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Dani Atkins - Author

About the Author

Dani Atkins was born in London in 1958, and grew up in North London. She moved to rural Hertfordshire in 1985, where she has lived in a small village ever since with her family. Although Dani has been writing for fun all her life, Fractured was her first novel. She has since written The Story of Us and Our Song.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired Our Song …
The first germ of an idea came as quite a disquieting thought.  I was thinking randomly about how many women (myself included) have a special place in their heart for the very first person they fell in love with.  It then occurred to me that somewhere out there, is a woman I don’t know, have never met, and probably never will, who holds my own husband in her heart.  He is her “someone”.  I then started thinking what if two women who had both loved the same man at different times in their life were to meet… what if a tragedy in both their lives brought them together on a single night…  And there you have Our Song.

Who were the key people who informed your research?
For all things related to music, my son Luke was of invaluable help (although please don’t tell him that, or I will never hear the end of it).  Luke (like Ally) was a music student at university, he too plays the piano and the trumpet, and he even depped a couple of times for Moonlighters.  In addition I shamelessly exploited friends who ski to help with the skiing scene, stole someone’s wedding proposal and put it the book, and spent a lot of time pouring over various NHS websites. One site in particular was my daily reference point and several of the very moving patient and family accounts inspired some of my favourite scenes in the book.

Which character was the most interesting to write? Which was the hardest?
On a personal level, I loved the character of Max.  He is the gay best friend I have never had but always secretly wanted.  He brought some much needed light relief moments into the story.  His deep affection for Ally, Jake and Joe rang true for me, and that made every scene he was in a joy to write.  I think perhaps Jake was the hardest, because I was putting a young boy in a truly terrible situation and then having to write about his pain.  It made me sad.

Our Song is a bit of a weepie – did it make you cry?
I’m afraid so.  I always cry a little when I finally finish writing a book (possibly from relief that I have managed to get there?).  However, I was snivelling away long before I made it to the final scenes.

Who would you cast if a film was made of this story?
That is a toughie, because I have seen these people in my head for such a long time, that no actors on either the big or small screen looks quite right.  I find it really fascinating to hear who readers see as the characters.  Someone told me recently that they saw Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, as David… and on looking more closely, I could definitely see what she meant.  I don’t suppose he’s available for a movie, is he?

Have you always written?
I actually can’t think of a time when I haven’t wanted to be a writer.  It just took me a little longer to achieve than I had anticipated.  Even as a child I would always be scribbling away at short stories and poems.

Where do you write – do you have strict routines?
I have an office at home where I write on an old-fashioned desktop computer (I’ve tried writing on my laptop, but I don’t get on with it nearly as well for some reason).  My desk is beside a window which looks out onto my back garden, which is a source of distraction (although very useful to know when it has started to rain and the washing needs to come in off the line).
 
I had a very idealistic image of how it would be to work as a full time author.  I thought I would sit down at my desk at nine o’clock each morning and then work continually until around five each afternoon (with an indulgent hour off for lunch, of course).  It didn’t take long for me to discover that I’m nowhere near disciplined enough for that!  I have a tendency to get horribly side-tracked and it can sometimes take me ages to finally “get going”.  I begin each day by walking my dog which gives me an excellent opportunity to think about what I want to write that day (which is about as much forward planning as I ever manage to accomplish).

For some reason I seem to be much more productive during the afternoon and early evening.  This means my poor long-suffering husband is normally on dinner cooking duties each night.  Thankfully he doesn’t seem to mind, and this has saved us from a life of takeaways.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your plan B be?
Well, for a large part of my adult life I was actually living my plan B (plan A coming to me a little later than most).  I worked as a secretary in a variety of different companies and organisations and then ended up working in the offices of a large secondary school for a great many years.  However I don’t think working in an office could ever really be called my dream job.  If I had to choose an alternative dream career to being an author, then I would have quite fancied trying my hand at acting, but perhaps that’s because I have always had a tendency to be a little bit of a drama queen!

What are you writing next?
My next book is going to be another emotional drama with, of course, a strong love story running through it.

How do you relax?
I like nothing better than long lazy days at home with my family.  A log fire burning in the grate, a good book waiting to be read, or a DVD box set to plough through.  And if you throw in a glass of something alcoholic and a big old box of chocolates, you’ve got my perfect recipe for rest and relaxation.

Which other writers do you admire?
My favourite author is Stephen King.  Surprisingly this is not because I particularly enjoy the horror genre and will actually skip over passages that are overtly gory.  But Stephen King is without doubt the master of suspense and storytelling and has a unique and insightful way of bringing his characters to life with such honesty and realism using just a few well-chosen sentences or dialogue.  He is a true observer of human nature.

Finally, is there a message you would like to send to your readers?
I would just like to thank everyone who has read my books, and especially those who have taken the time to contact me and let me know how much they have enjoyed them.  If this were an award ceremony I would have a long list of people to thank.  But without doubt, it is the readers to who I owe the greatest gratitude.  You don’t set out to be an author for fame or fortune.  You do it because you have a story in your head that you want to share.  So thank you readers, for letting me share mine with you and for quite literally making my dream come true.

Featured books by Dani Atkins

Other books by Dani Atkins

Fractured

Fractured

Author: Dani Atkins Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/11/2013

What would you do if life gave you a second chance? The night of the accident changed everything... Now, five years on, Rachel's life is crumbling. She lives alone in a tiny flat, working in a dead-end job, desperate with guilt over her best friend's death. She would give anything to turn back the clock. But life doesn't work like that... Does it? The night of the accident was a lucky escape... Now, five years on, Rachel's life is perfect. She has a wonderful fiance, loving family and friends around her, and the career she always wanted. But why can't Rachel shake the memory of a very different life? Gripping, romantic and heartbreaking, Fractured is a magical love story that asks: can two different stories lead to the same happy ending?