SP: Becky, welcome! We’ve been dying to hear from you! Wow, you got TWO book deals in TWO weeks! That’s practically unheard of. Tell us, what’s your secret???
BD: Thank you for having me! It was definitely a wild two weeks. I guess the secret is to keep writing, be patient, and have lots of books on submission! My agent has sent out four novels over the last couple years, and throughout the waiting, I keep writing something new. It just worked out that we heard back on two books at the same time, from two different publishers!
SP: I hear this is your first book deal. What has it been like, getting that first offer in the Inbox? What was your response? Screaming? Fainting? Crying uncontrollably? Or…??
BD: I’m not super emotional on the outside, so there was lots of internal screaming, combined with a bit of squee-ing and some uncoordinated dancing! And it still hits me at random times and I start smiling all over again.
SP: Let’s backtrack a little…where did this all start for you? What has your writing journey been like?
BD: I’ve been writing for over ten years with the goal of publication. (Not to mention the notebooks I filled with stores as a kid!) I put away the first four books I wrote, never to be seen again. I learned a lot from them and learned about the industry while I wrote them, so it was still valuable experience. Then in 2015, I was accepted into Pitch Wars with the first contemporary novel I wrote—which is one of the ones I just accepted a deal for! I signed with an agent not long after, but we ended up parting ways, and I went through the query process yet again before signing with my rock star agent, Eva Scalzo at Speilburg Literary. Now I’ll have several books coming out in the next couple years, which is still crazy to think about!
SP: You seem to write across multiple genres, which one is your favorite? Which has been the most enjoyable to write?
BD: I love both science fiction and contemporary! I love the emotional honesty of contemporary, and writing a book set in England was fun to research – and much easier than making up entire galaxies. But I love the possibilities in science fiction, the wonder and excitement of new worlds and potential futures. Since I grew up loving science fiction TV shows and movies, I really enjoy writing it. In both genres, I like a bit of humor, a bit of adventure, and a bit of romance.
SP: Now, for the exciting stuff. Tell us about your two books! We want all the deets!
BD: Chasing Chaucer is a contemporary novel about a girl competing in a scavenger hunt across England that takes her to the locations of classic novels, and along the way she meets a bookish British boy who helps her learn to dream again. This was my Pitch Wars book in 2015 and is very dear to my heart! It will be coming out with Delacorte in the summer of 2022, and I couldn’t have imagined a better home for it. It’s about the power of stories and has so many wonderful settings in the U.K., some of which I got to visit while writing the book.
Shades of Starlight is a space opera, Han Solo with a bit of Mission: Impossible, about a smuggler and a spy racing across the galaxy to find a rogue agent who happens to be his partner and her ex-boyfriend. They end up in the middle of a conspiracy that could lead to intergalactic war. It will be the first in a four-book series set in a galaxy with colorful wormholes and brewing revolution, with Aethon Books sometime in 2022. It has a strong romantic thread in addition to action and cool planets and space pirates, and was lots of fun to write.
SP: Where did you get the inspiration for these stories?
BD: Chasing Chaucer was the first contemporary I wrote, and I really wanted to write a road trip style story. It just seemed fun to combine that with British literature, since I love those classic books and I love England. For the sci-fi, I had the main character in my head for a while, this feisty smuggler who gets caught up in something big as she flies around the galaxy. It took a couple years for the plot to come together in my head and figure out what happens to her.
SP: Sadly, we’re running out of time here. L What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
BD: Definitely keep writing. The more you write, the better you get. Don’t be afraid to put aside books and write new ones. Sometimes those old ones are practice, which is incredibly valuable, and sometimes you might just need to wait a few years to find the perfect home for them, like what happened for me. I also can’t recommend enough finding a group of writer friends to support and encourage you. I wouldn’t be here without the amazing people I’ve met on the journey, who have helped me become a better writer but also just become like family to make me laugh and help me keep going. And don’t give up! Especially if your goal is traditional publishing, persistence is key. A few times throughout the last few years, I debated switching tracks and self-publishing everything (which is a perfectly valid career path!), but I’m so glad I waited and didn’t give up on my dream.
SP: Ok, speed round. Favorite place you’ve traveled?
BD: You’re going to make me choose??? I want to say Alaska, but then I’d feel like I needed to apologize to New Zealand and Ireland and Italy…
SP: Plotter or pantster?
BD: Somewhere in the middle. I need a general outline for a story before I start writing, and to know roughly how it’s going to end. I plot the major milestones. But I love the enjoyment of not planning every scene and not quite knowing where the characters are going to take me.
SP: Fall, winter, spring or summer?
BD: Spring! In Texas, it’s the mildest season, and I love the wildflowers. I also love the idea of rebirth and all things becoming new again.
SP: Early bird or night owl?
BD: Day person? Ha! I don’t like to stay up late or get up too early. I like sleep!
SP: How can we keep up with you and your books??