FAQ #1 Is “Dina James” your real name?/Are you related to _____?
A: Short Answer – No.
Long Answer – This question has multiple answers, so I’ll pick the ones that most decided me. My given name is long and complicated. My first name is Greek and my middle name is French-Canadian, then I married a Polish guy whose last name added a bunch more vowels to my already-difficult name. I used to work in an office, and when I had to initial something, my convoluted initials looked like a capital “D” or sometimes a “J.” New people would always ask whose initials they were, because no one in our office had a name that began with those letters. It was fun explaining!
I knew that, should I achieve my dream of becoming a published author, my name would be on the cover of a book and, as I said, my legal name is long and complicated. So, looking at my initials and remembering some of the comments people in my office had made, I chose the initials “D” and “J” to start, and went through names starting with those letters.
While thinking about what names I could use, “Dina” and “James” kept my attention. Both were/are characters of mine in fiction that I write solely for fun and gaming purposes (yes, I’m a gamer, and I make no apology for it!). I put the names together and that was it. Author “Dina James” was born. I think both the characters Dina and James would be amused that their creator is now their namesake.
Left side – Old Testament – Lev. (Leviticus) 20:26: “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD [am] holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”
Right side – New Testament – John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
They’re inked with scales, representing balance. My entire back tattoo is a Christian design that reflects my personal faith. Personal, mind you. I’m not the church-going type.
FAQ#2.5 If you’re a Christian, why do you have ink/write about demons/anything else a Christian wouldn’t do?
A: I’m not about to debate theology with you or anyone else. My faith is mine, and my relationship with Christ is what makes me, by default and definition, a Christian. If I had a relationship with Buddha, I’d be a Buddhist, etc. I’m not a zealot, or a narrow-minded fundamentalist. I’m extremely accepting of a lot of things mainstream religion isn’t known for tolerating, and practice (or try to, anyway), the true message Christ brought us. If you think He was all peace and love and light, you should read your New Testament again and see exactly just what kind of hell He raised. They killed Him for it, you know.
FAQ#3 Okay, so that’s your religion. What about your politics? Where do you stand on ______? Because I don’t want to support you if you give your time/money/attention to A Cause I Don’t Agree With.
A: Fair enough. I don’t support asshattery once I’m made aware of it, either, so I totally understand not wanting to support it. As for politics…I’m not real political or activisty for my own reasons. I don’t want to go off on a rant here, so I’ll try and keep this brief.
I’m a writer, okay? My opinions on Controversial Issue Du Jour don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, do they?* Seriously. I write stories about vampires, werewolves, hellhounds, demons and so on. I really don’t think my opinion on any political matter is relevant to my ability to do that, but I do realize it may affect your ability as a fan to enjoy my work if you know I’m pro-this or anti-that.
To sum this answer up neatly, I’m somewhere in the left lower quadrant of the political compass. If you simply must have a label, it makes me a left-leaning libertarian, and likens me to Gandhi (I know, I laughed my ass off too). Basically that’s a nice way of saying, “You leave me alone to do my thing, I’ll leave you alone to do your thing. Hurt my family and you will meet your doom. Have a nice day!” Suffice to say, I’m not what you think I am, and I’ll probably surprise you when it comes to specific issues, so forget what you think you might know (“You’re a Christian therefore you ______!” Uh, not exactly….) and sit back and enjoy the werewolves.
Good enough for you? Because that’s all you’re going to get out of me on this one.
*DOES NOT APPLY TO 2016 ELECTION, 2017+ TYRANNICAL FASCIST BULLSHIT. RESIST, MOTHERFUCKERS!
FAQ#4 Did it hurt, getting your tattoos?
A: I have a high tolerance to pain, but I really have to tell you that no, they didn’t. The most painful part of getting them was the anticipation leading up to it, and the letters in the verses on my back. THOSE didn’t feel so great, but hey, it’s all relative. They are addictive. I will warn you now.
FAQ#5 You say you’re “Goth.” I know what that is, and you’re so not. What makes you think you’re Goth? What is your definition of Goth?
A: Here. Azhrarn says it a lot better than I can. Educate yourself and try not to believe everything the TV/media tells you. There are a lot of poseurs out there.
FAQ#6 You write vampires. I’ve read Twilight. Do you write stuff like that?
A: Hopefully, no. I’m not a fan of the series, and my vampires are actual vampires that don’t sparkle.
FAQ#7 All right, let’s talk about your own writing. I loved your short story in The Eternal Kiss anthology! Will “All Wounds” be a book? A series? When?
A: It’s a book! But, it’s currently out of print. It might be back again someday, like Frosty the Snowman, but right now it’s not available! Sorry you missed it!
As for a series, well…yeah, I guess it’s that, too. It’s called the Stranger Things series.
There’s second book, Time Heals, but that one is out of print, too. Again, sorry you missed it! That one, also, might be back someday. There was a third book contracted, Death Knell, and that one has been postponed indefinitely. I’m sorry I can’t give you any more details right now, but I will as soon as I’m able.
