I want to introduce to you YA pre-published author Danielle Zeissig! I am really excited about this one and I truly can't wait to read her book In Search of the Cloudwalkers when it is self published later this year. I met Danielle through instagram (of course) and I have been following her journey ever since I began blogging. I have seen her progress and I can't wait to see what happens in the future. I hope that you will join me in supporting this up and coming author.
It’s about love and revenge and pirates and adventure. It’s about the search for revenge and a mysterious locket that holds the key to a much sought after treasure.
17 year old Cora DuBois is living a safe and sheltered life in the steam-powered gold-mining world of 1850s San Francisco. Expected to behave as all proper young ladies should, and accept her mother’s arrangement for marriage, Cora longs for something more as she watches the newest steam powered airships sail through the air and venture out over the ocean through mysterious clouds and toward endless blue skies. When she befriends the lighthouse keeper, Nicholas Fulton, and falls in love, she finally feels she is moving a step closer to her own adventures, even if they go against her mother’s strict expectations.
One night Cora and Nicholas try to rescue an old Chinese man from a fiery battle in the skies. Before he dies, he gives them a mysterious locket to protect. Cora is charged with discovering the answer to the locket’s riddle.
But when the airship Nicholas is working on is attacked by the Cloudwalker pirates and he is lost to the Pacific, and Cora is attacked by a clockwork fingered man and the necklace is stolen, Cora’s life takes off in a new and unexpected direction full of pirates, adventure and revenge toward a destiny even she never could have imagined.
Where did the inspiration for this come from?
It started with the main character Cora DuBois. I knew I wanted a protagonist who was weak and unsure of herself, who then finds strength and confidence and learns how to kick some ass. Then I wanted some mystery and treasure hunting. I decided on steampunk because I wanted airships and sky pirates to make it a little more interesting. It just snowballed from there.
The story is based in the 1850’s San Francisco. How did this setting come to mind and why not create a new world where this occurs? What makes San Fran so special that you made it the scene of your epic novel?
I knew I didn’t want the typical pirates of the Caribbean setting. San Francisco had the gold rush and it wasn’t a far reach to imagine it as a steampunk city, or an up and coming steampunk city being paved in gold and brass. I think I’ve always imagined it as more steampunk than wild west during the 1800’s. Alcatraz island plays a little part in the story as well. San Francisco is also across the ocean from China which will figure prominently in the second and third books. Plus I love California. I have a few story ideas ready to be set there. It’s beautiful.
Did you do much research into the era of the 1800’s?
Yes. A little before, and as I would write. Things like the kinds of weapons used, what was all that stuff under a lady’s dress called and when did indoor bathrooms become available. Actually, I participated in Blogging A-Z a few Aprils ago and my theme was centered around Steampunk and the Victorian Era. So I chose topics closely related to my book to write about each day. I had to remind myself from time to time that I was writing fantasy, so I could take liberties where I wanted. And I have.
Thank you Shelly! I absolutely love what you’re doing for authors and I’m honored you’d want to interview an unpublished one as well.
Oh boy. You’d think with some experience in writing this would be no problem for me, but I’m absolutely the worst at telling about myself, but here goes.
I’m Danielle, I live in Texas and I write YA stories. I’m always dreaming up adventures that I would love to have and then I end up writing about them. I just can’t seem to stick to one genre so I write about the paranormal, science fiction, steampunk and just plain old life. Like Neil Gaiman says I have “hundreds of secret worlds inside of me, maybe thousands.”
When I’m not writing, I’m a wife to an Iron Man lookalike and mother to two professional teenagers and one furbaby named Matilda. I make a living enlightening the impressionable young minds of very cute and sweet Kindergarteners.
I am not published, but am confident that status will change soon.
Did you always possess a passion for writing? When did you have the epiphany that you actually wanted to publish your work?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and journaling. I kept a diary from as young as I can remember and I think I even won a little award in the third grade. But it wasn’t until high school that I really thought about it as a career. I was inspired by the movies The Goonies and Romancing the Stone. Remember them? 80s kids will remember. I loved the idea of writing about my own adventures with groups of friends, and a little bit of romance sprinkled in. I even started writing a story with my grandmother-over snail mail about a group of kids who try to solve the mystery of a haunted house. But we got too busy to finish it. I can imagine with today’s technology, we would have gotten a lot more written. It was after having my kids, the writing bug bit again, and I just knew publishing my own book was something I wanted to accomplish.
