Interview written and conducted by Jewell Nicole
This month we are proud to present to you Young Adult and New Adult Fantasy writer, Renee Dugan. With over a decade of freelance editing experience under her belt, she is the author of the YA portal fantasy THE CHAOS CIRCUS and the ongoing epic high fantasy adventure, THE STARCHASER SAGA.
And if that isn’t some amazing accomplishments, she recently became a mom for the first time. We had the pleasure of interviewing her and here’s what she has to share.
J. What special challenges did you face in making The Starchaser Saga stand out from others in the genre?
Oh goodness! I think the biggest challenge was to make the main character, Cistine, unique among her peers. Strong female leads are really popular in fantasy nowadays, so to have my story led by a different kind of strength was a huge challenge but also a really fun one! I also had to spin found family and make it my own, which I think every writer is challenged with because Found Family is so popular as well!
J. What was your most favorite scene in writing The Chaos Circus?
100% the dinner trial. I sank so deeply into that scene, I could feel, smell, and taste it. I saw every detail like I was there. To this day it makes me cry when I reread it.
J. I think we can all express the same sentiments as Renee, that when it comes to our favorite we get fully immersed and can reread it over and over.
J. If your life was a movie, what would it be named?
The Art of Falling and Rising. Because that’s what my life has been, over and over! And I’m thankful for both because it empowers me to help others up too!
J. What’s your favorite thing to eat while writing?
So I tend to avoid eating WHILE writing because I hate a messy keyboard, but I love having these peanut butter, honey, chocolate and oat balls for a brain boost right before…and of course, my coffee!
J. What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?
I have just always adored fantasy! The first book series my mom ever read to us was THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, and from the moment I fell in love with it I knew I wanted to create fantasy worlds for readers. I just love the escapism and adventure that comes from entering a new world!
J. I think The Chronicles of Narnia was one of my favourite books of all time.
J. What are some research methods that you’ve found very fruitful?
If I decide to write about a certain subject, I like to read books, watch movies and listen to podcasts surrounding it! I don’t tend to retain facts unless I see them in action or have a reference from something I love, so while I might look up pieces of armor, for example, to get the technical names right, I need to watch a show like Merlin or a movie like Lord of the Rings to execute the terms and get the movements and order right on the page!
J. What aspects of the creative process do you enjoy most? Which are most challenging?
Definitely I love the New Idea phase, when I’m just falling in love with a project! I also love editing the first time when I’m seeing the book in its totality. What I struggle with is about midway through a book, when I feel so far from the beginning and far from being done…and the 17,372,878 round of edits when I’m just DONE. Haha!
J. Where is one place you’ll love to travel? Why would you love to go there?
I would love to go to Greece for its beauty! But since I’m not big on long plane rides, I’d love to go back to Colorado. Never been anywhere so breathtaking in my life. The mountains are captivating!
J. What’s your favorite drink at Starbucks? What does it remind you of?
Plain iced decaf latte with oatmilk! It reminds me of all the fun mornings my mom and I have spent at coffee shops reading and writing!
J. What is your favorite childhood book or books?
Definitely Narnia! I was also obsessed with The Phantom Stallion books, the Warriors books, and Lord of the Rings!
J. Can you share a deleted scene from Darkwind?
Surprisingly, DARKWIND doesn’t really have any deleted scenes! It was a very clean first draft and I planned it really carefully. Same with THE CHAOS CIRCUS!
J. What behind the scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise yours the most?
Ooo that’s a good question! I try to be really authentic on social media, so I don’t think there’s a lot…maybe that I tend to be more traditional in my beliefs? Or maybe that I was a diehard Twihard in my teens? 😂😂
J. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Actually yes! I sometimes put in inside jokes, nods to conversations between family members or from my job, or I’ll reference (with their permission!) a friend’s book as if it exists in my universe. It’s so fun!
J. What’s the three writerly things you cannot live without?
My laptop for sure (I can’t draft by hand, my brain goes too fast!). My coffee, because it brings me joy. And my writer tribe who keeps me moving no matter what!
J. Do you rather type or use voice commands when writing?
Definitely type! Because I have so many made up places and names in my books, voice to text usually trips me up! Although it can have some really funny outcomes!
You’ve reached the end of this interview. We had a blast doing this interview with Renee and we hope all the success on her writing and books.
Be sure to pick up your copy of the The Chaos Circus and The Starchaser Saga from Renee’s website. Don’t forget to support Renee by following her on all her social media accounts and sharing her stories with your friends. You can also get her bookish merch and free writerly resources right here.