Please join me in welcoming Dawn Colclasure to Hightlighted Author.
Hi, Dawn. Please, tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, Charlene. Thank you for having me on your blog as a Highlighted Author. I’m a Californianative living in Oregon. I am a mother of two children, ages 4 and 10. I am deaf but was not born deaf; I lost my hearing at the age of 13 when I was sickened with spinal meningitis. For this reason, I can speak clearly. My children can both hear and it’s been a rewarding experience of having both the deaf and hearing worlds in our home. I am the third of seven children and I enjoy reading or watching movies in my spare time.
What genres do you enjoy reading/writing?
I love to read just about anything under the sun! As for writing, I prefer mysteries, suspense and paranormal. I do enjoy writing for children, but so far, I’ve only written one children’s story that I thought was suitable for publication. My FIRST children’s book is available as a print and E-book! Check out The Yellow Rose.
What was it that made you decide to become a writer?
Writing became a fixture in my childhood. At the age of 20 months old, I was in a car accident. My mother was carrying me as she walked along the sidewalk and a van struck her and pinned her to a wall. I was thrown from her arms and landed underneath the van, which was on fire. This caused my third degree burns, which meant several stays in hospital for reconstructive surgery. It was at one such hospital where a nurse gave me a journal and suggested I write poetry. That was literally the switch that turned on the “writer” in me and later I was writing short stories, scripts and book-length stories in addition to poems. I moved on to write articles and essays in my teen years.
I found that I really enjoyed this writing thing. Those stays at the hospital grew pretty lonely and boring, and I found that it wasn’t just books or crafts I could use to pass the time with, but writing, as well. I wrote several short stories and poems while in the hospital, and it was fun sharing my writing with the doctors and nurses. Also, writing became a great escape. While I was confined to a hospital bed with stitches or in bandages, I was free to explore and travel in my stories.
Who was your biggest supporter or influence in becoming a writer?
My parents were the first people to support my writing, and they have never stopped supporting it. My dad would often read my stories and talk on the phone with editors and publishers. He would also read over contracts. My mom was strict with chores, but anytime I was writing was my time to write. While my brothers and sisters had to vacuum the floor or make their bed, my mom wouldn’t say a word to me while I sat at the typewriter for hours, blissfully typing out stories.
You’ve written several books:
- November’s Child,
- Take My Hand,
- 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration,
- Writing Prompts and Beat the Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity,
- BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents,
- Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion,
- Songs of the Dead, co-author of TOTALLY SCARED: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses,
- The Yellow Rose
And you have a forthcoming title: WIP It! How to Revise Your Writing Like a Pro. Is there one that stands out as a favorite? Why?
Oh, wow. It is so hard to pick a favorite! Every one of my book is my favorite. Every one of my book is my baby. But if there was one that stood out, it would have to be my forthcoming novel, Shadow of Samhain, coming in the fall of 2011. This book was originally published as November’s Child in 1993, but the publisher went bankrupt and the book was in limbo for a long time. I had the remainder copies of the book, but even those were snatched up by readers. I spent years talking to several people to find out if it was safe to republish the book, as well as research for and write a new version of the story. I didn’t mind changing a majority of the story, but I did mind changing the title. This one is my favorite because it was a “family project.” I actually dreamed about a man named Jonathan for many years and one dream showed various scenes from the dream as one novel called November’s Child. That title was actually in that dream! That is the story I wrote, but I had trouble figuring out how to make the dream aspect work. One of my sisters suggested I turn my character, Jonathan, into a Druid. She’d just seen a movie about Druids so she was interested in them. My mom knew about my dreams and even told me that she herself dreamed about Jonathan, too. This made a light bulb go off over my head and that’s how I added the whole “family curse” element to the story. The character, Jovin, is based on another man I saw in those dreams. This man did not have a name, but in my research on Druidism, I came across the name “Jovan.” I liked that name, but changed the spelling. I also like how I took one big thing that really happened, and a bunch of small things related to it, and put it all into one story. I do like the new title, but I’ll always remember it as November’s Child. Coincidentally, my mom, who the book is dedicated to, is a November’s child!
Tell us about your featured book, Totally Scared.
Totally Scared is pretty much an “everything you ever wanted to know” kind of book about haunted houses. I started writing articles on this theme when I was writing for the Shadowlands newsletter. I have lived in a haunted house, as well as houses with paranormal activity, so I was curious about this topic. After a while, I realized this series could work as a book. I worked on it for several months before I realized I was into something much too big for just one person to handle. I was acquainted with my co-author, Martha Jette, through her paranormal writings and newsletter, so I approached her about this project. We got to talking and she offered to join this project as a co-author. I thought that was a great idea! Together, we both covered topics such as true stories of people living in haunted houses (something I was surprised to learn Martha had experience with, as well), what paranormal investigators do when they are called to check out a haunted house, and the different types of people who can also help in cases of a haunting. We also wrote about “hauntedHollywood,” 15 famous haunted houses (as well as not-so-famous haunted houses), haunted real estate and the kinds of things people can do when they are experiencing activity or struggling with terrifying memories of haunted encounters. Martha brought a huge amount of great material into this project and shared some fabulous ideas on how to make this book better and I’m so glad I talked to her about this book in the first place.
What kind of research was involved in writing such a book?
