Hey guys, this week I’ve got a special treat for you all. Indie author Danny Raye has graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to sit down with me over Zoom and discuss her upcoming novel Cursed by Cobrador and other parts of her writing process and journey.
Danny’s links to her socials and website will be down at the end of this interview so, if you enjoy what she has to say, make sure to give her a follow (who knows? She might just be your new favourite author).
Thanks for joining me Danny, a pleasure to have you. Let’s get into it, shall we?
First up, why don’t you tell me a little bit about your book? Let’s focus on your characters. Who are they? What are they doing in your novel?
Cursed by Cobrador is a story about facing your demons. Anja is facing Helizar, a demon possessing her narcissistic ex-boyfriend Sal, and all the memories that come with her past relationship. Keitaro faces off with the demon Delavno who claims his soul after Cobrador cursed Keitaro with the demon’s power of necromancy. The ghost Victor faces his past regrets, and Detective Danillo faces his fear of losing the ones he loves to the criminal he can’t catch. All the characters are interwoven in this plotline of exorcising demons and fighting evil. And God plays a huge role in defeating their darkness.
What and who inspired you to write this book?
Originally, Cursed by Cobrador was written to build my writer platform. I started writing it in October 2019 as individual chapters that I posted to my blog to give readers a taste of the content to expect from me. But when I finished the cover art in March 2020, I knew the story deserved publication. The story itself, however, is based on true events. Some characters (Anja, Cobrador, Dante) are based off real people, and many traumatic events are my memories.
I noticed on your website that your upcoming book is slated as being all about spiritual warfare and the ultimate battle between heaven and hell. Now reading this I immediately was reminded of the Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman classic Good Omens which takes a very tongue in cheek approach with these concepts. Will your novel be on a similar wavelength to this or a more classical interpretation of this scenario?
The spiritual part of Cursed by Cobrador takes a head-on approach. Jesus Christ is an active member in this book as He was in the real experiences the book is based on. However, only half of the book is about the religion, that half being Anja’s beliefs. Keitaro isn’t a believer of God, so you’ll get some chapters that are righteous and religious, and other chapters that don’t involve God at all.
I balanced it so the Christian aspect of the book doesn’t come off heavy, but there was no way the story could be told without Jesus. When Jesus appears in the book, he does so in Anja’s dreams to show her prophecies (or visions of the future). And in the end, it will be God that saves Anja’s life.
How do you believe your upbringing in spiritually active houses from an early age has shaped your views towards the themes you raise in your work? How does this upbringing affect your writing?
Growing up in haunted houses definitely opened the veil to spirituality for me. Ghosts were a part of my everyday life as a kid, and I’ve incorporated their existence into my book but have made them less phantom-like and more superhero-like. Their powers of asportation/appropriation (disappearing and reappearing), their invisibility and invincibility, their ability to self-heal by use of energy...all of it makes for one amazing fight scene!
There is little to know about ghosts other than what’s been the basis of information since the 1800s about ghosts and the afterlife, but the Bible and personal experience is where I gathered all my evidence for the demonic aspect of the book. Knowing what that evil does, what that evil looks like made it awfully easy to write villains. The same way one who bakes often can write a cookbook, the one who sees ghosts and demons often can depict them in a tale.
On your website, you have an extensive character roster. How do you go about creating these characters? Do you have a special place in your heart for any of them?
I loved writing that Cast of Characters for my book. That was so much fun. I create characters based on what the story needs, or in Cursed by Cobrador’s case who was actually involved in the true events. So three of the characters from my debut novel are based on real people, but the other characters (TJ, Mr Makara, Shaun) are people who would likely be found in the settings of the story.
When creating characters, my first step is always to find an actor/actress who would portray them in a movie. Once I find the actor/actress/musician (whoever it might be) I name them. The names of my characters always have to be unusual because the more popular something is the less I like it, and I want my characters to be the only people you think of when you hear that name.
When it comes to naming the character, I choose a name that’s relevant to their ethnicity. So Keitaro’s name is Japanese even though he’s Korean, but the name fits him perfectly. Some of the names just flowed like Boones and Bishara (the two owners of the antique shop where Anja works). Whatever FEELS right for the character is what I go with.
