Writerly Questions with Sharon DeVita

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

It is the last week of summer, how could the season have flown by so fast! It’s a mystery… just like Sharon DeVita’s comedic tale, The Ditzy Chix. The book is being released in September so keep an eye out at Terpsichore, or check out Sharon’s website here

How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
The Ditzy Chix is a comedic mystery about a safe, sane college professor who goes home after her mother is injured in a break-in. Determined to stay out of whatever craziness her mom and eccentric aunt have gotten themselves into this time, Brenda learns that sometimes safe and sane need to take a back-seat to actually living a life, rather than just programming your life.

Not quite one sentence, but that’s all right since the story sounds interesting *grin* How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me eight months to write this book, an unheard of amount of time, but I was dealing with an unforeseen medical issue that truly put me behind.

Illness always appears at the worst times, though it shows your perseverance to keep on writing! How many drafts do you go through?
Drafts? Guess that depends on your definition of draft. I write my book in one shot, beginning to end. However, anything I write today, first thing tomorrow gets edited, so it’s good to go once I’m done with the edits. And I can sometimes re-write a scene 40 times before I’m happy with it, but I don’t go on until I’m happy with what I’ve got. Even if that means re-writing the same scene 50 times until it’s right. Good writing IS rewriting. And yeah, I’ve been called a perfectionist more than once.

I tend to be the same way, a bit of a perfectionist *shakes head at self* When do you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
I am NOT a morning person, so my day starts a little later, around 9, and I work straight through until 5 or 6. Every day, 5 days a week.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My office, with my wall to wall bookcases, my 28 in HD screen, my MAC, my desk, and of course my trusty dog, Murphy.

Sounds like you have everything a writer needs. I guess that already answers the next questions of typewriter, computer/laptop, or pen & paper…
Each night when I’m done for the day, I lie in bed and write out my next two scenes for the next day. I do that in longhand with a clipboard and pen. In the morning, it gets transcribed into my computer when I’m done editing and ready to move forward in the story.

There is just something about writing a story out by hand that appeals. Do you ever drink or eat while you write?
I rarely eat at my desk. I’m not and never have been a snacker. And I don’t eat sweets or chocolate ever -I’m allergic to chocolate. But, I drink Caffeine-free Coke all day.

No chocolate? *faints* Sadly, I am a snacker who is addicted to practically anything chocolate.  Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
No. Never. I can’t write if there’s music on, it’s too distracting. But, the TV can be blasting and it doesn’t bother me a bit.

It is easier to tune out talking than it is a good song, I guess! What do you wear when you write?
Pajamas-always. I have to be comfortable. And I hate being cold. I live in Arizona now so it’s always warm, but I still write in thick socks and flannel pajamas. Every day. And yes, I answer the door and take the dog out in my jams.

 Now THAT is what I call a work wardrobe! I only wish I could wear jammies to the office *L0L* Do you have any other writing rituals?
Thankfully, we have an answering machine because I hate talking on the phone when I’m writing. It’s too disruptive. And I’m usually not too polite when someone interrupts me.

I can’t say a I’d blame you! I’m sure you have everyone trained by now not to call during your work hours *grin* Speaking of your work, how do you plot? Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis? Do you use detailed outlines?
Oh Lord, I always flunk this question. When I start a book, I know two things: the title and the ending. That’s it. And no, I don’t write out detailed outlines or summaries or synopsis, I write from the top of my head, which has worked for 35 books and counting. I’m a firm believer if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
POV is always determined by what’s going to happen in the scene and who’s in it, and who’s point of view is most important.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
My characters’ names must fit that character. I can’t explain it, it’s something so instinctive to me after 30 years of doing this that I don’t even think about it that much anymore.

Lucky! I’ve heard that some authors always struggle with finding the right character names… And why don’t you now name the first person to read your manuscript?
My husband. Always. But, then, after him I always have one or two other first readers.

What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I cried. It had taken me 19 years to get published, and I refused to give up. I knew in my heart I was a writer ‑I’d always known- the hard part was convincing others. But, I was first published in non-fiction and had no intention of ever writing fiction.

Hmmm, well that seems to have changed a little! If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
I’d love to see Shirley MacLaine and Diane Keaton as The Ditzy Chix, and for Brenda, the college professor daughter, I think Sandra Bullock would be a perfect fit!

 Three wonderful actresses; that is one book-to-film I wouldn’t want to miss! Moving on to your reading habits,  what is the first book you remember reading?
For Time and All Eternity-it was about a Mormon settlement and a love story. It made me cry and I was determined I’d never write a book that had an unhappy ending. I was ten years old and have kept that promise to myself.

What book is on your nightstand right now?
Two of Nora Robert’s new ones: Witness and The Last Boyfriend, and James Patterson’s Guilty Wives.

 I’m definitely a Nora Robert’s fan, too. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
When I’m desperate and can’t find anything ‘good’ to read, I go back to my old J.D. Robb in Death series.

 How do you organize your library/book collection?
Well, I have over 6,000 books in my personal library. My non-fiction is organized like a library so research is easier. My fiction is arranged by genre. But, ask me for a book and I can tell you exactly where to find it in my personal library. (I’m a bit of an organizational freak!)

 Too be surrounded by that many books would definitely be a dream come true! We touched on this a bit earlier, but did you always want to be a writer?
Always. Except when I was ten. I wanted to be either the Queen of England or Heavyweight Champ. Since I’m 100% Irish, the Queen gig was clearly out of the question, and as for heavyweight champ, well, hell, I’m still hoping.

 I think I’d rather be Irish just because the accent is so lovely *grin* If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
None. I’ve written all the books I’ve ever truly wanted.

If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask/talk about?
Margaret Mitchell, of Gone With The Wind. I’d love to know how her vision of the book before she wrote it compared with the book after she wrote it.

If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
I’d be any old, cranky, cantankerous character from any of my books. I love creating old, cranky, cantankerous “character’s”.

I have to admit, I love it when there are elderly eccentrics in novels *laughs* What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Time. And Peace and Quiet.

What is the best advice someone could give a writer?
Don’t EVER give up.

What is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I was an Adjunct Professor of Lit. Com. for over 10 years. I loved teaching. Loved it. And would do it again in a heartbeat. For free!

And I type 183 W.P.M.

 Previous Interviews:  Lauren Hunter InterviewSharon Ledwith InterviewEmma Lane Interview

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Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

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