Her debut novel, The Innocent Assassins, is signed for publication with Astraea Press in June 2014. Catch up with her latest release information or writerly musings on her website. (Amazon)
BBB: What inspired you to become an author?
PD: For me, I suppose it's more of "who." My fourth grade teacher, Mr. Mason, was truly the one who inspired me to pursue writing as an author. I'd always written short stories, but I'd never considered writing a novel. I didn't think it was possible somehow. Being an author seemed like some far-off career like "be an actress" or "be a unicorn." Both seemed just as impossible to a ten-year-old me. But Mr. Mason was the one who actually sat me down and said, "You can do this. I believe in you." It's nice, to have that reassurance and encouragement from a teacher. After his class, I knew I wanted to be an author. His support helped me realize it was possible.
Other than him, my own perseverance has probably served as a huge driving force for my writing. I used to set such ridiculous goals for myself - publish a novel before the end of elementary school, before the end of junior high, before the end of high school. (Not sure what I thought I was going to write about at twelve.) Thankfully, I've finally published before the end of college! I put a lot of pressure on myself, and that helps me achieve publication.
PD: Jack Reacher, actually. Yep, the movie with Tom Cruise! I've always loved the series by Lee Child, but there was something about seeing an actual movie version of it which made me realize the severe lack of thriller female heroes. I'm not talking about James Bond's femme fatales in size 0, or the female police officer whose only job seems to be agree with whatever the male detective says. "Heroines" always conjured up an idea of a damsels in distress for me, and I was tired of seeing that trope in action and suspense movies. Girls can kick ass as well.
I didn't stop at just female heroes. I also wanted the characters to be around college-age. It's a time when you're trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. It's scary, I know - I'm living it. So while the characters in my novel are assassins, they're also teenagers. Teens are capable of so much, and it's time a novel highlighted this. A teenage female thriller hero? Yes, please. I know I would have loved to read such a series when I was growing up. Nancy Drew's awesome, but I wanted a female hero who was just as skilled as the boys - including physical force.
BBB: Tell us about your main character?
PD: Jane Lu: seventeen, hard-working, headstrong, teenage assassin at Covert Operatives, double agent for the CIA. She's a contradiction. While she loves her boyfriend Adrian, what's more important to her is pursuing her own career. Her whole life does not revolve around him, which for me is a welcome departure from a lot of other New Adult novels. Adrian's definitely a reason she's considering staying an assassin at Covert Operatives, but she knows that's not what she wants with her life. She never lets a guy hold her back. She's got self-esteem without him, and she has self-esteem with him. Adrian doesn't give her life a sense of meaning and he doesn't define her whole existence.
Jane also has a very strong sense of justice. She's working for the CIA to bring down Covert Operatives because she's realized killing innocents is wrong. She's not afraid to stand against everyone she knows and believe what she thinks is right ... even if that means destroying Adrian and everyone else she knows at Covert Operatives.
PD: Fortunately, not yet! Ernest Hemingway said it best: "In order to write about life first you must live it." I'm grateful that I've been able to travel so many places and be in so many different environments over the past few years. I have some amazing friends and stories and experiences which all slip into my writing and influence it. I've never based a character on anyone, but people around me constantly inspire me to create certain characters and develop certain scenes in my writing. As long as you're constantly putting yourself out there in different environments and embracing all of the experiences life offers you, you'll never find a shortage of writing inspiration.
BBB: What are you currently working on?
PD: A historical romance - One Last Letter, to be published by Crimson Romance in mid-August. It takes place in 1800's Texas. "A rough, reticent cowboy returns to Texas with new wealth to save his first love's ranch from financial ruin while she hopes for a second chance after she was forced to spurn him years ago." It's a story about falling a second time for that first love, honoring old promises, and listening to your heart.
I'm a long-time reader of historical romance novels, and this is my first time writing one. Personally, I've found it a lot more limiting than writing thriller/suspense novels. I have so much more respect for authors who specialize in historical fiction. You're limited by how they dress, words they say, what they eat... everything is a matter of whether or not it falls into the time period. In contemporary fiction, you can make things up. I've loved writing One Last Letter, but I'm not entirely sure yet if I'd ever write another historical romance.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
PD: Feel free to follow me on my blog, Goodreads, Twitter, or Instagram. Anyone is always free to get in touch with me via the contact form on my website. I love connecting with my readers and responding to your comments/questions/concerns.