Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

9/14/21, Old Friends, New Friends

Posted on September 14, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re doing well, the Fall is off to a good start, that the summer brought you some fun and relaxation, time to just forget all your problems and do things you enjoy, and now the kids are back in school, you’re back at work, and I hope you’re busy with some exciting projects and plans. And in many places, countries and cities, the acute phase of the Covid crisis is easing a little, due to vaccines, masks, and sensible practices that have become routine for us, and are easy to maintain.

 

In many, many cases, these long Covid months have separated us from people we love, and want to spend time with. I was separated from my children by an ocean and a continent, and the fallout and dangers of Covid 19 for fifteen very long months. With restrictions, curfews (at 6pm in Paris for a while), and lockdowns, my world and my social life dwindled to nothing, and is still very limited, in terms of who I see, and how much I go out, and only outdoor dining. Many people are still not back in their offices, and are working remotely, people have moved away from the cities where they lived and worked before the pandemic, so there seem to be fewer people in our lives. There are also fewer social activities and opportunities to meet new people with reduced social lives, but in spite of that I have been struck by renewed contracts with people I haven’t heard from in a long time, who suddenly surfaced to inquire how I am. And by sheer happenstance, I have connected with new friends who are a real gift in my life, and were totally unexpected. Unexpected romances and relationships have started in the same way too for many people. Life does go on, even if temporarily on hold and different than it was before.

 

Work, professional activities and our jobs still bring us into contact with new people, even if only on line. Particularly in the creative fields, we are all starving for contact with other humans and experiences, which we need to fuel our inspiration to create, whether it be music, art, design, or literary. Every artist, designer, or writer I have spoken to is suffering from their diminished opportunities for inspiration from a broader world. I struggle with it myself, my life is much quieter and more isolated than it was before Covid. We are all anxious for that to improve, whether creative or not, but I think people in the arts are really feeling the lack of daily stimuli.

 

The flip side of that quiet coin is that we are doing less in the world, in order to be careful and mindful of Covid. Every day requires decisions from us of what is worth the risk, and how much. It’s a movable marker that changes day by day. And I certainly see fewer people, and do fewer things outside my home now, in order to be responsible. With fewer activities, I have written more, but I also have more time to reach out to people I know, on line, or respond to people who’ve reached out to me, whom I might not have taken the time to correspond with before. But with a little more time, and hungry for that human contact, I’ve been more open to new connections, which in some cases have turned out to be a real blessing in my life, and enrich it immeasurably. It’s particularly fun to ‘meet’ other creatives, in a variety of fields. And I’ve met all of them by accident because of Covid, so the experience hasn’t been all bad, and some of my already existing friendships have deepened in the stressful war-time atmosphere that has impacted us all.

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, a museum in another country contacted me, with time on their hands too, they had gone through their archives to ‘clean house” and discovered that my grandfather had loaned them a small painting for an exhibit many years ago, which somehow got forgotten, never got returned, and was still at the museum. My grandfather had died shortly after, no one knew about the loaned painting, and they never claimed it. It wasn’t valuable, but it belonged to his heirs, which was me. They contacted me and offered to return it to me. I didn’t fall in love with the painting when they sent me a photo of it, and decided to donate it to the museum since it had already been there for years. They were very pleased and the curator who had made contact is a lovely woman, and we’ve had a wonderful correspondence that has gone on for a year. In non-covid times, I would never have taken the time to get to know her. Buried under mountains of work, meeting deadlines, travelling constantly to see my kids, I would have made a fast decision about the painting and let it go at that. Working from home, the curator had time too that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. It has been a lovely exchange now for a year, and we hope to meet one day.

