Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Release Day Interview: Donna June Cooper

Hello Lovelies!
I am happy to introduce Donna June Cooper, author of More Than Magic. More Than Magic is her first book, and it is releasing TODAY!!! *throws confetti*
So... check out this interview, Donna has LOADS to share, and make sure to stop by her pages and wish her a Happy Release Day!!!

Sabina: Hi Donna, and welcome to my blog today! Sit down and make yourself comfortable. Can I offer you something to drink?

Donna: Hi Sabina! I am a hot tea with a touch of sugar girl, if you have any. It's the British half of me. The other half is Scotch-Irish and it's too early in the morning for what that half drinks!

S: My kinda girl! :-D First, before we start, I would like to say congratulations to you. Today it is Release Day for your first book; More Than Magic. You must be so excited!

D: Thank you so much!  Really, I'm more terrified AND excited at the same time. I'm just hopeful that the readers I had in mind for "More Than Magic" are able to FIND the book and enjoy it!

S:  For those who might not know you, could you tell them a little about yourself?

D: Well, I'm a transplanted mountain girl. My grandfather was a coal miner in Southwest Virginia and his grandmother was one of the Muscogee people – also known as the Creeks. I was raised in the foothills of the Appalachians – East Tennessee, close to the Smokies. But I met my husband on my very first job out of college. I was the copy writer and he was the photographer for an advertising agency – gorgeous and talented Italian guy. He lured me away from my mountains – seriously, the accent is irresistible – and now I live in Texas. I've been a temp, a tax auditor, a bookstore manager, a technical writer, and wandered around the corporate world for longer than I want to admit. In my "spare" time, I love going for walks with my co-author, Cali, who is a Jack Russell, and I enjoy belly dancing (besides being great exercise, you get to wear great costumes and sprinkle glitter all over yourself!) Of course, I read voraciously – there's way too much sitting in the TBR collection on my Kindle AND on my bedside table, but I'm sure everyone here has the same problem!   

S: Cough, cough *eyes TBR Pile* I have NOOOOO idea what you're talking about!!! *winks* Did you always dream of being an author, or did it happen by coincidence?

D: For me, there's no such thing as coincidence. As one of the characters in my second book says: "Coincidence is the universe pointing out something important. Pay attention." In other words, coincidence always has a touch of magic about it. Since I was old enough to read, I wanted to be a writer. When I was a child, I would rewrite the endings of books that I didn't like with a No. 2 pencil.  I still have some of those, but the writing has faded so much you can't really read them any longer. When I was a teenager, I would daydream about running up to accept an Emmy and I actually wrote episodes for favorite series - for friends and family only, of course! I actually went so far as to take courses in screenwriting and creative writing in college, eventually getting my degree in English/Journalism.While I was in the corporate world working with technical information,I dipped my toe in the fan fiction pool as well, just because I had to write SOMETHING besides extreme geek speak – romance of course, just with someone else's characters. (My motto about my fan fiction is "don't ask, don't tell".) Writing is literally my childhood dream. After my husband died and I had to leave the corporate world to be my mom's caregiver, I decided it was time to really follow that dream.  My husband had ALWAYS followed his dream and wondered why I didn't. And my mom had ALWAYS encouraged me to write. And I was extremely lucky when, after sending More Than Magic to one publisher and getting a very lovely rejection letter, I tried again and the second publisher I sent it to – Samhain - bought it as well as the second book in the series. The coincidence – the magic for me – was that the lovely editor who pulled my book out of the slush pile left Samhain only weeks later to pursue her own writing career. Only weeks. *smiles*

S: Wow... That is truly amazing, and you should always follow your dreams!
Can you tell us a bit about your book?

