Tellest has had the opportunity multiple times over the last few months to work with M. Dutchy, the author of Foresthill: A New Beginning, and Foresthill: Children of the Night. Today, we’ve got an even cooler stroke of luck, as we’ve been able to take some time out to talk to the author herself. Read on to find out more about M. Dutchy’s writing experiences, and what else she has on the horizon.
Tellest: Hi there, Dutchy! I wanted to thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. You and I have worked together a couple times over the past few months, so it is going to be great to get to know you better, and to share that with some of the Tellest readers.
Dutchy: Thank you for having me.
T: You mention on your website that you began writing to clear your head of all the stories that you had brewing in there. How long have you been freeing up those thoughts and getting them on paper?
Dutchy: I’ve been writing but never published. Most of the time I wrote the story and deleted afterwards. Foresthill A New Beginning changed that. The very honest truth is that I wrote Foresthill a New Beginning within one month! I loved the setting from my own book so much that I just kept writing. I think the series will contain five books in the end.
T: That’s a quick job! Have you found that the later books in the series are taking longer to write, or are they taking a bit longer flesh out and write? Is it easier since you’re more familiar with the characters?
Dutchy: Every book takes time to write, I think in my case that it really depends on my mood. I have days I’m not in the mood to write. That is the case with book 2 in the series, I knew what I wanted with it, I knew the end and the beginning, but I was just not in the mood to write it. So it took me a while. Every character needs to develop in my eyes, otherwise there is a problem in my book, which makes writing a little more tricky.
T: When you do have those days where you’re not in the mood to write, do you do any brainstorming for other story ideas, or is it just a day to let your mind relax?
Dutchy: Mostly I brainstorm or make a rough chapter layout of when I want what to happen. It works for me. I do, however, also just have days I relax…
T: Your Foresthill series has a very dark fantasy or occult feel to it. How did you settle on that for your first stories, and what serves as an inspiration for them?
Dutchy: I love dark fantasy, witchcraft, vampires, fairies and everything around it. That magic is something you can use or would be able to practice is something that gives you, as a writer, unlimited options. Vampires, fairies who are immortal or can live a very long life is something that makes me want to write about them. Imagine what they will see, what they can do. They are living history. Their dark side however is even more inspiring. Like every creature on Earth, their choices make them to who they are, not their powers, and that is for me one of the biggest inspirations to write.
T: Speaking of these long-lived characters and beings… When it comes to life outside the normal expectation of mortals, how do you get in the minds of someone who is going to live to see many more sunrises than those around them?
Dutchy: It’s hard because I also believe that you can live too long. If you live a long life and you see many people age and move on around you, I think this does something with a creature. I think that creatures that live long lives are also by heart lonely, but this is something I’m still figuring out. While I’m for myself far into the story, there are still things which I do not know how to progress them.
T: What have you found to be the biggest challenges in writing and storytelling since you began committing your words to paper? Was it forming the tale, or has it been something on the back end, like formatting, preparing the book for storefronts or marketing?
Dutchy: Wow, where do I start! Writing the books is sometimes challenging because the story has to go from my idea to a well worded story that needs to have flow, if you understand my meaning. But this said it was not my biggest challenge. I made a lot of mistakes with my first book. The biggest one was to not hire an editor. I’m very good with computers and have experience as a formatter so that part was the easy thing. Marketing however is for me still a struggle. I think that many self-publishers or indie publishers struggle with this. Getting attention in an overfull market is very hard.
T: What have you found along the way that has helped with marketing? Are there any tips or tricks that you could offer to other writers who want to follow in your footsteps?
Dutchy: This is something I’m still working on. I learned very quick in this industry that not all can be trusted. Most people will never give you advice without presenting you with an invoice, and so many in this industry are misunderstood or used! I learned agencies are not really interested if you are not connected. Same is with the publishers. There are so many good Indie Authors who just do not get a chance because the publishers are so hard to approach, agencies are careful before they choose, and this makes it possible for only a few to have a dream come true. I would advise every starting author to think and research what you want because only a few in this world will help you…
T: What goals do you have for your marketing over the next year or so as your other books are coming out? Are you aiming for a promotion with one of the big promoters, like BookBub?
Dutchy: That I’m not sure about. The road ahead will be rocky, but I hope I will work it out. I would love to work with the big promotors but budget wise this has to be possible.
T: How did it feel to have your first book published and ready to go out into the world?