 

And I did a crazy thing, during one of the lonely lockdowns in France. My favorite series cheered me late at night when I was anxious and lonely. One of them is a British show that I have loved for years. The sound of the actors’ familiar voices was comforting, alone in my apartment for 77 days. I did something I’ve never done before. I researched the woman who created it and writes the show, got her address from a friend who works in TV in London, and wrote the first fan letter I have ever written, to tell the writer how much the show has meant to me. I would NEVER have done that in normal times. But suddenly, living daily with a lot of anxiety and fear, we are more open and more vulnerable, more emotional, and aware of things we paid no attention to before. It had never occurred to me before to write to the creator of that show, although I’ve loved it for a decade and watch it faithfully. But suddenly, in the craziness of the pandemic, it seemed okay to reach out, so I did on a sudden impulse one night. Much to my astonishment, she answered me the next day, and she had been reading my books since her teens. We had a powerful mutual admiration for each other, had a million things in common, and she has become a fantastic friend, although we still haven’t met. Our birthdays are even one day apart. She writes me hysterically funny letters, and our shared view of the literary world and the world of TV has given us a lot of laughs. She is a kindred spirit, and I adore her. Wow!!! Imagine if I had never written to her. She is a huge gift in my life!!

 

And along the way, I did a collaboration with a young Irish fashion designer, whom I’ve admired for years, and presto magic a new mutual admiration was born, across miles and generations. We did a podcast together, and the collaboration was a wonderful experience!!! Right there, I had three new friends, without ever leaving my house or meeting them. And then a fourth, an artist in Germany sent me a pastel portrait of my late son Nick as a gift (because she had spare time too), which really touched my heart, and we have corresponded too. She is incredibly talented and a lovely person, and she is currently working on a project for me, that I plan to give my children at Christmas.

 

And in addition to that, an artist in San Francisco whom I have admired for years, but haven’t seen in a long time, reached out to me. I have many many of his paintings in my home, but we had lost touch. He wrote to me out of the blue, and said what a hard time he was having painting in the pandemic, and what a challenge it was to create in a vacuum, isolated from people and the world as we know it. I answered immediately and shared that it was hard for me too. (All the people in the arts who have written to me have said the same). I shared my own experiences with him by email, and the exchange helped both of us, and inspired us. I was SO happy to have heard from him, and so grateful that he’d written to me.

 

So even though we are alone more, and spend more time at home, and the pandemic has been isolating for many people, even most people,—-flowers pop up through the snow and ice, and bring spring back into our lives in the frozen winter we have lived for eighteen months. Email has certainly helped us reach out to others, this would all be a lot worse without it. (I accidentally spilled a glass of water into my computer a week ago, and I panicked at the loss of contact for 3 days. The internet is a huge blessing right now, and keeps us connected to others and the broader world.)

 

I am so grateful for these friendships that have appeared, flourished, and the old ones that have survived or been reborn. we are social animals and need other humans, but in the midst of the silence, the darkness and at times the loneliness, some wonderful friendships (and even romances) are born. And I am SOOOO grateful for that, and for the old and new friends in my life.  And I am certain that these friendships will last much longer than Covid, and be stronger than they would have been, because of it. So some good has come of the challenges of the Covid crisis after all!!!Have a wonderful week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

4/12/21, Finding Ashley

Posted on April 12, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, things are a bit dreary in Paris, another cold rainy day. I don’t know what’s wrong with the weather this year, last year at this time, I was perched on my little balcony, getting a suntan in the spring sunshine. It made the long lockdown a bit more tolerable. Last year, in the lockdown we weren’t allowed to go outside, except for an hour a day with a permission form filled out (for medical reasons, groceries, an hour of exercise or to walk a dog). This year we can go out all day until 7 pm, but go where? It’s too cold and rainy to want to go out, and cozier at home. It feels like December, not April. It was supposed to snow last week, but it didn’t in the city, only in the country around it, and in London. So, it’s reading, writing, getting work done, and watching series. And I think most people are pretty much series and zoomed-out. Human contact would be ever so nice, a walk with a friend on a sunny day, lunch at a restaurant, on a terrace (no stores or restaurants open). Spring will come, and Covid will get better and eventually disappear. We just have to be patient, I guess.

 

I remember one year, I was on my way to the Caribbean, and changed flights in New York for 2 hours, and in those brief two hours on April 15, there was such a huge blizzard that they closed the airport. So I guess cold weather happens in April.

