“Everyone Has Talents and Abilities” – DelSheree Gladden

A double-header today! I’m pleased to bring you talented author DelSheree Gladden, and discuss her fifth book, Inquest: Book One of the Destroyer Trilogy (Volume 1). After DelSheree shares her thoughts on writing, character building and story creation, I’ve included a review of Inquest. So, please, take your seats, and enjoy the games.

Game One: The Interview

  1. 1.  What inspired you to choose present day and Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the setting for this novel?

I have lived in New Mexico most of my life. I grew up in a small town with only one stoplight. I have learned to write what I know, but a small town wasn’t the right setting for Inquest. I needed a bigger stage for a teenage girl meant to destroy the world to make her appearance. Albuquerque had the appeal of being a decent sized city, and I felt it was a good match for Libby’s story.

2.  You portray one of the main characters as in some ways a stereotypical high school athlete – why was that?

Lance is a character that goes through significant change in this trilogy. He starts off more concerned with himself than Libby. He takes her for granted and doesn’t pay enough attention to her to see the signs that something is wrong. Some readers may write Lance off after the first few chapters, but they will be surprised to realize later just how important he becomes to Libby’s story. The initial stereotype doesn’t define Lance like he thinks it does. As he faces personal battles as well as the dangers that are involved in being around Libby, Lance is forced to dig deeper and find out who he really is and what he is willing to do to protect a friend.

3How did you develop the ideas for some of the other-worldly features, such as diktats?

Before writing Inquest I read several books that focused on physical manifestations of power. I liked this idea, not for the beauty they could inspire, but for the idea that your entire life could be branded on your skin for everyone to see. There was no way to alter it or escape it. I wanted to use something unique, and decided on perfect, unchangeable scars called diktats. After a person’s Inquest, they form on the wrist and basically stamp your destiny in plain view for everyone to see.

4Is your protagonist modeled after anyone you know, either in real life or in books?

Libby isn’t modeled after any one person. She’s more of a compilation of people I have known and characters in books I love. There is a little bit of some of my friends that I admire, and a little bit of Princess Cimorene, a strong, no-nonsense character from one of my favorite series as a child, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I tried to use qualities that made Libby human and someone readers could care about. She has this amazing power, but she doesn’t always know what to do with it. She isn’t perfect, but she tries to do what she thinks is right.

5.  What was your favorite part about writing Inquest?

Developing the characters. I think even when you have an amazing story, if you don’t have equally engaging characters to tell it, the book will fall short. I love coming up with a character’s history and discovering how it will influence their role in the story. Sometimes that ends up being as big of a surprise to me as it to readers. Lance was a character I originally hadn’t planned to do much with, but as I got to know him more, I knew he couldn’t just walk away from Libby.

6.  How would you personally label this book, since it seems to have elements of more than one genre?

That’s a great question! It’s one I asked my only writers group about several times. I would classify the genre I generally write as urban fantasy, but Inquest is more of a dystopian than fantasy. It also has elements of paranormal romance, action and adventure, and a little science fiction.

7.  What would you most like to leave readers thinking?

What I hope readers take away from Inquest is that what you do with your life is completely up to you. Parents, past experiences, social class, none of these things can determine where you’ll end up in life. Everyone has talents and abilities that can be developed and help them reach their goals.

8.  I know you are an avid reader and book reviewer. What are your top suggestions for writers?

Read. A lot. I heard an author say once that he stopped reading anyone else’s work but his own for months in preparation to write because it helped clear his mind of influences from other people’s writing. It must have worked for him, but I have to recommend the opposite. Reading can not only give you great ideas, but it teaches how to be a good writer. You learn about grammar and mechanics when you read, story arcs, what makes you want to keep reading, how to fit into a genre and when to break out of one, and so much more. It astounds me when I meet a writer that doesn’t actively read. To be honest, it usually shows in their writing.

Author DelSheree Gladden

Another suggestion is to always have people read your work before sending it out. You may think what you’ve written is brilliant, but most likely other readers are going to catch things you’ve missed. I’ve had many occasions where I’ve written something that made total sense to me only to find out there were key details I knew but never explained to readers. You really want to work all of these out before you send it off to agents or publishers. Yes, it takes thick skin sometimes, but it’s better to hear it from a friend than earn a bad reputation with a bunch of agents.

9.  This is the first book in a trilogy. Did you know that when you began writing, or did it develop that way? Could you explain the process?

I planned from the beginning to make this into a trilogy. I typically write multi-book stories, partly because I like reading a series, but also because my brain just seems to work that way. I’m not very good at short fiction. The process I use to tackle a series goes from general to specific. I don’t really make outlines. When I had a general idea of what the whole story would entail from beginning to end, I went back and decided where to divide it based on what I wanted
to accomplish in each book.

