Minions, today please welcome Dina Sleiman. Dina is a writer by choice, a dancer by nature, and someone who's very special to me. Today we find out what makes her writing life tick:
DK: When you’re not writing, what do you like most to read? Tell us what are your reading genres of choice. What are some of your favorites?
DS: When I am writing, I try to read great books in the genre I’m working on. Right now that’s historical romance, which is probably my very favorite. But when I’m not writing my reading is much more diverse. I actually enjoy all sorts of genres. Literary fiction is high on the list, but I also adore sci-fi, fantasy, and spec fiction. Cozy mystery is fun. I even read some thriller novels. My least favorite is suspense, but I still end with some of those too.
DK: You’re smart to “stretch” by reading outside your chosen writing zone. If you didn’t write in your chosen genre, which would you write, and why?
DS: In addition to romantic historicals, I’ve also tried my hand at contemporary women’s fiction and creative nonfiction. I actually have smaller publishing companies interested in both of those books right now. I’m a very organic sort of writer, and for the first few years of my career, I wrote rather impulsively. The contemporary women’s fiction came from my experiences teaching college and traveling in the Middle East. I’m glad I wrote it, because I think it meant a lot to my Lebanese husband. The nonfiction sort of exploded out of a collection of poems I’d worked on years ago when I discovered that format.
At this point I’m growing more focused and intentional about my career. I do think my niche will end up being in the historical/historical romance area.
DK: Where do you think the Christian fiction market might head in the near-term?
DS: I’m really in no position to predict, but I have noticed that Christian fiction is growing more realistic. A lot of topics that were taboo even a few years ago have become more common. Tattoos, Christians who drink in moderation, etc. This is huge for me, because I personally have no desire to be a religious, outwardly focused Christian. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that my dance emphasis (found in all of my books) has been so readily embraced, even by older readers. Not long ago, a number of Christian publishers didn’t allow dance to be mentioned. I’ve noticed recently that several Bethany books have depicted dance in a very positive light. And Zondervan has a novel featuring a ballerina and the whole dance world.
DK: What has been your biggest challenge since you decided to seek publication?
DS: My first few books were not very marketable. I was turned down by a number of agents and editors who loved my work but didn’t think they could sell it. My personal interests didn’t match well with the current state of Christian fiction, and I didn’t do enough research on the subject in advance. I’ve managed okay considering. And DANDELION has received wonderful reviews.
Right now, I’m focusing on correcting the marketability factor. I feel God has put a new desire on my heart to be more of a career writer and to help my children through college. It took some time and prayer to come up with an idea that I loved and that would fit the market, but I think the book I wrote this fall fits the bill. I hope it will be the start of something new and exciting for me.
DK: We'll await good news, then! Who are a few of your favorite authors?
DS: Francine Rivers (of course), Lisa Samson, Julie Klassen, Siri Mitchell, and Roseanna White are at the top of my list. Three out of five are now personal friends, which is pretty cool. In some other genres, I also really admire Tosca Lee, James Rubart, Steven James, Karen Hancock, and Kathy Tyers.
DK: Care to share a writing habit you cannot do without?
DS: Not exactly a habit, but I didn’t start writing seriously until I got my first laptop. In college I wrote a lot, but I hated all the time spent tied to a desk. For years I didn’t write anything longer than a skit or a poem. But once I had a laptop, I could curl up on a couch or a bed. That’s how I do all my writing.
Dina, thanks for sharing what makes your writing Dandelion dance!