Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Dana: Quite a few things inspired The Voice in My Head. I think the main thing though…was coming to grips with my daughter’s autism. Finding comfort and peace with my experience. I think in our new culture of social media, we often only feel comfortable putting our “wins” to the forefront. Happy pictures that represent happy moments in our lives. But sometimes what’s going on in our lives can’t quite be described by a happy picture on Facebook. And often we can feel ashamed that our experience isn’t the same as someone else’s experience. It was so liberating when I found peace with what my experience was and I began to live unapologetically. I no longer hide behind happy pictures and positive posts. I am proud of my “wins” and “losses.” I am unapologetically me. The Voice in My Head is about finding your truth, finding peace within and giving yourself permission to be unapologetically you.
What character do you most relate to and why?
My main character, Indigo, has a tendency to self loathe and self deprecate. I definitely see my young self in Indigo. I rarely gave myself permission to celebrate who I was. I always was so sensitive to the needs of others that I felt any sort of “celebrating me” was boastful or conceited. So I decided being hard of myself would make everyone else feel better. It took me awhile to be okay with my strengths and successes. But I also relate to Pastor Jedidiah! Even though he’s pretty funny and maybe even a little bit silly. But I really do see so much good and light in the people around me. I just love people so much and truly am happy when the people around me are happy too. Plus, I love me some Palo Santo and Pastor Jedidiah is all about it too. Ha! My mom is always like…why are you burning wood sticks! I’m like, Ma, this is gonna help your house. Trust me.
Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now? What’s your favorite young adult author?
Young Adult books tend to have powerful messages. We’re bringing up youth here and I think publishers have gone out of their way to make sure the books they’re acquiring are a little bit more than just a fun story. These stories are layered with so much truth and meaning. Young Adult books tug at our heartstrings while simultaneously entertaining us and helping us grow and see a bigger picture. It’s a wonderful pairing. My favorite young adult author…hmm…this is a tough question because I love so many young adult authors! If I’m being honest, I don’t have a favorite author. I more so have favorite books. I loved MONDAY’S NOT COMING by Tiffany Jackson and tore through CARRIE PILBY by Caren Lissner in less than a day. These two books are books I could read again and again. Two of my favorites by far. When I’m done with a good book, I always give it away to a friend. But when I read something that really and truly resonates with me…I keep it. I definitely still have these two books. No way I’m giving these two away!
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
The Voice in My Head is about a young girl named Indigo Phillips. Indigo is an identical twin. Her twin sister, Violet, is terminally ill and opting for medically assisted suicide to end her suffering. But suddenly Indigo starts to hear a voice in her head. A voice claiming to be the voice of God. The voice states that if she takes her ailing twin to a remote rock formation in the Arizona desert called The Wave, her sister will live. So guided by the voice in her head, Indigo’s entire family loads up into a church paratransit bus and makes a trek across country in an attempt to save a life. I’d say the book is like Little Miss Sunshine meets a Griswold family vacation meets… maybe… The Fault in our Stars. Wow…that’s quite a description, isn’t it?! It’s got some seriously fun moments though, and a seriously wacky family. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions for sure. But at the root of it all…is so much love.
What’s next for you in the book world?
I’m working on two books right now. Both are rom coms if you can believe that! My last two books have been centered on family so I decided to delve into some fun summer romances. I typically fall so deep in love with what I’m working on and these two books are no exception. I’m so, so excited to share these stories with the world.
What’s your favorite writing method that you follow for inspiration?
I’m not sure if I follow any sort of writing method except I never, ever write unless I feel inspired. After Tiffany Sly I had writer’s block for about six or seven months. I didn’t even attempt to write. I feel like pushing through writer’s block is a mistake. I traveled. I worked. I parented. The Voice in My Head came to me while I was working on a virtual reality Play Station game one winter in Seattle. I took the train all the way back to Los Angeles and started writing Voice then. You can’t imagine the exhilaration when writer’s block essentially is replaced by…inspiration. It’s seriously indescribable. I couldn’t sleep for days. I just wanted to write. Same with the books I’m working on now. I had writer’s block after writing The Voice in My Head. Almost for a whole year! I didn’t really start writing again until January of 2019. And it’s been such an amazing year so far. I truly love the thing that builds up inside of you when you have a wonderful story to share with the world. Honestly, nothing makes me happier than creating.