The following is an interview with author Dana Stabenow regarding the recent release of the novel, Not the Ones Dead, through Head of Zeus. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Stabenow about her creative process in bringing the new Kate Shugak story to life, what she hopes that readers will take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Not the Ones Dead! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Dana Stabenow: The inspiration came in two parts. The first was being spied upon by a drone in my own yard. The second was an account I read in Simon Winchester’s Land of two billionaire brothers engaged in buying up a lot of western Montana and eastern Idaho and fencing off as their own private enclave. The two came together and achieved liftoff.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in approaching each new chapter of Kate Shugak’s gripping adventures?
DS: Twenty-three books in, I sit back and let the characters drive. One thing I will pat myself on the back for is creating a large ensemble cast. They are inspirations all by themselves, and since they are in Kate’s life, it’s easy to construct plots around theirs.
BD: Do you feel that the book serves as a solid jumping-on point for those readers who may be new to the overarching series?
DS: Oh man, that is a freighted question. Most fans are determined to read any and every series they read from the beginning; however, many years ago, an editor said to me, “Welcome to the world of genre fiction, Dana,” when I complained of the necessity of including backstory in every single chapter of the series. I took that advice to heart, and there are always Easter eggs. Although I’m pretty sure the Danamaniacs skip right over them, those new to the series will find enough past history so that they won’t be lost coming into the current narrative.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that this installment of Kate’s story will connect with and impact readers?
DS: I’m very proud that my books bring people to the state of Alaska. I know this because they tell me so on my website and on social media and because they come up to me in my hometown of Homer at Captain Pattie’s Fish House and the farmer’s market and in Safeway and throw their arms around me and say, “I’m here because I read your books!” The fact that something I wrote to entertain actually (and literally) moves people to travel here is . . . there are no superlatives strong enough to describe how that makes me feel. And just last year or so, the Wrangell-St. Elias Park got in touch to say that visitors are showing up there (and it takes an effort to get there and it ain’t cheap) and trying to figure out who and where and what I’ve written into the books! That was a huge thrill.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DS: At present I’m working on the 4th Eye of Isis novel, a series set in Alexandria during the reign of Cleopatra VII and featuring her personal gofer, the Eye of Isis. I am having the most fun writing this series, and it’s a great way to break between Kate Shugak novels.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Not the Ones Dead and your other work?