This week, we’re featuring TWO reads from author Dawn Ius: an extended excerpt of her latest novel Overdrive (which just went on sale this week!) and a full read of her novel Anne & Henry. One has been described as “an edgy novel about a crack team of teenage criminals on a mission to learn to trust, build a life, and steal a wish list of exotic cars,” the other as “a retelling of the infamous love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII set in a modern-day high school.” Can two novels by the same author be more different?! How or why would an author transition from such vastly different topics? As it turns out, the short answer is a bit of “writerly ADD” but read on to hear more from Dawn herself! And if Dawn’s post, Overdrive, or Anne & Henry give you any thoughts or feels, let us know in the comments!
Catering to my Writerly ADD
As a child, I read everything from Shakespeare to Carolyn Keene, to Roald Dahl and all fiction (and non-fiction!) in-between. I was never concerned with genre, age category (much to my mother’s dismay), or whether the book took place in present day or the past—the story is what mattered.
It’s still what matters.
Growing up, my stepfather regaled me with tales of Anne Boleyn, his obvious adoration for her creating an infectious enthusiasm for Tudor history. I devoured books, articles, and documentaries, never once thinking this casual research would one day provide the inspiration for my debut with Simon Pulse, Anne & Henry.
From the spark of that idea through to the end of the novel, I was immersed in Anne and Henry’s world, laboring over how to infuse historical facts into what is obviously a very contemporary story. I became a Wikipedia of Tudor knowledge, annoying my friends and family with obscure references and the occasional outburst of, “off with her head!” (Yes, I know, that’s the Queen of Hearts, not Anne Boleyn.) I’m truly proud of Anne & Henry.
But when it came time to write my second novel, I was happy to flee both the Tudor era, and history altogether. Sure, there are other stories from that time period that could have worked—Bloody Mary, Queen Elizabeth, a happily-ever-after for Henry, perhaps—but there was no story that gripped me.
Instead, my muse steered me to Jules Parish, a skilled teenage car thief the police knew only as Ghost. Toss in a mystery about a famous muscle car that had been MIA for more than two decades, and now I had a story. The story of my heart, as it turns out.
Overdrive is nothing like Anne & Henry. The action is fast, the romance (though hot!) takes a back seat to the thrills, and the novel is set along the infamous Strip in Las Vegas. There’s also a lot about cars—sports cars, fast cars, muscle cars. CARS! (I love cars.)
And yet, the books do share common factors. Both feature kick-ass protagonists who are strong, brave, and possess a survival instinct that guides their decisions, for better or worse. And each novel feeds one of my passions—a love of Tudor history in Anne & Henry, and my obsession with muscle cars (and the featured 1967 Shelby GT 500 Mustang) in Overdrive.
Perhaps ironically, I return to history for my third novel, Lizzie, which is a modern re-telling of the Lizzie Borden axe murders. From (tragic) romance and high-stakes thrills, to a psychological thriller that revisits one of America’s most fascinating unsolved crimes—how lucky am I to have a publisher that not only supports my writerly ADD, but also encourages it? Incredibly.