I was so lucky to get the chance to interview author, Dandi Daley Mackall!
A little bit about the author: I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even before I could hold a pencil. My parents were great storytellers, so bringing characters to life seemed as natural as riding horses bareback, which I also grew up doing. I won my first writing contest as a 10-year-old tomboy. My 50 words on “Why I Want to Be Batboy for the Kansas City A’s” won first place, but the team wouldn’t let a girl be batboy. It was my first taste of rejection. Since then, I’ve had over 400 of my titles published for children and about 25 for grown-ups, with millions of copies in over a dozen countries.
Published October 11, 2011
Seventeen-year-old Hope Long's life revolves around her brother Jeremy. So when Jeremy is accused of killing the town's beloved baseball coach, Hope's world begins to unravel. Everyone is convinced Jeremy did it, and since he hasn't spoken a word in 9 years, he's unable to defend himself. Their lawyer instructs Hope to convince the jury that Jeremy is insane, but all her life Hope has known that Jeremy's just different than other people—better, even. As she works to prove his innocence—joined by her best friend T.J. and the sheriff's son, Chase—Hope uncovers secrets about the murder, the townspeople, her family, and herself. She knows her brother isn't the murderer. But as she comes closer to the truth, she's terrified to find out who is.
THE SILENCE OF MURDER will always be one of my favorites because I love mysteries and finally get to have one of my own—a real mystery whodunit. But it’s more than that. My dad and I had the rocky times most kids have with their parents, but we could always connect over mysteries. We watched them on TV, read books each other recommended, and made up plots together. Dad died a few years ago, but I know he would have loved this mystery.
MY BOYFRIENDS’ DOGS is another favorite, proving that if guys were more like dogs, we’d all be happier. Dogs are loyal, loving, always glad to see you. I loved being able to bring a heroine through three boyfriends and watch her learn from each love—way too much of me in that book...
LARGER-THAN-LIFE LARA was my magical book, the one that “wrote itself.” I remember waking up every day, eager to see what would happen next. I was one-third of the way through the story before I realized that the book, besides being a story, was teaching the reader how to write a story. Chapter titles then became parts of the writing process: Character, Point of View, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action. And now a number of schools use that book to teach writing.
LISTEN TO THE SILENT NIGHT is a picture book coming out this month. I love the sound of the words in this one and the amazing illustrations by Fancher and Johnson.
All of my horse books and series, especially WINNIE THE HORSE GENTLER, who has put food on my family’s table for several years. Readers have made it a best-seller in several languages, and I get the best fan mail from horse-loving readers.
Do you have any Halloween traditions?
My husband still makes our kids spend the night before Halloween carving pumpkins. We are all (including hubby Joe) horrible at this, and our pumpkins suffer mightily. But we play loud music (I dance) and we eat pizza. On Halloween we pass out enough candy to keep Hersheys in business.
If you had to spend the night in a haunted house, who and what would you bring with you?
Well, I would definitely spend the night with my hubby because he’s my hero. We’d bring loud music so we wouldn’t hear anything spooky (and so I could dance). Hmmm…sounds like a new Halloween tradition. Thanks!
What's your favorite horror movie and why?
I love scary movies like Psycho (original version only). But I’ll be honest with you—I don’t like horror because it never feels like the writer played fair. You know what I mean—the solution turns out to be something supernatural, like someone who died centuries ago, or a monster that comes from the grave, etc. Feels like cheating! IN a mystery, you have to make things believable—and still fool your reader. If a mystery writer could invent an easy answer, like “None of these characters did it after all. It was a ghost from someone who died in the 18th century,” what fun would that be?
You write books for all ages, but do you have a favorite age group to write for?
The answer is...whichever age I’m writing for today! That’s the truth. When I write for young adults, I’m thinking that this is the age group for me. Why would I write for any other? Then I’ll get an idea perfect for middle grade, and off I go…until I get that super idea for young kids and picture book that will be such fun to write! I guess I get to be the ADD of writers.
What can fans be expecting from you next?
Thanks for asking this! I have middle-grade novel coming out next month from Bloomsbury: DREAMS OF A DANCING HORSE; and a picture book from Marshall Cavendish: THERE’S A BABY IN THERE! (very funny—a little boy who points to his pregnant mom’s belly and tells the reader: “There’s a baby in there. At least, that’s what they’re trying to tell me. I don’t believe it. I was in there once, about five years ago, and I didn’t see anybody. I think I would have seen somebody if there’d been a baby in there.”) I have a new horse series: BACKYARD HORSES. Plus, I’m working on a WWII novel for grown-ups, another mystery for YA (IF I SHOULD DIE...), a funny YA: B.Y.O.B.—BUILD YOUR OWN BOYFRIEND; a funny middle-grade: TATTOOS WHILE YOU WAIT. And more...
Must be a new or old blog follower.
Ends on November 8. Open to USA only.
Two extra entries to those of you that spread
the word about this interview & contest!
Click here to fill out the entry form!
For 3 extra entries, leave a comment answering this question:
What are you doing/what did you do for Halloween?
FIND DANDI ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Book's Website