Ask the Author: Danika Stone Returns
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m a multi-genre author who writes for both teens and adults. My YA books are fun, geeky reads published by Macmillan. All the Feels is about a fangirl and her BFF who bring a character back from the dead through the power of fandom. Internet Famous is about a teen who must track down a troll when her online fame puts her real life at risk. And Switchback is about two best friends lost in the Rocky Mountains, struggling to survive.
All of my YA books are aimed at teens generally, but Switchback—which was selected by CCBC as one of the “Best YA Books of 2019”—is very popular with boys and reluctant readers because it is SO fast-paced!
My adult-oriented books are through Stonehouse. They’re part of a mystery-thriller series that takes place in the tiny border town of Waterton Alberta where I grew up. It’s a place where the townsfolk have secrets they’ll kill in order to kill, and everyone who wasn’t born there is considered an outsider. Each book in the series has the same cast of characters but a new murder mystery to solve. That page-turning trilogy is definitely my “book club” series and mystery readers love them.
No matter what kind of book you like, I’ve got one for you!
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Switchback is about Vale and her best friend Ash, two teens on a back country hiking trip with their school. When the weather changes and they get separated from the rest of the group, they find themselves lost deep in the Rockies, facing the dangers of weather and the animals who inhabit the forest. It’s a tense nail-biting read!
Fall of Night is also a high-tension story, but for different reasons. In it, a body is discovered in a lake that borders Waterton park and officer Sadie Black Plume must track down a killer who has targeted people in the tiny border town. With the same group of core characters as the previous two books in the series, this final book ties together all the loose ends and brings the trilogy to a climactic close.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
I’m inspired by… everything! No matter what I’m doing, I always have a story building in the back of my mind.
Switchback was inspired by a cousin who had grown up in Waterton park, but got lost while on a hiking trail. He ended up walking deep into the forest (and into a different province!) before he finally figured out where he was. I figured if that happened to someone who’d grown up in the area, what would happen to a couple of city kids? And from there, the story was born!
The Waterton series: Edge of Wild, The Dark Divide, and Fall of Night, all takes place in the small town where I grew up. It’s nestled deep in the mountains, right on the border between Canada and the United States. I love the town, but there are some creepy elements to it, like the fact that it only has one road going into or out of the town. It also has very dodgy cell phone reception, and there are many places you cannot call for help. Add in standoffish townspeople who are very wary of outsiders, and that seemed like the perfect set-up for a murder mystery!
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
For Switchback, my favorite part was the scene in the dark when Ash wakes up to realize that something has bedded down next to him on the other side of the lean-to. It was such a perfect, terrifying moment that I couldn’t write it fast enough!
For Fall of Night, it was the scene where our main character, Sadie, has an experience with a ghost. Sadie’s a skeptic, and as I was writing it, I kept thinking of how insane it would feel if you didn’t believe in the supernatural, and then had an experience you couldn’t explain in any normal way. I love that aspect of the story.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I’m inspired by all writers, new and old, well-known and inexperienced. I honestly learn from everyone. I can’t narrow it down to just one or two. It wouldn’t be true!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Finished is better than perfect.
That sounds so simple, but the truth is, many authors have great ideas but they never follow through and actually finish them. You have to put in the time, even when it feels like you’re fighting for every word. Finishing a book requires tenacity and grit. Writing and finishing your writing is the only way to do it.
Switchback (standalone YA): https://www.tworiversbooks.com/search/site/switchback%20stone
Edge of Wild (mystery series, book 1): https://www.tworiversbooks.com/book/9780986649431
The Dark Divide (mystery series, book 2): https://www.tworiversbooks.com/book/9781988754048
Fall of Night (mystery series, book 3): https://www.tworiversbooks.com/book/9781988754307
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