Hi Ms. Dana Burkey and thank you for answering some questions for me,
First things first can you give me five fun facts about yourself?
Absolutely! I live in Washington State, although I grew up in Ohio. I have a degree in theater with a minor in creative writing, and currently work full time at a kids camp. I've been writing stories of one kind or another since I was in middle school, and started self-publishing just under 2 years ago. When I'm not writing I love going geocaching, doing community theater, and watching movies. Oh, and most important of all, I have a cat named Cato that helps keep me company while I'm writing!
Why write about cheerleading?
Ever since I was younger I was really interested in cheerleading. I loved watching it on TV. The athleticism and performances involved in the high energy routines was super easy to get caught up in and excited about! In recent years thanks to YouTube shows and social media I have been able to follow cheer a lot more closely. Being about to see the cheer world from that angle really inspired to write about cheerleading in a way that could be enjoyed by people who know about all star cheer and also people who don't know much about it. There are not a lot of books out there about the story, and I would love for more people to know about it all and get interested in the world of cheer!
Who was your inspiration for Max/Maxine?
A lot of the time my characters are based off my small parts of my life, or people I know. But with Max I really created this person who would be the opposite of the cheerleaders I follow online or watch in YouTube videos. It was a little hard to come up with her full personality at first, but once I got the ball rolling she really came to life and it was so much fun to create the world she lived in and write the whole story.
What was it like writing Learning to Fly? Did you experience some trouble?
Learning to Fly is my third full length novel, so it was actually a quick and fast writing process. I wrote the whole first draft in just 23 days, then had the second draft done just a few weeks later. The inspiration was just so strong for this book that it was smooth sailing for it. The thing that is the struggle now is that I am working on book 2 in the series and need to keep up the level that this book is at. Moving on to book 2 and then on with the series from there will be the real work and uphill battle!
One of the things that I liked about the book was the relationship with Max and her father, is there a story behind that or was it based from your own life?
I love my dad and love that we have a lot of things in common like sports actually. I've gone to a lot of baseball games with my dad, and when he comes to visit me this summer we are going to his first pro soccer game, so that will be fun. I got to use that commonality I had with my dad as some inspiration for the story. There was a lot of things I had to create on my own for the book and relationship between them as well, but it was nice that I was reminded of my dad while I wrote at the same time.
What advice would you give to teens that are going through rough changes?
Change happens. It's something we all have to face. Some changes are hard, some are easy, some are happy, and some are just weird. But they make life what it is. When we face really hard changes, one thing that really makes a big difference is the people that are with you. When you are struggling, having friends and family there to support you is key. I have been through a lot in my life that I really struggled with. But, it was the support of people who loved me that helped me to really make it through everything in the end. So just know that it's the people that make the change worth it and bearable. The changes won't stop, but thanks to who you have by your side and there for you at the end, it will get better!
Last question, what advice would you give to people who would like to be an author someday?
I think the best advice I ever got on this subject, and the best advice I can pass on is that everyone has a story to tell. I had a college theater professor say that to me once and it changed me in big ways. I knew that there was some story that I was meant to tell people. Everyone has a story in them with that same kind of potential. The scary part is sharing it with others. And it can be scary indeed. But, if writing is what you love, even if you're afraid of what people will think of it, then go for it! The joy of letting someone read your work can really be amazing. When someone reads my books and it makes them happy or feel emotionally invested in the characters, it makes up for any bad review every time!
Thank you so much for answering my questions and congratulations on your upcoming book Learning to Fly, which will be out on July 1, 2016.
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