The DMS was lucky enough to interview Donna Galanti. Lizzy reviewed her book Joshua and the Lightning Road, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn more about her story. So, without further ado... take it away, Donna!
What inspired you to write Joshua and the Lightning Road?
I had written my first book, inspired by my son, called Joshua and the Fantastic Forest (now buried in a shoebox in the garage and being munched on by bugs I’m sure). But I knew I needed to learn more about how to write for kids so I took a class on How to Write a Children’s Novel in 9 Months. I thought back to what fascinated me as a kid, and remembered how I loved storms and would sleep on our screened-in porch to watch them at night, then thought “wouldn’t it be cool to travel a lightning road to another place?”And Joshua and the Lightning Road was born – a continued inspiration from my son, who helped me create some of its magical characters.
Joshua and the Lightning Road involves a lot of mythology. What was your research process like and how long did it take you to write it?
I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology and pulled out my old school books to read up on the Greek Olympians, whose heirs are featured in Joshua and the Lightning Road. They live on another world called Nostos (meaning ‘homecoming’ in Greek) and this story is a blending of old and new worlds. I had a lot of fun mixing the world of the Greek gods with an invented culture, including researching beasts and plants associated with the Olympians. I wrote the story in exactly nine months, the length of the class I wrote it in.
What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?
Laura Ingalls was my biggest inspiration! My parents owned and operated a campground in rural New Hampshire when the Little House books came along for me. We had barns and horses and hogs and I loved gathering the rotten apples from the orchards to feed the hogs each day. After we sent our hogs off to “the big pigpen in the sky”, I dreamt of being Laura Ingalls blowing up the pig’s bladder like a balloon and tossing it about and roasting the pig’s tail. Although, my mother was not so thrilled with scooping out the eyes to make head cheese as Laura’s mother did.
Roald Dahl was my other favortie. I always got his books from the Tooth Fairy. My favorites were Danny the Champion of the World, Mr. Fantastic Fox, and The Story of Henry Sugar. Other books close to my heart are The Island of the Blue Dolphins and White Fang. And I couldn’t forget My Side of The Mountain. I grew up as an only child in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains of New York and roamed the woods for adventure. We lived in a 200-year old farmhouse on acres of apple trees and falling-down barns. It was a child’s world to explore. So you can understand how I desperately wanted to be Sam Gribley living on a mountain in a tree with a pet falcon!
When you were growing up did you like mythology? Do you have a favorite god, goddess, or myth?
I’ve always loved the stories of the Greek Olympians. They are big and scary and full of power – and that drives my imagination. Zeus, especially, wowed me with his giant lightning bolt and then, of course, there’s my fascination with lightning. A fun tidbit, my dad has been struck by lightning three times on the golf course (and lived to tell the tales)!
The path to publication varies from author to author. Every author has a unique story and one that other authors can learn from. Can you tell us a little bit about your path to publication or do you have any advice for new authors?
My journey to publication has not been a straight one. I wrote my first book from grief, as a way to deal with the death of my mother. I always wanted to write a book and if she had not passed away, I truly believe I would not be a published author today. It’s very bittersweet for me not to be able to share this dream with her as she was my biggest champion, but her legacy lives on in making my dream come true. I now have to be my own champion. I actually became published first with my thrillers for adults, but along the way fell in love with writing for children and now still get to write thrillers – but for kids! My biggest tip for new authors is to surround yourself with a peer support network for I have learned that we can write alone, but we can’t get published alone. I’m published today because of some amazing authors who’ve mentored me.
If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?
|Tintagel Castle, Cornwall|
I would live in an old stone cottage by the sea in England. I lived in an English village as a child and fell in love with this land rich in history, legends, and beauty. My love for all things King Arthur grew from there, and I even coerced my parents to take me to Tintagel in Cornwall, the legendary site of King Arthur’s birth. I can’t wait to take my family there soon to visit. But here’s especially why, my son’s favorite author (and one of mine too!), Jenny Nimmo, the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Bone series, lives in Wales not too far from where I grew up in England. Jenny so kindly endorsed Joshua and the Lightning Road after reading the bound manuscript in her converted Welsh waterwheel home. I loved knowing that she was reading Joshua and the Lightning Road there by the river, and she welcomes us to visit her on our overseas trip.
If you could befriend a character from one of your books, who would you befriend? Why?
Definitely Bo Chez, Joshua’s grandfather. He’s larger than life with a sense of mystery around him and many stories (and secrets) to share, and I’d love to hear all about his adventures as a youth when he battled beasts and bad guys.
Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
I am revising Joshua and the Arrow Realm, book 2, which is anticipated to release in December, 2015. In the book Joshua is called to free his friend, who’s been enslaved as a power pawn in a queen’s quest to rule all. But when Joshua becomes bait in her hunting game, loses his powerful lightning orb, and his friends turn on him, he wonders if he can survive on wits and instincts alone and not only save his friend—but himself.
I’m also plotting out book 3, Joshua and the Fire Realm, right now! It’s more adventure set in a volcanic landscape, filled with lots of friendships, battles, and bad guys.