Interview with Dillie Dorian

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Honestly? I don't always get out of bed. That's one of the greatest perks about being a writer - you can work from wherever you choose, and I choose the cosiest place on the planet. You could say I'm inspired by my pressing desire not to have to get a job that I don't LOVE.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Usually, if I'm not writing, I'm marathoning a great TV show. Notables this year have been Breaking Bad, and Malcolm in the Middle which I never got to see growing up. Bryan Cranston's face is so expressive! On the odd occasion that I'm not writing or getting the most possible out of my Netflix subscription, I'm probably out with my mad mates.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first real attempt I made at writing was the "A Bended Family" series when I was thirteen. Before that I'd written plenty, but it was your typical derivative junior school fare. We genuinely used to be set projects where the topic was "Write your own Sand Horse story", and I do remember writing a letter to Michael Foreman (the illustrator) to which I never received a reply.
What is your writing process?
I've never understood this type of question. I just sit down and write, or sometimes I sit down and can't write, so I do something else instead and write later. I think that because I've always had some sort of editing on the go, ever since I was thirteen, I haven't had to deal with the confinement of writing as "the One task". I don't have that lack of choice. Editing something related is a good jumping off point, and that's often how you end up with spinoffs.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, to be honest. I'm not sure if many people do. My mother always read to me, ever since I was a baby, so the line between what was read to me and what I read alone is blurred. I could give you a list of pre-school books that I still remember vividly, but the truth is that the first thing I remember reading for sure was from Oxford Reading Tree and very dull. I read Jacqueline Wilson's "Double Act" at about the age of six, and that kicked off my interest in books about real life situations - although I think the honour is owed to Shirley Hughes.
How do you approach cover design?
I've been through several cover ideas per series, and finally settled on a master style for "A Bended Family". My good friend Michael is very patient about these things, and he always bounces a draft back to me in good time. We like to find a balance between what is ordinarily found in contemporary design, and the feel of the character. Harley for example is quite a collagey person, so the ABF covers have a lot of stencil, sticker and doodle appeal.
Who are your five formative authors, and why?
Jacqueline Wilson for her sympathetic attitude to real life issues. Her work may be considered a bit of a cliché at this point, but when I was a child there was nothing quite like it - accessible, non-patronising, and able to bring both warmth to kids who are having problems and insight to those who aren't. It's important to do that, I think. Mark Haddon was really the grown-up answer to this, and I remember reading "The Curious Incident" when I was ten. It blew me away. Christopher is a naive narrator, which brings a lot of the humour as well as concern. The book shows you a certain pattern of thought that makes you question which details you take away from an everyday situation.

J.K. Rowling is an obvious choice. I was obsessed with Hermione Granger as a child, and in a way you can probably see that sort of influence in Harley. Rowling's work has the perfect blend of fantasy and reality, and with the Hogwarts culture you never feel too far from your own school days. My next formative author was Karen McCombie. I know not everybody has heard of her. Her books are cute and fun and a little bit cynical - quite similar to the A Bended Family series. They're full of pets, eccentric friends and nutty siblings. I would definitely refer anyone who liked my series to the expert.

