I was thinking up stories from a young age and had a vivid imagination. I penned the short story for my teacher. She was delighted with it and told my mum and dad who were chuffed. From that day on, I wanted to be a writer or a vet. The fact I faint at the sight of a needle wiped my desire for veterinary studies so I stuck to wanting to be a writer. In what ways do you think doing a Writing Diploma has helped you shape into a writer?
When I was married with three sons and working from home, I was given a small inheritance from my Aunty Marge. I paid for the writing diploma with that because she was a creative woman who would have encouraged me to write. The diploma gave me a professional writing foundation and helped me sell my first short story to ‘Woman’s Day’. It gave me the ‘being published’ bug. When did you begin writing quirky mature-chick lit/romance?
I have at least four or five manuscripts to never see the light of day. I submitted some to publishers and I received positive responses but no contracts. In 2015 I wrote Finding My Tarzan. I put it away, but reworked it in 2017, and it became The Zanzibar Moon. When turned 52 and thought it’s now or never so decided to self publish. I’ve always liked contemporary stories that are uplifting and filled with emotion – character-driven but with fun, exotic settings. It doesn’t hurt to have a hot hero either. How would you describe your journey of being a successful freelance writer? It began after the Writing Diploma.
I was published in multiple magazines with payments from $150 to $1,000 for about ten years. Then life got in the way – working, paying mortgages, the boy’s sports, volunteering and other stuff. I kept dabbling at freelancing but should have consistently submitted queries to keep the momentum. What inspired you to write your book, "The Zanzibar Moon"?
I loved Tarzan and Daktari as a child. I remember watching it with my dad (my first hero) and loving the wild animals and settings. I live in Australia but I did a lot of research to create a blend of characters of different nationalities, plus authentic settings, to weave the story. How was your experience of being published in collaborative books ‘Just What the Doctor Ordered’?
I’ve been in a few collaborative books now, Having it all at Fifty Plus is another one. Working with other writers and leaving the editing and design up to someone else is a nice break from self-publishing, but I do like the control of being an indie author as well. What qualities and skills should a great graphic designer have?
I’m a bit old school (from the days of one-line headings and column paragraphs, cut and paste onto layout pages and darkrooms) but I believe it taught me from the ground up. Great graphic designers practice and study continually. It’s an everchanging role due to advancements in technology. Buy the best programs you can afford, either Adobe Creative Suite or Corel Draw. Watch YouTube to learn any techniques you need to. Being a book designer, how many of your book covers have you designed yourself?
I was stumped with my first cover. There was a lot of pressure to get every element right, so I used a designer from Fiverr and paid for the source file which was in Photoshop. I changed parts of it and touched it up. I’ve designed all my covers since, but I get feedback from beta readers. I’ve designed covers for other people, and I’m learning all the time how to improve and design to their brief. Since how long have you been an established author member of Romance Writers of Australia and Australian Romance Readers?
I have been a member on and off for years; both are important to Australian Romance authors. I am also the current Administrative Assistant for Romance Writers of Australia. My job is to help with memberships and guide members. I love helping romance writers succeed. I also learn a lot about writing, publishing and marketing during my work. Who inspired the character of Kendwa Ely in "The Zanzibar Moon"?
Tarzan How did you come up with the idea of mysterious island of Zanzibar in "Kendwa's Secret"?
I’ve wanted to travel to East Africa ever since I was a child. I’m fascinated by the whole continent. I love beaches, and Zanzibar sounds as exotic as it is. Being close to the safaris of Tanzania and Kenya, it was the perfect backdrop for the book. What challenges did you face to write the prequel to The Zanzibar Moon, "Kendwa's Secret"?
Not many. Probably the time to edit was the biggest challenge. Reading and double-checking facts from the first book to ensure the prequel was correct timeline and details. The story seemed to flow because I loved Kendwa (like a book boyfriend), and so did my readers. They were the ones who wanted to know his earlier story. Some also asked what happens to Ali and that’s why there is a sequel due in March Elephant Creek. I must point out though, each story is also stand alone. Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
I am into the final edits of Elephant Creek and almost ready to print my first copies to send to beta readers. I find, as a self-published author, I need to read the paperback to find the final corrections before launching the book. What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself as an author in 10 years time?
I want to be hybrid by then, having both indie and traditionally published books. I’ll have improved my craft so anything will be possible. One hundred thousand readers or more would be a bonus. Ellen? What are your thoughts on AllAuthor and its services? Do you have any feedback?
I love AllAuthor services. Though I’m a graphic designer, your magic tool and layouts save time and time is money. The promotions are well worth it. I’ll be promoting Elephant Creek when I launch it. Thank you.
Donna Denise Munro was thinking up stories from a young age and had a vivid imagination. She loves beaches, and Zanzibar sounds as exotic as it is. She has always liked contemporary stories that are uplifting and filled with emotion – character-driven but with fun, exotic settings. Her books are a great gift for those wanting a twisting, turning read.