Martha came to this book with connections to people sharing their true stories of haunted encounters and I already knew some investigators thanks to the article series. I also had to check out a variety of other haunted houses books to see what types of things were discussed about haunted houses – and, specifically, what wasn’t discussed. I also came across one interesting story from a source who owns a haunt attraction that is actually haunted, and I started to wonder, are there others out there? I asked book coach Judy Cullins if I should cover something like that in this kind of book, and she agreed it would be a nice fit. Actually researching the topic was another story, however! I spent weeks reaching dead ends until I learned I was actually using the wrong kind of term in Google! It helped that I talked to people in this kind of industry and figured out what I was doing wrong. These people referred me to getting in touch with other people they knew who could be a good source. Also, in my research on books, I would read amazon reviews and if people said “you know, you really should contact Person X because she does this particular kind of work,” I would follow up on that. I’d search the web, search Amazon for their books, send emails out to people who made such comments or featured that person on their blog. It was just a matter of following leads and talking to a lot of people. I also read every newspaper and magazine article I could find on this topic. This helped a lot in finding out if other things I read were true or not. Also, again, I can’t say enough good things about reading reviews and comments people leave on web sites.
Do you have any other projects in the works that we can look forward to?
I am actually working on a book about haunted cities. This book was originally going to be published by one particular publisher, but that deal went south. I picked up the manuscript, changed all my previous plans for it (along with the title) and resumed work on it. In this book, paranormal investigators share their experiences investigating locations in some ofAmerica’s most haunted cities. It is an ongoing project and I am still contacting paranormal investigators in various cities to gather their stories for this book. I will not be submitting it to my publisher until I am satisfied with the content and have included certain cities which I feel MUST be in this book. It’s just a matter of getting in touch with the groups and collecting their stories! I am also working on a middle-grade paranormal mystery series for children aged 8-12. The first book should be published in early 2012. Finally, I am at work on another series: A 3-book series for writers on revising your first drafts.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
One quote that I live by comes from Walt Disney: “If you believe in something, believe in it all the way.” Be prepared to spend months, even years, working on your book. It can take a long time to go from writing that first word to seeing your words in print. The Totally Scared book was a work-in-progress for years, and the editing took weeks to complete. Then it took some time before the book was accepted, and in that process it changed hands with several agents and publishers, then there was more time we had to wait for it to be published. But sooner or later, the end of the journey draws near. Be patient. Be persistent. There is a lot of work involved, as well as a lot of effort and patience. If you believe in your book, believe in it all the way.
Would you share an excerpt of Totally Scared with us?
Why are some homes haunted and what is it like to live in a house where spirits of the dead still roam?
Find out first-hand from those who have lived or are still living in haunted houses.
How did they cope and did they seek the right help? If it happens to you, what should you do?
Is the actual house haunted or something else – an old mirror, an antique chair, an unusual painting, perhaps a turn-of-the-century doll or a home built on a burial ground?
You will find answers to all of these questions and much more within this book’s 344 pages. You will also find an extensive index of paranormal investigators and haunted houses world-wide. Take it along on your travels, spend a night at a haunted in or two and experience the other side of the veil yourself!
Written by Dawn Colclasure & Martha Jette
The thing that got me started in writing about haunted houses? My desire to know WHY houses are haunted. For this reason, perhaps it is appropriate that I share a page from Chapter 3, “Why is a House Haunted?”
You can find them anywhere – in any city or town and in any neighborhood around the world. In fact, even the White House has its resident ghosts. Haunted houses come in all shapes and sizes – old, historic homes or new ones. It is hard to find someone who has never heard of a haunted house or a story relating to one but what is difficult to find is someone who understands exactly why a house is haunted. We know they exist – but why?
John Zaffis, Director of the Paranormal Research Society of New England (PRSNE) inStratford,Connecticuthas made it his business to understand why houses could be haunted. After 32 years as a paranormal investigator, he certainly should know.
“Sometimes it can have to do with the property or it could have something to do with the people that move into these houses,” he explained. “And sometimes it is a combination of both.”
Anne Palagruto, a paranormal investigator for seven years and Co-Director of the South Jersey Ghost Research (SJGR) in South Jersey agrees. She is also the Director of the South Jersey Ghost Research Kids Club (SJGR Kids Club) and the Philadelphia Institute for Paranormal Research in Philadelphia and the author of Forensic Ghostology – How to Investigate a Haunting and Deliver Us From Evil – Prayers for Spiritual Warfare.
“There are several reasons why a house can be haunted,” she said. “Sometimes a ghost just misses his family and wants to visit. Sometimes he loves his house so much he doesn’t want to leave. Sometimes a person didn’t get to finish something he started or to do something he needed to do when he was alive, so his spirit will hang around to try to finish it. Sometimes, especially if a person dies suddenly or violently, he will not realize he is dead. The concept of time mat be different in the hereafter than it is on earth. What is a year for the living may only be a minute for a spirit, so the few minutes it takes to realize he is dead may be years here on earth.”
Want more Dawn? Find her here:
Totally Scared site: http://totallyscared.webs.com/
Author site: http://dmcwriter.tripod.com/
Book review blogger: http://writedmc.livejournal.com/
Or you may contact her at:
Get your copy of Totally Scared at these fine outlets: