True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Featured Author: D.E. Atwood

When D.E. Atwood was in second grade, she finally grew tall enough to see the shelf above the mysteries in the bookmobile. She discovered a rich landscape of alternate worlds, magic, and space and has never looked back from the genres of fantasy and science fiction. When she was twelve, she declared that she was going to be a writer, and share the stories that she saw happening all around her. She wanted to create characters that others would care about, and that would touch their lives, like the books that she read had touched her own life. Today she has combined her interests, creating genre stories about the people who live next door, bringing magic into the world around us. When not writing, D.E. Atwood is a mother (to two children, a cat, a dog), a wife, a reader, a knitter, a systems administrator, almost a black belt in tae kwon do, and a music aficionado. Sleep, she claims, is optional.

Connect with D.E. Atwood on Twitter @DEAtwoodWrites or visit her website:

Q&A with Author D.E. Atwood:

  1. Which of your characters is most like you?

    I feel like the answer should be Jordan, because so much of him is drawn from within my own mind and heart, but if I'm being dead honest, it's Maria. Her pushiness, her exuberance, the way she ignores personal space and at the same time, the way she wants to be close. The way she sees the good side and thinks that things are going to work out as long as she believes hard enough. The way she wants to live her life just flat out, and wants to see the best in the people around her. She is what I would be if I had the ability to let go of fear; she is my natural personality turned up to an eleven. And she is very much a character of my heart for all of that. It was an absolute joy to give her the freedom to be herself on the page.

  2. What other interests do you have outside of writing?

    Loads! I love music, and my daughter and I like to go to concerts. This year we are hoping to see William Beckett, All Time Low, and go to Warped during the summer. Also on the potential list for summer outdoor shows are Def Leppard, Journey, and Steve Miller Band. My daughter is angling to see Queen's tour with Adam Lambert, but I'm not sure that one is going to work out, which is a pity because I'd love to see it too.

Then there's Tae Kwon Do, which I adore, perhaps to the point of obsession. My son started TKD when he was five and having trouble sitting still. Seven years later, he has his second dan and is working his way towards his third dan while he also learns how to coach. I started almost four years ago and am looking ahead to my own black belt test this summer, and my husband started about a year after I did. So it's a huge family thing that we do, and all three of us are also a part of the tournament team. My daughter doesn't do TKD, but she does do Combat Hapkido, which is the self-defense specific discipline that our school teaches, along with the rest of us. We spend a lot of time at the dojang, but I think it is worth it, both for the exercise for all of us, and for the confidence and strength that it teaches. 

TKD is a huge thing in my life because it is something I thought I couldn't do, and that I actually love doing. I'm short (tall is better), overweight, and well, old compared to lots of folks doing it. But I work hard at it, and I've actually won against an opponent in a tournament (shocked me! It was awesometastic!), and I'm going to be getting my black belt. This is huge as far as I'm concerned, because this is something I never saw myself doing. It's not a sport designed for someone my age, weight, and somewhat broken body. But I do it and I'm halfway decent at it.

What that says to me is don't believe the hype. The only thing to believe in is yourself. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't be successful because you're not the right "type" somehow. 

Er, so yes, tae kwon do. Obsessed. If you ever want to hear more about it, just stop by my blog, because I really do talk about it periodically.

  3. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?  

    In this case, it's the play that the book revolves around! I fell in love with Shakespeare as a teenager in the 80s. My parents dragged me (yes, at the time I thought I was dragged, and now I look back and treasure the memories) to various plays throughout my young life, and among them were various Shakespearean comedies. I learned to appreciate the humor and commentary that Shakespeare made about human life.

    A Midsummer Night's Dream was one of my favorite shows. My school performed it (I didn't take part, but my best friends were all in the show, so I was with them through every rehearsal) when I was in high school. I read it so many times, and analyzed it, and fell in love with all the words. Then I read a YA book which had it as a part of the story, and I fell in love with Puck all over again. Somehow Dream became a part of my high school experience, and a part of my growth, and Puck in particular with his mischief became a synonym for the way my own group of friends came together and changed over those years. 

I've wanted to write my own story including Dream for a long time, and when I sat down to do so, I knew I couldn't just let it stay with that one part of Shakespeare's works. I needed to branch out into other shows which had formed a large part of how I looked at life from a young age, like Twelfth Night, and see if I could let the Bard influence the characters in my story as much as he influenced me.

  4. How do you research for your books?

    I really try to focus in on the human experience. I'm a character-driven writer, and I want to be able to use everything I learn as filtered through my characters' eyes. So I read everything I can get my hands on, preferring personal memoirs to dry history. I love youtube videos where people tell me things. I love talking to friends who have experience with the topic, finding out what they recommend and then viewing/reading that. My research is almost random, with one thing leading me to another, and different facts and experiences setting of plot bunnies in my mind that I have to jot down, and then that sets off another need for research. I end up writing a lot down, and just assimilating other things into the back of my mind so they can be blurted back out later in the form of how a character sees the world.

    For Shadows, I am exceedingly grateful to my friends for helping with my research and pointing me toward useful resources.

  5. Is there one genre of YA that you would love to write but haven’t? (example: paranormal, contemporary, fantasy)

    There are two that I want to write desperately, and have stories vaguely plotted, but they aren't done simmering on the backburner of my brain yet.

First, I want to write my own dystopia. They are everywhere right now, and the best part about tropes is the idea of turning it on its ear. How can I write a dystopia and have it be unique and different and interesting? This is an idea that's still forming in my mind, and I have some of the characters and the outline of a vague few plot points so far, but I need to do a ton of research in order to properly build the world. I started just writing (my usual technique) and quickly realized that there is a ton more world-building involved than I can do off the cuff. I need to nail down all the specifics of the world so that they can come out in dialogue and description, without being intrusive. But I'm hoping I've got a good idea that will be edgy without being completely out there, and when it's done simmering, I'll get that written.

Second, I want to write a superhero novel. I grew up reading about superheroes and fell in love with the idea of how having some incredible power means having to look carefully at how you do things. I read a lot of Marvel comics because they weren't black and white issues. There were questions of morality and the why and how of decision-making during every storyline. Plus: SUPERHEROES. Didn't we all dream of being telepathic or telekinetic or being able to teleport at one time or another? It would be one way to bring those childhood dreams alive.

  6. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    I want them to know that they are not alone, and that there are other people out there who have similar thoughts, tastes, loves, problems, loves, interests, fears… and that those characters are making their way in the world and finding happiness, and so can every single teen out there. While growing up, I always looked for myself in books and the ones where I found something similar became my favorites. I hope to create adventures and stories which have characters that people can relate to.

Now Available from D.E. Atwood:

If We Shadows Born female, all Jordan wants is to slip under the radar and live the last year of high school as a boy. His parents and siblings support him, but he’d rather be recognized for his acting and musical talents than his gender issues.

When Shakespeare’s Puck gives him three magical potions—true sight, true seeming, and true love—Jordan discovers being true to himself isn’t as simple as he thought.

Jordan must navigate the confusion of first love, a controversial role in the fall musical, and his transgender identity, while fairy magic creates a net of complications over everything he does. In order to unweave the spells laid over his friends—his supportive older brother, James, his playwright friend, Pepper, and Maria, another transgender student—Jordan needs to understand exactly how far he’ll go to reach his goals of finding true love, true sight, and true seeming.

No comments:

Post a Comment