Donna Galanti is an author living in Doylestown that recently launched a new series aimed at children in the middle grades. We reached out to Donna to talk about her latest project, what inspires her, and advice she can give to aspiring writers.
HM (Happenings Media): What is your most recent published work? What is it about and who is the intended reader?
DG (Donna Galanti): I’m the author of the Joshua and the Lightning Road series, but my most recent published work is the Unicorn Island series published on the digital Epic! platform (hardcover Simon & Schuster Feb 2021). Unicorn Island is a middle-grade illustrated novel series aimed at 9- to 12-year-olds. The story is about a young girl who discovers a mysterious island full of mythical beasts and darker dangers. When Sam arrives in Foggy Harbor, population 3,230, all she can see is a small, boring town that’s way too far from home. And knowing that she’s stuck there all summer with her grumpy Uncle Mitch only makes things worse. But when Sam discovers a hidden trapdoor leading to a room full of strange artifacts, she realizes Foggy Harbor isn’t as sleepy as it seems. With the help of a new friend, Sam discovers an extraordinary secret beyond the fog: an island of unicorns whose fates are intertwined with hers.
HM: Where do you get your inspiration?
DG: I am an avid outdoor and nature lover and many of my ideas come during hiking, kayaking, and biking. I am lucky to live next to an old growth forest where I roam every day. Many of my story ideas come to blossom here. Being in nature unleashes the stories inside me!
HM: Did you always want to be a writer? When did you start writing?
DG: I’ve always wanted to be a writer since I wrote my first screenplay, a murder mystery, at seven years old and acted it out with the neighborhood kids. I attended school in England then in a magical castle like Hogwart’s where my imagination ran wild in an itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included. True!). I went on to write my first fantasy story when I was ten about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship.
HM: What’s something you do when you’re experiencing writer’s block?
DG: I go to the woods, my favorite place to unwind, and read, watch movies, listen to music, or meditate. These activities always help get the creative juices flowing again. I also take a break from my computer and love to journal in a notebook. There’s something about writing with a pen to paper that slows down my thoughts to reveal solutions to story problems that plague me.
HM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
DG: Get out of your writer’s cave and join writer communities and organizations now, no matter what level of writing you are at. Also, I wish I’d learned about how to write a book before writing my first book. I took writing workshops after I finished that first book and it required going back and fixing a ton of things! However, I don’t regret the learning that took place afterwards because it taught me how to write a better book from the beginning. Keep learning your craft and keep filling your writer’s toolbox. And remember that this writing business is not GOING to be easy – it’s going to be worth it! Visit my Writers Corner for inspiration, advice, and resources on writing.
HM: Who are some of your favorite authors, both growing up and currently?
DG: As a child, I was in love with the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and still re-read it every couple of years or so. It shoots me right back to that nostalgic, magical place of childhood. This could be why I love to write for the middle grade audience! I read widely now including middle grade, young adult, adult, and non-fiction. One of my favorite authors currently is Joan Bauer who writes heartfelt books for tweens and teens.
HM: What are your ties to the area? (Native, recent transplant, etc.)
DG: I’m a transplant to Bucks County but feel like it’s now home. I’ve lived in many places, including England, my family-owned campground in New Hampshire, and Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer for Fleet Intelligence Pacific.
HM: Are you working on anything right now?
DG: Yes, multiple projects! Being a full time writer has much to do with many irons in the fire. I create online courses for writers on craft and marketing and have one course in creation right now. I also enjoy teaching at writer conferences in person and presenting as a guest author at schools (when there isn’t a pandemic going on)! I’m also a judge for the NYC Midnight fiction contest and am judging hundreds of stories at the moment. I currently have one book on submission to publishers through my agent, am revising one book now to send my agent, am drafting a new book, and have a completed young adult novel I plan to rewrite into a middle grade story. I just got back edits from my editor on the second book of my Unicorn Island series that releases spring of 2021 so need to do revisions on that. In addition, I have the third novel completed in my Element Trilogy for adults that I need to revise. And I also do freelance social media content writing for several clients. All fun things under the umbrella of writing!
HM: Where can our readers found out more about your writing?
Please visit me at my website: https://www.donnagalanti.com/
Or connect with me here:
If you’re a writer looking to improve your craft or marketing efforts check out my online courses on Udemy: https://www.udemy.com/user/donna-galanti/