I met Karen at my first FantasyCon. I was just starting out as a writer, as was Karen so we shared ideas and suggestions before meeting the following year. Shared work on The Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse and other projects shored up our friendship. She makes amazing masks, has worked in theatre, lived in China, rides horses and enjoys LARPing and swordplay (she’s even started teaching the Lamb how to swing a sword!). She has two novels out, my favourite The Red Knight and the award nominated Breed and her website. So lets find out more about this fantastic story-teller.
GCH: If you could edit your past, what would you change?
KTD: Nothing. I’ve thought about this on many occasions as I’m sure everyone does (you and I at least;) I’ve come to a conclusion that I’m happy with in that good or ill, everything that’s happened to me has brought me to the place I am today and I rather like that.
GCH: Do you have any superstitions/quirks/unique qualities others would call odd?
KTD: Gosh, hundreds, I should think, I just hide them reasonably well.
GCH: What would you consider your greatest achievement?
KTD: Making two human beings.
GCH: You’ve worked as set and costume designer. How did you become involved in this? Can you share some of the creative process, how you approach these projects, some of your triumphs and, well, not so triumphant creations?
KTD: I’m more of a prop maker than a set designer. I fell sideways into making props when I was working as an actor in various, small theatre companies.
GCH: I’m in awe of the masks you’ve made. How do you create them?
KTD: Aw, shucks, thanks!:) If it’s not to a brief from a client I let my imagination off the leash and, when I’ve got an idea I draw it and then make a pattern keeping in mind what it will look like in 3D…you still awake? When I’m happy with the pattern, I cut it out of leather or make a mould to cast from in whatever material I’m using. Simples!
GCH: What keeps you awake at night?
KTD: Everything. Not everything every night, that would be exhausting, Everything is on rotation. I have a noisy, childish brain that constantly clamours for attention and refuses to shut up unless it’s really, really tired.
GCH: If you could be a character in any movie, book or TV show, who would it be and why?
KTD: Dr Who, fo sho. I can relate to the eccentric outsider and I have a time machine…okay, I don’t have a time machine but I’d still be really good.
GCH: Favourite food? Restaurant or take away?
My favourite food is seafood, although, like Wallace, I’m quite partial to cheese.
GCH: What made you travel to China?
KTD: Escaping the law after a bank job went wrong /jk. I’m quite partial to the occasional BIG adventure and went to Taiwan on a bit of a whim and ended up teaching English out there.
GCH: What was the craziest thing you did while there?
KTD: I got caught in a landslide and fell down Yushan also known as Jade Mountain while out hiking. Not one to do anything by halves, I made sure I fell down the biggest mountain on the island. Whilst lost in the jungle I was lucky enough to come across a couple of tribesmen who showed me the way back to town.
GCH: Strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
KTD: 1000 year egg. They’re not really a thousand years old, but even so, I can’t recommend them.
GCH: What music do you write to?
KTD: It depends on what I’m writing. When I’m editing a final draft, I quite often don’t listen to anything other than the voices in my head. Rock, goth and techno feature heavily during first drafts depending on the mood I’m after, but it varies widely.
GCH: How do you go about writing a novel/short story/poem?
KTD: If it’s not to a brief/prompt from an editor then it starts as most stories do with a random idea, quite often of the ‘what if?’ variety. It’s then a case of putting one word after another until the story is done. This can take a while and many, many drafts as I’m a bit of a fiddler; I never feel anything I write is ever finished and quite often have my fingers peeled off the keyboard by my wise and patient partner when I’ve revised the same sentence for the twentieth time.
GCH: Tell us about your latest project.
KTD: My latest project is Breed 2, the follow up to my fabulous, award shortlisted novel, Breed. I’m also going to be working on Breed 3 and a spin off novel. (GCH: um, what about the sequel to Red Knight??)
GCH: Tell us a secret.
I could, but then I’d have to kill you.