D: Where to begin?  My goal has always been to write "romance with a touch of magic", and that's exactly what it is. More Than Magic is the first of the Books of the Kindling and focuses on Woodruff Mountain, the ancient power that lurks beneath it, and the family that has kept its secrets for centuries.  The Appalachians have always had their own magic, ancient and shrouded in old tradition, and to me, those beautiful mountains are the perfect setting for a story about old magic, lurking danger, and a second chance at love and life. Here's the official blurb:

DEA agent Nick McKenzie is sure magic exists—a dangerous drug called Smoky Mountain Magic that’s wreaking havoc on the streets of Atlanta. He’s also sure that locating and eliminating the source could mean his death.

When he arrives undercover on Woodruff Mountain, the beautiful owner’s anxious attempts to scare him off tell him something’s afoot, and it’s not her secret patch of ancient ginseng.

As her dream of seeking medicinal plants in the Amazon fades into the distance, Grace Woodruff struggles to come to terms with an inherited magical gift she didn’t want, and searches desperately for the meaning behind her late grandfather’s final, cryptic message.

The last thing she needs underfoot is a handsome, enigmatic writer recovering from a recent illness. Until an accidental touch unleashes a stunning mystical force and Grace senses the wrath of a malicious blight at the heart of the mountain. Now she must choose between her need to hide her gift from the world . . . and her desire to save Nick’s life.

Warning: This book contains a fiery redhead whose magic cannot be contained and a handsome DEA agent whose final case might give him a second chance at life.

I love the "warnings" Samhain throws in there.

There's an excerpt up on my website – http://www.donnajunecooper.com/books/more-than-magic/excerpt-1/ - if you want a real taste.

S: ROFL - awesome warning!!! Can't wait to read it!
More Than Magic is a contemporary paranormal romance. Was that the intention when you started writing it?

D: That's good question. I look back at everything I've ever written, from the stories in pencil to my TV scripts to my fan fiction, and there was always a touch of magic in every one of them. I didn't realize it until I started plotting this one, but my muse was insistent. (It's no coincidence that I call her Tink, although she is nothing like Disney's version. Trust me.) But it wasn't just that. I knew the setting had to be in my mountains, and the heart of those mountains is mysterious and magical.  Almost anyone that writes anything in that setting MUST tip their author hat to that magic.  Once I acknowledged that, everything fell into place. The romance part was understood from the beginning. My lifelong romance with romance started when I was old enough to read – Freckles, Anne of Green Gables, The Harvester, and Girl of the Limberlost – are all romances at heart. I read a lot of romance now – contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance. I also read a lot of urban fantasy and straight paranormal, but even those have romantic elements – you can't escape romance! And I must admit, the HEA – Happily Ever After – ending is an absolute for me. Now, as to the contemporary part of your question – More Than Magic is contemporary and the second book – Mostly Magic has a REALLY interesting timeline but is basically contemporary. But there is one dancing in my head that tells an important story from the past then reaches into the present and tells another.  That one is going to be fun. I have to give my sister and my editor credit for that idea!

S: You've shared a bit of why you write romance in particular, are there any other reasons you'd like to share for writing this particular book?

D: Well, as you know, romance authors write because they're in love with love. And they write because they can't NOT write (or the talkative, pushy characters in their head will drive them crazy). But I also wrote this, and the other Books of the Kindling, because I wanted to spread just a little awareness of the importance of preserving our wilderness places. The books are set in the breathtaking mountains of Western North Carolina and, as a good setting should, they remain in the background, but I hope the unique beauty of the Appalachians shines through here and there.  They, and other mountains like them all over the world, with all their forests, flora, and fauna, play an important role in all our lives, and if I can point out the importance of those places, while telling a good story, I'm a happy girl! I've shared some great photos of the area where the book is set on my Pinterest page – http://www.pinterest.com/donnajunecooper/ – which I am constantly updating as I write!

S: What was the hardest part concerning the book? (The writing, editing, any characters that gave you grief,etc.)

