Bonnie Dodge

Author of several novels, a book of essays, co-author of two anthologies and a children’s book, Bonnie’s titles include:

  • Goldie’s Daughter
  • Waiting
  • Hauntings from the Snake River Plain (written with Patricia Santos Marcantonio)

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I have a corner office in my home and write there but I have a laptop computer so I can write anywhere and have often. I don’t have a set schedule any more, I used to, but now I write whenever I can get a chance to sit down. I try to write something every day.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

I used to light a candle and put on music. Now I just put my butt in the chair and get busy. I need a quiet room to create but will put on soft music sometimes if I’m stalled.

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

I do something physical, clean house, go for a walk, or pick up the phone and talk to a writing buddy.

The eternal question: Are you a “pantser”, a “plotter”, or something else entirely?

I’m a little of both. I lose interest in the fiction project if I know the whole story, so I’ll make a simple outline for each chapter. My stories are character driven so I’ll sit down and say, what needs to happen in this chapter? I fill in those blanks and then write that chapter. Then I go onto the next chapter.  I write linear, I can’t jump ahead. I tend to experience the journey along with my characters.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

I wish I could remember. I read two to three books a week, sometimes more and I forget titles. I read a book in November (2020) that blew me away, so much so I stopped writing for several days.

“Idaho” by Emily Ruskovich gave me pause. I lean toward literary works and smart language. 

What book or author do you often find yourself recommending and why?

Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Deborah Reed. But I also like Stephen King and Gregory Macquire, plus most of the classics. The books I continue to read over and over again are Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.  I like character-driven stories and a strong voice.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

Hmmmm, what isn’t. Several of Neil Gaiman novels and Barbara Kingslover novels. I read just about everything except science fiction.

What advice do you have for readers?

Reading is the gateway to places we can only dream about. When you enter a book you can go so many places. Reading expands the imagination. Plus, I find it relaxing.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with?

I wish I was smart enough to sit down with Cormac McCarthy or C.S. Lewis. 

What’s the first book you can remember reading on your own?

I think it was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The first book I bought with my own money was Pippi Longstocking. I had that book forever until it fell apart.

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

Jane Eyre and Alice Hoffman. I read and study everything Alice writes. Her The Red Garden blows me away, the way she twined short stories into a novel.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer?

Talking with other writers.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

The pressure to be perfect. The self-doubt, is it good enough?

What would you tell a new writer?

Read, read, read, and write, write, write. Be selective in following advice, trust your gut and trust the process. Don’t try to be another Hemingway, strive to be the best you.

What might people be surprised to know about you?

I grew up surrounded by boys/men but I write about women. 

Thanks to author Bonnie Dodge for participating in our Idaho Author Interview series. If you’re interested, or would like to recommend someone, please contact the IWU website editor.

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