Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Brit Lunden, author of The Devil and Dayna Dalton.
FQ: Dayna made a brief appearance in Bulwark. What made you decide to explore her character more with a book of her own?
LUNDEN: I felt bad about Dayna. For a long time, I kicked around the idea that I had been unfair to her. When I decided to add to the anthology, I knew Dayna had to be the subject. Truthfully, I had no idea where the story was going to head. The characters usually push me in a direction.
FQ: Dayna discovers something very important about her relationship with Clay (not to be revealed here!). Will she ever tell him what she learned?
LUNDEN: Yes. She realized she has a great friendship with him. Dayna has spent her life feeling alone. I think knowing the truth about her relationship with Clay will make her feel that she's not alone anymore.
FQ: Jenna vs. Dayna – in Bulwark, Jenna was a very likable person and Dayna was not. But in this story, the roles are reversed. I found myself wishing Jenna would lighten up and be nice to Dayna. Was this intentional and will we ever see these two get along?
LUNDEN: Yes. It became part of the theme. Don't forget, perception is in the eyes of the beholder.
We tend to judge people based on their behavior, never thinking to examine why they do the things they do. Dayna was propelled by a bad relationship with her mother. She was needy for anybody to give her some positive attention. If we understand what drives peoples' personalities, a little sympathy and understanding go a long way. If a person is insecure, and you know the backstory, perhaps the way to treat them will make for a better outcome.
FQ: “Luck couldn’t find her if she dressed in neon and held up a sign.” Such a great line – do these lines just come to you as you write? Or do you think them up and then work them into the story?
LUNDEN: As I write them, I hear the characters. There is an edge of sarcasm to Dayna. I am never sarcastic, it's not my nature. I hear my characters loud and clear. Their voices ring in my head and I know just how they will react. Each one has an authentic voice.
FQ: Thelma Sweetpea’s role grows from an annoying neighbor to someone much more important to the story. Will she get her own book in the future? I’d love to learn more about her.
LUNDEN: I'm thinking she will have to finish her arc, but Trout really wants to address his story. I think he may be next.
FQ: The stories in this anthology have just enough supernatural elements to add a creepy and/or wow factor but not so much as to overpower the plot. How do you keep that balance?
LUNDEN: I want to keep it as real as possible. I love it when people close a book and say, could that be true or it just might happen. I love when the characters take on a life of their own, and people are not done with them. Many have asked Sheriff Clay Finnes to come back. I love hearing that.
FQ: Hellhounds or wolves? What’s the difference?
LUNDEN: Werewolves are people that shapeshift into wolves. The hellhounds are monsters sent to do the bidding of bigger monsters. When I wrote Bulwark, I left hooks for authors to pull out stories. I didn't want to write about werewolves, so I left that plot for someone to pick up. I chose to use hellhounds because they are underused, and more servile to a bigger master.
FQ: What are your future plans for Bulwark, GA? What new adventures await your fans?
LUNDEN: RL Jackson is working on something. I think she's continuing her story with vampires. I know Kay MacLeod, Eh Graham, DJ Cooper, and Brittney Leigh are working to add to the series. I think we will bring in some new authors as well. I definitely don't want to leave Bulwark. There are so many juicy subplots to explore.
FQ: You’ve written over 50 books in a broad range of genres. Do you have a favorite genre to write? Do you find your pen flows easier in some genres, or that you have to think out a plot more in other genres?
LUNDEN: The fingers take on a life of their own on whatever subject I am working on. I just finished a book for kids about spies during the Second World War. I am taking a break to help publicize my son's book which came out on the same day. I won't start another story until the first line calls me and I sit down and just write.
FQ: Along the same lines, what advice would you give an author who would like to try writing outside their comfort zone and try a new, to them, genre?
LUNDEN: Don't be afraid of mixing things up. I never read horror, have never seen a scary movie, and yet here I am, writing frightening stories. I don't find what I write as scary, but the reviews have indicated that they are. I love stretching my imagination and seeing where it can go. The Devil and Dayna Dalton has elements of romance in it. That was challenging to see if I can write relatable romance. I love genre-jumping. I enjoy writing a non-fiction book as much as fiction. I like to finish, send it in for reviews. Getting a review is like opening a Christmas present. I cherish the words written because I learn from the comments. It also shows me my words have reached another person and affected them enough to share their thoughts and feelings about my work. It makes the world a kinder and more familiar place. It makes writing all the more worthwhile.