Davyne DeSye is the author of historical romance novels and science fiction thrillers. Six years ago, but fateful chance, she read and critically reviewed my first novel, Rebirth. Appreciating her thoughtful comments, I contacted her when I published my second novel, The Drift. After reading it, she provided one of the most insightful and complimentary reviews I have ever received.
Over the last six years, we have kept in touch. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing two of her novels: For Love of the Phantom and Carapace. Both were exceptionally well written and Carapace has got to be the most original sci-fi story I have read in a very long time.
Today, Davyne has agreed to take some time out of her busy life for an interview. I will add links to some of her books at the end of this post. That said, let’s get started…
David Maxwell: Hello, Davyne and thank you for giving us some of your valuable time today. Let’s start off with introductions. Tell us a bit about yourself and your style of writing.
Davyne DeSye: I had the good fortune to spend my childhood traveling the world with my diplomat parents, two people full of verve and a sense of adventure. This engendered in me a passionate personality, an insatiable curiosity, and a broad perspective about people and cultures. I also learned that the important things in life were not where you were or what you had, but the people with whom you interacted. For that reason, I tend to write very character-oriented stories, aiming to highlight the human-ness of each of the characters. Because of my own nature, my characters tend to be rather passionate in their feelings, desires, and motivations, whether good or bad. My greatest desire when telling a story is to make the reader feel something, to connect somehow, to make them care.
David Maxwell: Well said! Now that we know a little bit about you, we would love to hear when you knew you wanted to become an author and what influenced that decision.
Davyne DeSye: If you define “author” as someone who writes stories, I’ve been an author all my life. I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was in second grade. (It’s absolutely terrible and never to be published, but I still have it…) Despite a driving need to tell stories, I didn’t actually conceive of trying to get any of my stories published until the early 90s. I sold my first science fiction short story (“Carapace” – which is the basis for the later novel by that name) in 1995. I’ve taken several breaks from writing for various reasons (kids, career, etc.) but am happy to say I now have the luxury of devoting myself to doing what I love best: creating stories.
David Maxwell: As I understand it, you first gained notoriety with your historical romance, For Love of the Phantom, your interpretation of the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. I was fortunate enough to see The Phantom of the Opera performed at Her Majesty’s Theater in London where they used the original chandelier. It was a breathtaking performance and I thought your sequel was the perfect follow-up. What was it about the Phantom that moved you to write a continuation series?
Davyne DeSye: First, how lucky for you to see such an awesome performance! I’ve been a “phan” of The Phantom of the Opera for ages, both of the operetta and the book. (The strange mixture of The Phantom’s passionate love for Christine and his apparent anti-social personality disorder was evocative.) My children at some point were lamenting his death at the end of the story, and I answered, “But of course, he didn’t really die. He’s the Phantom! He faked his death because he was on the verge of being trapped by the authorities.” I spent the next half-hour or more telling them the story of what “really” happened afterward, and when they excitedly asked where they could read the sequel, I said, “Oh, that’s just what I think happens next.” The resounding response was that I absolutely must write it down so that they could read it. So I did.
David Maxwell: You mentioned that you are world traveled. How has your travel and experiences in different cultures influenced your work?
Davyne DeSye: Immeasurably. I can’t begin to guess. Although I’m an American citizen, I didn’t live in the US until I was 15 years old, and English was the fourth language I learned (I only speak English and Spanish now). I’ve lived in Germany, Bolivia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Japan, Korea, and Mexico, so I’ve spent my life surrounded by different ethnicities, cultures, languages, religions, etc. As Roy Batty says in his monologue at the end of Blade Runner, “I’ve seen things you… wouldn’t believe,” and have lived the most exciting, amazing life of anyone I know. I’m certain my travels have enriched my imagination by giving me so many experiences from which to draw, both good and bad. I also believe the exposure to so many cultures and people helps me better conceive of a variety of characters, motivations, and ways of life.
David Maxwell: I love the Blade Runner reference. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is “all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
Recently, I had the pleasure of reading Carapace. I have to say that it is one of the most original science fiction stories I have read in a long time. Would you tell my readers a little about the story and what spawned such a unique concept?
Davyne DeSye: Thank you so much for the compliment! The story, simply put, is about Earth after an alien invasion and occupation, so the concept itself isn’t very original.
I wish I could set out a formula for creating an “original” story (I’d use the formula myself!). Many times, different portions of my stories write themselves as if I’m merely transcribing my muse. My only job, really, is to try to conceive of a new way to put the parts together. For example, I can point to different “parts” that led to the creation of Carapace: I woke from a particularly vivid dream which I transcribed. I didn’t think the “story” would go anywhere from there (although my dream eventually became a short story and then Chapter 1 in the novel). Sometime later, I watched Casablanca and thought, “What if Khara (like Rick in the movie) ends up getting dragged into a revolution unwillingly?” Later still, I thought, “I wonder how the aliens feel about what’s going on?” and my first Nestra chapter flowed out in answer to my question.
In short, my job is to ask lots of “What if…?” questions. Turn things on their heads. Connect things that wouldn’t normally be connected. And yes, while quite a bit of what comes out when I’m writing seems to come from a magical place outside of me (or from the character themselves), the task of creating unusual connections and then managing to turn the “parts” into a plot is the part I slog through and work at like every other author.
