Welcome to my very first author interview! I plan on introducing you to a new author each week and asking them the same five questions. And to kick things off, I bring you Dana Langer, debut author of the middle grade novel Siren Sisters, which is out TODAY! Congratulations Dana! I am so excited for you!
Lolly Salt has three beautiful sisters. When they’re not in school or running their small town’s diner, they’re secretly luring ships to their doom from the cliffs of Starbridge Cove, Maine. With alluring voices that twelve-year-old Lolly has yet to grow into (not that she wants to anyway) the Salt sisters do the work mandated by the Sea Witch, a glamorously frightening figure determined to keep the girls under her control. With their mother dead after a mysterious car accident, and their father drowning in grief, the sisters carry on with their lives and duties until a local sea captain gets suspicious about the shipwrecks.
On the day before her birthday, Lolly watches in helpless horror as her sisters are lured themselves by curse-reversing fishermen–and suddenly it’s up to her and her best friend Jason to rescue the sirens of Starbridge Cove.
Dana is a teaches Creative Writing and English to high school students and recently moved from New York City to Ramsey, NJ.
1. What was the original seed idea for your book? Did it start with a character, a situation, or an idea?
The first image I ever had in my head of this book (which isn’t an image that made into the final version, actually) was a group of sisters scavenging items from a shipwreck, and one of them not participating, wandering away and doing cartwheels instead.
2. What is your writing process? Are you an outliner or a pantser?
I start with images and pieces of dialogue floating around in my head. And sometimes a setting or myth that interests me. I try to think how they can all fit together. Then I write down all these scenes and conversations and try to impose some kind of chronological structure on them that I hope eventually becomes a plot. I like to restrict the time-frame of the story in order to keep from getting too lost, like “This all has to take place over the course of one week. Go!” My first drafts are usually too short and contain a lot of uninterrupted dialog. In revising, I tend to need to add more.
3. Who are the writers which most influence your writing style?
My adviser in college was Jayne Anne Phillips, who is an incredible author and person. One of our other professors, Jill McCorkle, once referred to her, with a very charming southern accent, as “The Queen of the Line Edit.” She made me pay attention to the rhythm and meaning of every sentence. In terms of current middle grade authors, I re-read Doll Bones (Holly Black), Rules for Stealing Stars (Corey Ann Haydu), Akata Witch (Nnedi Okorafor), and a lot of Claire Legrand’s books while I was writing Siren Sisters.
4. Do you listen to music when you write?
I don’t listen to music while writing, but I do listen to it while thinking about and planning the story, especially while driving to work. Some of my own creative writing students recently made me a playlist of music they thought I’d like, and it’s pretty perfect. Elliot Smith, The Velvet Underground, Bon Iver… It’s like they read my mind.
5. What are you reading right now?
I’m just finishing Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein), which I loved. I’m also reading The Turner House (Angela Flournoy) in order to teach it this semester, and I’m about to start The Secret Horses of Briar Hill (Megan Shepherd).
A big thank you to Dana Langer for taking the time to talk to me! Now that I know you are dying to read Siren Sisters, or can think of a middle schooler who would love this, you can buy it here: