20 QUESTIONS WITH PENELOPE DOUGLAS
1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I think when it comes to forms of art, it’s not so much wanting to be a writer, a painter, or a musician “someday”. It’s more about realizing that you already are. It took me a long time to realize that. I never intended to pursue a career in writing, but in my thirties a story popped in my head, and I finally realized that I had always been a writer. I looked back and remembered journaling, writing “woe-is-me” goth poetry when I was eighteen, and trying to write my first book when I was sixteen. It was always there.
2. What gave you the confidence to give up your “day job” and pursue writing full time?
Getting a publisher. I probably would’ve quit my regular job anyway, but a traditional publisher gave me security and let me pursue my dream full time.
3. Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas come from everywhere. I watch movies, read books, look at the news (which is where my idea for Corrupt came from) and I nurture those ideas by taking long showers and long walks. Getting up and moving around helps get your brain working. An idea can come from anywhere. A trip to the supermarket, a magazine, a conversation…but a good story needs think time. It can’t be forced.
4. I would think that writing is something that happens when inspiration strikes as opposed to a 9-5 job. Have you ever been in the middle of dinner with your family when an idea hits and you have to get to the computer stat?
I hate to say it, but no. LOL. If I have an idea, I remember it. I’m not a writer that could sit at the computer for hours, all night, or simply “have” to write right now. My stories are very angsty, and they take a lot out of me. They’re draining. I love to tell the story, but I sometimes dread having to sit down and write a scene, because I know I’m in for an emotional time that will be fatiguing. So that being said, I value my down time. I eat with my family, turn off my phone when I have to, and enjoy a movie without interruption. Writing is a passion, not an obsession for me.
5. You write such emotionally driven characters. Is it hard to go where they take you, especially in Falling Away? Those were some tremendously deep issues.
That’s a good question. The Fall Away series is somewhat autobiographical. It’s not based on fact, but it is inspired by things I’ve either gone through or seen. It’s not particularly hard to write, but it is emotional. Digging up those feeling again. The only character I had trouble connecting with in all of the stories was Jax. I hadn’t gone through what he had gone through, nor had I known anyone who had, thank goodness. I tried to handle his story by giving us insight without overdoing it. When it comes to child abuse, there’s a fine line between it being compelling drama and being just plain hard to read. I wanted the readers to feel him without feeling sick. I hope I did it well.
6. The men in your books love cars. Do you share the same affinity?
I love men who love cars! I could care less about cars, though. I married a mechanic just so I wouldn’t have to deal with my own vehicle. No, I’m just kidding. That’s not true. But he sure does come in handy 🙂
7. What are your biggest distractions?
Social media. I have to have my husband change my passwords when I’m on deadline, so I can focus.
8. What is your least favorite part of the writing or publishing process?
I hate waiting. It’s necessary, because books take time to be printed and shipped, but Falling Away has been done for three months now, and it’s been hard to keep big secrets contained.
9. Do you find it difficult, or challenging to write from the male POV?
Writing Jared was like second nature. As frustrating as he was with his black moods, I loved his inner sarcasm and grouchiness. It wasn’t hard at all. Madoc was more difficult. He was funnier, so I had to try to balance that. And Jax and K.C. are so alike, they both came from the same part of me. So no. I love writing the male pov, and I don’t find it any more difficult than the female’s.
10. What activities do you enjoy outside of writing?
I love to read, of course. It gets me out of my own head. I also love to hike, go to movies, and make art projects with my daughter.
11. Do you have a favorite author or book?
Not just one, no. There are so many books and authors that have hit home for me in different ways. I still love Johanna Lindsey. She was my first romance writer. But I also love Chelsea Cain’s thrillers and romance writers like K.A. Linde, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Tijan, Pepper Winters, Abbi Glines…I have a very collective taste.
12. Ever think you have a great idea for a book, only to find out someone released the same storyline already?
Once. It was a paranormal time travel idea. The thing is, many people write similar storylines but in different ways. You just have be original and think of ways to do it differently.
13. Do you have multiple stories swimming in your head at once and can you quiet them down to focus on your current project, or do you work on more than one at a time?
I’m pretty good about focusing on one project at a time, but I do have ideas that pop up unexpectedly. Hubs wants me to write them down to come back to them later, but I always forget. And then I forget the idea! I need to write them down. But no, I don’t work on multiple projects at one time. I’m not into mass production. To do my best, one story needs my full attention. Some writers can write really well, really fast. I can’t. I need to focus, and I need time.
14. Do you have a favorite scene from any of the Fall Away books?
Oh, gosh. There are too many that I love. But I think the one that bewildered me the most was a Jared pov scene in Aflame. I sat down at the computer with a plan for the scene to go one way and Jared did the complete opposite. It was the most surprising thing, and I was very proud of him.
15. What does your writing workspace look like?
It’s a University of Notre Dame fan cave! I have a laptop and desktop, a treadmill, and ND flags hanging all over. Go Irish!
16. Sharing your baby with the public has to be scary. How do you respond to negative reviews?
I cry. No, just kidding. Only sometimes. LOL.
The thing is, I’ve realized that once a book goes public, you’ve lost control of it. People can and will say anything they want. They have that right. Some will hate it without even reading it. Others will gossip about it and say the most cruel things about me without even knowing me. What matters at the end of the day is “would I change anything?”
Looking back, reviews have helped me realize a lot. They’ve helped me grow as a writer, and I’m not scared by a bad review. They’ve helped me realize that I don’t want to regret anything. Did I do my best and stay true to what I wanted? Did I bring my A-game? Did I make informed decisions, knowing what people were going to say, and I did it anyway? If the answer is yes to all questions, then be proud and let it go. I won’t be to everyone’s taste, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about that. My comfort is knowing that I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING. What will be, will be.
17. If you could cast the Fall Away series, who would you choose?
Tate: Amber Heard
Madoc: Garrett Hedlund
Fallon: Margaret Qualley
Jax: Alessandro Dellisola
K.C.: Danielle Campbell
18. Can you tell us what you are working on next?
I am currently working on Corrupt, but I have another project due to the publisher by May 1. Announcement coming soon!
19. What is in your purse right now?
Haha! Okay, here we go: wallet, hand sanitizer, keys, lotion, floss, Advil, padlock (for my gym locker), sunglasses, nose spray, foundation, lips stick, chap stick, digital recorder, pens, flashdrive, Tums, tissues, and Neosporin spray (I have a kid, okay?).
20. Where do you hope your writing career is in 10 years?
Screenwriting my books into movies 😉 Actually, I just hope I can just be happy that I stayed true to myself and put my best work out there. I hope I still have a reader-base and can give them great stories.
We wanted to say THANK YOU to Penelope for allowing us to put the SPOTLIGHT on her the day before her big release of FALLYING AWAY!!! If you haven’t read the FALL AWAY series, what are you waiting for? You will not be disappointed!!!
You can purchase all of the books from the FALL AWAY series below
PURCHASE → HERE
PURCHASE → HERE
PURCHASE → HERE
PURCHASE → HERE (January 6th)
AFLAME (A FALL AWAY NOVELLA) will be coming out in April 2015