Fantasy author Dana Fraedrich of the Broken Gears series tells us all about her latest published work, Raven’s Cry, as well as her experiences, challenges, and takeaway lessons as a novelist.
Dana Fraedrich is no stranger to writing; she started writing as soon as she began reading, and she spared no blank slate from her thoughts and ideas. “When I was younger, I wrote in anything: notebooks, on our old desktop computer, whatever was around.” It didn’t take long before she took that leap from writing for leisure to writing for a living. She had some inspiration to back her big decision. “Robin McKinley’s bio inspired me to take the first step. At the time, I was about the same age she’d been when she published her first book, and that moment made me realize I would regret it forever if I didn’t go for it.”
Fraedrich describes her latest published work, Raven’s Cry, as a dark retelling of Swan Lake. The story is centered on Calandra, a girl from Invarnis, a land of magic and technology, who must evade the consequences of a years-long curse before it costs her everything and puts the world she knows and loves in peril. Raven’s Cry is a standalone novel in her Broken Gears series, of which her other novels, Out of the Shadows and Into the Fire, are part.
“I... have always had an interest in fairy tales,” she said when asked about the inspiration behind Raven’s Cry. “Swan Lake is one of those that I feel hasn’t been retold very many times, and the concept is so interesting to me. How would one cope with having to live as a bird by day? And once I realized this story belonged in my Broken Gears universe, I knew exactly how the story would fit into that world.”
When it comes to her own writing style, Fraedrich knows what her novel needs and how to achieve it, especially when it comes to writing fantasy. “I know my strengths lie in dialogue, characterization, and world-building . . . And there has to be humor. I need my entertainment to make me laugh, especially if it also makes me cry, so I always include humor in my writing.” She also shares that she can’t write without a beverage by her side: “Tea, coffee, wine, apple cider, hot cocoa, whatever. I need something to sip while I write.”
Apart from reading and writing, Fraedrich often spends her time playing video games, especially fantasy RPGs such as Skyrim and the Dragon Age series, and cooking, which turns out to contribute a lot to her writing. “The cooking and eating play a big part in my writing. In my family, we always have tons of delicious food at celebrations and events, so readers see that pop up in my books a lot.” And what about tea? “So much tea! Everyone in my books has tea thrust upon them.”
On the important points of publishing one’s work, Fraedrich describes the editing process as “vital.” She is thankful for her editor, who pushes her to improve several facets of her manuscripts before their publication. “I firmly believe you should not publish a book unless it’s been well edited. I think it’s cheating your readers to put out a book that hasn’t been edited because you’re asking them to spend time on a substandard product.”
Despite the pressures of perfection and publication, however, Fraedrich encourages aspiring writers to keep at it, to take that leap of faith before it’s too late. “Keep writing. It’s legit the best advice I can give others. Your first draft isn’t going to write itself, and if you can’t think of what to write, brainstorm the problem. Type out the situation, the characters’ options, problems being faced in the plot as well as possible solutions. Just write something! And take solace in the fact that all first drafts are crap. That’s what all those rounds of editing are for. That’s why we call the first draft the vomit draft.”
Fraedrich is excited to share the latest installment of her Broken Gears series with her readers, whom she describes as “wonderful people who just want the world to be a kinder place.” She keeps her fans posted on her progress and general interests through her social media: her website, http://www.wordsbydana.com/; @danafraedrich on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr; and @wordsbydana on Facebook.
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