Author on the Couch: Pintip Dunn
This week on Author on the Couch I conduct a session with,
GIVEAWAY! Pintip is giving away away an ecopy of FORGET TOMORROW… Just do these three things:
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- Leave a comment for Pintip.
- Be sure to check back for when Pintip announces the winner!
Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Pintip: Hands down, the experience that had the most profound impact on my life was the birth of my daughter. Now, all three of my children’s births were amazing, exhilarating experiences, but the birth of my daughter was the very first time I became a mother — and that changed everything for me. Those two days in the hospital were among the most special — and tired — of my life. I slept about two of the 48 hours, literally, and I spent most of the other 46 hours with my baby in my arms. I thought her face looked just like a chipmunk’s, but I was afraid to tell anybody at the time. I swear to this day that her cries sounded just like music: “La, la, la.” My love for her — and for my other children — forms the bedrock of my life. I think this deep, maternalistic love was always inside me (see my love for my little sister), but this was the day that I began to understand the meaning of my life.
Me: What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Pintip: I think the trait that has helped me the most is my ability to get things done. I’m not a procrastinator. Sure, I get distracted by social media and drown in self-pity just like everyone else. But, by and large, when I set a goal, I usually meet it. I have tools that help me: I make copious to-do lists, for example, and I use pomodoro to keep my distractions to a minimum.
Me: I had to google pomodoro. The first thing that came up was tomato sauce? But then I saw this article: http://pomodorotechnique.com/ I just officially set my timer for 25 minutes. I love this idea. I’m totally giving it a try! Thanks for sharing!
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Pintip: I am most hindered by my tendency to stress about the little things. I can lose an hour or more because I’m freaking out over something or another. I’ve been doing my best to take a step back and understand that in the bigger scheme of things, these hiccups don’t matter! I think I’m getting a little better at it — I’m acknowledging the problem, at least! — but I still have a lot to learn.
Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest?
Pintip: My high point as a writer was when I held my debut novel, Forget Tomorrow, in my hands for the very first time. A cardboard box from my publisher arrived on my doorstep. Based on the shipping label, I was pretty sure I knew what the box contained. Luckily, it was near the end of the workday, so I called my husband, and he came home. We poured champagne, and then I opened the box, with photo documentation of the entire process. I intentionally make this experience into a “moment” — and yet, I was unprepared for the emotion that would hit me. I hugged the book to my chest, with tears streaming down my face.
I couldn’t believe it. My story was an actual book. People would read it. I created these characters, this world, this adventure. And now, it existed outside of my computer and a handful of readers.
Me: Oh, Pintip! I know the feeling! A while back I got to hold my ARC for RACE THE DARKNESS. It was such an amazing experience!
What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path?
Pintip: Oh gosh, this is hard to talk about, especially in a public forum. I’ve never even told my friends this particular story. I’d been writing for years and had suffered through many bitter rejections — over a hundred. And then, I wrote a book called Forget Tomorrow that seemed to turn everything around for me. It finaled in almost every writing contest I entered — eleven — and won a lot of those — seven. My agent made an offer on my book in 24 hours. It finaled in the Golden Heart®. I thought this book was going to be it for me. After all my years of hard work and sacrifice, after all the sweat and tears, it was finally going to be my turn. I was finally going to achieve my lifelong dream and sell a book.
At least not then. We uniformly received almost the same response from most of the publishers: we love this book, but we can’t buy it because of the market.
No matter. I would rally. I started writing another book, which I entered in another contest. It finaled, but then when the winners were announced, it came in second place. This is the truly embarrassing part, the one I’ve never told anyone (except for the two friends who were present). I hope you’ll forgive me for having this reaction. While I knew, rationally, that second place was fantastic, I was devastated. I went to my room and wept bitterly. My thinking was: Forget Tomorrow was rejected by publishers, and if the new book wasn’t as good, then what hope did I have?