FAQ#8 What about the “Key To Hell” Chronicles? When is that coming out?
A: The “Key to Hell” series is another project I’ve been working on for several years. I hope that, someday, it does get picked up/published, but we’ll have to see about that. I do have manuscripts and pieces/parts of it lying around/outlined/written, and am working on the rewrite (probably about the tenth one now) of the first novel in the series, but there’s nothing official yet. There are some short stories out there set in the same world, though! (Light in a Dark World: Legends of the Destrati is currently out of print, but you can still read some earlier versions in the Mammoth anthologies I’m in.)
FAQ#9 What’s the deal with you and torrent sites? Downloading a copy of your book is like sharing! You should be happy about the exposure!
A: You really want to go there with me? Filesharing might have “share” in the name, but it’s not “sharing,” it’s STEALING. Torrenting/downloading isn’t “like lending.” When you lend someone a book, it’s one copy that’s been paid for and perfectly legal to do. Same with buying a used copy. It’s ONE copy that was paid for. When you upload a file to a torrent site, you’re allowing hundreds if not THOUSANDS of people to just take a copy of that file. Note that. A COPY OF THAT FILE. That’s my work. I’m the copyright holder. It belongs to me, and when you make an illegal copy of it (just like taking my book to your local printing store and using the copy machine, only you’re doing it digitally on a computer) to “share,” you’re breaking the law and taking away MY choice to give that book away for free.
Understand now? I don’t care what a few big name authors say. They don’t speak for the majority of us! Torrenting/filesharing is NOT “like lending.” It’s not like a library. A library has ONE copy that they lend out that they author is paid for. I could go on and on, but there are plenty of pages out there dealing with this issue. I’ve put one up on this site myself. I fight hard for my rights as a copyright holder, content creator and writer. If you want me to continue to write stories you enjoy, you have to do your part to help. Don’t pirate my work. I’m pleased that you like my work enough to want to share it with people, but please do so legally. Support me and creativity in general. I go after pirates and illegal copies of my work, and I’m not the only one who does it. A lot of authors do. See my What’s This About Piracy? page for more.
FAQ#9.5 But I can’t get your stuff/I have no money/live in a foreign country, etc. Where else can I read your books for free if I don’t download them?
A: Look, we all have our issues. Money is tight for me, too, and my writing is how I make money. I don’t make money, I can’t write. Simple rule of economics, there. There are a lot of legal ways to get free reads. Most of them involve waiting, which I know is hard. Believe me. I’m impatient, too. A lot of authors do giveaways on their blogs, or you can request books through a library. Most countries have a legal version of an online bookseller (like Amazon or Book Depository). Most publishers will ship international. I know all this costs money. I save up for the things I want that I can’t afford, or I wait. Some authors give away copies of their backlist when they have a new release. Book bloggers often have giveaways. I know shipping costs more to countries outside the nation the book is published in. THIS DOES NOT MAKE IT ALL RIGHT TO STEAL. There is NO EXCUSE for theft. If you really wanted to, you could obtain a legal (possibly even free!) copy of my work. It’s MY choice to give my work away, and I have, in the past, chosen to do that on my blog and will likely do it in the future. In my opinion, there is NO EXCUSE FOR TORRENTING. Please don’t do it to me, and please don’t do it to my friends. It hurts in more ways than financial, trust me.
FAQ#10 You’re a member of a Twilight hater community on LJ! I hate you! You hate Twilight! Hater! Edward Cullen is God! Why do you hate Twilight?
A: What, you mean this community? It amuses me greatly. Someone posted an icon and I laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants. They earned my membership with that one.
Don’t think I’m not fair, though. As Vampirely says, “I’ve read it. It still sucks.”
I’ve given the sparklepire more than one chance. Really, I have. To sum it up, I hate Twilight a multitude of reasons. MULTITUDE, and I’m not listing all of them here. I might archive the entries on my blog sometime about it, but if you’re really curious, go check out my LJ and hit the tag “Twilight does not make you Goth.”
A few (but not all) reasons:
1. I’m not into 500+ pages of thoughts of a wangsty teenage girl. (“Wangst” is a combination of “whining” and “angst.” Bella doesn’t just whine, she angsts about her whining. It’s sick.)
2. Edward Cullen is a creepy stalker, and Bella Swan is a vacuous chit who can’t have any life outside “her man.” This isn’t “love.” This is an unhealthy abusive relationship. If you don’t think their “relationship” (and I use the term loosely, as there is zero chemistry between the two characters) is abusive, take another look. I’ll just throw out the reference to Edward disabling Bella’s car because she wanted to go somewhere he didn’t want her to. Would you put up with YOUR boyfriend doing that to YOUR car? Would that make you think “Oh, he loves me so much and it’s so sweet of him to tell me what to do, where I can go and who I can be with and decide what’s best for me because I obviously can’t make a decision on my own and don’t know what I’m doing! He’s just looking out for me because he cares so much! I’m so glad he’s here to do all this hard stuff like thinking for me, because I obviously can’t do it for myself! I’m the luckiest girl in the world!”? If that’s what you’d think, you really need to reevaluate your standards. That’s not “love” or “concern,” it’s control. Bella and Edward do not have the kind of relationship people (especially young girls/women) should idolize or look for in their own partners.