 

The vaccine roll out is still slow in Europe, and impressively efficient in the US. I heard yesterday that 25% of the population is fully vaccinated in the US, and 50% have had one shot and are waiting for the next one. That really is amazing.

 

Otherwise, the world seems a bit slow at the moment, I have a new book coming out two weeks from tomorrow, which is always exciting. “Finding Ashley”, about a reclusive writer who lost her son to cancer, and her marriage, and is quite solitary, and estranged from her only sister, who is a nun. The writer gave up a baby at a Mother and Baby Home in Ireland when she was fifteen. And when the two sisters meet again, the one who is a nun takes a leave from the convent, to try and find the baby girl that her sister gave up. The writer has regretted it all her life, and her sister wants to help her find peace about it.  All the convent records were intentionally destroyed, so none of the mothers and adult children can find each other now. The search for the little girl her sister gave up becomes a journey of self-discovery, revealing truths and long hidden secrets in both their lives, and it renews the bond between the two sisters, and what they discover during the search for the baby the one sister gave up. It’s about mothers and daughters and sisters, and the bond between women in one family, no matter how different they are. It’s about looking for someone you loved and lost, and finding yourself. I hope you love it!!! And because of the subject, it will make a wonderful Mother’s Day book!!!

 

I hope you have a wonderful week, with lots of happy surprises—–and warm weather, and a hint of spring!!

 

lots of love, Danielle

 

2/1/20, Busy!!

Posted on February 1, 2021

 

I’m writing a new book for you!!! See you next week!!! Have a great week in the meantime,love, Danielle

 

 

10/12/20, “Over it!!!”

Posted on October 12, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that last week was a good week for you, and that some good things happened. I had a bumpy week last week, with some ups, some downs, some goods, some bads, which seems to be the order of the day these days, as we learn to live around Covid, as carefully and responsibly as possible. If we’re healthy, and our loved ones are too, we’re ahead of the game. I’m still in France, and missing my kids. The new cases per day numbers went up dramatically all over Europe, which was discouraging, and even alarming. The good news is that the death rate in most European countries (and the US, I think too) is much lower than at the beginning of Covid, so people are still getting sick, but much greater numbers are surviving. And the doctors seem to have much more effective treatments to deal with the disease.  And to borrow an expression of my youngest daughter, I am “Over It”—–we all wish that this nasty virus would go away. And in the meantime, we follow all the measures we have to, to stay healthy and safe (masks, social distancing, and hand washing as often as possible. I’ve developed an allergy to Gel, so it’s alcohol wipes and soap and water for me).

 

October is always such a lively, energized, exciting month, with all the fall activities in full swing, after the summer, and the holidays to look forward to. This year, things are looking somewhat uncertain. Many offices are still not open, people are still working from home in some industries, which can be lonely. And the rules we are meant to live by contradictory and confusing from city to city and country to country. I’m always stunned by how different the rules are in the US and France. Quarantine in Europe now is 7 days in most countries with the belief that that is long enough, and still 14 days in the US. Protocols of what to do if you’ve been exposed to the virus, when to test, and when you can go back to work if you caught it, are also very different. No one has found the perfect answers yet, and scientists disagree. Who to believe? And which set of rules to follow? In a single city in the US, you can have as many as 4 conflicting sets of rules.

 

One VERY good piece of news is that the California fires seem to be slowly getting in control, and the smoke invading huge portions of the State is dissipating. In San Francisco and the surrounding area, they have been living in confinement, with masks, limited activity, windows closed, and toxic air for nearly two months. I’m sure they are ‘over it!’ too!!

 

For myself, with the Covid numbers rising, I’ve reduced a lot of my activities, haven’t seen friends in a couple of weeks, and am staying at home more (but going out to do minor errands)—why take a chance?—, and writing virtually constantly to keep distracted and busy. I’ve been working on outlines, editing, adding research, correcting galleys, and wrote an essay for a magazine. Writing fills my days and nights, and brings comfort, solace, hope and peace—-and hopefully to my readers when they read the books.

