Penelope Douglas is a writer and teacher in Las Vegas. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, she is the oldest of five children. Penelope attended the University of Northern Iowa, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, because her father told her to “just get the degree!” She then earned a Masters of Science in Education at Loyola University in New Orleans, because she hated Public Administration. One night, she got tipsy and told the bouncer at the bar where she worked that his son was hot, and three years later they were married. To the son, not the bouncer. They have spawn, but just one. A daughter named Aydan. Penelope loves sweets, the show Sons of Anarchy, and she shops at Target almost daily.
We sat down with Penelope to discuss her writing process, her experience with self-publishing and what she plans for Jared and Tate’s future. Be sure to check out our review here and enter for your chance to win an e-book copy of Bully. You can find Penelope on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.
Thanks for chatting with us, Penelope!
LS: What has your writing journey been like?
Sudden! I’d always enjoyed writing little things here and there, and I still have a diary of gothy poetry from when I was a teen, but the passion didn’t bloom until I was an adult.
LS: Did it begin with a love of reading in childhood?
Absolutely. I always enjoyed books, but I didn’t get passionate about them until I was sixteen. It was then that I discovered Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey hidden in my mother’s drawer. Yeah, I found out why it was hidden!
LS: What was your favorite book as a child?
Nancy Drew. I collect vintage copies of the books.
LS: What is your writing process like?
I can’t stare at a cursor and think up drama. If I’m blocked, I take showers, walk the aisles at Target or get out and drive. It’s then that I work dialogue in my head and have my best ideas. After that, I outline. I need to compile the scenes I want to see in the book and decide the best order. Of course, an outline is just a plan, not a Bible. It may change as I write.
LS: How many drafts do you go through before you feel your manuscripts are complete?
You mean before my editor feels it’s ready? 😀 The final draft of Bully is extremely different than the book I started with. More cruel, more sexual, and more raw. I think I had three drafts.
LS: Talk, if you would, about inspiration. Are there particulars you rely on to inspire you: art, films or music, etc.?
Oh, yes! Movies are my magic. I see scenes that stick with me, and they inevitably inspire a scene I want to write. My favorite movie is Dead Poets Society. I also love anything with Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, or Leonardo DiCaprio. As for music, I love rock like Five Finger Death Punch, Chevelle, and Alice in Chains. For relaxation, Adrian von Ziegler’s compositions are played while I write.
LS: New Adult is a genre that has become immensely popular in the past couple of years. What led you into NA and do you have plans to move into other genres?
Slammed brought me into New Adult. Loved that book. I think it’s considered Young Adult now, but after I read that, other books that were New Adult were recommended, and I went with it. I love romance and sexual tension. I think I will always write books that fall along those lines, but I also have an interest in Horror/Suspense. We will see!
LS: Tate and Jared are a bit of a dichotomy. Theirs has been a relationship that has arched, disintegrated and arched again. Do you believe it’s come full circle and what will happen to them once Tate heads off for college?
Jared still has some growing to do, but I do feel like they have found each other and come back stronger. In Until You, we will see Jared’s plans for the future and hopefully understand how deeply he is connected to Tate.
LS: What do you say to those who have been critical about Jared’s treatment of Tate?
Keep talking! Please, keep analyzing it and discussing it. I am a new author, and I crave the feedback. Are there things I could’ve done better? Sure. Are there things I would change if I could go back? Yes, one or two things. As long as people are respectful in their criticism, I take it. If you get nasty, I stop reading.
LS: What can your readers expect from Jared’s point of view story, Until You?
Lots of new material. I want people to feel what it’s like to be him and to finally know all of the things that were going on in the background of Bully that they didn’t see. There will be things you won’t like seeing, but I will be adding more that was washed over in Bully as well.
LS: You have been successful self-publishing Bully. What prompted you to self-publish?
My friend urged me to find an agent and seek a publisher. She felt the book had a great hook, and I might be successful. I didn’t want to wait for that, because I really just wanted feedback from readers. I had no idea that it would take off like this, though! I have an agent now, and I’ve been approached by two publishers, but I enjoy the control I have. Eventually, I will see a book with a publisher, but I’m doing well on my own right now.
LS: What advice would you give for writers who want to indie publish?
If you’re brand new, don’t try to get rich. No one will pay money for an unproven work from an unknown author. I made it free for three days when I first published it, and the exposure was phenomenal. Make it free for a few days or price it cheap. Get readers interested and build up your reviews!
LS: What would you consider your personal dream fulfillment?
To have a full tank of gas and a hefty supply of toilet paper at the same time. No, just kidding. I think I’ve gotten there, actually. I no longer feel like I’m living the same day over and over again, and I’ve got people who feel I’ve contributed something enriching to their lives. To some people, Bully was a quick thrill. But to others, it touched home and got under their skin. I’m happy that I could do something like that.