For the fifth, and this is for a weird reason, Stephenie Meyer. The wealth of people mouthing off one way or another about her series affected me a lot more than Twilight itself ever could have - this was around the time I started getting internet access, and I was quite mesmerised by the way that the books/films brought even the least academic into a debate about personal politics. On my first day of college, a girl stopped me and asked, "Hold on, do you like Twilight?" and I said "No", because I didn't. Her reply? "Then you can sit next to me."
What do you read for pleasure?
Forums, truthfully. They are my joy. Well, not all of them, but occasionally, usually when Googling for facts, you come across a gem. I know there's a stigma that it's all nerdy obsessives pulling apart episodes of Family Guy, and yeah, there's a bit of that and it's what most of us came for originally, but some of these communities are great because people are so self-aware about their fandom. You can talk about your life to humans who you'll probably never meet, and you can have opinions, which it has to be remembered are not allowed in some parts of the world and even some families today. For me, the best thing about forums is the transient nature of the friendship - you don't take everybody with you when you go, but you do take the music and movies and stories they introduced you to.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Computer, for sure. I've tried proofreading on my phone, and it really just hurts my eyes. I don't get this from laptops and the like, so I'm not sure if a tablet would work for me or not. Either way, I'll have to sell a few ebooks before I can get one!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a medium-sized town in the South of England. Small enough to need the use of a car to go to the cinema, and large enough to depress you into thinking that if you don't have friends here, you won't find them anywhere. I suppose it influenced my writing in a big way, because my books have mostly been set in a very similar area, and dealt with the range of issues that come with such a place. It will have lots of different families living close together, team and school rivalries, and it probably still has both open and subconscious racists. The best and worst thing about my town is that it counts as a microcosm of my country.
Describe your desk
It's a little, round table with a monitor in the middle. Behind it is a pair of speakers that don't go very loud. In front is an ancient, grey keyboard from my first computer, which functions solely as a Wake button in passing. (I don't know how I ever wrote fourteen books on that thing!) That's my desk, and other than that, I work from my bed.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Occasionally, if you throw the odd quote onto tumblr, people will notice it. I'm not sure if those people will actually want to read my books, but the gratification of knowing that someone agreed with the character's observation is addictive. If people agree with your character, it follows that you know how to write ordinary people.
What are you working on next?
I've nearly finished formatting the "A Bended Family" series, which is due a cursory proofread after a year of availability. More excitingly, a sequel series which was completed in 2012 will become available. The series, "The Low Voltage Cattle Prods", centres around the titular band which is fronted by Charlie, Harley's twin brother from "A Bended Family". I'd say that it has much more mature themes, but at the same time it's often less mature in tone. Charlie is quite a self-obsessed character, and very naive, so he puts whatever effort he can muster into his band and never really develops a backup plan. At its core, the series is about fame in the same capacity as "A Bended Family" is about family - there's a lot of other drama as well. It's the only book series I've heard of that really delves into the alternative subcultures of today's teenagers, and that's something I'm proud of doing before my memory got hazy. It already feels like it was a million years ago, so I can totally see how books by older authors can appear out of touch. It strikes me as a better solution to be specific for retrospective purposes than to be vague in an attempt to remain current. After that, we'll see...
Published 2014-01-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Laddered Tightropes
Series: A Bended Family, #12. Price: Free! Words: 20,800. Language: British English. Published: February 28, 2014. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
“We’re all going on a… bummer holiday.” A week’s getaway with a best friend each is just what the Hartley kids need – if only that was manageable. The twins have been forced to assume that this maze of tangled kin was sown with good intentions, but they aren’t the only ones for whom the island harbours difficult truths.
Ging Gang Goo
Series: A Bended Family, #11. Price: Free! Words: 19,830. Language: British English. Published: January 9, 2014. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Social Issues
It’s the Year 9 Self-Es-Team Building residential, and Harley’s not sure why she signed up. Charlie’s as neurotic as ever, and Devon’s cooing has reached a frequency that only dogs can hear. When Rachel’s nasty side comes out to play, Harley hopes for anything at all to take the spotlight away from her feuding bezzies, but what she’ll discover isn’t going to be easy to handle.
An Amicabubble Breakup
Series: A Bended Family, #10. Price: Free! Words: 21,980. Language: British English. Published: September 9, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
Work Shadowing - the clue's in the name. Harley finds the premise downright creepy. Worst of all, she's not sure she'll even be able to find someone who'll let her walk to heel, going through the motions of business. Adding into all of her stress, her brothers are at war again - and this time it's "serious". How long can she hold out without picking a side?
Angry Coral Week
Series: A Bended Family, #9. Price: Free! Words: 23,740. Language: British English. Published: September 7, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
It's SATs week for the twins - and Zak. As if that isn't stressful enough, their mother is looking ready to pop, and then there's the threat of sleepless GCSEs and having to shout some wacky baby name in public! The last thing Harley can be bothered with is friend drama, but could it be that a certain someone trusts her more than she ever let on...?
Not Zebedee!
Series: A Bended Family, #8. Price: Free! Words: 21,570. Language: British English. Published: September 7, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
The Spanish exchange has finally rolled around. With Harry working and their mother heavily pregnant, Harley and Charlie are supposed to play host to Gerry and Laura, teenage penpals that they know next to nothing about. Meanwhile, Zak is away on an educational holiday, and no one has noticed that he's more than just physically distant...
Was He The Queen?!
Series: A Bended Family, #7. Price: Free! Words: 22,650. Language: British English. Published: July 7, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
“Can you keep a secret?” Harley’s not sure that she wants to. Her whole childhood was spent rotely denying things she didn’t properly understand. Unlike some of her friends, she doesn’t find the question remotely giggleworthy – but Harley knows better than anyone that it’s not always a choice.
Now, Maybe, Probably
Series: A Bended Family, #6. Price: Free! Words: 23,970. Language: British English. Published: July 6, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
It’s Valentines Party Fever at school, but Harley doesn’t quite “get” it. Sulking over an absent chocolate fountain has never been a priority in the Hartley household – at least not for anyone out of Infants. Relations between her friends are fractious at best, with things at home not much of an improvement. In Harley’s constantly turning world, is there even time for a happy middling?
Sitting Down Star Jumps
Series: A Bended Family, #5. Price: Free! Words: 23,980. Language: British English. Published: July 6, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
It’s a new year, and Harley has her spirits set on a spot of self-improvement. Things change when an acquaintance is involved in an accident, shaking things up at home and at school. Harley becomes focused on doing the right thing, which can be hard when certain people are treading all over her dearest beliefs. Will she be able to single out the source of all her worries?
While Shepherds Washed My Socks
Series: A Bended Family, #4. Price: Free! Words: 25,410. Language: British English. Published: June 27, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
A combination of unseasonable sunshine, cross country and a cross twin is more than enough to keep Harley from relaxing as Christmas nears up. At a school that’s dedicated to equal-opportunity bullying, she could do with a visit from Joyous Noel right around now – whoever he is…
A Bended Family
Series: A Bended Family, #3. Price: Free! Words: 23,940. Language: British English. Published: April 25, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
Harley feels responsible for everything at home. Her twin brother gets away with murder, and her bitchy new stepsister's accustomed chore is dusting the TV! Her mum's getting remarried, and with shockingly little preparation. A thirteen-year-old girl can't organise a wedding - she can barely make toast, let alone *a* toast. Thing is, in a blended family, communication is key...
Double Dates & Single Raisins
Series: A Bended Family, #2. Price: Free! Words: 22,090. Language: British English. Published: March 6, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
After a few false leads over the last month, Harley finally knows for sure what's going on with her mum - and she's not happy about it. Nobody is. (Well, except for maybe two and a half people.) Her mates have stars in their eyes over the school talent show, and there have been developments on the pet front making the house feel fit to burst. It's about enough to make a girl iron her head...
Oops! Did I Forget I Don't Know You?
Series: A Bended Family, #1. Price: Free! Words: 19,120. Language: British English. Published: February 28, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Chick Lit
When her favourite cousin Shelley is whisked away to Australia, Harley is not in the mood for a new girl. What's more, her mum's job interviews have started coming at weirder and weirder times of ... night, and she's worried there might be a man on the scene. Can she plan an ace birthday party for a desperate-to-be-trendy seven year old sis, while keeping close tabs on her mum and brothers?