 

We just have to hang in, and keep going, knowing that there is light (and health and a world without Covid) at the end of the tunnel we’re in, even when we can’t see the end of that tunnel yet—-but we’ll get there!!! Hopefully soon!!!

 

So we may be over it, but we just have to keep going, step by step, day after day. The good times are coming!! Have a GREAT week!!!

 

I wish you good surprises and good health this week, love, Danielle

 

9/28/20, Four Seasons

Posted on September 28, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How are you holding up? Whether locked down in the state or country where people live, I’m beginning to hear people’s wings drooping a little. I don’t think any of us expected the pandemic to go on for this long, or what it would feel like. From friends and family in New York, I’m hearing that it’s “okay, but weird” and not the New York they know. Some places where life seems almost normal with restaurants doing a booming business, and other areas where the city seems dead and the streets are deserted. Big companies haven’t opened their offices yet, like Random House my publisher, their office buildings are deserted, smaller companies (like my agent) are starting to open and people are returning to work, which is encouraging. I think the two things that make people feel ‘normal’ again are being able to go back to work in their familiar surroundings and function more normally, and being able to see people socially again. One thing I have learned from this whole experience is how much people need to see and be with other people in order to feel happy and well balanced. Those who have been isolated, especially for extensive periods of time, like San Francisco which remains still heavily confined (with toxic air quality from the recent fires), people sound morbidly depressed when I talk to them. You can only isolate people for so long, and then other/psychological issues begin to take hold, which seem almost as damaging as the virus. Long term isolation (7 months now in San Francisco) and deprivation ultimately seems to cause depression, understandably, and other problems. The numbers (of sick, deaths, etc.)are impressively low in San Francisco, but at what price glory, if the entire population is depressed from being deprived and isolated. I haven’t spoken to a single person there whose spirits weren’t at the bottom of the barrel. It’s sad to hear, and favoring the numbers and statistics at the price of the population’s morale and emotional wellbeing seems a high price to pay for those statistics. People speak only of how shut down the city is, stores boarded up, business not getting back on its feet, and the homeless roaming everywhere, looking as depressed as those who have been confined at home for too long. And things aren’t back to normal in LA either, according to friends and relatives there. Normalcy is hard to achieve anywhere these days, around the world.

 

In Europe, ever since the abandon of those who went on vacation all over Europe this summer, crowded together on the beaches, didn’t wear masks, spent their nights in bars and illegally opened discos, have caused the numbers to soar, in France, Spain, the numbers are up in England, Germany, Austria. Some countries are starting to confine certain areas, and the general population is beginning to worry that there will be a general lockdown confinement again. Moderate measures are being re-instated, with the threat of worse to come if people don’t get serious again and the numbers don’t come down. In France, and probably the rest of Europe, the young (from adolescents to 25) steadfastly refuse to wear masks and social distance, and are putting themselves and everyone else at risk, and refuse to listen to the warnings. It’s frustrating to see them in big groups on the streets, hugging and kissing, laughing with their arms around each other, and not a mask in sight. No one seems to be able to get them to listen, to their parents, or the government, in any country, while the numbers continue to rise daily.

 

The uncertainties of the situation are giving everyone anxiety. About jobs, their health, their families, the economy. It’s hard to guess where the safest place is to be now, with ups and downs, and how to get there. I miss my kids fiercely. Restrictions are being put on the European borders again, with quarantines being enforced, and there is no sign at all of the US borders opening, or any reciprocity of open borders between the US and other countries. Americans are still barred from travelling to other countries, except for Croatia, Brazil, and some African countries. We just have to hang in until things return to normal again, or start to get better.

