A Peek Into Donnell's Process

We've been celebrating Donnell's release all week. Today we're going to take a quick look behind the scenes into what a day in the life of a writer is like. Enjoy!

Simone: What was the first book you read that made you think you'd like to be a writer?

Donnell: Easy peasy. Lawrence Sanders: I started out with his Deadly Sins series and his fantastic protagonist, Edward X Delaney, with his thick-soled shoes, his love of sandwiches and his tendency to eat them over the sink. (It’s been years since I read this series and I still remember the little things and Sanders gift for characterization). The First, Second, Third and Fourth Deadly Sin… and of course, the third was a female serial killer. I can only dream of being in his league.

Simone: Who are some of your favorite writers whose books you ALWAYS read?

Donnell: Sadly because I’m a writer now, it’s very hard to keep current. Daphne du Maurier is an always for me. Jack Williamson, a sci-fi thriller author and New Mexico university professor is an always. I’m fans of so many, including Hank Phillippi Ryan, who I was thrilled gave me such a lovely cover quote, Kylie Brant, Jeanne Adams and Mike Befeler who also had lovely things to say about The Past Came Hunting. Sandra Brown’s categories and her mainstream books are an always for me, and Catherine Coulter’s historicals I’m a huge fan of. Also an always for me is Berkley and Indie author Pamela Beason. If you haven’t read her novel, “The Only Witness,” do so. It’s on my keeper shelf. Gosh, I could go on and on there are so many talented authors out there (published AND unpublished). I do them an injustice not naming them. Such a hard, hard question.

Simone: Do you do research before you begin writing, or do you research as you go along?

Donnell: Mixed, I’m afraid. I had a gleam of an idea when I started writing The Past Came Hunting. But I didn’t know cops. This was the first book that I’d actually had the courage to write a police officer protagonist. The idea was daunting because I’m a perfectionist and I wanted to get it right. I’m sure I made mistakes, but it wasn’t because I didn’t research. I enrolled in the Citizens Academy and became a volunteer. Talk about an awesome, firsthand experience.

In every scene, I find I stop to do research. Readers are savvy, well-educated creatures and they’ll let you know about it if you don’t. I do my research for them. I tell my stories for me.

Simone: What does your writing space look like?

Donnell: Yay, a writing cave. Pictured here is where I spend a lot of my time. Notice Austin Powers and his famous “Zip it” quote above my keyboard… Given to me by my kids, bless their hearts for making me feel I abandoned them -- did not!!! My little cave isn’t glamorous, but then I don’t need it to be. Just look at the view outside my window.

Simone: What is your favorite time of day to write?

Donnell: Whenever the muse strikes. Sometimes I write at 2 a.m. or more sensible morning hours. Then there’s always late afternoon, much to my husband’s chagrin when he’s hoping to have dinner ;). I’ve found muses don’t wear watches. They just sit on your shoulder patient at first, and then they start howling.

Simone: How long did it take you to write The Past Came Hunting, from first draft to last?

Donnell: The first version two years. That’s because I stopped to do the Citizens Academy and volunteered. That was an education that made the book come to life. When my editor at Bell Bridge asked for revisions, it took me one month. By then, I was fairly comfortable with the storyline and how to accommodate her request.

Simone: And lastly - what's the first thing you did to celebrate when you heard the book was going to be published?

Donnell: I think I spent a half-hour on the couch smiling and breathing a sigh of relief. It was one day after my birthday when my editor called to make the offer. I had a suspicion that Bell Bridge wanted it. They’d ask for an exclusive. But, you can never be too certain of anything in this business. Still, I believed in this book and I loved the message it imparted. An offer followed by a publishing contract was the best birthday present ever.

Thank you, Donnell! What a great release week it's been!


  1. YIPPEE ! I'm first on the scene because I'm in a different time zone where tomorrow is still today. Did that make sense? LOL

    What a fun interview. Simone you'll have to ask these questions of everyone during debut party week again... I want to know about all the Crew this way.

    Great writing space and view, Donnell. Now on with the next book !!


  2. And I'm second on the scene because I never go to bed. LOL.
    I love hearing about other writers' processes. So excited about your release, Donnell. :)

  3. Angi, Maureen and the fabulous Get Lost Crew. Thank you! I am in such stellar company with you wonderful authors. I'm honored you asked me to tag along and gave me such a fantastic send off.

    Angi, I'll be joining you in Chatsky for writing sprints next week!

  4. Thanks for letting us know about this great interview! Fun to see your writer's cave!

  5. Kristi! LOL. I thought you might like to see my writer's cave Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Congrats on your book, Donnell. What I'm wondering is ... when in the world do you write? You're always online, you belong to so many writing groups, you conduct interviews and volunteer for all of them, I think--and I say that because I seem to see you everywhere! :) Share your time management secrets. Puleeze!!

  7. Donnell, I love your writing cave (I think it's the Austin Powers poster that does it for me, but maybe it's the view, lol)
    And what an adorable writing companion! HUGE congratulations on your book release!!!

  8. I don't work outside the home anymore, Jess. And online takes a ton of time. Which is why sad to say, after October, I'll be reducing my interviews down to nil because it does take a ton of time. Thanks for asking.

    Thanks very much, Marne!

  9. HI Donnell,

    Love how flexible your process is! My process is...every waking minute! Lol!

    I long to be able to read for pleasure again! I have this huge stack of books that I fear I will never get to the bottom of! All I seem to have time for research!

    Good luck on your release! I have pre-ordered The Past Came Hunting!

  10. Oh, Jill, thank you!!!! My process is about to get tied up in October. There's no way I can read, write, interview, etc. etc. And I am writing . Can't wait to celebrate your debut(s)!!!