Ask the Author: Dawn Reno Langley

“Ask me a question.” Dawn Reno Langley

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Dawn Reno Langley Thanks, Annette! My apologies for not answering sooner. I saw that one, too! It'll be corrected in the next edition. The elephant is also way too tall in one scene, as well, which was a typo, so the editor's going to correct them. Never fails. Twelve people could read a manuscript, and there's always something that gets past everyone!

(And thank you for reading it :-))
Dawn Reno Langley I just picked up a HUGE pile at Book Expo, so they're definitely on the list, as well as some memoirs by writer friends. In no particular order, new books by Mark Helprin, Adrianna Trigliani (did I spell that right?), Bradford Morrow, Amy Tan, and several others, memoirs by Christopher Deal, Shelley Armitage, Connie May Fowler . . . and many others! What about you? What are YOU reading?
Dawn Reno Langley Oh, this is a hard one. A mystery in my own life that could be a plot. Hmmm. Well, actually I think there is an event that kind of created a mystery and I've often thought of writing it. I was at a booksigning for one of my other novels at a bookstore in a mall in Florida when a man, his wife, and their adorable toddler daughter approached me. They asked me questions about my writing, then said they had a story they wanted written. I've heard that many times during my writing career, and my response is usually that the best person to write that person's story is the person who's living it. Then he told me a little bit of his story.

I was hooked.

His grandfather was one of the most famous Mafia characters to have lived. The man told me about holidays with Jimmy Hoffa, baby christenings with some of the Capone family, moments that only someone on the inside knew. He'd had a bad relationship with his father and ironically, after years of not seeing each other, he ran into the man at a jewelry store -- and his father didn't recognize him.

The story had all the earmarks of a movie, and I decided to ghost write it for him. He delivered cases of old photographs and documents to me, and I began to pore through them. At one point, I went into the house (the boxes were in the garage) and told my husband that what I was reading might endanger us. He laughed. But he hadn't seen what I had.

A week later, my then 48 year old husband had a massive heart attack. We had no insurance, no savings, and no doctors. The man I'd been speaking to called me about something unrelated and heard the fear in my voice. At midnight, he had his cardiologist call me and as a result, my husband had a triple bypass by one of the top surgeons in Florida.

I was indebted to the man.

But he had only done me a favor in order to maintain control, and things got a little hairy and very confusing. People from LA got involved, talk turned to making a movie (totally out of my wheelhouse), and I had more on my plate with my current book responsibilities and my recovering husband than I knew how to handle. Things fell apart, and we lost contact.

A year later, my husband and I were packing our house to move, and I found the boxes of materials the man had given me. I tried several times to contact him and give him back the pics and official documents, but he never returned my calls. So, I had a huge bonfire in my backyard because I was terrified to keep them.

The mystery? Where did he go? Did he ever do the story? Could I tell the story now and fictionalize it? Create a new ending?

Yup, that's the one mystery that could be a book.

What do you think?
Dawn Reno Langley It's funny, because I would have said literary fiction, yet I'm yearning for a really good, fat, fantasy right about now. I loved all of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Ursula LeGuin is also a favorite (The Earthsea Trilogy was an early love of mine). I think I need something to take me away from reality occasionally (and literary fiction usually doesn't do that).
Dawn Reno Langley Hmmm, I'm watching Stargate Universe right now (don't know how I originally missed it!). I used to love the old one with Richard Dean Anderson, but I'm liking Universe.

Star Trek used to be my go-to, but I'm really liking the Universe shows right now. I haven't read any of the books, but I have a feeling you might be able to tell me which ones to start with!
Dawn Reno Langley That's funny, because I just asked my FB group the same question so that I could put together quotes for my newest Writer's Hand Journal, WORDS OF LOVE (check out the current Goodreads Giveaway for it!).

Anyway, I think that a favorite (real) couple comes to mind first, and they actually played one of my favorite fictional couples: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Their real-life love affair was legendary. Steamy. Passionate. Volatile. And their onstage/screen romance was equally passionate. Their Cleopatra and Marc Antony was HOT. And their Martha and George in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' was masterful.

Yup, I bet you didn't see that one coming. You expected me to choose Romeo and Juliet or Tristan and Isolde or Jamie and Claire, right? I like the realness of Martha and George, the grittiness, the raw intimacy of their relationship. You know they were great lovers at one point in the early years, but now they have dug past the pie-in-the-sky romance and are into the ugly reality of their truth. It's a tough story, and they're not a romantic couple, but they're interesting and complicated and cruel in ways that make you feel bad for them.

Okay, your turn. Who do you like?
Dawn Reno Langley Just caught up with this! I've been away at a writer's retreat. THIS IS AWESOME! Thanks so much for this review and for the wonderful words about my book!!! I'm soooo pleased to see this. What a nice gift for me during a very traumatic period in my life (there was just a death in my family).

Thank you thank you thank you
Dawn Reno Langley I might see a news blip and start to wonder about the rest of the story, or I could come across an old photograph. Sometimes a dream inspires me to start a story. I never run short of ideas!
Dawn Reno Langley The novel that literally went out in emails to agents yesterday was the result of my mother's love for elephants and my trip to Thailand two years ago. I did the research while there, then put the book together.
Dawn Reno Langley I'm in the process of figuring out which project to work on next. I just finished sending off a novel to some agents, and I'm deciding what I need to focus on.
Dawn Reno Langley Learn grammar! Read all the classics. Write. Read. Write.
Dawn Reno Langley The best thing about being a writer is that I don't have to go anywhere to get to work -- and if I want to stay in sweat pants all day, I can!

No, the right answer to this question is that I get to live in my head. I can create situations and fix issues and make sure people fall in love or win arguments. I get to write the ending of their stories.
Dawn Reno Langley I don't get writer's block very often. In fact, I think the last time I had it was because I just couldn't figure out which project to start next! I always have several projects started at once, and there are ideas "in the hopper" all the time.

So, I guess my answer is: I work through it!

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