By: Priya Migneault
This November 7th, Stonehouse Publishing will release their newest collection of novels via a virtual book launch. The authors included in the launch are Anna Marie Sewell, Danika Stone, Sabrina Uswak, EB Frank, and Robin van Eck, four of whom are Albertan.
This week's interviewee was Danika Stone, who talked about her third and final installment to the Waterton series, called ‘Fall of Night’.
Stone is a multi-genre author, mother, teacher, and proud Albertan. She grew up in Waterton, AB and now lives there part-time with her husband and kids. In the past, she has written (Young Adult) YA, contemporary fiction, and mystery novels, all of which feature a strong female lead. Her previous work includes books such as Switchback (Macmillan, 2019), Internet Famous (Macmillan, 2017), All the Feels (Macmillan, 2016), The Dark Divide (Stonehouse, 2018) and Edge of Wild (Stonehouse, 2016).
The Waterton series is based in Waterton, AB and is about a town of people who will do anything to protect their secrets, including murder. Based in the late ’90s to early 2000’s we meet a community of people who are all in danger of being next on a serial killer’s hit list. As the town tries to discover who the killer is while grieving the continuous loss of their neighbours, they realize that time is running out, and any one of them might be next.
In ‘Fall of Night’ we follow Constable Sadie Black Plume as she tries to uncover the killer before they strike again while dealing with the immense and sudden loss of her partner. As the story unfolds, the killings’ start to tie into an organized crime unit and all the relationships between the tight-knit community are tested. As the townspeople attempt to prove their innocence, the killer gets closer and closer, and Sadie realizes she has to act soon, or she may be next on their list.
Each novel in the Waterton series has a different main character with multiple perspectives in the narrative; ‘Fall of Night’ is Sadie’s story.
Danika Stone wrote this installment of the series after her younger brother's death, which she says affected how the story went, because while Sadie was dealing with loss, so was Stone. “It would be a different book if my brother had survived,” she says. Stone stated that personal experience and present circumstances will filter into what people are writing. When people die in the series, it brings the community together, or it tears them apart.
The main message behind the series is, “How do you keep going forward if you’re the one left behind?” Stone says, “You can’t be alive without the risk of living.” You have to keep going and be open to your feelings to feel alive, which Sadie struggles with throughout the novel.
The Waterton series is a thriller, which she claims is quite challenging to write because you must continuously keep the reader guessing and on their toes. In thrillers, authors have to build up the plot without spoiling the end or revealing too much. Stone says that the characters in the series take on a life of their own and go directions that even she did not anticipate.
She finds it challenging to switch between genres while writing her novels because she finds it difficult to pick just one. However, she finds that while writing the stories, they slowly reveal what genre they most relate to. Stone has written in various genres, but she frequently writes YA. While writing YA novels, she is careful to think of the age of her readers and include content that is acceptable for them, “That’s not to say that you can’t have incredible and powerful writing in a YA book.”
YA novels have to get rid of all the fluff and be crystal clear in their plot; every sentence has to tie into the story's heart. “So, one of the things I do is write and read a chapter at a time (to my kids) and if at the end of that chapter they’re like ‘yeah, okay, that’s nice’ well I’ve failed. But if at the end of the chapter they’re like ‘no, keep going, we can’t go to bed yet’ then I’ve succeeded,” says Stone.
In all of Stone's books, there are LGBTQ+ relationships and characters even if it isn't clearly stated; this includes ‘Fall of Night’. When asked why she does this, Stone explains that as an author your job is to reflect truths, values, and different aspects of reality, which includes LGBTQ+ characters. She also ensures that the character's sexuality and sexual orientation are not the main pieces of the story or their entire personality. “I love that we see it (LGBTQ+ relationships) throughout the world, …like why would our stories not reflect that?,” says Stone, “When I’ve heard authors say ‘well that’s not my personal experience, so I could never write it,’ it just makes me wonder why would you ostracize your readers. And also realistically you do know people that fall within those communities.” Because Danika Stone is not a part of the LGBTQ+ community herself, she hires sensitivity readers to ensure her depictions are as authentic as possible.
For those interested in becoming published authors, Stone says that you need to be picky about finding an agent; they are what can make or break your career in writing. You are typically tied to them through a contract. She expresses that an agent is worth the time and money as they can open doors you typically couldn’t. The second piece of advice, she has, is that once you have an agent, don’t be afraid to send your manuscript to as many publishers as possible. The more companies who want your novel, the more options you have when making a final decision on the publisher. The third piece of advice is to have a second job. Although Stone has published numerous novels, she still works as a teacher throughout the school year because she finds that the money you make as an author isn’t always stable. Very few authors make a sustainable amount of money for their work.
Stone began writing fiction while writing her Master's thesis. She hit a low point while completing the paper and had no motivation to continue writing until she found her passion for fanfiction and fiction writing. “The big defining moment was almost losing my love of writing,” says Stone. Her favourite TV series to write fanfiction for was the ‘The 100’, but that was until she began creating her own characters. She soon discovered that she cared more to write her creations and worlds into books, and with that, she started her career as an author.
‘Fall of Night’ is being launched on November 7th on an online zoom call, which you can attend by purchasing your ticket here on Eventbrite. Stone has set up several small activities for the launch that center around her novel.
You can find ‘Fall of Night’ online at Amazon and Indigo. However, she highly recommends trying to find it at your local bookstore first, ordering directly through Stonehouse Publishing, or through her website Danika Stone, which allows you to purchase merchandise for the novel as well.