Dutchy: I was, and I still am proud at my work. I made so many mistakes with my first book, but I believe in the story being good. I learned my lesson and tried to improve. Believe me, I will never ever publish a book anymore without getting it edited first! There were evenings I cried myself into sleep from the hate I got for not editing my book. I admit and am open that my native language is Dutch, and English is my second. I still write my books in English because I wanted to have a better understanding of the language. It worked. Foresthill A New Beginning is now edited and better than the first edition. I love the story and I’m happy that I published it and shared it with the world…
T: I think most storytellers are so passionate about their first books that many of them (myself included) release their books into the world thinking that it is as good as it can be. Writing takes so much patience, but over time you see considerable improvements. Realizing that you can benefit from an editor is a great lesson, and even the best authors have editors. What other advice would you tell a past version of yourself at the beginning of your writing process?
Dutchy: Have a thick skin. A book will never be to everyone’s liking. People will critique you no matter how well the product is. I notice myself that my writing is improving, but I never realized how big the impact of critique is on my mental health. While most people have given me feedback that I could work with and I’m grateful for, I also received messages from people saying I should stop writing and worse. The Internet can be a powerful tool, but it works both ways, positive but also negative. I never realized how many trolls are out there. So, what I probably would tell my past version is to be patient and to not take everything personal and make sure you have people who can catch you when you fall…
T: What were some ways you could separate the mean reviews from the constructive ones? How were you able to detach from them enough to know that you were always growing and evolving as a storyteller, and that you shouldn’t give up?
Dutchy: I have a strong support team who told me to just not give up.
Mean reviews I learned are something you have to learn how to deal with as a writer. I learned some people didn’t even read the book, but because I’m a self-published author, my book was, by definition, bad. The craziest review I saw was from someone who had given my book 2 stars and reading the review I understood he didn’t even read it! I think that was a changing point for me. If people give me feedback or a bad review with critic, I can work with it. I don’t mind and I even applaud those people to do so, it makes me a better writer and makes my story better.
T: Who have been your biggest allies in helping you realize your writing and publishing goals?
Dutchy: My family, my friends and also Amna Rahimoon, my editor. My family for allowing me to write and put time in it. They support me no matter my choices and that is what is making my books possible. My friends, who give me feedback. I have one close friend who is a real bookworm, I dedicated my second book to her, she reads everything I send her and gives honest feedback. She helps me when I get stuck and even when I send her the same story over and over again with minor changes, she reads it and all of that while having a pretty busy life.
T: By the time you had put together your first promotion for Foresthill with me, it was as if the second book was ready to come out. I’m sure you’re working on the third as we speak. How far into the future do you see the Foresthill series continuing?
Dutchy: I wrote Knight of Darkness, part 3 of the series, before Children of the Night, part two. I know it sounds strange, but I did. It only means that I now have to adjust some things. Knight of Darkness is almost ready to go to Amna. She already did half the book I think… I’m working on finishing part 4, Sons of Lilith, before the summer and I think it will be five books total. Part 5 I have a rough story on paper. It will be called The Fairy Queen.
T: Was Children of the Night meant to take place before Knight of Darkness, or was it something that came about because of Knight of Darkness?
Dutchy: No, what makes this very strange is, like I said, I knew the beginning, the end and what I wanted to happen but in the middle it was challenging. I’m also a person that just writes and if I don’t like it I just take it out. So, by Children of the Night I wrote over 8 chapters into the book didn’t like where it was going and restarted. I have I think over 300 A4 pages with text deleted out of my manuscripts. I saved it because sometimes I like to read back and remember why I took it out. Knight of Darkness and Children of the Night both were written in a couple of weeks, but both also had chapters taken out. I love writing and honestly, I think 90% would never be published. Mostly because I don’t like it, it doesn’t fit in the storyline or I just think it is not good enough,
T: If you weren’t working on the Foresthill series, what do you think you would write?
Dutchy: I probably would still be working on something Dark-fantasy related with a paranormal touch. It is the genre I love most, definitely something with a mystery/detective vibe in it. Write what you love the most, I strongly believe in. I am working on an idea for another novel with a history touch but that is still in the works…
T: What other writing has inspired you to complete your own stories? Who are the authors you most look up to?
Dutchy: I love to read, I have a kindle (even more than one) and shelves filled with books. I love everything vampire, with or fantasy related. Strange thing is that also a good mystery, detective or other fiction you can hand me and I read it. But authors that inspired me are Gena Showalter, J. K. Rowling, Tolkien, Cassandra Clare, Tomi Adeyemi, and I’m also a big fan of Christopher Paolini. While I must admit I don’t love all their work they do inspire me.
T: Where can people find out more about you and your stories?
Dutchy: More about me on my website, amazon page or check out my Facebook page:
I want to thank M. Dutchy for this opportunity. She’s a hard worker and a dedicated storyteller, and to be able to steal away a bit of her time is very much appreciated. Dutchy has several books in her Foresthill series out now. Check out her debut story, Foresthill: A New Beginning, and remember to keep an eye on Tellest for more news about Dutchy’s future releases!