Author Dionne Lister drops by TeamNerd to chat about her novel Shadows of the Realm, how she ends up choosing names for her characters, what mythological creature she would want for a pet and what she feels is the best part about being a YA author.
TeamNerd Reviews: So Dionne, tell us a little about Shadows of the Realm.
Dionne Lister: The story follows Bronwyn and Blayke, two eighteen-year-old realmists, as they are forced to undertake the first big journey of their lives. Realmists can draw power from the Second Realm and can bond an animal, called a creatura. Bronwyn and Blayke are travelling with their mentors, Avruellen and Arcon, and have to learn as much of the Second Realm magic as they can, as they are needed in the fight against the gormons—the evil relatives of the dragons. The gormons were banished to the Third Realm (which is like hell) over a thousand years ago and have found away to return, and they’re pretty angry. The realmists and the dragons have to work together to stop the evil gormons from destroying Talia (their world).
TeamNerd Reviews: How was the writing process like for this book?
Dionne Lister: The first draft was easy to write, and only took a few weeks, but I wrote it nine years ago. Since then I had a manuscript assessment and did another draft and started a creative writing degree, so I’ve learnt a lot. When it came time to publish, I had it edited and then I went through it probably another seven times. So it was a very, very long process (which I hope never to have to repeat in terms of time lol).
TeamNerd Reviews: There are so many fabulous characters! How did you manage to name them all and keep them all in order?
Dionne Lister: When I name a character, I have to pick a name that I think suits them, so I start by thinking what letter I would like to start their name with (yes, I know that’s strange) and then I run names through my head until I find one I like. I made up a lot of the names because I liked the sound of the letters together and thought they would suit my characters. Keeping them all in order wasn’t too hard for the first book, because I knew them so well. The second book, A Time of Darkness, I had a couple of slip ups with two new characters—I kept changing their names, but it’s been proofed out of the final copy, thank goodness.
TeamNerd Reviews: How long did it take you to write Shadows of the Realm?
Dionne Lister: A few weeks for the first draft.
TeamNerd Reviews: What was your most memorable moment while writing Shadows of the Realm?
Dionne Lister: Finishing it! My dream, ever since I was about ten, was to write a novel. I had a few false starts where I would write anywhere from one to three chapters, then never go back. I was determined to finish this one, so when I did, I was ecstatic.
TeamNerd Reviews: If you could have any mythological creature as a pet, which would you choose?
Dionne Lister: A dragon! It would be a partner more than a pet, I suppose, since they are strong-willed creatures lol.
TeamNerd Reviews: Do you have any projects in the works right now that you can tell us about?
Dionne Lister: I’m working on book three in The Circle of Talia Series, which is the final book, although the ending leaves it open for a new series if I choose to go there. I’m determined to have the first draft finished by Christmas and have it out in February.
TeamNerd Reviews: What is the best part about being a YA author?
Dionne Lister: That’s a hard one because there are a lot of good things about it. The best would be that my target audience—young people—are not as judgmental as older readers (I’ve found that anyway) and their feedback is so enthusiastic. The best moments are when readers tell me how much they’ve enjoyed reading the books and that they can identify with the characters and they want to know what’s going to happen to them. I also love writing characters that, despite being undervalued by the adults around them or having less control over their lives than they would like, they work through the frustration and end up having self-belief and accomplishing things.
TeamNerd Reviews: What is currently on your on your TBR list?
Dionne Lister: The last book in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series, Anne McCaffrey’s books, because I haven’t read any of hers and I love dragons, and A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.
TeamNerd Reviews: What is your favorite book of all time?
Dionne Lister: I hate these questions! There’s always so many awesome books that I love. It’s like asking which of your children do you love the most lol. The Hours by Michael Cunningham, Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold and A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (sorry, I couldn’t pick just one).
TeamNerd Reviews: Thank you Dionne for your time!
Dionne Lister: My pleasure! Thanks so much for the awesome interview. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions J.