Author on the Couch: Riley Darkes
Today I’m conducting a session with… Riley Darkes!
Riley is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one person who comments and shares this post. Feel free to use the handy-dandy click-to-tweet links to share it quickly.
Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Riley: Having my daughter is the one experience that’s had the biggest impact on my life. I didn’t think I ever wanted children – I’m an only child, I’m entirely too selfish and babies were yuck. Becoming a mother changed me in more than just the obvious ways, it also made me open to new experiences. I learned that I actually liked kids! Which is probably a good thing, since I write stories for children and young adults. Don’t tell my daughter I said this, but now that she’s a teenager, I love her more than ever and think that she’s just awesomesauce.
Me: Aww… And you made me laugh with “babies were yuck.”
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?
Riley: I love learning!! I’ve been in college consistently for the past 15+ years. I have an Associates degree and four Bachelor’s degrees, and will finally have my Master’s in Business Admin in early 2017. When I started writing, I discovered that I could feed my addiction through workshops and craft books. I’m looking forward to graduating and reading… All. The. Books.
Becoming a mother changed me in more than just the obvious ways. @RileyDarkes #amwriting Click To Tweet
Me: Riley! OMG! Four Bachelor’s degrees? You’re officially the smartest person I know!
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?
Riley: I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator. I cram for tests and turn in homework at 11:59pm when it’s due at midnight. I work better on a deadline because I have self-diagnosed attention deficit disorder! I’m a legit multi-tasker. When a deadline looms, I panic, freak out, and hate my procrastinator ways. Then I enter The Zone and become laser-focused.
Writing is a struggle. As an unpublished author, I don’t have deadlines unless I set them for myself and even then, there are no stakes if I miss my deadline. When I finally acknowledged how this trait sabotaged my goals, I started planning better. I now set achievable daily goals, I schedule writing time, and I get away whenever I can to attend writer retreats.
I set achievable daily goals, I schedule writing time, and I attend writer retreats. @RileyDarkes #amwriting via @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: What was your high point as a writer?
Riley: Earlier in 2016, I went to The Highlights Foundation camp in rural Pennsylvania for an “Unworkshop”. This particular workshop means I share meals with other workshoppers at the camp but the rest of the time is mine. The crap cell service and weak WiFi is an added perk! In the four days I was there with no Netflix or Facebook, I edited several chapters and wrote 10,000 new words. This was a huge breakthrough!
Me: 10,000 new words! Wow! That’s awesome! When you’re a writer there’s just something that feels good about getting words on the page.
What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path?
Riley: My lowest point came this year before my Highlights writing retreat. I wasn’t writing regularly, thought what I did manage to write was crap, and considered–for the first time ever–giving up. During that Unworkshop, I did more than just edit and write… I did some soul searching. I decided that I would fight my procrastinator ways and keep going. That was enough crazy talk. Quitting. Pshh. As if.
Me: What’s your writer’s mantra? Why does that mantra speak to you?
Riley: Keep going, always is both my life motto and my writer’s mantra. My mom passed away from brain cancer when I was 23 (my daughter was just a toddler), and I spiraled into depression and anxiety. The cancer was aggressive with a poor prognosis and the support forums I found had a caretaker motto of Keep On Keeping On. I clung to that saying but a few years ago, I realized it no longer fit. Those words were for survival, and I was ready to more than survive, but to THRIVE, to keep moving forward. To keep going, always and to do so in every important part of my life.
Keep going, always. @RileyDarkes #amwriting #lifemotto via @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: Riley! I love your writer/life motto! And it’s cool how it’s evolved.
What do you collect? Why? What personal meaning does this item have for you?
Riley: I got pretty deep, so let’s lighten it up. I collect the most random thing ever… solar dancing flowers. I started with a couple flowers tick-tocking under my desk light and it exploded into a collection when my family realized it’s a cheap way to make me happy. I’m sure I have over 50 solar dancers now in varying designs, like the dancing snowman and Santa, ghosts and goblins, and hula girls. And no, I don’t have all of them on my desk, I have to rotate them out through the year. When they get synced up, they make quite a clatter. Someday I’ll pull them all out and take a picture.
Riley: The first book that came to mind was Eleanor & Park. I picked it up to research third person alternating point of view in a young adult book, and the story sucked me in. I laughed, I sobbed. It broke my heart. I remember wishing I could get half of that emotion on my pages. New goal: make the people cry.
Me: Lol! I have that goal too!
Tell me about your young adult contemporary romance novel SERVING TIME.
Hawaii native Bexley Mack wants three things; to live with her dad, to have a popular YouTube Channel, and to play volleyball. Except her dad’s recent military relocation to Norfolk, Virginia, is ruining her life. When she’s benched for failing math at the new school, a tutor is her only hope.
Math whiz Declan O’Malley and his grandma have lain low the past five years, since his drug-dealing dad was busted by a cop obsessed with taking down the local East coast Irish Mafia. Declan’s less than thrilled to tutor the new military brat, but he can’t stop his nerdy self from preaching physics when Bexley’s serves are caught in the net. With a lot of studying, a bit of physics, and a little practice, Declan’s helped her pass tests, make friends, and serve like a badass.
When Declan’s dad is early released, word spreads he wants revenge. Revenge on his family whose testimonies sealed his fate, and revenge on everything – and everyone – they love. With time ticking until they’re found, Declan must choose between running to protect the woman who raised him, or staying to protect the girl he loves.
New goal: make the people cry. @RileyDarkes #amwriting via @Abbie_Roads Click To Tweet
Me: Riley! OMG! This sounds amazing! Like I want to read it right now!
Share with us a few of your favorite paragraphs.
Declan felt his face heat with his bottled up anger. He never disrespected Gran, but he didn’t like secrets. Didn’t like when his Dad’s lifestyle affected them.
Gran held the spatula up like a fly swatter. “Seventeen isn’t too old for a spankin’. Don’t tempt me.”
He opened his mouth. The timer on the oven beeped, saving his life.
“The cookies are for a meeting,” she said, taking the tray from the oven.
He felt the frown bring down his face. “A meeting?” he asked stupidly. That explains the cookies on a random Thursday afternoon. A stupid, soul-sucking, Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
“I’ve been thinking it’s time we went again.”
“I don’t think-“
“I don’t care what ye think, Declan.” She used her no backtalk, no questions, no snark voice.
“I have chores. And homework.”
“Chores can wait, start your homework now.”
Ugh. All the meetings did was remind him of his jacked up life. He stared at the cookie on his plate and finally took a bite. The chocolate chips tasted worse than dirt in his dry, unhappy mouth.
Drugs ruined everything.
You can find Riley here:
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!
HUNT THE DAWN is available for pre-order now.