What draws you to write YA? Do you read it yourself and do you write other genres?
Two words. Harry Potter. I was working in a toy store and saw this book about a boy wizard. I was hooked and it reaffirmed my intentions to write and publish my very own stories. I was so inspired by J. K. Rowling’s writing and it gave me such a great feeling that I wanted to inspire the same feelings in others. I love reading YA of all genres. I’m a teacher and a mom. So I love kids, and I understand them. I love that time in life before reality hits and you have to grow up. It’s a time when the possibilities are endless and imagination is limitless.
My ideas can’t seem to stick to just one genre. I have ideas for a YA science fiction series, a gothic novel and many realistic fiction novels. I have a feeling that I’m probably better at YA Fiction (realistic/romance) than Fantasy and historical fantasy at that. But I’m determined to finish this book and the subsequent books because I think it will be a great challenge.
How do you have time to write while working as a teacher and raising a busy family?
Well I teach Kindergarten so most of my work is done at school. I don’t have to grade any papers. And my own children are 16 and 19, so they are very self sufficient at this point. I have plenty of time. It’s finding the energy and motivation that challenges me. And right now, at the end of the school year, I find myself the most exhausted of all. But I have the summer to recharge and endless writing days. I’m hoping to make some magic this summer.
I think one of the things that drew me to steampunk was the blurred lines between reality and fantasy. They fit together almost seamlessly. From the first pages describing airships and the first words of the main character, “The world was changing without me,” you know that things are a little different in this world but a difference that seems almost possible. It’s not high fantasy.
What exactly are Steam powered airships? How do they look like and how did you come up with this idea?
Airships were already a reality and somewhat still are. Look at the Goodyear Blimps. But the fantasy airships can look like real ships just flying magically up in the air. It depends on how fantastical your fantasy is. I personally like a little bit of realism, so my airships have balloons keeping them afloat among the clouds and the steam power works similar to steam powered boats and trains.
From the blurb can we expect something akin to pirates in the air instead of on the seas? Because that is pretty awesome!
Yes! That idea alone excited me the most. I love pirates and treasure seeking and adventuring. Take that from the seas and place it into the skies and I think it makes it that much more exciting!
How did you go about writing your book? What is your planning process (if you have one)
I do plan. I mostly follow the Larry Brooks Story Engineering approach. I plan out my main character’s goal for the story then I plan the plot points and beginning and ending. I use a notebook and write my ideas, a page for each chapter. Then I draft. Though even with outlining and planning, I’m having to do some major revisions on this story because I came up with some more ideas the last half of the book. So I’m having to revise the beginning more than previously planned. But I think it will make for a better, more cohesive story. I don’t want to disappoint readers who may take a chance on my book. So I want to plan as much as I can and leave no plot holes uncovered.
Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
Anyone who likes steampunk, even though it’s not the typical steampunk. It’s almost like steampunk before steampunk got cool. And young or old, if you enjoy stories with adventure, pirates, mystery, romance and awesome friendships and alliances, I think you’ll like Cloudwalkers.
You have decided to self-publish later on this year. Why did you decide to go down this route rather than through a traditional publisher?
Well, I don’t know that a traditional publisher would be interested in this book. It’s always a crapshoot isn’t it? And I don’t want to have to wait around to find out. If I self publish, I have the satisfaction of knowing my book can be in the hands of someone who may want to read it as soon as possible. And that’s what I’m aiming to do. Reach readers, take them on adventures and give back what so many authors have given me: a truly wonderful reading experience.
Thank you Danielle, this has been a great interview! Thank you for chatting with us about your book to be published later this year. I hope you will keep in touch and let me know when it is out so that we can let everyone know! I am very excited about it and want it badly. I am have been missing steampunk from my life and I never realised it until this interview.
Thank you so much for having me! I’m so glad to hear some excitement about this from someone other than my daughter. I’m excited too. Five years living with this story in my mind and my love for it still hasn’t waned. The butterflies are still there. I can’t wait to share it with you and anyone else who wants to read it!
If you want to hear more from Danielle, to watch her progress with her book and be the first to know when In Search of the Cloudwalkers is released follow her on her other accounts:
- instagram: daniellezeissigauthor