Interview with Mattie Dunman

How did you start your writing career?
It’s hard to say. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and as a kid I entered every contest I could find, made up stories to entertain myself and my friends. I got serious about it about four years ago when I wrote my first book during a bout of pneumonia. Nothing like being trapped indoors for a month and bored out of your mind for motivation.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
I’ve had a few close brushes, but I think one of the worst moments was when I was nearly killed by a Christmas tree. I was driving home on I-79 and a beat-up pickup truck with a fully decorated Christmas tree (I mean lights and ornaments and everything) in its bed, swerved in front of me and slammed on the brakes. The tree just flew off the truck and headed right for me. I was really lucky no one was in the lane next to me and managed to get out of the way, but I’ve always felt really uncomfortable around tinsel ever since.
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
I have kind of an odd process for writing scenes. I sometimes go to sleep thinking about what needs to happen next in the story and if I’m lucky, I dream about it, which gives me some ideas. Most of the time I let my characters have a conversation in my head, let them act out the scene, and then I just start writing. I know ahead of time that certain things have to be accomplished, but most of the action and plot comes straight from the characters.
What do you read for pleasure?
Honestly, I am a sci-fi romance junkie. I love stories about people pulled into a world completely different from their own, be it an alien world or an alternate dimension, or even a dystopian future, and then finding common ground and eventually love. I also love witty historical fiction, a la Elizabeth Peters and the Amelia Peabody series. But really, just reading is pleasure, so I'll read almost anything!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm a kindle paperwhite gal myself. I love it, and cart it everywhere with me. Not sure what I would do without it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm really not great at social media. I don't have a Facebook or Twitter page, and I honestly don't really want to; I think it takes up more time that I could be writing instead. So I know I haven't really made any use of social media as a marketing technique.
What songs are most played on your IPod?
My playlist is pretty eclectic. When I write, I tend to listen to soothing music so I don’t sing along and get distracted. So typically it’s a blend of Rachmaninoff, Puccini, and Ralph Vaughn Williams. But writing certain scenes requires a different energy, and The Black Keys usually provoke the right atmosphere. I’ve also had Passenger's "Holes" on repeat for the last month.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, which really has influenced my writing. Most of my books are set in WV, and I like to write characters that are practical and down to earth, which is pretty reflective of people in my state. The landscape features pretty prominently as well; I know mountains and rivers, so that's what I write about, what I'm really passionate about. I love WV, and if I can get a reader to show some interest in my often underestimated home state, then I'd be thrilled.
Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?
I don’t think it’s possible to write a character that doesn’t reflect me in some way; after all, you write what you know. But I think it’s more accurate to say that my experiences have helped shape the way my characters react to stress or romance. Some characters resemble me more than others. For instance, the heroine in a project I’m working on is an exaggerated version of me and my history of clumsiness; the poor thing walks into way more walls than I really do. On the other hand, in AT FIRST TOUCH, Liz tends to weigh her decisions carefully, which is something I don’t do as often as I should. And I wish I had superpowers.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The book I'm getting ready to release is a NA/Sci-Fi Romance about a failed Public Relations exec who gets sucked into an alternate dimension and becomes the center of a violent struggle for the throne in a desert kingdom. She's also unexpectedly mated to an immortal fire creature who really doesn't feel like letting her out of his cave, and becomes attached to a young king who needs a little maternal guidance. It's about adapting to survive, finding inner strength, and of course, love in its many forms.
Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?
If I have a motto, it’s probably “You pays your money, and you takes your choice.” My mom told me that years ago; it’s apparently something my great-grandfather said a lot after going to the races. It’s always seemed eminently sensible to me.
Published 2014-08-22.
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