David Maxwell: Most of my readers are aspiring writers, authors, or bloggers. How did you approach the business? What advice would you offer to those who are just starting on their own journey?
Davyne DeSye: Writing advice: Trust your inner muse. You have the most amazing stuff inside you, and if you stop worrying about whether somebody will like what you’re writing and if you stop worrying about the rules, the story that comes out will be a story that touches people and rings “true” – because it is. You can clean it up later, of course, but you’ll amaze even yourself by what you’ve written.
My approach to the business probably shouldn’t be emulated by anyone – ha ha! I’ve only ever written what I wanted to write, without consideration to marketability, which is probably not the fastest road to fame and fortune. However, I’m addicted to constantly educating myself, so I’ve taken lots of courses (free and otherwise) on how to market, how to use different social medias, how to record, edit and master your own audiobook, etc. I’m still learning every day. By far, one of the most useful resources I’ve discovered is a Facebook group called 20BooksTo50K. It’s a private group for indie authors and contains a wealth of helpful/useful information. Easily the most awesome group I’ve joined on Facebook. It’s all business (it’s not one of those places where you’ll see kitten pictures or polemics – in fact, you’ll be banned from the group if you “waste” other people’s time with that kind of stuff). In addition to educational “modules” you can go through at your leisure, there are questions posted every day by authors asking the same questions any author might ask, and the answers are amazingly informative.
David Maxwell: Knowing that you are an avid reader, I want to present you with a challenge. I have often posed this challenge to my friends as the answers are quite enlightening. Imagine a world where your child is only allowed to read one book in his or her lifetime and you have to choose that book. Which book would you choose and why (can’t be The Bible as we will call that the exception)?
Davyne DeSye: Wow. Okay, I would have to say, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. Why? First: Because it engages the imagination, which I think is the basis for intelligence – it’s that indefinable spark between knowledge and creativity that separates us from machines or from other species that are not considered “intelligent species.” Second: Because the story so richly sets forth the constant tension between good and evil (while also allowing for gray areas), which is the tension that powers everyday life and through which we all must navigate. Third: Because it’s entertaining and a doggone good read and I’d enjoy reading it even now.
David Maxwell: Great answer! I know that you are currently working on a variety of new projects. What can readers expect from Davyne DeSye in the coming year?
Davyne DeSye: I’m currently working on the sequel to Carapace, tentatively titled Chrysalis, which will hopefully be out this summer/fall. After that, I also plan to write two prequels to Carapace which will tell the story of how Earth came to be invaded in the first place. I’m also at the concept stage with three unrelated additional sci-fi novels, one an alternate history, one a time-travel story, and one set in the future. In addition to sci-fi, I plan to write two additional “clean” paranormal romances similar to my paranormal romance, Love Whispers Through the Veil, and am toying with writing additional historical romance sequels to other well-known classics, for example, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Cyrano de Bergerac, or Frankenstein.
David Maxwell: If a first-time reader wanted to try one of your books, which book would you recommend they start with? Why that book in particular?
Davyne DeSye: That would depend on the reader’s genre preference. There is a huge difference (stylistically and otherwise) between my historical romance and my science fiction. I have fans who would hate one while loving the other. If I was given no information about the reader, I’d probably play it safe and suggest For Love of the Phantom, because Carapace (while more visceral) is rather gritty and rough and would be more likely to offend a non-sci-fi fan.
David Maxwell: I have often said that if you want to be a writer, you should write; if you want to be a great writer, you should read. What are some of your favorite books? Who would you consider as your greatest influencers?
Davyne DeSye: My greatest influencers would probably include those authors I read most as a teen/young adult and to whom I go back again and again. I’d have to start with Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov because I grew up on them. Then add in Ray Bradbury, C.J. Cherryh, and Orson Scott Card.
As to favorite books… yikes. In addition to books written by the above authors, I’ll try to pick a handful of books I’ve already re-read several times and will likely re-read in the next one-to-five years: The Narnia series, Ella Enchanted, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Giver, Emma, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Three Musketeers, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Darwin’s Radio, Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, and The Host.
David Maxwell: Davyne, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day for this interview. Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers on publishing, marketing, promoting, or writing in general?
Davyne DeSye: With regard to writing, don’t listen to what other writers say about how to write. Some say write every day, but if that doesn’t work for you, then don’t. Some say make a plot outline, but if you’re a seat-of-your-pantser, be that. Do what works for you. Experiment – if you want – with other methods, but in the end, nobody else is you. To be an author is to create art. There is no “right” way.
David Maxwell: On a final note, where can my readers find you and your books (website, distribution channels, Facebook, etc.)?
Davyne DeSye: Oh, I love connecting! I can be contacted via email at email@example.com. Feel free to drop me a line! I can also be reached at my website (https://www.davyne.com), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DavyneDeSye/), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/davynedesye/), and on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtyOqLERp55Y4hzMOF6FD1g).
My books are all available on Amazon, and most are available on Audible (as audiobooks).
Thank you very much, David, for taking the time to chat with me! Best wishes to you in all your endeavors, and, yes, I’m very much looking forward to reading your new book – I loved The Drift!
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