Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Words with... Donna Dillon-Truckenbrod

Thanks to Donna Dillon-Truckenbrod for this interview

What is your day job or are you lucky enough to write for a living?

I am lucky enough to have a husband who thinks I should focus all my attention on writing. We have tightened our purse strings a bit to make it happen, but he works and I write.

What books have you written so far?

I have completed 3 books so far. The Snake Pit: Jr. High Can Be Torture, a YA novella about bullying, was published in October 2009. Through The Gloaming is a full-length YA/mainstream crossover about a young man who falls through the ice, finds his afterlife is not as pleasant as it could have been, and is given a second chance to change. It was published in April 2012. Why Did It Have To Rain Today is a children’s picture book about Jack, a little boy whose Saturday plans are ruined by a rainstorm so he finds adventure through reading. 

What works in progress do you have?

I am currently working on another children’s book about Down Syndrome, called My Sister Has Down Syndrome.

How long did it take you to write your book/s?

The Snake Pit basically wrote itself and I had the first draft done in 2 days. Through The Gloaming took almost a full year to complete. Why Did It Have To Rain Today? was very easy to write; just a matter of about an hour to get the story down, but the illustrations seemed to take forever. It took about 6 months to complete.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

I don’t plan or plot anything. I generally sit down, open a bag of M&Ms and write whatever falls out of my head. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not so good. Usually it works very well for me.

Why do you write?

Because I was born to.

How long have you been writing?

Pretty much all my life.

Where and when do you write? Do you have set times?

I do my best writing late at night when my family are asleep. I have 4 kids and you would think that the daytime, when they are all at school, would be optimal, but it doesn’t work. Phone is ringing, dishes need doing, laundry needs folded… late night is all mine.

Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?

Cinda, the main character from The Snake Pit. I was born with the same birth defect as she, and I endured many of the same nasty names and bullying as she did, so I do identify with her. I was not one to stand by and allow myself to be bullied, so there lies the difference.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

My mother. She thought everything I put on paper was brilliant.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

You have to have a hook – something that grabs the reader from the beginning and doesn’t let go.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

Cinda’s best friend, Charlie, is based on a friend of my daughter, but I never told her so.

If you had to pick some actors/actresses to play the characters in your book, who would you hire?

Oh my, I have no idea about that one!

Fave things: animal? food? film? colour? band? place? item of clothing?

Dog, M&Ms, Shawshank Redemption, purple, Queen, home, My Walter Payton Jersey.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a medical examiner. Then I found out I had to go to medical school, so I scrapped those plans.

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

Dreams are always, and always should be, a work in progress.
You’re walking in the forest and you bump into an alien librarian from Mars. He wants five book recommendations from you…
1. To Kill A Mockingbird;
2. The Five People You Meet In Heaven;
3. Harry Potter;
4. Stephen King’s The Long Walk; and
5. Roots.
Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

Dobby from Harry Potter… I’m still not over his loss.

Who is your hero / heroine?

My mom… she was amazing.

Which book do you wish you had written?

The Harry Potter series... absolutely brilliant.

Which three authors would you like to take to the pub?

JK Rowling, Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. I would say Stephen King, but just the thought of it turns me into a big slobbery mess and I don’t think that would make a great impression!

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

I am self-published through Createspace. They have done all three of my books and I am still happy with the experience.

How do you find the marketing experience?

Picture the world’s largest headache; then multiply by 7.

What advice would you give other writers just starting out?

You can’t do this by yourself. Join author groups and surround yourself with those who have been there, done that. And it won’t happen overnight. If it were that easy, everyone would do it.

Do you have a blog? What do you blog about?

I blog like I write. Whatever is rolling around in my head at the time falls out on to the paper.

What other hobbies do you have?

I love to paint, if I am not writing, you can find me at my drafting table drawing and painting something.

What would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I would like to see The Snake Pit part of the curriculum in every Jr. High School in the country.

If you won the Lotto or a major publishing contract, what would you do with that dosh? 

I would buy a bigger house so my kids could each have their own room and then rent my current house to a single mother for next to nothing so she could go to school and not worry about struggling to pay rent.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less… 
1. There was once a wee worm called Fred…
2. In the deep and darkest reaches of the dank forest...
3. One day Charlotte decided she was going to change the world...

There was a wee worm called Fred
Whose hat wouldn’t fit on his head.
He struggled and cried, and eventually sighed,
And put on an old scarf instead.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

I think you asked the perfect questions and wouldn’t change a thing.


Donna is also Janus' chosen author this week -


  1. You're such a lucky ducky, Donna to have a husband who believes in your writing the way your husband does.
    I've read the Snake Pit and also believe it needs more attention from schools and the public. I love the poem about the worm.
    Wishing you so much luck with your sales.

  2. I've read all your books Donna and loved them all. You seem to have a real gift for children's books, but I hope you write more fiction novels whether young adult or adult.


Thanks for commenting - have a kitty cool day! :)