 

In France, summer stopped abruptly and turned to instant winter, with chilly days, cold nights, and weeks of gloomy rainy weather. It suddenly made me realize that this is now my Fourth season in the midst of Covid. It began last winter, we deconfined in Spring, went through a hot summer (with too much self-indulgence in France, we are paying the price for now), and now here it is Autumn, our fourth season of Covid. I just celebrated the my fourth child’s birthday on Face time, virtually, when I had never missed a single one of their birthdays before, with another one due in the next few weeks, and I celebrated my own birthday on Face Time with them this summer. I can’t wait to celebrate birthdays again for real with hugs and kisses, opening gifts and blowing out the candles together. That will be a happy day.

 

Let’s hope that things start to improve again soon, without any more spikes in the numbers, despite gloomy predictions I hope won’t prove to be true. We deserve some good news. And let’s hope that people stay serious about this, so the numbers come down, and we have something to celebrate!!

 

In the meantime, Fall is here, which is usually an invigorating time of year. We just have to stick with it. I just started a new book, and I’m sending love and prayers to all of you. I’ve run out of Mickey Mouse masks, and am now wearing pink ones with Pandas on them. And after that, I have pale blue ones, with little dogs on them.  Let’s hope things improve radically before I have to wear the ones with the multi colored dinosaurs on them. Have a great week, wherever you are, we’re in this together and we will make it through, hopefully before the start of another season, or we miss too many more birthdays and events of our loved ones. I missed a major family event last week, which was an all-time low for me. Onward, and Upward!!! Hang in!!!

 

So much love to you,   Danielle

 

 

9/21/20, Writing…

Posted on September 24, 2020

Busy writing a new book! See you next week….

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9/7/20, Happy Fall!

Posted on September 7, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a fun holiday weekend. As usual, I have no idea where the time went. Time whizzes by, and weirdly, I find that it goes even faster than usual during the pandemic. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking, wanting to hurry up through these hard chapters, and get to easier times and a happier ending to the story. We’ve had plenty of time to think deep thoughts, while in confinement, cleaned out our closets, garages, and basements, caught up on projects we’d been putting off, got to spend an unusual amount of time with our children—many of us, others haven’t been as lucky, and haven’t seen our kids and families in months (I’m in that category, unfortunately),—-so enough already. We are all ready to see the pandemic end and get back to normal life.

 

The numbers have gone up again in Paris, probably due to people moving around over the summer, having too much fun and being less careful. The South of France, favorite summer vacation spot, became a hotbed of people crammed into bars, not wearing masks, crowded on the beaches, and enjoying too much unprotected nightlife, and then travelling back to wherever they came from, taking Covid with them and spreading it around. The same thing happened in Spain with an influx of people from other European countries. And in the US with people going to vacation spots and being less careful, particularly young people. So now, everyone has to get more serious again and be more careful.

 

The big change in the Covid numbers is an important one: even when the number of people testing positive for Covid has gone way up in some areas, the death rate is way down, and hospitals are not being inundated with severe cases. So we are learning how to treat it better, and in many areas, those most testing positive for the virus are very young. We are all eager to see this end.

 

I’ve always found September to be an exciting month, with heightened activity and lots of energy after the summer. It’s a ‘back to school’ feeling I’ve had all my life, even as a young child, and past my school days. September is exciting, we start new projects, go back to work with a fresh eye and new perspective. The weather is crisp, and we rev up our engines to get going again.

 

Labor Day officially marked the end of summer, so now we’re all back at work, some kids are back in school, others are following their classes remotely, people are embarking on new projects, it almost feels like a whole new year in September. I love that feeling!!

 

I was very excited to know that yesterday, my new Hardcover ” Royal” was #1 on the Combined Print and eBook list on the New York Times list of bestsellers. Wow!!! What a cool way to start off the fall season. it never gets old, it’s ALWAYS EXCITING to have a book high up on the bestseller lists, and know that the book is doing well. It’s incredibly gratifying and encouraging to know that you love the books and are enjoying the current one!! It’s always a Thrill!!!  I hope you get a chance to read it soon, if you haven’t yet.

