by Mercedes Fawns
Local authour, Danika Stone offers insight into the writing and publishing process, what she loves about the craft, and how other aspiring local writers can achieve their goals.
Tell us about your writing and publishing process
The process, for me, always starts with an idea that I can’t let go. Then I’ll do what I call prewriting, where I just take the pen, and see which character is there. After I wrote [Edge of Wild] I decided I should get an agent and signed with Morty Mint. [His feedback to me] was that the book was just too long. For me, that’s when the writing process changed: You start it, and write the story totally for yourself, and then as soon as you want to sell it, you have to be ok with being flexible. You have to take it apart and put it back together.
As a local author, was the publishing aspect a challenge for you?
Yes and no. It certainly is a challenge, but not as much as it would have been 10 years ago, as being able to connect with people online has changed. I found a good group of fellow writers online, and a vast majority of them are from New York. [It’s not] about “Oh I’ll help you if you help me,” but about actually getting to know people. For my other books that was really huge.
So is that advice that you would offer to aspiring writers in Lethbridge?
Absolutely. You have to connect with other authours. You have to get out there and write. It’s a craft like anything else. But you also have to show it to people… it’s part of that community that you have to build. You have to have people you can bounce ideas off of.
So a local writer gets to the point he/she wants to publish, what next?
Make sure you do all the right things. If a publisher is looking for 14 point font or double-spacing , make sure you do that. You’ll also want to write a query letter, and that takes time to perfect. If you have an agent, sometimes they can help you skip some of those steps.
Lastly, you have to be patient. The turnaround is very slow sometimes.
Once you have your foot in the door, the process becomes a lot easier.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
By trade I am a teacher. I really enjoy it. But I also always really enjoyed creating things. A few years ago I was doing my Master’s. I had done so much research on my thesis that when it came time to put it together I just started hating the process. I found that I needed to find something that had nothing to do with education, and that’s where I started creative writing. What I discovered is that I had all these stories that I wanted to tell.
Why are festivals like Word on the Street important for our community?
I love writing; I love painting, and just creating. And for me, I think it’s those things that make a heart of a community. So if you can get that atmosphere going at the centre of the city, and expose kids to the idea that being a writer isn’t some random idea, but a reality – that there are people here who are doing it – I love that, and I think it just inspires everyone.
D.K. Stone will be at the Word on the Street festival Lethbridge, Saturday, September 23, 2017.