My good buddy, prolific writer Dandi Daley Mackall, has a new YA novel coming out this fall. It is a murder mystery. I have interviewed Dandi before but I had new questions about her writing a mystery.
You have written so many YA novels; what inspired you write a murder mystery?
I LOVE mysteries! That’s what I read every night before I fall asleep. I’ve toyed with “mini-mysteries” before—one mystery in a series with 8 books, like Midnight Mystery in Winnie the Horse Gentler. But a murder mystery, with court scenes and courtroom antics and testimonies—that was a different arena.
What kind of promotion are you and your house planning for the book?
For the first time, I’ve set up a dedicated website at www.silenceofmurder.com. I’ve had more fun creating writing exercises and how-tos. I’m all about Point of View and Voice, and there’s a whole page devoted to the intricacies of point of view. My editor at Knopf disclosed to me that she bought my book because she loved my character, Hope, and her relationship with her amazing brother, who hasn’t spoken a word in 10 years. I also have a section on building believable characters. We’re hoping for a blog tour (please contact me if you’re interested!). I’m going to NYC shortly after the release, so we’re working on a few things there. Nobody’s sending me on a grand book tour, but I do a lot of school visits and a couple of book fairs. Knopf sends out so many ARCs—so I’m hoping for good reviews (fingers crossed!); and those often lead to speaking opportunities. I’m no whiz at PR, but I make myself do whatever I can.
You are so prolific. What advice can you give writers to improve their productivity?
Write more. Sorry, but let’s face it—it’s tough out there. If you’re writing picture books and land a sale one out of ten times, you’re a big success. But that means you have to know that you’re going to get rejections. Don’t put all of your hope into a one book-basket. Keep writing. Maybe you’ll sell the other 9 later; maybe not. I don’t think you can write unless you love writing. I do—it’s my escape as much as my livelihood. I’d write this much if nothing ever got published again. On the other hand, don’t rush things. Some people think I write fast. I don’t—not at all. I just write more—more hours. Do your most excellent work every time you sit down, knowing that you’ll rewrite like crazy, making your manuscript better with every rewrite. I want my best book to be the one I’m currently working on, and I want to get better with every book.
What other books do you have being released?
In 2011, besides this YA, THE SILENCE OF MURDER, from Knopf/Random, I have several new books scheduled for this fall:
LISTEN TO THE SILENT NIGHT—a picture book from Dutton/Dial/Penguin
DREAMS OF A DANCING HORSE—middle-grade novel from Bloomsbury
BACKYARD HORSES—new series for 2nd through 5th grades, Tyndale House
HORSE DREAMS and COWBOY COLT
BOB THE HORSE – my I Can Read series, 2 new titles
2012 release: THERE’S A BABY IN THERE! Picture book from Marshall Cavendish
What is your favorite candy or dessert at the Holidays and why?
I’m from Ohio, so I better go with BUCKEYES--peanut butter, powdered sugar, and butter rolled into balls and covered in chocolate, leaving the top brown like buckeyes. I also love frosting—don’t like cake, but give me that thick, rich frosting any day.
www.dandibooks.com DANDI DALEY MACKALL email@example.com
Dandi won her first writing contest as a 10-year-old tomboy. Her 50 words on “Why I Want to Be Batboy for the Kansas City A’s” won first place, but the team wouldn’t let a girl be batboy. It was her first taste of rejection.
Since then, Dandi Daley Mackall has become an award-winning author of over 450 books for children of all ages, with sales of 4 million copies in 22 countries. Recent YA and middle-grade novels include My Boyfriends’ Dogs, Crazy in Love, and Larger-than-Life Lara—Dutton/Penguin; Eva Underground--Harcourt; Winnie the Horse Gentler & the Starlight Animal Rescue series, Tyndale House. Her new mystery, The Silence of Murder, releases from Knopf/Random Oct. 11. 2011 releases include: Dreams of a Dancing Horse, Bloomsbury; Listen to the Silent Night, Dutton/Penguin; Backyard Horses, first 2 titles in a new series; and Bob the Horse, new "I Can Read" books. There’s a Baby in There! is scheduled for 2012 from Marshal Cavendish. Recent chapter book series: That’s Nat! is out with 6 titles. Recent picture books with Sleeping Bear Press include Legend of Ohio, Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story, and A Girl Named Dan (her batboy story). Dandi is a national speaker, keynoting at conferences and Young Author events. She has made dozens of appearances on TV, including ABC, NBC, and CBS, and writes from rural Ohio, surrounded by her family and myriad pets. Visit Dandi at www.dandibooks.com, winniethehorsegentler.com, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85oaIUbJ8j8.