Today, my guest is Damnation Books author, Fiona Dodwell. She's here talking about her recent release Obsessed.
AUTHOR: Fiona Dodwell
BOOK TITLE: Obsessed
PUBLISHER: Damnation Books
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I am 29 years old, and I have been writing since I was a child. I grew up with a love and fascination for books that just seemed to grow with age. In particular, I fell in love with ghost stories and horror books. Over time, I began to create my own work – short stories, novels and poems. My first novel, The Banishing, was published in March of this year, and Obsessed, my second, was released in September.
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
Obsessed is essentially a ghost story, a journey in which we follow James Barker, who, after witnessing a gruesome suicide, begins to see visions of the deceased in his home, in his nightmares. Believing he is losing his mind, James visits a therapist, who assures him he is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. Things become worse, though, over time. James starts to wonder if his therapist is wrong. Could the dead man really be stalking him, haunting him? If so, why? Obsessed takes the reader on a disturbing journey and leaves you wondering if the impossible is sometimes true.
How long have you been writing?
Since I was about 12 years old. My first story was called 'Caged Demon' and it was a story about an escaped convict who falls in love with his victim. Heavy issues for a child, but I loved it at the time. I'm not sure what I'd think if I read back on it now – I'm sure it'd be funny to see my work from childhood, but it certainly sparked an interest in creative writing that, to this very day, has never disappeared.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
I got into writing simply from reading. I've been passionate about reading (particularly horror and supernatural genres) since I was a child. It was reading amazing stories such as Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and Stephen King's The Shining that helped me to realise that this is what I wanted to do with my life.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I don't outline. I never outline. I like to have a general idea, a very rough direction of where things go, of how things end, but I never plan chapter to chapter. I like to write freely, fluidly. This way, I find that my stories come to life and my characters surprise me with their words, actions and thoughts. That's an incredible feeling, when your own writing surprises you!
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Plot, usually. Most of the time, I'll get a hint of an idea, a tiny seed of a story, and I'll work from there. Usually characters follow pretty closely behind that.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think the hardest part was remaining neutral, until the end. I wanted the reader to go on a journey with my character: to wonder if he really is being haunted by a spirit, or if he is undergoing some sort of mental trauma. To leave the reader wondering, I had to step outside of the story, outside of my own ideas and belief system, and leave the door wide open. At the end, I tie up the story in such a way that it hints at what I believe, but the reader can ultimately decide. I enjoy that: putting the power in the readers hands. Much of what you will take from the story will be based on your own beliefs – are you a hardened skeptic, a man of science? Or do you believe that spirits exist? That the dead can return? Those are the issues that I wanted to explore in Obsessed, but I wanted the reader to take responsibility for their feelings and responses to the issues that the story raise. I don't like to 'spoon-feed' a reader, I like to share the meaning of the stories with the person holding the book in their hand.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read – a lot. I also enjoy watching horror movies. I enjoy a lot of creative things, such as going to the cinema, the theater, a good concert. Music is a big part of my life, especially considering my husband, Matthew, is a musician who is constantly practising his piano and guitar in the home!
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
Susan Hill's The Woman In Black is one of my favorite books of all time. The use of language, the subtle way she invoked fear without being explicit was just masterful, in my opinion. I also learned a lot from Stephen King and Bill Hussey.
What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for
Well, my novel The Banishing was released in March 2011. It's a story about demonic possession, and one woman's journey of survival. Obsessed is currently out – it was released in September, and my third novel, The Shift, is currently being polished and dressed for some rounds of submissions to publishing houses. Every now and then, I like to add short stories to my website, so you can check there for information and updates.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Advice? Hmm. I feel strange giving out advice when I feel I am still learning so much myself. I guess my main tip would be to hold onto your dream but realize this will never be easy. Writing is a hard business. Good writing is even harder. You have to read a lot. Then read more. Then write, then delete, then write it again, then edit. Then send your beloved story into the world hoping that a publisher wants it. And, if they do? You still have to work so hard to get your name and writing out there. I don't say this to put peoples’ hopes down, merely to give you a good grounding in what the business is like. Writing is such a beautiful, creative, magical thing, and I wouldn't stop it for all the world – but, as the saying goes, nothing good ever comes easy. If you're strong enough to take it on, I say go for it – the rewards far outweigh the hard times.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My website has all the information you'll need about me, my writing, my novels and contact information: www.fionasfiction.wordpress.com
You can also see my trailer for Obsessed here:
The Banishing and Obsessed are both available in print and e-book formats. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Damnation Books stock copies. Some book stores are able to order copies – please ask at your local store if you prefer.