How did you get into art?

My dad went to The College of Creative Studies, so I was always surrounded by artwork. From the moment I was able to pick up a pencil I was drawing. My parents encouraged me to be creative and praised me as much as possible. Mom had a habit of saving every scrap of paper I ever doodled on. Dad, on the other hand, started critiquing me to help me get better when I was young too. I was about seven or so when I started taking photos. I would take my mom's film camera and run around taking photos of birds, my cat, my friends. I have a basket full of loose photographs from my young years before I eventually learned to properly take photos in my classes in high school. As for other mediums, such as painting, I would paint with my dad and eventually took a class to learn proper techniques. 

What is your favorite thing to draw / take photos of?

When it comes to drawing, I tend to draw my own characters 99% of the time. The other 1% are random doodles, or other people's characters. I'm not very good at realism, though my drawing classes have taught me to draw a mean still life. Cartoons, anime, and comics are what I'm good at (though, I'm not good at drawing comics themselves.) I love taking photos of nature, animals, and landscapes. I've learned that I enjoy being in the background and capturing candid moments, so working with people can be a challenge since I don't want to be seen or heard. Portraits aren't my thing.

I started writing when I was very young. My earliest stories I wrote in elementary school. Believe me, they were really bad - so bad I don't remember most of them. I was more focused on drawing, but I loved to read and imagine stories to play with my friends. I never really thought about pursuing a career in writing until I was in tenth grade. I tried writing my first book then. I wrote about 100 pages of rambling on and on with no direction. My second and third attempts were better, as I had an idea of where I wanted them to go, but they fell flat as well. "The Art of Falling" was my first successful manuscript that I completed.

WHY Do you want to be an AUTHOR?
There are a few reasons. Of course, I have a natural affinity to writing. Some people are naturally good at sports, others at math and science, some for music and singing. Writing and art is what I can do, and I want to be able to pursue that skill. Of course, I also want to be able to make a career out of my novels so I can support my future. Lastly, and most importantly, I have dozens of stories to tell. I want to share it with those who may enjoy my tales. I don't plan on stopping writing, even if I never make it big on the New York Times Best Sellers.

What is "Age of Mythos?"

Like The Art of Falling, "Age of Mythos" originally began as a group of roleplays that my good friends did when we were kids. For about five years, we would roleplay online and in real life, in our basements, bedrooms, and backyards. Eventually, we grew out of acting out our stories, and we tried making a webcomic titled "TimeSOS" based on our adventures. However, that didn't quite follow through either. I decided to write a series of novels using the stories and characters we created. I renamed the series "Age of Mythos" because I believed it best suited the direction the story will go. Although the events of The Art of Falling were one of the last roleplays we ever did, the novel itself marks the start of the Age of Mythos series of events.

How many books will be in "Age of Mythos?"
I don't have a set number just yet, because my stories tend to grow as I write. The story of Regal and Keir will be about three books. After them, I have other characters who will have their own mini series within the Age of Mythos universe, and each of them may have one novel or multiple. However, expect a very long journey ahead of us! 

The most difficult part of writing a novel, for me, is keeping my ideas concise and on track. My Flash Fiction and Short Stories typically become novels, and my novels become series. The Art of Falling was meant to be a stand-alone story and now it's going to be (at least) three books. Another challenge that I feel all writers face is sitting down and actually writing. All of my successful manuscripts were written during NaNoWriMo, where I was focused on cranking out a rough draft in one month. As for what I love about writing, I adore the brainstorming process and discussing ideas and theories with my friends. A lot of my best ideas came from a suggestion, critique, or question they asked. Lastly, I love the editing process - which is something most writers dread. I enjoy going back and re-reading and hearing from my editors on how I can improve. I love fine tuning my stories until they're as close as they can be to perfect.

I've tried juggling multiple ideas at once, but my brain likes to work in a linear, "accomplish one task on the to-do-list" manner. Typically when I'm into an idea, I can't break away from it until I feel satisfied. It's been about four years of my thinking of The Art of Falling non-stop. I do have other story concepts in my head for when I'm ready, but for now I just focus on creating one solid story before trying to move onto the next. 

WHo are your favorite authors / what are you favorite books?
My tastes in books have changed over the years. When I was younger and starting to really get into writing, I was in love with fantasy series' such as the Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, and Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan. Then, I started getting into dystopian types of novels such as Divergent by Veronica Roth, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and Zodiac by Romina Russell. Now, I've been reading more stand-alone "real life" novels such as This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, and When We Collided by Emery Lord. Some of my all-time favorite novels include Challenger Deep my Neal Shusterman, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. You can check out all of the books I've read, as well as my ratings for them, over at goodreads.

I still feel a bit young and inexperienced to be giving advice. However, I would highly recommend getting involved in a writing group as well. Hearing from other authors helped me learn to become a better writer and editor myself, and that has been one of the biggest blessings. And, of course, never give up. Keep writing and writing despite what people say. You'll receive negative comments and critiques, and dozens of rejection letters. However, you'll also get a lot of praise and support. It's all part of the writing world.

Can I draw fanart or write fanfiction of your characters?
Oh, please do! I love seeing other people draw my characters - and honestly, what creative person doesn't like that? I would also love to see what side stories you can come up with for my characters. If you do, please e-mail me and let me know!

Dani Cojo

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