 

And on a personal level, my daughter Victoria has a Labor Day birthday, and we did a Face Time call, where I had some presents for her in Paris, and I stacked them up, and she told me which to open, which I did, as she watched. And now I’ll send them to her, and bring some home with me when I see her again. It was fun opening presents together.  And would be a lot more fun if we were actually in the same room together. We will be again soon, I hope. This was only the second birthday in her life that I wasn’t with her. I usually fly in to be with her, but that’s still too complicated and risky right now.

So the Fall is off and running. I hope yours is off to a good start, and that this will prove to be a wonderful Fall for all of us, full offun times, good health, and unexpected blessings!!! Have a Great Week!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

8/19/20, Q and A

Posted on August 24, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. I thought you might enjoy this Q and A with with Random House this week about working during the pandemic and my new book Royal.

 

One of the world’s most popular and prolific authors, Danielle Steel, answers our questions from Paris. Get a glimpse at her famed writing regimen, her experience throughout the pandemic, and why she chose to write about the royal family during WWII. Her newest book, Royal, is out now! 

Amy Brinker:  You’re a legendarily hard worker- for you, has work changed during quarantine? 

Danielle Steel:  Work changed enormously during Quarantine. The alarm bells of the pandemic sounded when I was at home in France, and all my children in the States. It was a fairly traumatic decision whether to stay in France, far from my family, (I live in both places), or whether to make a run for it and go back to the States. Travel was already thought to be dangerous, and my kids and I decided it was safer to stay where I was, in Paris. The whole situation was sudden, stressful, and surreal. One of my lifelong fears, dividing my life between two countries, has always been ‘what if there is ever a war?’, and being separated from my children, unlikely as that seemed. And instead, I’ve been separated by 3,000 and 6,000 miles from my children, on the East and West Coast of the US, and I’ve been in Paris since the pandemic began, although we talk on the phone many times a day.

AB:  Are you writing as usual? 

DS:  After I made the decision to stay in France, the solid lockdown confinement took hold, and I spent 76 days alone without leaving my apartment. It was an elegant jail sentence in a very comfortable apartment, but solitude is nonetheless what it is, and a huge challenge. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to write, and much to my surprise, for the first time in my life, with all that time on my hands, I was too anxious to write. My mind was blank, I was constantly distracted by my fear of getting sick, my fears for my children, and the world. It took me about three weeks to settle down. But what changed during confinement: I had trouble concentrating, my mind felt blank, I felt as though I was working and thinking in slow motion. Discipline is an enormous factor in my work, and I would force myself to sit with a yellow pad, or at my typewriter all day, for 12 hours at a time sometimes, and just couldn’t work. I knew what I wanted to write, but at first it wouldn’t come, and when it finally did, I found I was writing so much more slowly than usual. I had the time and the space, but not the focus for those first few weeks. Too much scary stuff was going on. I would watch the terrifying reports on the news, and was panicked for hours afterward.

Infuriated by my own distraction, I wrestled with it, and within a few weeks, I was writing, not quite at full speed, but close enough. And now, 3 months after we were ‘De-confined’ in France, my writing speed is back to normal. But what I discovered during confinement was how much more than I ever realized, I rely on outside stimuli to fuel me, conversations, exchanges I see and hear between people, things I see on the street, or in a restaurant, items that interest me in the news. I absorb all the things around me, pick them up, and build a book with them, like a bird making a nest. In the silence of my own company, and a world that had come to a dead halt, there were none of the elements I use to add to a book, sometimes without even knowing it. Once I was back in the world again, it all came back in a rush. But during the confinement, I had to work MUCH harder than normally.

AB:  I know you like to stay busy, so how have you been filling the extra time? 

DS:  Despite how distracting it was during the confinement, I wrote an enormous amount eventually, and as I always do, I was working on five different books, in different stages, just as I do normally. In fact, when we got ‘De-Confined’, I actually stayed in for 2 more days, to finish what I was working on. And then I finally got out, to get some air, go for walks, see people, see friends. It was sheer Heaven to be back out!!

AB:  I’ve read that you schedule your work very stringently- can you tell me more about that? 

