Author Spotlight Interview: Densie Webb
Today’s interview is with author Densie Webb. According to her official bio, Densie (not Denise) Webb has spent a long career as a freelance nonfiction writer and editor, specializing in health and nutrition and has published several books and tons of articles on the topic over the years. She transitioned into fiction several years ago and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. It was an honor getting to know more about her writing process and life outside of writing.
HG: You’ve long had a career as a freelance nonfiction writer and editor. Tell us a bit about your fiction publishing journey. When did you know you were ready to take on the “fiction author” role?
DW: I would venture a guess that no writer feels “ready” to take on fiction. I know I wasn’t, but a long-time friend encouraged me to “go for it.” For me, it was a slow gathering of courage, motivation, information, and developing a skill set. I wasn’t a publishing virgin—I had a couple of New York agents years ago for nonfiction nutrition books (my background is in health and nutrition), and I got one “nice deal” and one “good deal” to use the publishing industry’s vernacular. But those days are long gone. I did query agents with “When Robins Appear,” but there were no takers. My luck changed when I queried Red Adept Publishing. Red Adept is a small publisher, but my book has done well. As of this writing, I have 1,682 ratings on Amazon, with an average of 4.5 stars.
HG: Tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. Do you have a routine for where and when you write? Any interesting quirks?
DW: My writing process is not pretty. I don’t have a set writing schedule or writing nook, I don’t outline, and I edit as I go, which is often frowned upon by book coaches. However, when I get to about the halfway mark on a draft, I do create a bulleted list of events to make sure the timeline works, but I don’t have index cards or use Scrivener. I’ve tried both and they just don’t work for me. I actually bought a corkboard and index cards once, but I ended up with 2 cards on the board before I abandoned it. And I found the learning curve for Scrivener was too steep, or maybe I just lacked the patience to learn it. When I write a story, I know how I want it to start and to end and I tend to just sit down and write, until I get to that midway point. My process is slooow of course, but it seems to work for me. It’s taken me a while to accept that my process is what it is, but I’ve come to terms with it. I’m not sure I would consider this a quirk, but songs inspire me, not just the lyrics but the music. I’ve gotten tons of ideas for how to express emotions from listening to songs on Spotify. And I listen while I’m writing. I guess you could say Spotify is my muse.
HG: Thank you for sharing that. It’s release day for your novel, Breathing in Reverse. Congrats! What can you tell us about this book? How long have you been working on the story?
DW: This story began maybe 8 years ago and it’s undergone several iterations in that time. It all began when I watched an interview with a young actor who was all the rage at the time, screaming girls and all. An interviewer asked him something to the effect of where he thought things would go from there. His answer stuck with me. He said, and I’m paraphrasing from memory: “Maybe someone will jump out from the crowd and stab me, and it’ll all be over.” He laughed when he said it, but it was clear that he felt incredibly vulnerable. My story about an obsessed fan sprung from there. At one point, I had chapters from the stalker’s POV, but on the advice of my developmental editor, I deleted all 26,000 of the stalker’s words and came up with new ones from the protagonist’s POV. It was painful but, in the end, I think it was a good move. I’ve thought about making those words into a companion piece. Who knows. We’ll see.
HG: Can’t wait to read it! When Robins Appear was an International Book Awards Finalist 2021. If it was turned into a movie or TV series, who would you cast as the main characters?
DW: I think every author fantasizes about their story being made into a movie or a series. I know I do. I recently watched Wildflower with Kiernan Shipka (from Mad Men) and Charlie Plummer (Looking for Alaska). The movie is about a teenage girl (Shipka), whose parents are mentally disabled, and her boyfriend (Plummer). While I was watching the movie, it struck me that they would make the perfect Graham and Amanda from When Robins Appear.
HG: Awesome. What feeling do you hope readers are left with when they finish one of your novels?
DW: I want it to strike an emotional chord—the unbreakable bond between a mother and her daughter, the fear of coping with dangerous circumstances and, with my WIP, the ache of lost love. Based on reviewers’ comments, I think “Robins” does that. The overriding theme from the reviewers is to keep tissues at the ready while reading. I had one reviewer who said they wanted to throw my book across the room when they got to the end. I don’t write Happily Ever After Stories. They tend to be bittersweet with a dash of hope. I often tear up while writing, an inconvenience when writing in a coffee shop.
HG: Keep tissues handy, noted. What can you tell us about any other projects you have in the works?
DW: My WIP is about lost love, secrets, and second chances. Here’s a short description: “When Zezelia Owens learns that Cillian Byrne, the Irish singer whom she fell in love with 22 years before, has died, she must accept that her fantasy of them one day reuniting is over. While dealing with what she feels is unearned grief, Zezelia makes a rash decision to travel to Ireland to attend Cillian’s wake and funeral, where she meets his family, whom she had once hope to claim as her own, and she becomes reacquainted with Damian, Cillian’s best friend and bandmate.”
It’s told in alternating chapters of Past and Present—what her life is like now and what it was like when they met and fell in love. I’m at that halfway mark, so it’s time for bullet points!
HG: That sounds interesting! So, what was your last 5-star read?
DW: It’s really hard to say, but I think it was Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult.
HG: I enjoyed that one as well. For fun, before we wrap up, let’s do a fast five! First one…cookies or cake?
DW: Oooh, cake! Cheesecake, please!
HG: Movie or book?
DW: This is probably considered blasphemous, but I’d have to say movie, especially when my brain is tired, which is a lot. But it does relate to writing. I get a lot of story and character ideas from shows and movies.
HG: Totally fair! Pool or ocean?
DW: Ocean—love the smell, the sounds, the energy.
HG: Introvert or extrovert?
DW: Introvert—a lot of writers say they are introverted, but I’m the poster child for introversion.
HG: eBook, print book or audiobook?
DW: Print—I love the way a book feels and smells. You just don’t get that with eBooks (though I do have a Kindle) or audiobooks (not a big fan—I’m very particular about narrators). But, I must confess that I buy more Kindle ebooks than print books simply because they are less expensive.
HG: For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
DW: I love to hear from readers and other writers. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram @densiwebbbooks, or BookBub, check out my website or my essays on Women Writers, Women’s Books, or look for my monthly column all about books and publishing on WriterUnboxed the first Saturday of each month.
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