Friday, May 04, 2007

Donna Fleisher Interview

Okay, folks, here it is -- what I've been telling you about for over a week. Now read on and find out what a published writer thinks and does. DON"T FORGET: post a comment for your own book from Donna!

Hi, Donna!

Thanks for doing this interview. It’s a real privilege to have you.

Thanks, Carole! I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and your readers. And thanks for the awesome review of my first book, by the way.

Caroline: What genre do you write in? Could you explain what it is? Why did you choose it?

Donna: Tough questions right from the start! Categorizing my stuff has been difficult from day one. Technically, it’s general contemporary Christian fiction mainly for women (some have labeled it Women’s Fiction), but with the moments of military action thrown in, I’ve heard from a few men who enjoyed reading it. Karen Kingsbury has made famous a newer genre called Relational Drama. I love writing about the friendships between women, so my stuff fits into this new genre quite well.

Caroline: When and how did you first realize that you were to be a writer? Did you have a strong calling or just the desire to write? Why do you write?

Donna: I didn’t realize I could possibly even be a writer until one day in July 1996 when I sat down and started to write a scene. It was the most exciting scene that would play out in a story idea I was thinking about, and if I could pull off that scene, maybe … ? Eight hours later, when I finally stopped writing and peeled the pen out of my frozen grip, I read what I wrote and started feeling this electrifying hum work its way through me. It seemed to whisper, “This might work!” From then on I was hooked. --- I never set out (or even wanted) to be a novelist. But when I found myself available to the Lord, He put me to work. This wonderful privilege and gift is still just a task for me, not a calling. He is my calling. Knowing Him more and more. I write because He seems to want me to. Later on, the writing may go away a bit so I can move more into editing and mentoring new writers. I have a strong feeling this is where He wants me to be more than anywhere else in this industry. We’ll see where it all leads!

Caroline: Could you tell us some of your interests, hobbies, life? Are you “normal?” Smile. Favorite foods? Books?

Donna: I am definitely not normal. I am boring, simple, and blessed with a smidgeon of obsessive compulsiveness (which sure comes in handy in my writing and editing). I am a writer who doesn’t read much, which drives some people crazy. I’m a homebody, and a forty-something single woman content in her singleness (wouldn’t have it any other way). I love living by the beach and all things beach related, but love heading to the woods or the desert too. I love sports, but am deathly allergic to all things requiring energy or exercise. I swim enough to keep from drowning, and cook enough to keep from starving. All in all, I’m doing okay. Smile. I do have some favorites: Margaret Becker’s artistry, Gayle Erwin’s teaching, Francine Rivers’s heart, and my favorite dog Mario. I’ve got a photo gallery of him on my blog cuz he’s just way too cute.

Caroline: How’s your writing day? Do you insist on having certain things just so? Do you set goals? Are you a “seat of the pants-er or a plotter? Will you explain?

Donna: Goals? What’s that? --- Even though I’m blessed with a touch of OCD (never diagnosed though), I don’t need anything in my life to be “just so.” Things happen, and I tend to let them. When it comes to writing novels, I’m usually pretty bad about waiting until I absolutely have to get writing before I’ll write. (Don’t hate me cuz I’m stupid.) I’ve written three so far under deadline, and all three got turned in the day I finished it—deadline day. (And all three involved all-nighters the night before.) Whether I’ve been a seatser or a plotter has depended on the story. I’ve written five so far in my life (one still sits on my shelf), and all five have come about differently. Sometimes I felt like I needed a map to guide me (I’ve never really plotted too heavily) and sometimes I just started on page one and let the story flow until it was done. The only consistent thing about any of it has been that each one was harder to write than the last one. Writing Standing Strong, which releases this fall, was like pulling teeth from a lock-jawed crocodile. (But I do love how it turned out, and how it ends the series.)

Caroline: How do you decide on character names? Do you relate to your characters? Do you draw from your own life or the life of your family and friends to write?