DS:  I am always working, writing something, it’s very rare that I’m not writing. My tolerance for not writing is about two weeks, and then I HAVE to get back to work. I’m extremely disciplined about it. I write every day, in some form or other. Work comes first before fun!! I’ve been that way all my life. And when I’m writing a book, during the first draft, I work 20 to 22 hour days so I keep the story tight. (and then sleep for 3 or 4 hours, and go back to the book.)

AB:  How do you attack a new project? 

DS:  When I have an idea for a new book, I jot down notes of the ideas I have, it may be about an industry, or a person, or a theme or an issue of some kind, some thought that comes to me, or something I see in the news. I make notes for a while, and eventually I handwrite an outline, and work on that for quite some time. I also write about the individual characters, getting to know their histories and personalities. And I make notes about the research I’ll need. When all of that comes together and I feel ready, I type an outline, and then work on that for a while, honing it and editing it. I discuss it at length with my editor, and when I think I’m ready to jump, I start the book. Developing it to that point can take many months. And then I write the first draft, and edit and correct that. I do about 4 drafts of a book, over a 2 or even 3 year time span, before it’s ready to be published, adding the research along the way. It’s a long very minute, meticulous process.

AB: Do you always have a few novel ideas in your back pocket for future books? 

DS: I don’t have ideas ‘in my back pocket’, after those first initial notes, either I develop an idea and start working on it, or I don’t. Sometimes I have an idea, and by the next day, I don’t like it, so I don’t pursue it. I know when it clicks for me, and then I start working on it, in the long development process.

AB:  I was surprised to read that you still have self-doubt, considering your long-standing success and popularity. I think that’s actually really helpful for newer writers to hear. What helps you get through that and guides you despite doubt?

DS:  I’ve always worked very hard (and love what I do) and push myself very hard. I try to be better, write better, learn more, improve things, dig deeper about the character studies in the book and to tighten the plot. I think success is to challenge you to try harder and harder, and write better and better, not rest on your laurels and congratulate yourself on how great you are.  I think self-doubt is very important, it keeps you trying harder, striving for something more to give to your readers. I think in almost anything, the day you congratulate yourself on how ‘good’ you are is the day you become less ‘good’ and you lose something important. Being self-satisfied dulls something, and takes away that drive that makes you strive to do and be better each time.

AB:  Your new book, Royal, begins during the Blitz in WWII- did you learn anything especially interesting or surprising?   

DS:  I always learn something new in every book, usually through the research, about an industry, an illness, a phenomenon of some kind,  a war , a place or location, or something more about the interactions between people. There is so much to learn about World War II, that I always learn something new about it that I didn’t know before, and can share with my readers. It’s a fascinating time in history, and with the leeway of fiction, I loved the idea of adding a third princess to the British Royal family, who came to a mysterious end, with unexpected startling secrets that surfaced twenty years later. I loved that idea. And it’s always a huge challenge to make the twists in a plot work and have them both feasible and believable. I fall in love with my characters when I write, and they become real and dear to me. I care deeply about them, which is why my readers care about them. And I think people see themselves in my books, and in my characters—-often living the same challenges and experiences that we all wrestle with, so we can really identify with them, especially if we’ve had a similar experience. And I think we’re all a little fascinated with royalty and royal families, the advantages and disadvantages they live with, so it was both fun and fascinating to write about that. And the research in my books is always as accurate as I can make it. I love discovering details about my characters that make them all the more real.

AB: Royal focuses on secrets, family, and station. Are there any real-life stories that helped inspire this novel or historical figures you wanted to channel?

DS:  No real life characters inspired the book, other than the Royals themselves, both real and fictional. I’m a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth the II of England. In fact, she made two extraordinarily touching, noble, gracious and encouraging speeches during our Confinement in France. Her speeches really encouraged me and boosted my spirits. She was like a wonderful strong, noble courageous grandmother giving us good advice during the pandemic and confinement, and I felt uplifted and hopeful after hearing her speak. There is something special about some Royals, though not all. I tried to capture that in the book. And I hope I’ve provided a story that people will love, remember and cherish.

