Tricia: Today's guest is Donna Yates, author of Always. Not only has Donna stopped by to talk with us about her book, but she's also provided an excerpt at the bottom of the interview. Be sure to visit the links after the interview to learn more about her work. And, don't forget to read the excellent excerpt from Always. Hi, Donna. Welcome. Before we talk about your book, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Donna: I've written stories and poems since I can remember. My brother told me one time that I started writing when I learned the alphabet and learned how to write. I continued writing through the years, but I was busy with college courses and then later working and raising a family to ever get a story finished.
Tricia: Can you tell us about Always?
Donna: 'Always' is the tale of eternal beings who choose to go to one of many planets for knowledge and growth. Two lovers decide to come back to Earth again. Once they leave their Eternal World, memories of it are forgotten until they return. Simon is a 36 year old man who travels the world searching for antiques. His best friend's 16-year-old niece, April has had a crush on Simon her entire life. Now, she decides to live in her great-aunt's quiet village in England and pursue her only mission—to win Simon's love. Simon wants no part of this childish game, but there is something about her that seems so familiar to him. The story follows the mortal lives of April and Simon through the years, ending when April returns to her Eternal planet.
Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?
Donna: The 'Always' storyline came to me one day about 4 years ago, along with 2 other stories. I had started the other 2 stories when one day I had a vision of a middle-aged man standing on his balcony, lonely but determined to live an uncomplicated life alone. At first I thought, 'this story will go nowhere.' I was working all 3 at the same time when suddenly 'Always' drew all my attention.
Tricia: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your novel?
Donna: The most challenging aspect of 'Always' was that I bounce from a past life of Simon and April to their lives on the Other Side to their current lives. Each of these 3 segments had to have unique names assigned to them, following the idea of past lives. I had to make sure the story flowed and that the reader didn't get lost in my tale.
Tricia: What is your vision for the series?
Donna: From here, I have several more books planned in the series. The next book will introduce the reader to the beginnings of April and Simon (known on the Other Side as Katura and Einarr) and Einarr's first adventure on another planet.
Tricia: Are you working on any other projects right now?
Donna: I am currently also working on several storylines from this first novel and on a book of poetry. I've often said, "My heart belongs to stories but my soul belongs to poetry." I have a goal to bring readers back to reading poetry and understanding it. Therefore, I write quite simple poems and usually I use rhyme.
Tricia: What advice do you have for new or aspiring authors?
Donna: To other writers, I'd say never give up, no matter how long it takes to write the story. If that story came to you, write it before the Universe gives it to someone else. I would also advice to have the story edited and to remember that once the story is written, that is only the foundation. There is a lot more work ahead, such as marketing. Finally, believe in yourself. Trust that your instinct is correct in your writing abilities.
Tricia: Where can my readers go to learn more about your work or to purchase one of your novels?
Donna: People can check out my blog where I have parts of the story:
I have a book trailer on Youtube: And my e-book and my profile can be found at Smashwords and Amazon:
The book is available in Kindle or e-book form for $3.99. The paperback version should be available soon.
*Cover image courtesy of mihtiander & canstockphoto
*Cover by JoleeneNaylor:http://coverart.joleenenaylor.com/
Here is a short excerpt from the beginning of my book:
April turned to Simon and hugged him tightly. He could smell nothing but her jasmine and couldn’t resist inhaling deeply to fill his nostrils with the lovely scent, which weakened him. When she didn’t release him, Simon glanced at Dixon for help.
Dixon shrugged his shoulders. He had no idea how to help Simon.
Finally, Simon squeezed out of her embrace. “Hello, April. I’ve a gift for you too. Lester picked it out.”
He handed her the bag. April clapped her hands together and jumped up and down. “Thank you, my Simon.”
Dixon and Simon looked at each other, their brows raised.
“A dragon. I’m crazy about dragons! And it’s pink. How very thoughtful, Simon.” She pointed at the T-shirt she wore, but Simon had already noticed it. “And chocolates. Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear Simon.” She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.
“What happened to Uncle Simon?” Dixon asked.
April hugged the dragon. “He’s not technically my uncle and since I’m an adult, I feel I should call him Simon.”
