Inkling Interview: Dante Medema
Hello! Happy Friday and Happy Fall!
I have been trekking through a massive To-Do list lately that seems to never end, but I’m really happy to be sharing a new #InklingInterview this week with an author I have been mutuals with for a while and have gotten to know well in the latter part of this year. To add to the fun, her debut book is coming out in a matter of DAYS and I’m so excited to hear about the journey that got her here! Without further ado: Dante Medema!
Hi Dante! First question: where are you at in your writing journey, and how did you get there?
I’m about to debut my first young adult novel
I’ve been writing on and off for about ten years now (about 4 seriously). I queried one project before this book, wrote another that never got queried, and started querying THE TRUTH PROJECT and the first project simultaneously.
At the same time??
Seriously, I did not want to let go of that book to save my life. After my book sold in 2018, I’ve just been working toward its release along with my sophomore novel.
Ooh! Can you pitch the book that sold in 2018?
THE TRUTH PROJECT (out on October 13th, 2020 with HarperTeen/Quill Tree Books) is about an 18 year old girl named Cordelia who finds out via an online ancestry kit that she’s the product of an affair. Told through poems, texts, and emails, it follows Cordelia as she keeps the secret from the man who raised her while getting to know the one who never got the chance.
The Truth Project by Dante Medema
What a fresh, beautiful concept! I have always loved digging into the mysteries of family trees and it’s actually really neat to hear of a story that explores those mysteries and the emotions that come with them. What, in a word or two, is your writing style?
Hence the poems, texts, and emails we’re going to see in THE TRUTH PROJECT! So what is your favorite/least favorite part of the writing process?
I think that with every part I’m like “no no, THIS is my favorite part.” If I HAVE to choose, and I mean really have to choose, I’d say outlining. I love love love a blank whiteboard and a pile of post it notes.
OMG. The blank whiteboard terrifies me, so kudos! Dante, I wanted to ask about your inspiration for the things you write. Where do you find it in the earliest stages?
Usually some sort of life event I’ve either been a part of or saw in the news. I’m a big fan of imagining how I’d feel in a situation. And the stories I tend to gravitate toward or sink my teeth into are the ones that have an element of technology involved.
I think questioning how you’d react to something is a really skillful and apt way to find the heart of a story! So, you’ve talked about your (beautiful) life in Alaska with your family which makes me wonder--How do you manage life and other responsibilities alongside your writing?
Right now this is a challenge. I’ve got four kids and a dog and a house and and and.
A lot of it is trying to balance Zoom calls for their school with my writing stuff. So all in all, right now it’s a lot of late nights and early mornings.
Such is the life. So that means your time to write and focus on craft is limited. How then do you combat writer’s block and/or tough critiques of your writing?
In general I try to stay pretty positive. A lot of it for me is reframing it. I’m not a daily writer, and when I am drafting I’ve got a huge outline that I don’t usually stray too far from, so I always know what I’m working on that day or what scene I need to add to.
As far as tough critiques, I try to think of those as ways to highlight what can get better in my writing. When the reframe isn’t working, there’s usually some chocolate and a nice bubble bath involved.
I love that idea of reframing, find a new angle. Okay, now a fun question: would you rather have the power to be invisible, or to fly?
Be invisible. I’m terrified of heights.
Haha then yes, invisibility would be the go-to. To go back to writing for a second: what advice do you have for aspiring writers, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds?
Don’t stop. Never ever stop. Don’t give up. Keep going. Find people who also don’t want to give up, and work really hard together. When it comes to underrepresented voices, it’s even more important not to give up, because we need your art in the world.
I agree! Another fun question: What’s your “anthem,” the song that would play if your life was a music video?
Ooh I wasn’t expecting that answer but I… love it! I’ve been on a 40s/50s pop binge lately and I love Doris Day! Okay, now a bonus question! You have an all-expenses paid trip where you want with one of your characters--where do you go and who do you bring and why?
Sana and I would go straight to Japan so she could see where her dad’s side of the family is from and I would see where my adoptive Gran’s side comes from :) Plus Sana is just so much fun, it wouldn’t disappoint.
Aww I want to read even more now!!