As for having a special place in my heart for a character...it’s Victor. Victor Ortega (the guy I kill off in chapter two) is very near and dear to my heart. I’ve cried actual tears over his death and future in the story, my heart breaks for his suffering, and I hate him all at the same time for dying instead of loving Anja. They would have been perfect together, ugh. Victor’s definitely special to me.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
Favourite part of the writing process is editing, honestly. I print out my whole manuscript when it’s finished, staple each chapter individually, and then hash through it with my red pen and it’s so satisfying to doll up my writing. Make sure everything’s in place and it’s as beautiful as it can be before someone beta reads it. It’s not the easiest part, but it’s the most rewarding.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
As a single mother of two kids with a full-time job during the day, I write pretty much whenever I can. I dedicate the evening hours after their bedtime until about 2 am to writing then wake up at 5 to edit before work. And I give all of Saturday to writing as much as possible while I have the day off from my day job. But all in all, writing is a round-the-clock kinda job. Even if I’m not at a computer, my mind is designing characters, plotting storylines, considering edits, etc. A writer is always writing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t believe I have an interesting writing quirk. I have to listen to music when I write to tune out the rest of the world because I get distracted so easily, but I also have to be chewing on something. Oral fixation is a huge downfall for my brain being so active, I need to constantly be moving my mouth so I’ll chew gum, I have oral fixation dog tags that are just rubber pieces you can chew on to keep your mouth busy.
Why is it important to support indie authors?
Indie authors are paving their path through a crowd of talented writers, so any and all support exposes them a little bit more to readers. Every time you share their post, you read and review their book, you buy their book for a friend, it gives indie authors the opportunity to spread their creativity. Indie authors fight ruthlessly to market themselves and all support is appreciated.
If you had to give one piece of advice to a newbie writer, what would it be?
Define what “success” is for your book from the very start. I knew before I created a Twitter and Instagram account that all I expected from my book was to make Jesus proud. That what I wrote would subtly spread his word, and he would approve of the story I’ve told. But when you start building platform, you realize other authors are striving to be best-sellers and they want you to be one too! Or they’ve got international awards or have sold enough copies to quit their day jobs, and one can so easily be lost in the pool of success that your own goals become muddied. So my advice to a new writer would be to determine what “success as a writer” means to you.
When did you write your first book/story and how old were you?
I wrote my first book in 2018, finished it on December 31st. That book will be the third book I publish, just the events line up that way with Cursed by Cobrador. It will not be a sequel to my first book but will feature brand new characters and demons, and you bet that Anja and Keitaro will join in the fight.
Do you only write for books or do you have plans to possibly branch out into writing for other mediums?
With time in my life being so limited to write, I believe my publications will be books for a long while. I used to write movie reviews on my blog, but since then have devoted that time toward my book. I still write book reviews and will soon be posting behind-the-book articles that feature setting, character building, and other details that aided in the writing process of Cursed by Cobrador. Other than that, I believe I’ll stick to books for some time.
Paint us a picture of your writing desk/area
I have a small desk with a black tablecloth decorated with white ghosts. My laptop is surrounded by chaos: papers and post-its and snacks and equipment. But when my desk is organized, it FEELS like chaos to me. When it’s in the standing it’s in now, I know where everything is and it feels like home.
Do you have any shout outs to any fellow writers or writing groups?
Art Barillas has been my biggest fan of Cursed by Cobrador since 2019, and I’ll always be grateful for the times he’s listened to me rant about what’s working and what isn’t, to all the time he’s dedicated to reading my chapters on my blog or the ones I email him. He is an exceptional author (his book Sisterhood of Light will be released on February 15th) and it’s an honour to have him as my first and most loyal fan.
Danny’s upcoming book Cursed by Cobrador releases this year and you can check out the cover right under this. She’s active on Twitter, Instagram, and her website, be sure to check them out and chuck her a follow.
Looking to meet some new authors? You can check out my other author interviews
Looking for more to read? You can check out more posts here and at the bottom of the page. My latest short story The Heist is also out now for you to read for free. You can give my short stories a read here.
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Have a great day,