USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has published nearly 40 romance and women’s fiction novels. She is a three-time HOLT Medallion winner, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl’s Books & Pals Review Blog. In addition, she is an Amazon best-seller. I recently published a review of her book The Merry-Go-Round here in Fangirl Nation.
How did you get started writing?
When my youngest son started nursery school, I thought it was time for me to try my hand at something different. I thought about looking for a paying job to go to while the kids were in school, but my husband took a look at the piles (and piles) of romance novels and said, “You’ve read enough of these, why don’t you try writing one?” I thought he was crazy, but he planted a seed that sprouted and took root. A year and a half later, I had completed my first sweet contemporary romance. I submitted the manuscript to the Gold Heart Contest (back then, it was called the Unpublished RITA Award) sponsored by Romance Writers of American. My story was chosen as a finalist, and although I didn’t win, I did sell the book to Tara Gavin who was working with Silhouette Books at the time. My career now was born.
You have won more awards for your writing than I even knew existed! Has receiving these awards had an effect on your writing and your life?
Winning writing awards goes a long way in helping an author feel validated. Some of the awards I’ve won are handed out by fellow colleagues; others are from readers. It’s really nice to have received approval from both sides of the spectrum.
What was the inspiration for your book The Merry-Go-Round?
I had written about 30 romances for Harlequin when I decided to try writing a women’s fiction story with a more mainstream feel. It was exciting to flex new muscles and try new things. I really enjoyed writing the book and I like the light, fast-paced tone of the book. I’m proud of The Merry-Go-Round.
The Merry-Go-Round is the story of the personal journey of a woman learning to identify the real priorities in her life. Have you experienced a similar journey?
Lauren is a professional woman who leaves her husband after he causes her to lose a huge amount of money. She felt she needed to protect herself. She learns through the course of the story that her ex was not totally honest with her about some issues and she’s forced to reevaluate everything: her past, her present, and her future. Although I’ve never gone through anything like this, I admired Lauren for her strength to do what she felt was right for herself. Some readers feel that Lauren is too hard-edged, but I was able to empathize with her. Would I have done what she did? Probably not. But women’s fiction is always about a woman’s journey, and if every woman took the same path, life would be pretty boring. I enjoyed going along with Lauren as she figured out her life. I think she finally got it right in the end.
You recently started publishing as an indie author. Can your explain what work is involved in doing your own publishing?
There is so much involved, it’s exhausting. But at the same time, it’s the most exhilarating experience I’ve had in my life. Not only do I have to write the stories, but I’m now in charge of making sure the books are well-edited, properly formatted, attractively covered, and actively marketed. There are blurbs and advertising copy to write, promotion to be scheduled, bookkeeping, taxes, and myriad other responsibilities to be taken care of. The job can seem overwhelming, but these are very exciting times for indie authors.
How has indie publishing made a difference in your writing?
I have branched out in areas I would never have been able to try before. I’ve published a cookbook. I’m an avid food-lover and amateur cook who loves to spend time in the kitchen. I’ve created several characters who love to cook and I included recipes in the back matter of some of my romances. It seemed only natural to turn these recipes into a cookbook. I’m also a deeply spiritual person, and I’m proud to say I’ve written a short how-to spiritual book. I would never have had the opportunity to do that had I not become an indie author.
What books did you enjoy reading as a child, and what books do you love now?
Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Carolyn Keene were my go-to authors as a child. I moved on to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harper Lee, Louisa Alcott… all the classics. I had a very chaotic childhood and reading was my escape. Now, my reading taste is extremely eclectic. I read women’s fiction, mysteries, literature, romance. I bought a book of poetry a couple weeks ago. I don’t think there’s a genre I won’t try.
You make a point of encouraging your readers to interact with you. How has the feedback influenced you and your writing? Do you sometimes get really negative emails? How do you deal with that?
I love my readers. I have created a group on Facebook called The Prima Donnas and the readers who join are free to offer up their opinions about my work. However, when characters start speaking to me, I have to listen to their story. I have to be true to the story they want me to tell. I rarely get negative feedback; if readers don’t enjoy romance, then they tend to avoid reading my books. Romance readers are usually pretty upbeat and kind. I haven’t had any bad experiences in my interaction with my readers. Zealous readers are usually very willing to suspend judgment and go along for a ride. They’re looking to be entertained and are willing to go wherever a story takes them.
Do you have anything further you’d like to tell our readers?
I’d like to take a moment to remind readers that the best way they can give back to their favorite authors is to talk about the books they love. Tell friends and neighbors about the good books you read. Buy books written by your favorite authors and give them as birthday gifts and holiday presents. Start a book blog. Blogs just like Fangirl Nation help authors like me find new readers, so thank you, Vicki! And don’t forget to write reviews. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to go to Amazon or Barnes & Nobel and see a new review that’s been left for one of my books (it’s like winning an award!). Earning a living as a writer is difficult, supportive readers can ease the way. I am so appreciative to have such wonderful reader support.
Click here to read my review of The Merry-Go-Round