I almost quit writing right at that moment. I had worked so hard, I had studied my craft, I had tried and tried and tried again, for ten long years, and still, I wasn’t good enough. What was the point in pursuing this dead-end passion?
But, for some reason I can’t explain, that day, a fire started burning in my stomach, one that had never been there before. It was hot, and it was angry, which was unusual for me. That’s not an emotion I normally have when it comes to my writing. More importantly, it was determined as hell.
“Oh, yeah?” this fire said. “I’m going to write a book so damn good that you won’t be able to reject me, no matter what the market says.”
From that day forward, I never looked back.
It would be two more books and over two more years before I finally sold. And when I did, I ended up selling all three of those books, plus four more, to two different publishers, in approximately seven months.
Even though it was the fourth book I sold, my debut novel turned out to be Forget Tomorrow, after all, the way it was supposed to be. In addition to the U.S., Forget Tomorrow has sold in three foreign territories, and this year it is nominated for a RWA RITA® in the Best First Book category.
My second book, The Darkest Lie, released just a week and a half ago on June 28. This book was a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews.
The rejections are still here, of course, although they take other forms. But so is the fire. These days, it urges me to continue growing and learning and to write the best books I possibly can.
Me: I just got chills! Wow! I love this story. And I so understand about crying over 2nd place. I’ve cried over 3rd place. I think so often we set the highest standards for ourselves and feel like a failure when we don’t quite reach them–no matter how close we are.
How do you deal with rejection or bad reviews? What advice can you give others about how to handle rejection and bad reviews?
Pintip: Easy. Don’t read reviews.
The answer is so simple, and yet, it is SO hard to follow someone else’s advice. Before my first book debuted, I knew about this wisdom, too. But how can you not read the thoughts of your readers — when you’ve never even had readers before? It was nearly impossible for me. I was dying to know everyone’s reactions, and in the beginning, I would devour reviews. The good stuff was amazing. They made me feel on top of the world and brought tears to my eyes and re-affirmed to me: yes, this is why I write. The bad stuff was . . . not so amazing.
It’s different for every writer, but for me, I learned in about two months that reading reviews was really not very healthy for me. So I quit the habit cold-turkey. These days, I almost don’t read any reviews at all, good or bad. The only exceptions I make are usually when someone tags me or sends me a review, and I know that it will be positive (mostly), but I’ve been tricked even in that case.
Like I said, this is a personal decision for each author, but I have to say my life and stress levels improved dramatically when I stopped reading reviews.
Me: Tell me a little bit about your second contemporary thriller THE DARKEST LIE.
Is it better to live with a lie, or risk everything for the truth?
In Pintip Dunn’s gripping and timely novel, a young woman whose life unravels in the wake of her mother’s alleged suicide sets out to clear her name.
“The mother I knew would never do those things. But maybe I never knew her after all.”
Clothes, jokes, coded messages…Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.
As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death resurface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own…
Me: Please, share a few of your favorite paragraphs with us.
My mother was chaos and passion, devastation and joy. Dad used to say you could reach into her eyes and pull out a song. Well, her eyes are closed now, and I’m not sure there’ll be any music in my life, ever again.
This is my favorite quote of the entire book. CeCe is conflicted about her mother’s death. She feels a lot of rage that Tabitha left her the way she did — without a final note and seemingly caring more about a high school boy than she did her own daughter. But at the core of CeCe’s emotions is deep, devastating grief. She loved her mother with ever inch of her being, and she doesn’t know how to make sense of her life without Tabitha in it.
I lost my own mother when I was five years old. Although the circumstances of her death were vastly different, I have felt her absence like a hole in my heart my entire life. This passage evokes those feelings of yearning and grief, and that’s why I love it.
Purchase the THE DARKEST LIE:
See more of Pintip:
Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her first novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for pre-order now!
Check out her second Novel HUNT THE DAWN !
*Formatted by Manny Goodman