“What about Mr. Umbridge?” Dixon suggested.
“How silly. He’s not a stranger.”
“Indeed, a crazy thought,” Dixon agreed. He grinned at Simon’s awkwardness.
“Do come in. I prepared some tea. Aunt Tillie isn’t here at the moment.” April attempted to sound grown-up.
They followed her in to the modest house where a tray of gingerbread and tea waited.
“Where’s Aunt Tillie?” asked Dixon.
“To a friend’s, for a game of Bridge.”
“Bridge?” Dixon asked Simon, and Simon returned a blank stare. Aunt Tillie didn’t play bridge.
April passed the cups of tea, handing Simon his first.
“Here you are, my dear.”
Dixon bit his upper lip.
“Do you want a slice of Aunt Tillie’s gingerbread? I…I helped her make it.” April blushed, as she leaned in a little too close to Simon.
Simon threw himself back hard into the chair to get a proper distance from her, almost spilling his tea.
“Great.” Dixon grabbed a slice and sat back down.
Neither April nor Simon moved.
“Better take a piece. I think that’s the answer.” Dixon winked at Simon.
“Don’t you like Aunt Tillie’s gingerbread, Simon?” asked April as she set the plate down, placed a slice in his hand, and took a seat near him.
Simon couldn’t respond. April’s unusual manner towards him surprised him, not to mention the changes in her appearance. How could she be so different from last year, he wondered? Her T-shirt fit too snugly over her full figure. Her fragrance hypnotized him. He centred his gaze on her face, unsure how to handle her. Simon couldn’t steer his eyes off her, on guard for her next ploy.
“You’re rather peaked, Simon.” Dixon sat back in the chair, relaxed. Simon turned to him with the same shocked look he had while staring at April. Words escaped him.
Playfully, Dixon gulped loudly. “You certainly grew up in the past year.”
“I’ve turned into an adult. I can tell. I act more mature, walk like a lady, and talk about different subjects than before. You agree, Simon?”
Simon attempted to talk but no sound came out.
“I believe he’s noticed,” Dixon asserted.
Simon shot him a frustrated glance. Dixon found this entertaining indeed.
“You have more school, April?” asked Simon formally.
“No. I went to a private school last year and took accelerated classes. I’m on a mission here, you see.”
“What sort of mission?” Simon felt even more lost than before.
“It’s to help you, my Simon.”
Simon kept his attention on April, ignoring Dixon.
“Help me how?” he asked.
“Excuse me?” asked Simon, quite shocked.
With several “ahems,” Dixon went outdoors.
“To lead you to your soul mate.”
“There’s no mistake that you’re a Duff. You seem to possess a high level of their genes. I’m not in the market for a relationship.”
“You must accept my help. My friend Telulla explained it to me at the end of my vacation last year. She’s a fortune teller,” she said, nonchalantly.
“A…a fortune teller?” Simon sounded confused. He could hear Dixon guffaw.
“Telulla. She lives down the street and had just opened her shop when we met,” April said patiently. “She knew I had a crush on an older man. It’s my responsibility to lead you into our future, she said.”
Dixon walked in, composed, and sat down. After asking his niece about her school year and her father, Dixon was ready to leave.
“We best head over to the property. We can see Aunt Tillie later. Simon?”
Simon stood up slowly and walked to the door, the uneaten piece of gingerbread still in his hand. He stopped to glance at April before he went outside, and she smiled at him. As he climbed in the jeep, he watched the house.
April ran outside and waved good-bye, hugging the stuffed dragon.
“Your face, man. It says it all. A mission. Just too clever. What fun. I can’t wait to share this with Dixie, Jesse and Dad,” said Dixon as they drove away.
“Don’t forget to page the Prime Minister. Let’s also publish it in your paper and all the others so the entire country can read about it.”
“Good idea. I’ll consider it.”
“You would.” They looked at each other and grinned.
As Simon ate the slice of gingerbread, he considered April’s offer. He excelled in contests. It’s why he bartered over prices. He boxed vigourously and never lost. April could try her best, but Simon was determined not to let her win. If Dixie couldn’t get him to marry her, no one could, and certainly not a child. He’d placate April’s foolish dreams, but he’d never give in to her.