Monday, June 21, 2010

How did the White Forest come to life?

Come along for this fascinating interview into the creative mind of Danika Dinsmore and learn how the world of the White Forest came to life. The ingenious mind of Ms. Dinsmore will inspire you to believe in the unimaginable.

DMc: Brigitta of the White Forest is the first in a series. Please share with us how you created such a magical but believable world.

DD: After the first draft, I knew I had to figure out this world in more detail. So, I wrote a 24 page Word Book about the history of the faeries, what other beings lived on the planet, why the faeries lived in the White Forest, the names of all the other villages in the White Forest, etc. I used the names of real cities combined with a Gaelic dictionary to come up with names of characters, objects and places. I think the Gaelic dictionary helped with some consistency of language. I would look up the definition for something, like “land,” and then alter the word to make it my own. That’s how I came up with the continents of Foraglenn, Araglenn, Storlglenn, etc.

I brainstormed all the faerie traits, everything from what skills each elemental faerie had to how their genes were passed down. I drew maps of the world and the White Forest. I wrote a lexicon that defined each new creature, plant, or magical item that I came up with. I HAD to in order to keep them straight.

Many people think that if you make your world imaginary, you can do anything inside that world. It isn’t true. Your world has to be consistent and the rules have to be established, or it won’t be believable.

DMc: You have been busy developing and implementing your marketing plan. What advice would you offer to fellow author’s in marketing whether their first or 10th book?

DD: Never assume, especially in this day and age, that all the marketing will be done for you and you can just sit back and reap the benefits. But also know that you don’t have to be uber tech savvy to work a social media strategy. I’ve met plenty of high tech people who are terrible at social networking, which is all about communication and building community.

For some great advice, check out Jeff Vandermeer’s Book Life: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer. Also, The Happy Accident is a good reference for writers interested in social media.

DMc: Please share with us your road to publication.

DD: Brigitta was originally a feature screenplay. A fantasy adventure film is cost-prohibitive, however, and a huge risk for a studio if it doesn’t contain a known element (i.e. a known book, known actor, etc), so I thought I might best create a fan base by turning it into a novel first.

So, initially, it was about making the story more marketable. As I worked on the novel adaptation, the story became deeper and richer. I eventually found a fabulous agency, but they couldn’t sell the manuscript to any large publishing houses and we parted ways. I did two more drafts and started the agent query process again. I turned down two offers of representation, because they didn’t feel like the right fit. I decided to go the small press route and skip the agent altogether.

I’m very glad I did, because I’ve really enjoyed how much my publisher has involved me in the process. I’ve learned so much and understand publishing in a way that will allow me to make good decisions the future.

DMc: What or whom inspired you to become a writer?

DD: I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember and I don’t know who to thank for it, perhaps my Dad for reading all the Oz books to me.

I wrote my first “book” in kindergarten (Brace Face) and would spend hours reading and writing in my room as a child. I do remember two books in elementary school that really fueled my passion for writing, because the protagonists were young writers: Harriet the Spy and I, Trissy. The fact that both characters were a bit subversive fed that devilish side of myself as well. Harriet the Spy inspired me to be an observer of people. I kept a secret spy notebook just like her for a while.

DMc: Please share with us your current work-in-progress.

DD: I’m in the middle of editing Book Two of the White Forest series. This is the first novel I’ve written from scratch. There’s no screenplay to use as an outline, so I was a wee bit intimidated. But, so far, it seems to be holding together. It takes place about 7 seasons (or 2 ½ years in human time) after the first books ends. Brigitta’s apprenticeship has begun . . . and the White Forest is in trouble once again. Guess who’s going to have to save it?

DMc: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit form their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Danika, can you please share one with us?

DD: There was a brief time in high school where I stopped thinking about becoming a writer or even going to college. I was going to become a Duran Duran groupie and follow them around the world. I’m not sure how I was going to support myself, but I think it had something to do with marrying Nick Rhodes, their keyboardist.

To learn more about Danika Dinsmore fascinating world visit:


  1. Danika, I loved hearing how you created your imaginary world. Wow, it rivals Middle Earth for all the details you have established. Good for you!

    And you know, there will still be time to be a groupie - just take your books along to sell on the road. ;o)

    Great questions, Donna!

  2. Great interview, I enjoyed learning about Danika's process. What fun, and the books sound facinating. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is a great interview. I like that you spent some time creating the fairy world.

  4. Great post, ladies.

    Danika's book sounds like a must for my granddaughter. She loves to read and write fantasy. She can learn from reading your writing process. Thanks for sharing.

    Continued success to both of you.

  5. Ah, yes. Nick Rhodes. :) I totally get that!!

    Wonderful interview, Donna. Dankia, I am waiting very impatiently for my copy of Brigitta to arrive. It will go straight to the top of my TBR pile! :)

  6. Great interview and book cover. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Donna, what a great interview.

    And, Danika, you answers provide wonderful insight into writing fantasy. I love all the prep work and your process; it will help other writers who are interested in fantasy . . . like me!

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Interesting interview. It's fascinating how you developed your imaginary world. Sounds like a great series. Best wishes for your success.

  9. Hello Everyone! Thank you for your comments. Sorry it took me so long to read and respond. Book launching is a lot of work.

    @Beth - that's an enormous compliment, thank you. Although I really don't know how anyone could create an imaginary world and not create a compendium to keep track of everything. I think taking the time up front will save a lot of pain later, especially if it ends up being a series.

    My World Book just keeps growing and now fills a binder and 2 notebooks. I added a whole section just for drawing faerie wings as each faerie "occupation" is represented by a symbol on their wings. I'm drawing out the wings of every character. It's fun!

  10. Oh - I forgot to mention. At this moment, the books are ONLY available on the publisher's website:

    It's a distribution thing (something else I'm learning a lot about). Brigitta will be available to order from bookstores in the fall and have wide-release early next year.

    Thanks again!


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