Donna: Chris and Erin pretty much showed up on my doorstep back in 1996 completely fleshed out and fully alive. They pretty much took over as soon as they found out I would be the one telling their story, and they haven’t left since. Which is fine by me. I love having them around. I’d write another fifty books in their story if I could. --- I do relate to both women, mainly because I’ve grown to know them so well (and love them so much). At first, though, I was just as lost figuring out Chris as Erin was. Chris was very reluctant to reveal much about herself. At first, she thought the series would be mostly about Erin. Silly girl. I always knew it was Chris’s story to tell. Getting her to tell it was a job and a half. But worth it, I think. --- Just for fun, about naming characters … here’s a wee bit of info I haven’t shared with anyone else. When I was writing Valiant Hope, I let my content editor name Erin’s baby that was set to arrive at the end of the story, and she chose her new grandbaby’s name: Mia Renae (Chris’s middle name is Renae). I let my acquiring editor choose the name for Chris’s boyfriend, and she gave me several to choose from. From that list, I went with Jason Matthew Sloan. Of course, I gave the credit for Mia’s name to Scott (Erin’s husband), and Chris likes calling her boyfriend “Jase.”

Caroline: Do you use critique groups, writing conferences, and editing services? How important are these things to a writer? To you?

Donna: Since the beginning, learning the craft (which never ends), writing, rewriting, and understanding the industry have all been solitary adventures for me. I’ve never shared my stuff with critique partners or been part of a critique group. I’ve never had a freelancer check over my work. The editors I’ve worked with at Zondervan have provided me with the only pre-publication feedback I’ve ever received. This all may or may not be good. The jury is still out. --- I do, though, positively adore Christian writers conferences, and have attended several of the biggest ones. It was at Mount Hermon that my acquiring editor decided to take me on. Conferences are crucial for new writers these days, even more crucial than finding an agent. There is no better place to learn the craft of writing fiction, and there are no better teachers in the entire industry (and I’m talking across the board—both in the general market and in the CBA) than our own Christian novelists who are willingly sharing what they’ve learned about the craft (and are still learning). New writers have no excuse for poor understanding of craft these days, when so much amazing teaching is so readily available. --- I heartily recommend all new novelists find trustworthy critique partners, attend conferences, and then, after their stories have been self-edited as much as possible, seek the guidance of a professional freelance editor who specializes in fiction to help them take not only their stories, but the whole of their writing to the next level. Then, and only then, should they seek publication and start to submit.

Caroline: You live on the west coast, have been in the service, and your Homeland Heroes Series is about characters who were in the service. Would you tell us a little about your books? What’s your most recent? What are you working next?

Donna: The series is set in 1996, mostly in Portland, Oregon, and shares the story of two U.S. Army soldiers who meet during the opening days of Operation Desert Shield. These two women, Chris McIntyre and Erin Grayson, become friends in the literal heat of the moment leading up to Desert Storm. But a tragic secret is revealed, driving a wedge in their friendship. As the war ends, they go their separate ways without hope of ever seeing each other again. Five years later, however, tragedy reunites them. And the adventure begins. --- Wounded Healer tells the first part of the story, followed up by Warrior’s Heart, which picks the story up two weeks later. Valiant Hope continues the story after three months, and Standing Strong follows the action three months after that. So, in all, the four books cover a nine-month period in 1996. --- Standing Strong is set to release in October 2007, and contains an epilogue that wraps up the entire series. It was so sad to write, but I love how it turned out. No, really. I’m not just saying that. Smile.

Caroline: Do you ever get discouraged? Is writing easy? Ever feel you’ve arrived?

