Scifipulse recently caught up with Daley Downing. She is the author of The Order of the Twelve Tribes series. As well as two standalone novels, Fire and Wind and Dreamings and Muses.
Additionally, Daley has also published two short story collections. During this interview, she discusses how she balances fantastical and mundane elements in her books. As well as her advice for aspiring writers.
SFP: What made you want to be a writer?
Daley Downing: Honestly, I’m not quite sure; I just remember from the time I was very young feeling the need to get down the constant narration running around my head analyzing the book I just read or movie I just watched, and wanting to share all my thoughts (maybe out of self-preservation???).
SFP: What is the secret to balancing characters’ real lives and drama with the fantastical elements in fantasy novels?
Daley Downing: I find that taking moments between action or background or exposition to focus on a quiet dinner at home, getting ready for a trip, or something similar is a good juxtaposition. It reminds the reader (and me!) that characters who are only human, or even just have lives outside of the mission or the quest or whatever most of the plot is focused on, will be doing mundane, ordinary, necessary things. Like, everybody has to eat and sleep, so why not include it? Your characters get rest and nutrition, and there’s a balance provided.
SFP: Following on from that question, how do you approach worldbuilding in your books?
Daley Downing: Personally, I prefer a mix of exposition, dialogue, and little asides (like the occasional newspaper article) for explaining parts of the world that are obvious to the characters but won’t be to the reader. I’m not a big fan of the “infodump.” But I also believe that you’ll engage your readers more by showing some and telling some; all show and no tell confuses people, I’ve found; but all tell and no show bores them.
SFP: What are you working on at the moment?
Daley Downing: Right now, I’m trying very, very hard to finish the fourth novel in my modern/cozy fantasy series. (It hasn’t been going well, so good thoughts are appreciated during this difficult time.)
SFP: Which authors are you inspired by?
SFP: Would you say that hopeful and uplifting stories are now more subversive than dark stories given the state of the world?
Daley Downing: In some ways, yes. We’re frequently being presented in media with tales that are very dark, not just sad or frightening, but extremely negative, with no sense of hope or purpose for all the grim stuff. The idea, creators claim, is to be “more realistic.” But hope and the desire for love, peace, justice is also realistic, and we’ve always needed that, so I feel we need that even more right now.
SFP: What stories about autistic characters do you think have yet to be told?
Daley Downing: I think autistic characters deserve the chance to tell stories about themselves, as whole people, not just as someone with a disability. Yes, being on the spectrum and some of the physical challenges and mental and emotional difficulties we face do shape big parts of our lives and how we live. But we’re also just humans, with interests, passions, talents, we have family and friends and pets, often we do have jobs or stuff happening that so many other “regular” people do. So fictional characters, with traits or circumstances based on real autistic experiences, deserve to be three-dimensional.
SFP: And finally, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Daley Downing: Keep writing because you enjoy it. Don’t worry about “not being a real writer” if you decided not to pursue an agent, or to self-publish, or not to publish at all. Doing what works best for you – for your personal goals and limits – will help keep it fun. And no, it won’t always be pleasant (editing, anybody?), but don’t give up. Whether you write for yourself, for a few satisfied and encouraging readers on a blog, or for a wider audience through paperbacks you’ve bravely put out for sale, hold onto what you love about this art. That will bring you back to the stories, the craft, and your part in it.
Scifipulse would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks and warmest best wishes to Daley Downing for so graciously taking the time to answer our questions.
Daley’s Goodreads page: Daley Downing (Author of Masters and Beginners) (goodreads.com)
Her Twitter: @invisiblemoth1
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