|Cell Phone Photo from 44th Annual Authors Convention in San Diego, Ca|
Danielle D. Smith was born in 1980 in
. In addition to being a writer of urban fantasy stories she is an accomplished fine artist and illustrator whose visual work has appeared in various public, private, and gallery exhibitions and in national publications. Dani, as she is known by many who are close to her, lives in San Diego with an ever-growing collection of books, documentaries, independent and foreign films. Her novels appeal to dreamers, troublemakers, dark romantics, and general escapists. San Diego, California, USA
Laurie: Hello, Dani. You have been so busy these days
with everything you have going on in your life I really appreciate this opportunity to visit with you a while.
Dani: Thanks so much for having me, Laurie! I’m truly honored to be here.
Laurie: Recently you attended the 44th Annual Author’s Exhibit at the San Diego Public Library. Can you tell us some of your experiences there and some things you were able to take away from it?
Dani: This was really a great event for me. Admittedly, I was the turd in the punch bowl! Many of the other authors were of the Baby Boomer generation, and dressed very conservatively. I walked in with all my tattoos hanging out, wearing jeans, a recycled t-shirt dress, and a leather harness. Needless to say people stared! But I’ve gotta be me. The event featured over 300 authors and over 400 people attended. I was able to network with other authors and publishers and make important connections for current projects, including a graphic novel version and a screenplay of my most popular book thus far, Black Dog and Rebel Rose. Since this event I have seen sales spike and interest in upcoming projects swell, as well as the library system adding my books to their collection. Overall this was a great event that has created lots of possibilities for me and my work! I was honored to be asked to participate.
Laurie: Do you outline and plan out your books in advance or do the stories just sort of evolve as you are writing them?
Dani: I usually write in a scatterbrained fashion, the same way I paint and draw. I’m a very organic artist, and my writing follows suit.
Laurie: I think it is amazing that you will be illustrating your next two books as well. I am so looking forward to that. What process do you go through for your art related to your stories….does the art come first or the story?
Dani: Hmmm…that’s a hard one. I’d say both. I am constantly working on character artwork—random images, really—and doing that allows me to “flesh out” concepts for my stories. So if a book is not finished yet, the artwork will frequently plant ideas in my head—when it comes to visual vs. verbal, both sides of the brain are used, allowing ideas to flow seamlessly back and forth. Now, when a book is finished BEFORE art is started, I am more constricted artistically. I have to pluck scenes from the book and faithfully recreate them, down to character costume, pose, and setting. No drawing the heroine in a thong when she is described in the scene wearing a full skirt, for example. The reader will read the paragraph that is illustrated, look the picture, and then go, “Hey, the stupid illustrator got it wrong!” It breaks up the ability for the reader to stay “lost” in the tale. Art and writing must match to keep the reader’s rapt attention.
Laurie: What plans are there for the launch of In the Neon?
Dani: Promote, promote, promote! I will be offering signed copies through Goodreads when the print edition is released, as well as interviewing and guest blogging all over. The release of this book will mark two more ventures for me: the official launch of my character art site, Dani’s Twisted Brush, and the Angel and Demon Author’s blog, a project I have been working on with U.K.-based author David Bridger. You can bet that I will be blabbering away about In The Neon on both of these sites. I also encourage folks to seek me out on Goodreads and Facebook—both links are on my site.
Laurie: How much longer until it is available?
Dani: Ha! Chompin’ at the bit, are we? It’s gonna be a few months…it is still in edits with my publisher and I have 10 or so detailed comic book style ink drawings I have to complete, scan, color in Photoshop, and submit for placement in the manuscript. I work quickly as an artist, but it’s still a process. Release for In The Neon should be expected in Spring 2011, probably around April. I’ll be screaming it to the world when it’s officially out—this is my first illustrated book, so I am crazy excited about it.
Laurie: Can you give us a short excerpt from In the Neon that you had fun writing?
Dani: Absolutely! Here you go:
Laurie: What advice can you share with us as far as promoting your books that you think will be beneficial to other newer authors who want to see increased sales?
Dani: Grab every opportunity you can! Promotion in this business is not as easy as it used to be—advertising dollars are stretched tight nowadays. Be willing to do giveaways, blogs, interviews. Join Goodreads and participate on forums where authors are welcome. If the book is in print, sacrifice a few signed copies to contests—you will draw readers in with your generosity. Make book trailers and post them on YouTube.
When I attended the Author’s Exhibit, I gave copies of both of my books away to people who really engaged me in conversation about my work, and I know that those people will spread the word. Join Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter—I actually hate social networking sites, but I cannot deny how well they work if used in a professional manner.
Another big promo to jump on would be to join BookBuzzr. They offer a free plan, but it’s well worth it to take them up on their $7/month Pro plan. It really DOES work. I have seen sales jump since joining this site. Also, if you have other talents (i.e. artist, etc.) incorporate that into your marketing plan. My character art has brought in a slew of new loyal fans and has brought interest in my books to fans of fantasy, comic book, and horror art.
Laurie: Do you have any plans at this time to create a trailer for In the Neon?
Dani: Sure do! I’m already working on it. I’m really excited about this particular trailer because most of the images used will be artwork from the book. I have already selected music and am currently working on the blurb. The trailer will be out within a few weeks of the book being released.
Laurie: Do you have your own website or any plans for setting one up soon? Where is the best place for your fans to find you?
Dani: I have two official websites right now, my author site and my blog, The Angel’s Gate. I love to hear from fans so I welcome any and all to contact me through these sites. I offer contests and feature guest author interviews on my blog, and frequently post new book-themed artwork while my official character art site is in the works. That will be set up in the coming months and the prelim site can be viewed at Angel and Demon Art.
Laurie: Is there anything else you would like to mention today that I should have brought up and didn’t?
Dani: More websites! There is a current giveaway going on with From The Shadows, the official site of author E.J. Stevens. She is giving away a signed matted print depicting Faust and Annie, the hero/heroine of In The Neon, by yours truly. I would also love for Dani Smith newbies to check out my author page on Amazon…maybe pick up a few copies of my books. ;-)
Laurie: Thank you again. I so appreciate this opportunity to chat with you and wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.
Dani: Thanks so much, Laurie! It was great talking with you. Xoxoxoxoxo.
Psyche's Gate (ebook)
Pysches' Gate (print)