Can you believe it’s already February? I sure can’t! But ready or not, the new month is here, bringing with it the First Friday! And THAT means it’s time for another Author Radar! I hope you’re as excited as I am!
This month I get to feature another author at my wonderful Publishing House, the wonderfully talented Dori Ann Dupré. Her debut novel, Scouts Honor, earned a place in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Award under two separate categories, general fiction and Southern fiction.
On top of being an award-winning novelist, Dori is just an all around cool lady. I am so blessed to be able to call her one of my teammates and get her insights on a regular basis. But instead of reading me go on and on about her accomplishments, I’ll just introduce you!
Here she is, the fabulous, Dori Ann Dupré!
When did you start writing?
I have been a writer my entire life, or at least as far back as I can remember. I wrote all kinds of stories as a child. Recently, while going through some old things, I found one written on notebook paper and in pencil. It was called “Johnny and the Cowboy Horse.” I have no clue what inspired it because it made absolutely no sense.
Do you have a writing ritual? What is it?
When I get into a groove with writing, ie, if I’m working on a short story or a novel, I will hammer at it religiously. It becomes a part of my daily life, like eating, sleeping and exercise, until it’s done. I work full time so focused writing like that happens in the evenings or on the weekends.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t writing?
I am an outdoors girl: hiking, kayaking, and outdoor adventure sports. Until recently, I also enjoyed riding my Harley Davidson. I hope to get another one someday. I also enjoy spending time with my daughters and my dogs, photography, reading, and I love the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Are you working on anything new right now? Care to give us a peek?
My second novel, Good Buddy, is under contract with Pen Name Publishing and in the editing phase right now. It will be out most likely in February 2018 but possibly November 2017. This story is an homage to men who step up and become stepfathers. Here is a brief synopsis: “Jonathan ‘Buddy’ Cordova is a small time criminal defense lawyer living paycheck to paycheck and practicing law out of his house in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He likes to think of himself as a modern day Atticus Finch, the kind of attorney who represents the poor, the indigent, the “probably guilty,” the kinds of clients who usually end up in jail. Shy, painfully awkward around pretty women, and carrying his own dark secret, Buddy falls for the daily jogger – Julie Saint, a part time Kindergarten teacher and Army widow with a little girl named Molly. Consumed with love for his ready-made family, Buddy is the epitome of a husband, father and stepfather. Bonded over their mutual childhood losses, Molly and Buddy are not just stepfather and stepdaughter, but they are the best of pals. When tragedy strikes, and the past at last comes back to for its reckoning, the question becomes…what really makes a father? What kind of love resides in the heart of a man who takes on the raising of another man’s child, having all the responsibilities…but under the law, none of the rights?”
In addition, I am working on my third novel, A Lass that is Gone, which uses a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson as inspiration. The story is about a sheltered girl who suffers a childhood tragedy and ends up tagging along with a boy she meets while on vacation on his Gap Year trip. This one has a long way to go, but the root of my stories seem to be in healing old wounds and finding inner peace.
What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
I want my writing to touch someone’s heart or help the readers deal with their own “stuff” which prevents them from healing or living their lives fully. Life is hard and complex and sometimes out right brutal – oftentimes through no fault of your own – and I want my writing to serve as a tool for acknowledging that brutality, but helping people realize that they don’t have to stay stuck in it. My first novel, Scout’s Honor, was about the slow unraveling of a young woman’s life who had been taken advantage of – physically and emotionally – by a much older man in a position of trust when she was at a crucial age in her development. I later learned that a 17 year old girl read my book, was able to see what was happening to her friend as the same kind of thing, and opened up her mouth and got the abuse to end. When I hear that my writing helped a real live person, that is all the accomplishment I’d ever need.
You have a few awards under your belt! Can you tell us a little about them?
My debut novel, Scout’s Honor, won Bronze for Southern Fiction in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. That was a great experience, mostly because it capped off the absolute worst year of my life personally. It was the last “good” thing I was able to share with my husband before he passed away. My husband had been very supportive of my book and my efforts to become published. He was proud of me for all the work I had put into it, and I know the news of winning that award was (very briefly) something special we were able to share during his final days, despite what we were all going through in the moment. I was glad I learned of the award in time to tell him.
How do you pick character names?
In my first book, most side characters were named after family members, including the dogs. However, certain character names, like my protagonist Scout Webb, were a part of the story’s background. Scout was named after Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, and that was a part of her identity, also a huge part of the story. In my second book, I didn’t put too much thought into names except for my main character, Buddy, and how that related to his life and overall narrative.
What is one thing you wish people knew about you as an author?
I did not decide to sit down and actually write a novel until I was at a crossroads in my personal life. My daughters had gone off to college and I found that I had a lot more free time available to me. I don’t think stories are written until they are ready to be written. Scout’s Honor and Good Buddy could not have been written twenty, ten, even five years ago. They weren’t done forming and growing inside of my head and heart. I hadn’t gone through enough growing yet, which is hard to believe, but considering some of the hardships I’ve endured over the past four years, I know in hindsight, it’s true.
What is your biggest writing challenge?
The editing part is tough for me. It is very challenging to edit your own work. I’m great at editing other peoples’ writing but when it comes to editing mine, I need lots of help!
What scares you most about writing?
I’m getting better about this, mostly because of age and some of the things I’ve gone through of late, but the honest answer is being judged – and in the wrong way. People are harsh and ugly about things they don’t like or about things that challenge what they believe is true. It is hard to put your heart and soul and tears and dreams out there for the world to pick a part and devour, for better or for worse. It is scary to have yourself exposed like that. In fact, it’s out right horrifying. I’m not an exhibitionist. The most I’ve done to embarrass myself publicly is a rough rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody during karaoke. Throwing my creation out there, with the knowledge that there will be people who stomp on it and crap all over it, is tough to do. But it is a necessary component of being truthful with yourself as a writer, author, and artist.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just write. Forget all the “rules” about it. Make your own rules. Being creative and having a creative mind means that you get to put out there what YOU want to put out there. So do it.
Want to know more about Dori? Connect with her on Social Media!
Can’t wait to get your hands on Scout’s Honor?
Buy it HERE!