Write On! interviews Pen to Print Book Challenger Dagmara Drozdowska.
Dagmara took second place in the Pen to Print ‘The Book Challenge’ competition 2018/2019 which was announced during an online award ceremony in June 2020. Her debut novel The City Of Runes is an adventure mystery with Norse mythology in the background and was released in August 2020. Dagmara is an events professional based in east London. She has a master’s degree in history from the University of Wroclaw (Poland) and studied ‘Runology’ during her student exchange time at the University of Oslo (Norway).
WO: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it?
DD: Frankly speaking, I’m still quite new to this and trying to discover how to best describe it myself. I remember when I met Jacqueline Gabbitas, my mentor during The Book Challenge, she described it as charming, ‘humanlike’, with intelligence and humour. In my writing, you can find elements inspired by my personal experiences and a lot of research, as it is one of my favourite parts of the writing process.
WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book The City Of Runes?
DD: The City Of Runes is an adventure mystery with supernatural elements. It follows the story of Dr Erica Skyberg, a Norwegian curator and an expert in Vikings and their lives, who at some point finds herself in modern-day London, helping handsome Professor Roger Wright to solve a mystery of a stolen relic from the British Museum. Little do they know, all of this is connected to the ninth century Viking saga about Einarr and the cursed ring.
WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?
DD: As a creative person I constantly have this urge to create something, so I wanted to see how it would be to build my own world. I like adventures and mysteries, so the inspiration can come from reading Dan Brown or Agatha Christie’s novels, to watching movies like Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, or National Treasure.
I think the very first idea for The City Of Runes arose whilst I studied for the runology exam back in 2011. Since then, I’ve explored Norwegian mythology in greater depth. I’ve always found runes very mystical and magical, and never found enough of them in existing literature or movies. I had an idea for this book, written in bullet points and hidden at the bottom of the drawer for about five years, before entering the competition. I always knew it was going to be a treasure hunt story with runes in it. In the end, how it turned out, as came quite a surprise!
WO: The last issue of Write On! explored the theme of ‘Growth’ and how we navigate Spring as the season of change. With that in mind, do you use changes in the natural world to motivate your writing?
DD: Yes and no, as that depends on whether I have a tight deadline or not. As the days become warmer and longer, my mental health improves and this positive attitude stimulates me to be more productive, especially during the pandemic, when we were all closeted in our houses. But not always. I work more efficiently with deadlines, regardless of the season, so those changes due to the ‘Growth’ are related if I’m working on a personal project or not.
WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
DD: Practise is key. Getting into a daily writing habit is a must, even if you have writer’s block. You don’t necessarily have to work on your novel every day; just use daily prompts as inspiration.
WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects?
DD: I started to work on the sequel to The City Of Runes. Because of the tight competition deadline, I wasn’t able to finish it as I would have liked, and feel there is still a story to tell. I am also playing around with ideas for a brand-new novel.
WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?
DD: That’s an interesting question. I think I would choose Dæmon from Sir Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. It would be cool to have your own soul as a companion in the shape of an animal and be able to talk to it.
You can connect with Dagmara on Instagram: @dagmarajulia and Twitter: @dagmarajuliaxx
The City Of Runes is available to buy from all major e-retailers including Amazon.
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Practise is key. Getting into a daily writing habit is a must, even if you have writer’s block.