In the first book, Inquest, Libby has been fighting her destiny her whole life, but by the end, I wanted her make a decision about whether or not she was going to accept her fate. In the second book, Secret of Betrayal, Libby has made her choice, now she has to figure out how to carry it out and overcome the many problems her chosen path encounters. The third book, Darkening Chaos, culminates in Libby having to face down everything she has been fighting against, and either prove she can do what she set out to do or give up everything, including her life.

10.  What is next on the horizon for you? Anything else you’d like to share?

Right now I’m focused on getting the last two Destroyer books published, but I’m working on a few other projects as well. My next series in progress is called The Godling Chronicles. This serious follows a brother and sister with very unusual abilities…an all-consuming desire to cause pain. Their hunger for pain has haunted them their whole lives, but the appearance of a strange young woman brings even more trouble and threatens their secret and their lives. I’m working on revisions of the first book right now, and hopefully after I graduate from dental hygiene school I’ll be able to devote more time to the rest of the series.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog to talk about Inquest, Valerie!

You are most welcome; and thank you for your insights!

And Game Two: The Review

DelSheree Gladden’s
Inquest: Book One of the Destroyer Trilogy (Volume 1) (Createspace, 2012)

Sixteen-year-old Libby’s life turns upside down on when her forced Inquest determines her fate: to destroy the world. Family, friends, and boyfriend abandon her, and life looks hopeless until she meets outcast Milo, with secrets of his own. Libby tries to prove she does not want to fulfill her role as the Destroyer, but those plotting against her make that impossible. If Libby wants to live, and protect her new friend, she must fight for that right against all odds.

DelSheree Gladden creates characters you want to know, and I enjoyed her ability to mix regular teen emotions into a plot as serious as destroying the world. She combines modern day situations with other-worldly features making it conceivable that this story could be taking place today. Gladden deftly creates character-to-character relationships readers can identify with, including boyfriend/girlfriend, brother/sister, teacher/student and friend/friend. I particularly liked her treatment of betrayal in relationships, without belaboring the point or introducing self-pity. I loved her character development.

The story piles conflict upon conflict, but varies the intensity of the conflict so as not to exhaust the reader. Also, although the concept of a young girl facing her fate of death and destroying the world may sound dark, the book itself includes enough light and hope so it is not a dark novel. Additionally, I appreciated Gladden’s portrayal of violent situations and teen love without overwhelmingly graphic details. The story, characters, and writing keeps the pages turning.

Inquest provides a very enjoyable read, even for those who may not regularly read urban/dystopian/fantasy works. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and following Libby’s adventures to the end, whatever that ending might be.

Comments and questions for DelSheree most welcome! Also, please visit DelSheree’s wonderful blog at  http://theediblebookshelf.blogspot.com/.

Comments

  1. Thank you, Sue. Will stop by and check out your post. I am published by a small publisher, so will see if there might be a fit in your list with that criteria. Appreicate the visit. 🙂

  2. Nice interview and review. Lots of work. Thanks for stopping by my site. I wanted to repay the favor in kind. I like your site. Very nice. Well, I hope to see you back at my place again sometime. Tomorrow I will have all the awards indie writers can send their books to, with the links. It is a repost, not my own. But it is a great post for self-published authors.

  3. Thank you to everyone who visited Valerie’s blog and left comments. I really enjoy hearing from readers, and I’m always happy to answer questions 🙂 Thank you again, Valerie, for inviting me to visit your blog!

  4. You are welcome. And if you have any particular questions for her, I’ll bet she’d answer them for you here, too.

  5. Thank you. I like to know that reading is just part of the job, right? Makes the work more pleasurable.

  6. I’ve been following DelSheree’s blog, so it’s really fun to learn more about her here. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for sharing with us today! Love all the wonderful advice about reading!

  8. You are welcome. Well, since only the first book is out so far, at least you will only lose yourself one book at a time. 🙂 Congratulations, also, on the completion of the Honolulu Marathon, that I just read in your last post. Thank you for stopping in from Hawaii – aloha!

  9. I always admire people who can weave layers and layers of characters’ history together to somehow form an intricate story. There’s such an art in doing that. Thanks for sharing the interview and review… last time I read a trilogy I seemed to lose contact with the outside world for several weeks. Good books are so dangerous:)
    Kristina 🙂

  10. Well, as DelSheree said, “everyone has talents and abilities,” so there should be no stopping you. 🙂 By looking at the blog, it appears you are already an author…maybe just haven’t put the “pieces” together in a book yet. Glad you stopped by for a taste of this blog.

  11. Thank you, and you are most welcome! I agree wholeheartedly with the reading advice. I appreciate that the author took so much time to answer the questions in such depth. I hope that knowing some of this information up front will provide another layer of context for readers, too. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. It was my pleasure, DelSheree – thank you for taking the time to share your experience.

  13. When I grow up, I would love to be an author. I seriously admire authors and all of the work and creativity that goes into their work. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I love the advice to read more. This is a great interview and the book sounds very interesting and like it’s full of twists and adventure too! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  15. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Valerie! Thank you for the lovely review as well!

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