To call Dotti Enderle a multi-faceted and talented writer would be an understatement. Novels, picture books and mysteries are just a few of the genres that the Houston -based author and storyteller has listed on her writing resume. Recently I caught up with Dotti and spoke with her about writing, inspiration and advice for young writers.
Describe your path to writing.
In 1993, I became a professional storyteller. Schools and libraries hired me as a children’s storyteller for special events. I created my own version of folktales, but also wrote original stories too. In 1995, I had such a large collection of original stories I decided to try getting them published. I went on to have over 100 stories, articles and poems published in various children’s magazines. I also submitted to book publishers. I landed my agent in 1999 and my first book was published in 2002.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. Ideas come from newspaper articles, a sentence in a book, something I overhear at the mall. But mostly I can just sit down and start typing, and the story develops as I go along.
Describe a normal “writing” workday.
I don’t have a normal writing day. I discipline myself to write at least one hour each day, and some days that hour extends to two or three. Other days I struggle to get 500 words written. I’ve learned not to reward or punish myself for how much or how little I write. I’m not one of those authors who can sit down and pound out twenty pages a day. I accept that. Everyone should write in a way that works for them, and never strive to meet someone else’s style or standards.
Who are your favorite writers and why?
As for as children’s and YA literature, I love Laurie Halse Anderson, M.T. Anderson, and Kimberly Willis Holt. For adult fiction, I’m hooked on Harlan Coben, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, and most anything by Christopher Moore.
What advice would you give aspiring writers and why?
Read! Read! Read! Both how-to books and the genre in which you wish to write. I once heard that you have to read 1000 books before you can write just one. That’s so true. My biggest lesson came when I took one of my favorite books, When Zachary Beaver Came To Town by Kimberly Willis Holt, and dissected it. I made note of when she used description within dialogue. What strong verbs she used. How she painted a scene so we could visualize it. This was when I began to see my own writing weaknesses. I don’t think a million how-to books could have taught me that.
Dotti’s numerous books can be found at any local bookstore or online. Her latest book, Gingerbread Man Superhero! is due out September 2009 from Pelican Publishing.
This interview first appeared in the Houston Banner, June 2009