I’m always deeply grateful to my readers!!!  And also touched when people tell me they loved the books, as I do when I write them.

 

Thank you so much, love, D.S.

7/27/20, Gone Fishing

Posted on July 27, 2020

Gone Fishing……ooops, erghk!!!! Gone writing!!! Much more fun than fishing. I’m working on a book. See you next week!!

Have a great week, love, Danielle

Filed Under Writing | 1 Comment

2/3/20, Writing

Posted on February 3, 2020

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re doing well, feeling well, happy and busy, and that things are happening in your life as you wish!!!

I’ve been working really hard on a new book, a historical novel this time. They are a HUGE amount of work, first gathering the research before I start, so the setting and the times and events are accurate, and to establish the history right from the beginning. Then writing the fictional story set in those times, and weaving the history into it, always the right amount of both. And then after that, more detailed historical research to fill in any holes. And after that, many re-writes. I do at least 3 re-writes on every book, at different stages of the book, sometimes more. It all happens in about a span of two years, or a little more, until the book is ready to be printed and is complete. I don’t like having a span of two years between books, so I am always working on several at once, in different stages. And sometimes the ‘stages’ are quite spread out, so I have time to write another book in first draft between those stages. The system seems to work and is a major juggling act, and it allows me to publish as many books as I do.

 

The historical novels are a lot more work than the others, getting the history and the mood and feeling of the times right. It’s like travelling back in time, whenever I do it, and I need to isolate myself even more for the historical novels, so I’m not distracted by modern times. I have a researcher who helps me gather the information, and then I decide how much of it to use, and what events work best with the story. Writing a historical novel teaches me a lot of new things, just as reading it will do for the reader—-learning about events and people at another time in history. And I often use real people, and songs and books and movies as well as events, to give substance to the time I’ve set it in. I don’t go tooooo far back in history (like Greek or Roman times) or too many centuries back, because then the times are too foreign to us now, and are harder to relate to. A century or two are about as far back as I ever go, or at a time when the challenges in human relations are very similar to what we’re living now.

 

Someone commenting on my Instagram said that they really miss the characters when the book ends. So do I. The characters become so real to me, I work so carefully to build them and make them come to life, that I fall in love with them too (or hate them!!! for the mean ones). And I feel lost for a few days or a week after I finish, as though all my friends have moved away, and I can’t be part of their lives anymore. I’m always happy to find them again when I come back to the book for another re-write. And once the book is absolutely finished, re-written many times, and ready for the book to be printed—-after that, I never read them again.

 

Writing a book is like having a lot of imaginary friends. By the end of the first chapter I love them and they are real to me. And by the end of the book, I know them really well and what they would or wouldn’t do. Sometimes they have a mind of their own!!!! And they refuse to do what I want them to!!! But eventually, I get a good grip on it, whether a historical or a contemporary book. It’s an incredible joy when it goes well, and I feel so lucky to have a job I love. And thank you for reading them, after all of that hard work!!! You make it all worthwhile for me. The nights are long and the days are hard, and the elation and sense of accomplishment when you finish a book is tremendous!!!

 

I can’t write to you today, without at least mentioning the tragic accident which took the life of Famous Basketball Star Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianna, along with another family, and several other people, including children. I ache at knowing Kobe’s widow’s grief to have lost a husband AND a child, and the other family members of the other people and families on board. No loss is easy, and some are unbearably hard. The whole world has grieved these tragic deaths, and the loss of a great athlete and hero, husband, and father. Even in Europe, people have grieved for him, and the others lost. My heart goes out to all the survivors who lost loved ones.

 

I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, safe week. I hope we’re all grateful for our many blessings, however small they are, I hope that we’re treasuring our loved ones, and grateful for every minute we have with them. My children and I have been deeply saddened by Kobe’s death, and all the others with him.

 

I hope that life touches you gently this week, and that it’s a week of many blessings for you.

 

love, Danielle