D: Well, in all honesty? It was losing my two biggest cheerleaders before I could even get the book submitted. Of course, I know they are somewhere cheering for me today, but I'd rather they were here with me.  As for the writing itself, it was really grasping an understanding of conflict and resolution and the importance of not losing the urgency that keeps the reader turning pages to the end. The lovely editor who pulled me out of the slush pile taught me that and my current editor has continued the lessons. I am all about the conflict inherent in the romance and THAT resolution, but when there is a strong element of suspense, once the suspense is eliminated you can't take too long to resolve the romance, even though you may have readers who will hang on through ANYTHING waiting for that resolution. Lucky for me, the lovely lady who pulled me out of the slush pile sent me a note and said she thought Samhain might be interested IF I could fix that little problem. So I went to work and revised the heck out of the last 80 pages of the book. I love lingering over the resolution of the romance, and there is a hot tub scene that was a PAINFUL cut (and that I may revive just for fun on my website), but it was all for the best and that editor is my FOREVER hero! I suspect revisions are everyone's bugaboo. I'm holding my breath right now because Mostly Magic, the next book, is in the red-ink stained hands of my current editor (who also deserves massive kudos for putting up with me!)  He's probably in need of that Scotch-Irish drink right about now!

S: :-)
Anything else you'd like to share?

D: A big thank you! To people like you who help other authors find those special readers we had in our heads as we wrote. To the folks at home who support us through all the hair pulling and long days and hours at the keyboard. To my co-author, Cali, who makes sure I get up in the morning and takes me for a walk whether I want to go or not and ensures that there is at least one dog in every book. To my characters, who make getting up and dragging myself to the keyboard worthwhile – especially the gorgeous guys. *GRIN* And most important, to the readers who seek us out and let us know when we really connect with them and speak to them.

S: Before releasing you to celebrate your release, I usually have a quick five questions, if you’re game?

D: Sure.

S: Great!!

-          Favorite color? 

-          Favorite beverage?  
Non-alcoholic? Hot black tea, hands down. Alcoholic? Hard Cider

-          Favorite book?
Oh gosh, that is impossible. Seriously. *hits head against desk repeatedly*  OK, Lord of the Rings.


-         If you could be any magical, or non-magical creature, what would you choose?

Witch, of course, with a HUGE spell book library and a fabulous kitchen to brew up potions (a bit like Rachel Morgan's in Kim Harrison's Hollows series) AND a PIXIE of my own, thanks
-         Any rule of thumb you live by? (like a motto, a saying)
There's a saying of Pops Woodruff, a character in my books, which is based on a famous saying incorrectly attributed to Chief Seattle. I hope that I live my life by this truth. "We are all just strands in the great web of life. We didn't weave it and we can't see all of it, but it connects us all – fauna and flora, past and future, great and small. Whatever we do to any part of this intricate and delicate web of life, we do to ourselves."

A debut author with her first book, More Than Magic, available from Samhain Publishing, DONNA JUNE COOPER writes contemporary paranormal romance with a very subdued and special magic and a definite emphasis on the romance. The Books of the Kindling focus on Woodruff Mountain, the ancient power beneath it, and the family that has hidden its secrets for centuries.

The granddaughter of a Virginia coal miner and great-great-granddaughter of one of the Muskogee people, Donna was raised in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains, in the heavenly hills and valleys of East Tennessee – a gorgeous setting that plays a major role in her writing and her passion for the environment. But she was lured away from her green mountains by an admittedly gorgeous Italian guy, who became her husband, and she now swelters in the sultry heat of Texas. In spite of the heat, Donna enjoys being walked by her Jack Russell Terrier (if you know Jacks, you understand). She also loves belly dancing (excellent exercise and lots of shiny costumes), going to Renaissance Faires (more costumes!), reading way too much (romance, of course), spending time on too many social networking sites, and writing, writing, writing because she must!



  1. Thank you so much for the opportunity, Sabina! I had fun!

    1. So did I!!! Always fun to get to know new friends!! :-D