Dana Faletti has always been a writer. Growing up in Pittsburgh, she wrote poetry endlessly and wrote her first novel – a romance – while in high school. In 2010, she wrote what would later become book one of The Whisper Trilogy. She often visits area schools with this trilogy and talks to kids about having a career in writing and about the books themselves. She also writes music, and currently, she’s working with a production team to transform her middle grade fantasy manuscript into a stage musical. For Dana, her writing career has been the adventure of a lifetime, with stumbling blocks, stupid mistakes and celebrations.

Fortunately, WriteMentor had the chance to be part of this adventure when Dana was a mentee on our summer mentoring program with her Young Adult contemporary novel Hear Me.

She shares her experience of the program, and why she believes mentoring is so important for writers.

What made you apply for the WriteMentor programme?

I applied to the WriteMentor program on a whim. When I was chosen to receive the opportunity to be mentored by KC Karr, I was completely shocked. The amount of work that would go into revising my WIP was daunting to me, especially because it was late spring early summer, and my kids were out of school, leaving less quiet writing time for me. I committed myself to being at Starbucks from 6am-noon every day, hours when my kids were still sleeping or just waking up and starting their days. 

What was your experience like?

Working with KC was amazing. She really invested in my story. I felt like she knew my characters so well, and I trusted her. She encouraged me to write origin scenes to help build my characters’ motivations, and I really enjoyed this part of the process. I even got to know my main characters better. KC was brilliant. Her input made Hear Me into a much better book! It was also fun to be connected to the other mentees and their journey.

The mentors are truly committed to our writing community and to making the mentee’s story as good as it can be!

Tell us about your writing journey from start until now.

As far as my writing journey, I’ve been a writer since I could write words. I started writing poetry and short stories as an elementary age student. During adolescence, writing poetry was a survival skill for me, and I used it as a form of expression that helped me navigate through the rough waters of that time in my life. I published my first book, a young adult paranormal romance, in 2013. This book became The Whisper Trilogy, an end-times saga about a teen girl turned angel, who at first is tasked with saving other teens from demonic influence and later must save the world with the help of her angel superhero boyfriend and a host of other celestial characters. In 2016, Pandamoon Publishing released my novel, Beautiful Secret, a women’s fiction sweeping romance set in Italy and France. Among other projects, I’m currently working with a production company to transform my middle-grade fantasy novel into a musical. 

Can you tell us a little more about the book you worked on and signed with?

Hear Me, the book that won a place in the write mentor program, is set to be released from Entangled Publishing this coming June. This book was inspired by the years I spent in the Deaf community, both as a teacher and interpreter. Hear me follows Margaret Starr, a hard-of-hearing teen, and Gray Trax, her love interest, who is Deaf. Margaret’s all-Deaf family sometimes makes her feel like an outsider who doesn’t have value. More than anything, she longs to be on stage with her guitar, sharing her original music with a rapt audience. Gray struggles with a dark past and defensive urges that are the true cost of having been victimized as a child. For once, he would like to be seen for the person he is and not simply pegged as the deaf boy or Troublemaker.  By coming together to support each other Margaret and Gray both find a place where they can be heard and valued. And by rising above the threats of school bullies, they are able to focus on each other and find love.

What is your best piece of writing advice that you learned on the programme?

The best writing advice I learned from KC in the write mentor program was to make sure every scene and action fit in with the character’s motivation. KC was really strong on that and really stripped each scene and chapter down to make sure it was not only moving the story forward but moving in the right direction. 

Why do you think mentoring is important for writers?

Mentoring is so great, because you get an unbiased, seasoned author’s opinion on your work. The mentors are truly committed to our writing community and to making the mentee’s story as good as it can be!