We were able to snag a couple minutes of Delilah Dawson’s time to talk about her awesome experiences writing in the Star Wars universe, the difference between writing a novel and writing a comic, and what made her discover her calling as a writer.
1. We are very excited to have you at Phoenix Comic Fest! What is the thing you’re most excited to see or do at the event?
This will be my fourth visit to the con, and it’s always one of my favorites. I love pretty much everything—meeting readers, hanging out with other authors, being on fun panels, signing anything that will hold still, suffering on the Author Batsu panel, laughing at the Drinks with Authors event, and enjoying the amazing food around downtown Phoenix.
2. What made you realize that it was your calling to be an author?
I didn’t know I wanted to write a book until I was 31. My second child stopped sleeping, and so did I. My brain broke, and I started hallucinating. My husband helped me get more sleep and suggested I find a creative outlet—writing a book. With his help, I knocked out my first book in a few months. Once I knew it was possible, I decided to level up and get published. I wrote that first book in 2009, got an agent in 2010, sold my first three-book series in 2011, and saw my first book on the shelf in 2012. I actually have an art degree and worked as a muralist, but I always felt like I couldn’t quite find my body of work. It was a surprise when writing really clicked for me. I’m so glad my path brought me here!
3. What was it like to be able to publish a Star Wars book about Captain Phasma (who is probably one of our favorite characters in the new Star Wars movies)?
Writing for Star Wars is a dream come true! Getting to write Bazine in The Perfect Weapon was a huge honor, and that led to writing a Greer Sonnell story for the Star Wars Insider. I had my fingers crossed that I would get to write a full-length novel one day, and Phasma is the perfect choice, as I specialize in writing dangerous women. I got to visit the Lucasfilm offices in San Francisco to read the TFA script and meet the whole publishing team, and I felt like a kid at Willy Wonka’s factory the entire time. It was a joy and privilege to show the world exactly who Phasma is and why she does what she does. I’ve also gotten to write some comics for Star Wars Adventures and Star Wars Forces of Destiny, as well as the 40th anniversary anthology From a Certain Point of View. My editors know that I’ll always be hoping to write anything in the Star Wars universe. 🙂
3. What was the most challenging part about writing Star Wars: PHASMA?
The entire experience was wonderful, but it was definitely tricky hammering out a plot with input from so many different parties while staying within the parameters of the (currently) known Star Wars universe. The NDA prevents me from saying too much about the process, but I can tell you I felt supported and encouraged at all times and learned a lot by reading the Comments in every draft.
4. We see that you have a new project coming out with Kevin Hearne, called Kill the Farm Boy, scheduled to be released this July! Can you share some details about the Pell series with our attendees?
This series is SO MUCH FUN. Kevin is one of my best friends, and we were eating terrible airport barbecue on day, and he had the fabulous idea of creating a Fantasy anthology in which various writers skewered the obvious tropes and cliches of the genre. Instead, we decided to write the book together, bouncing chapters back and forth and having as much fun as possible. The Chosen One… is not the hero. The girl in the chain mail bikini is not who you think she is. The bard is a giant bunny. The dark lord is more crepuscular and mainly makes croutons. It’s full of puns, jokes, and poking fun at the genre we love, and we hope it will make everyone giggle! The Tales of Pell series is set to have three books- Kill the Farm Boy, No Country for Old Gnomes, and The Princess Beard. And there will be free galleys at the Del Rey booth, plus special giveaways for people who want to get Chosened.
5. Will we be able to learn more about the new project at Phoenix Comic Fest?
Definitely! We can’t stop talking about it. We’ll have galleys to sign, fun games, and hilarious buttons.
6. You’ve also dabbled in comics! What are some of the challenges of writing for comics vs writing a novel? Or did you find it easier to write for comics?
Once my novel career got rolling, I was invited to write a Shadowman story for Kindle Worlds, and that made me realize that I wanted to write comics one day. I got to write short comics for the BOO! anthology from Monkeybrain, and then I pitched a creator-owned series to BOOM! Studios, which became Ladycastle. The premise: What if strange women lyin’ in ponds, distributin’ swords WAS a great basis for a system of government? My editors, Chris Rosa and Sierra Hahn, were instrumental in helping me level up to writing comics scripts, and I love the book we’ve created. That lead to writing comics for Star Wars Adventures and Forces of Destiny, not to mention Adventure Time, Labyrinth, and The X-Files. I love writing my own comics work and in worlds I love and have several secret properties in the pipeline.
It’s definitely a mind switch from the weight and length of novels, and I think of comics as a sort of sorbet to cleanse the palette. It’s not easier or harder, just different. It takes practice and repetition and lots of reading to learn how to plot 6, 12, or the standard 22 pages as compared to a novel-length work, and you’ve got to think about the plot and character arcs both in terms of issues and series. Another important point: You always want your big reveals on the evenly numbered pages so you get that gasp of surprise when your reader turns the page.
7. Are there any other new projects that we should be keeping an eye out for from you? Where can our attendees find you online?
You can always find me online at whimsydark.com and on Twitter and Instagram @DelilahSDawson. Kill the Farm Boy is my next big release, and in October comes Treason of Hawks, the final book in my Shadow series, written as Lila Bowen. I have a few other projects in the works that I’m not allowed to talk about, but you can sign up for the newsletter on my website to get that information as it’s available. Thanks so much for reading, and hope to see you at PHXCF!
Thanks so much for your time with us Delilah! Make sure to check out her schedule and say hi to her at Phoenix Comic Fest this May 24-27, 2018 at the Phoenix Convention Center!