Donna: Amazing questions. And I’ll be honest. Yes, no, and no. Or … sometimes, sometimes, and no. Okay, the first two answers are yes and no. The last answer is always … no. --- In Him, discouragement withers away and dies. So I try to stay in Him. But yeah, it still creeps in. This industry is a tough business. You’ve heard it requires a thick skin. It’s true. It also requires casting a lot of cares upon Him. Otherwise, it will bury you. So far, I’m still free and kicking. Though sometimes I wonder! --- Let’s face it. Writing is fun and easy. If it wasn’t, none of us would be writers. But yet, writing is amazingly hard. It is, and all of us still want to write. Figure that out. Karen Ball likes to say, “Writing a novel is easy. Just slash a vein and bleed on the page.” Ouch. But it’s true. Writing a novel requires we give of ourselves, that we pour out much of what makes us unique for all to see. It’s scary. And it’s hard. But when it flows (when He pours Himself out through us), it’s the easiest thing in the world. --- Have I arrived? When I even begin to start to think so, I look at my sales reports. Enough said.

Caroline: Any single thing or person that has made a definite impression on your life as far as writing goes?

Donna: Francine Rivers was the keynote speaker at a conference I once attended. In awe, I sat on the edge of my seat listening to every word she said. One of her talks was only ten minutes long. Some left disappointed (I found out later). I was completely blown away. She not only humbly and gracefully pointed every soul in the room to the Bible and to Jesus Christ, but she challenged every writer in the room to be first HIS. To let Him do the work through us. --- I have definite opinions about my writing and what place it should have in my life. To hear those personal opinions validated by such a successful author sealed the deal for me. And I’ll never look back.

Caroline: Would you share your webpage or blog address with my readers? Anything else you’d like to add to promote your books?

Donna: I’d love to! Find my website at and my blog at I’m also on MySpace and ShoutLife. Let’s be friends! --- One more thing I would like to add, and I’m completely serious about this: I would love to place, free of charge, a signed copy of Wounded Healer into the hands of anyone reading these words right now who wants one. All you have to do is leave a comment below or send me an e-mail at donna at No problemo. --- Also (okay, one more thing), and you know I’m serious about this: I would love to place, free of charge, a signed copy of Wounded Healer into the hands of any military service member, veteran, or spouse who would like to give it a read. I appreciate your help in getting the word out. Tell them I look forward to hearing from them!

Thanks again, Carole, for a fun time! I pray all His best for you and yours, and for everyone reading this. Vaya con Dios! Always. Smile.

AH, for the day when I'm giving interviews! Smiles.

Here are a few hints that will serve you well your entire life:

  • Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  • Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.
  • When you say, "I love you," mean it.
  • When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eyes.
  • Talk slowly, but think quickly.

Amy cried this quote from the depths of her soul. Likewise,
we could do the same from the state we love:

Heart leaves of lilac all over New England. Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England. Lilac in me because I am New England. -- Amy Lowell
The Time of the Lilacs by Sophie Gengembre Anderson

The Time of the Lilacs
Sophie Gengembre Anderson

And the answer to yesterday's trivia question: a net! Yep, that's it. I figure none of you guessed that one! Am I right? More next week . . .



sharen said...

Wow, sounds like a great book.
I'm glad we have writters who are gifted and can stay up all night to get their book finished so I can read their books.
Sounds like Donna has a some humor also as well as being gifted!!

Joyce said...

I really enjoyed the interview !
She almost inspired me to be a writer.... ( someday, when I grow up. Smile ! )

Joyce said...

I really enjoyed to interview, also. Thanks for inviting me to your web blog.

Arlene said...

I really liked the interview.Thanks for letting me read your blog. Arlene

Diane said...

A good interview, Carol. Donna sounds direct, honest and delightful. Her books should be good to read. Larry.

Rel said...

Great interview, Donna and Carol :) Donna's books are fabulous - read them all!

cathy said...

finally i found the web page thanks for inviting me. the interview was very good. thanks again.

Connie said...

I really enjoyed reading the interview with Donna. Sounds as if she has some good books.

Anonymous said...

To all of you who commented, if you'd like a free copy of Wounded Healer, send me an e-mail with your snail mail address (and tell me how you'd like for me to sign it) and I'll put one in the mail to you this week.

Thanks!!! : )

My e-maill address: donna at donnafleisher dot com

Belinda said...

Good interview. I would love to read her books!

Break Time!

In Case Anyone is Wondering What's Going on with few posts lately-- I'm taking a short hiatus. Deciding where I want to...