- an author who makes readers cry over Bob Ross, Pop Rocks, and grief kissing
Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
Dante Medema is an author of books for young readers. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband, four daughters, and rooms full of alien memorabilia—and books, of course. When she’s not writing, she dabbles in baking, decorating, painting, sewing, and reading up on enneagram personality types.
Dante, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
My toxic trait is that I see literally any animal at a zoo or on tv and think “oh my gosh, I want to snuggle that.” A moose? I want to snuggle. A bear? Lemme nuzzle his big giant nose! Oh. A lion would eat me? But I want to braid his long glorious mane and use him as a pillow!
The one I’ve always talked about is a fox though. Yes, yes. I know they’d pee in my coffee. BUT THEY ARE SO CUTE!
I mean, they might just try to drink it, themselves.
What do you write? And how did you get started?
My interest in writing was a slow-burn romance. In third grade, I wrote a book called “The Moose that Came to Breakfast” and won an award or something. Judging from the response to my first question, you can see this toxicity runs deep. I never really thought about being a writer as a career or anything, but Caroline B. Clooney visited my school here in Alaska, but I loved reading. Books were my therapy, and a heated class discussion in Mrs. Morris’ Honors English about whether or not Jonas dies at the end of The Giver had me reading in a whole different way. Finally, in college, I workshopped a creative non-fiction piece and it changed my life. There was something addicting about writing something that moves people that really stuck with me.
I love hearing people share what made them decide to go all-in.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you
Write every day.
I cannot. I have four kids, and they’re always going to be my priority. So when I’m actively drafting something new I wake up two hours ahead of my kids. This is why I’m a big fan of rough draft summers. My kids get to sleep in which means I’m not having to wake up at 4am. But hey, you make time for what you love, right? I think there are a lot of things that “count” as writing. Like processing the story in your head and outlining. I don’t need to physically write every single day to be a writer.
I really struggle with counting anything as ‘writing’ that isn’t putting words to paper — even editing sometimes. So, thank you for that reminder.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that works for you
Outline. Outline. Outline!
Now I’m going to be really honest. I’m on the very far end of the plotting vs pantsing spectrum. I’ve got a whole playlist about my chaos over on TikTok, and I’ll never stop.
In all reality, it stems from the four kids I mentioned earlier. If I don’t outline it, I’ll forget it. Also, I think it helps when you’re writing literally anything that requires the reader to misbelieve something about the story. And it’s more efficient in my opinion. Why write something that you’re going to have to annihilate in a month when you can just outline it right now and fix the kinks before you even start drafting?
I do have a theory though, that plotters keep the same plot—for the most part—from draft all the way through their revisions. Pantsers on the other hand have their character arc—for the most part—stay true all the way through. Characters and their arcs are so fluid for me. It makes sense to change them. But the discovery writers I know have said “absolutely not! I could never!”
Ahhh. I think I’ll stick to my plantser ways with my light level outlines that give me a direction and a compass, but I still need to find my own way.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
Message Not Found
Bailey and Vanessa shared everything: laughter, secrets, and packets of Pop Rocks to ward off bad days. But that all changed the night Vanessa left Bailey’s, headed for home, and ended up swerving off a cliff nowhere near her house. Now Bailey, who thought she knew Vanessa better than anyone in the world, is left with a million unanswered questions, and the only person with answers is gone.
To help grieve her loss, Bailey creates a chat bot of Vanessa using years’ worth of their shared text messages and emails. The more data she uploads to the bot, the more it feels like she’s really talking to her best friend. That is, until the bot starts dropping hints that there was more going on with Vanessa than Bailey realized—a secret so big, it may have contributed to Vanessa’s death.
The Truth Project
Seventeen-year-old Cordelia Koenig intended to breeze through her senior project. While her peers stressed, Cordelia planned to use the same trace-your-roots genealogy idea her older sister used years prior. And getting partnered with her longtime crush, Kodiak Jones, is icing on the cake. All she needs to do is mail in her DNA sample, write about her ancestry results, and get that easy A.
But when Cordelia’s GeneQuest results reveal that her father is not the person she thought he was, but a stranger who lives thousands of miles away, her entire world shatters. Now she isn’t sure of anything—not the mother who lied, the man she calls Dad, or the girl staring back at her in the mirror.
If your life began with a lie, how can you ever be sure of what’s true?