sense. I do make notes on characters. Now, in doing this collaboration with JD we have to use some outline since there are two authors working on the same story. It’s a good experience for me–shows me a different way and I’m always looking for the opportunity to expand myself.

Q: What has the Internet meant for you as an author?

A: A great deal. I’ve met some terrific people like JD Williams and that angel editor online and they’ve become indispensable to my life. And now that I have my website up and running I feel as if I can access the whole world from my office. It certainly helps the isolation of being a writer. There is so much to the Internet it’s hard to know when and where to put your energy.
That’s the challenge.
Thank you for this interview.

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