Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dani Atkins tells a fascinating story

Dani Atkins was at CLC last winter to talk about holidays with us, and I fell in love with her debut novel, Fractured (reviewed here), known in the US as Then and Always. Naturally, I was thrilled to find out that she had another novel coming out this summer. I'm glad to have her back here to talk more about her writing and her latest novel, The Story of Us.

Visit Dani on Facebook and Twitter.

What inspired you to write The Story of Us?
I wanted to write a book which touched on real themes which as many readers as possible could relate to. Although at its core there lies a romance and a love triangle, The Story of Us is every bit as much about the love that ties you strongly to both your family and your friends. I wanted to write a story where these ties are pulled and tested, by tragedy and betrayal, and where brave, bold and life changing decisions have to be made between your head and your heart.

Which authors were role models for you when you started out?
It might be a little surprising for someone who is writing in the genre of women’s fiction, but one of my literary role models is most definitely Stephen King, who I feel is one of the greatest storytellers of all time. I read my first of his books thirty years ago, and was instantly hooked by his astounding ability to breathe life into every character, even minor ones, while never losing pace in his narrative.

And, for his ability to tell wonderful stories of enduring love, often against the odds, without necessarily ending with everyone “living happily ever after”, I have always been drawn to and inspired by the novels of Nicholas Sparks.

In one sentence, tell us what the road to publishing was like for you.
To borrow the title of a famous Beatles song it was most definitely The Long and Winding Road! But like all journeys that take a little longer than you would have liked, it was definitely worth it in the end.

If The Story of Us were to become a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
This is an easy one to answer, because all the way through writing the book I already had a particular actor in my head for the character of Jack, and that was Joe Manganiello, who plays Alcide in True Blood, who I think is quite possibly the fittest man on the big screen or small at the moment. For the role of Richard, I can see a young Aaron Eckhart, and for Emma – and not just because they share the same name – I would cast Emma Stone. (By the way this was a fun question to answer – I wish it was for real!)

What is the best compliment you received about your writing or books?
I have been very fortunate and have received many lovely compliments from readers via reviews for Fractured and also for The Story of Us. I think the one that sticks in my mind was paid to me only recently when a reader wrote: “I always feel sorry for the book you read AFTER you read a book as good as this, because it simply can't match up.” That is truly humbling.

What is your theme song?
I actually don’t think I have a single song as my own personal theme. There are songs which are themes for certain areas of my life: Even Now by Barry Manilow (no judging now) for my relationship with my husband and In Your Eyes by George Benson for my role as a mother. Something that does most definitely have a theme song is The Story of Us. I pretty much played this track on a loop when writing the book and when I hear it I can actually visualise scenes in the book being played out like a film. The song is Arms by Christina Perri.

Thanks to Dani for visiting with us again!

~Introduction and interview by Melissa Amster

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