Interview with Author Donna Marie West – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Donna Marie West

Author Donna Marie West is a Canadian educator, translator, freelance editor, and author. She realized she loved writing way back when she was 12 or 13, but didn’t act on this passion until she was in her 40s. After spending 30 years in the equestrian world, she decided to gift herself with some writing courses. Her teachers’ kind comments encouraged her, and she submitted her first short story in 2004. Since then, she published some 500 short stories and non-fiction articles in a variety of markets in Canada and the US.  She has also edited hundreds of stories and novels for other authors and done some translations (French to English) too.

Tell me more about your latest book:

I’ve always been fascinated by the distant past, as well as by unexplained phenomena. When I read about frozen animals being recovered from thawing ice and permafrost soil as much as 40,000 years old, a little spark went off in my mind. Then I saw a report about a Russian scientist who injected himself with three-million-year-old bacteria and said he had never felt better, and an idea was born: What if a man was discovered in thawing ice and soil and was found to somehow, miraculously, be alive? THE MUD MAN started as a short story that was published in an anthology in 2019, but I kind of fell in love with my characters and wanted to get to know them better. The novel follows Dom, the mud man, through his recovery and a host of emotional ups and downs and explores the effect he has on the people around him.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Trying to make the science as plausible as possible. Even though the story is science fiction, I wanted it to be believable. I don’t mind doing research—in fact, I enjoy it—but I admit I was afraid readers would say, “No way,” and reject the story line outright. Happily, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I’ve had great reviews so far.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

Until now I’ve followed the traditional route (the prospect of self-publishing terrifies me). I’ve queried indie publishers and been lucky to connect with publishers interested in my books. Unfortunately, the publishers of my first two books have since closed their doors. I am currently looking for options to get them back on the market.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

You know, I never thought of it that way, but yes, I suppose I do. When I have an idea I’m compelled to write it down and sometimes the story just flows into my head from I don’t know where. It’s almost like the story already exists and I’m just transcribing it for posterity.

How many books have you written so far?

HAUNTED HORROR, a collection of horror-themed short stories and poems with New Zealand author John Irvine. Published in 2017, but the publisher closed shortly after.

NEXT IN LINE, the first in a series I think of as THE LINE OF THE BLOOD, a story centered around a descendant of the Jesus bloodline and the woman who becomes embroiled in his destiny. Published in 2020, currently unavailable as the publisher closed in August 2022.

THE MUD MAN, the story of a man miraculously revived after 9500 years frozen in ice and mud and the effect he has on the people around him.

I have a couple finished but not-yet-published novels too:


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER, a dystopian time-travel novel I will eventually be shopping around to publishers.

What’s the best way to market your books?

Marketing is the bane of my existence! I’ve invested more than I can afford on promotion, and I do what I can myself, promoting on Facebook. The publisher of THE MUD MAN has been great at doing what he can, too, but I admit it’s the most problematic part of writing. For me, at least.

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

I don’t know if I have a “career” in writing. I still have my day job and my editing side line, but I try to devote as much time as possible to my own writing. I would say it’s important to be consistent, deliver quality work, meet deadlines, and cooperate with editors and publishers. I would love to interact with readers, too, but so far that hasn’t happened much.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Read as much as you can. Take writing and editing classes. Don’t be afraid to show your work to one or two trusted and knowledgeable people and learn to take constructive criticism. Ignore negative comments from those who might be ignorant or jealous of your effort and/or success. Unfortunately, there are lots of them out there. Most of all, write what you are passionate about—and of course, if we’re talking fiction, create the most awesome and unique story you can. Enjoy the process, and don’t let anyone tell you not to write.

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