3. I have up-close-and-personal experience with the LDS/Mormons. This entire series reads like a treatise on Mormonism (how women should behave/think/act, the obvious opinions on sex, behavior, ethnic groups, etc.), and it’s scary as Hell (and I felt that way about the series before I realized that SMeyer was, herself, a devout Mormon).
4. SMeyer’s brother screens all her e-mails and shields her from any sort of criticism about her or her writing whatsoever. This ostrich approach to the world both annoys and disgusts me. Of course, this doesn’t surprise me, as her vampires sparkle and her “bad” guys are laughable and really sweet if you just get to know and understand them, blah blah blah. Plus, she in no way gets a grip on her insane/rabid fans, though she insists that “it’s just a story” or “it’s all made up.” Did you know they’ve even started a religion?
If they worship the author as a goddess, you’d think she’d have the sense to smack these people upside the head with one of her excessively large books and tell them to knock it off.
So there are four reasons. I have a lot more (let’s not even get into the writer’s nitpicks I have with the horrible prose, the beyond obvious self-insertion. etc.), but I’m not interested in talking anymore about, to quote a friend, the “Light of Twi.” That’s enough time spent on that. Far too much time, actually. Next question!
FAQ#11 I’m an aspiring author. What advice/help can you give me?
A: First of all, stop calling yourself “aspiring.” Once you’ve done that-
Write. A lot. Read. A lot. Take English (or the primary language you write in)/creative writing classes and workshops from legitimate writers/teachers and hone your technique and your voice. Buy the latest copy of Writer’s Market and read about how to polish your manuscript and how to query. Attend signings and lectures. Learn. Learn. For God’s sake, LEARN about writing. Research. Also, as my favorite author said at one of her rare signings, “accuracy lends credibility.” Even though I write about vampires and other things, I’ve researched them and learned a great deal about why things are believed and what myths are out there and such. To paraphrase one of the best quotes I’ve heard about the publishing/writing industry (from an editor/writer at a small press): “Writers these days really have no excuse to be ignorant.” So, learn. Ask questions. Learn which questions to ask and apply that knowledge.
Oh, and DON’T self-publish. If you don’t know what that is, start here and don’t stop until you’re well-informed. Money comes FROM the publisher TO the author, NOT the other way around.
Want more? Here. I wrote an entire page just to answer this question. Enjoy!
FAQ#12 You say you’re “mostly evil.” What does that mean?
A: Just what it says. I’m mostly evil. Like Darth Vader, there is some good in me – you just have to work to access it. (Also, if you’re not getting the joke here, I’m going to laugh at you. Laughing at people is mean. See? I’m not a nice person. Don’t believe what other people say!)
Seriously, it comes from something my Daddy used to say to me: “If you act like an ass, I’ll treat you like an ass. If you act like a decent human being, I’ll treat you like a decent human being.”
Since an overwhelming majority of people I meet act more like asses than decent human beings, I treat them accordingly (and usually with a side of contempt). This, according to some, makes me “mostly evil.”
Now ask me if I care.
FAQ#13 You’re a bitch and your work confuses me. Why do you keep writing?
A: Because I’m not going to let your opinion of me keep me from doing what I love. Don’t like my work? What are you doing reading it? Why are you even here, if you hate me?
My work confuses you? I’m not even going to touch that one, as it sounds like a personal problem to me.
Besides, people other than you like my writing. Why yes, there are people besides you in the world! How do you like that concept?
Not only that, but I don’t write for you. I write for me. In the words of Neil Gaiman, a writer is “not your bitch.” You might think I’m “a” bitch, but I’m not yours. This is why I keep writing.
FAQ#14 Will you read my stuff and tell me what you think?
A: That depends. How serious are you about your work? I do offer a series of critique services, but they’ll cost you (beyond mere money).
FAQ#15 How do you write/come up with your ideas/find inspiration?
A: A warehouse in Des Moines.
If you believe that, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you too.
I’m a writer. Writing is as essential to me as breathing. Anything and everything provides inspiration. A quote in a book, a scene in a movie, the way someone looks at someone else over dinner, a license plate, a bumper sticker, a streetlamp that isn’t lit … anything can be inspiration.
For me, usually, a character walks into my head and introduces himself, and the story comes from that. There’s a great writing exercise that can help if you’re stuck:
Ask a friend to give you ten words. Just ten random words. Then make them into a paragraph/one page story/poem. It’s that simple … and that hard.
As for “how” I write … it varies. Marathon sessions where I’m locked away in my office for hours on end, short spurts where I shove a few words into a scene before dashing out the door, scribbles on a napkin or in a notebook I keep in my purse … it just depends. I prefer to write in my office at night. The house is quiet, there are no distractions – it’s just me, my music, my laptop and my characters. My peak creative time is 10PM to about 2AM. My friends and family know I’m a night person, and NOT a morning person, so it works out well.