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Starting the Week Before Dawn with Dawn

By Fiafox @SofiaEssen

Starting the week before dawn with Dawn

Blogging in darkness before dawn.

Dear Friends,
It’s Monday again. On Friday evenings, I smugly say to myself, “I’ve got the whole weekend stretching out ahead of me.” And then I blink and it’s Monday morning all of a sudden. Having said that, I have no reason to complain – I had a great weekend and now I’m kicking off the week by introducing you to author and Nala’s mom, Dawn Lajeunesse.
Dawn has been telling stories her whole life. Back in her school days, young Dawn loved English and creative writing best. But when she told her old and unmarried guidance counselor that she wanted to make a career out of writing, she was instead steered toward a B.S. in Nursing from Hartwick College.
Not ready to push her pen or her dream aside, she continued to write. Newsletters, magazine articles, and private journals and stories filled the gap. She very wisely took several writing courses to hone her fiction skills before diving into her first novel, Autumn Colors.  
Having recently completed Sentimental Journey, Dawn is now juggling writing a third book around working full-time (with a 3-hour round trip commute) and training for marathons and half marathons. That’s an impressive schedule!
Dawn currently resides in the Adirondacks in New York State with her husband, Dennis, and her adorable Border Terrier, Nala.
In her answers to my questions, Dawn reveals her admiration for Anne Tyler, her respect for Hillary Clinton, and how she would like to change the world by emulating Benjamin Button.

Starting the week before dawn with Dawn

Dawn Lajeunesse - Author, Marathon Runner
and Force of Nature

What or who inspires you?
I observe ordinary circumstances of real people. Maybe it’s just people sitting at a table next to me at a restaurant. Sometimes it starts with something from the life of someone I know or heard about. I throw in a lot of “what-ifs”. The story sort of ferments inside me for a while. Eventually I choose a point for the story to begin and let my imagination and the characters take over. The characters as they evolve often bear little or no resemblance to the people who served as the idea source. Most people’s everyday lives, including my own, are not nearly interesting enough to entertain readers for several hundred pages.
My first novel, Autumn Colors, was inspired by the memory of a young man I was engaged to in my early twenties, who unfortunately died in an accident when we were 23. My second (currently titled Sentimental Journey but as yet unpublished) was inspired by my mother (long-deceased). As for my in-process novels (two), they’re evolving from people I know or have known in my past.
When did you first know you wanted to write more than postcards and letters?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories. I was a child in the fifties, and some of my earliest stories reflected the fear inspired by the Cold War and air raid drills and talk of bomb shelters. By the sixties, I was more into love and relationships. Once I became a career woman, my writing leaned toward professional material – articles for journals, newsletters, a lot of health and health-related topics. It wasn’t until the nineties that I started expanding to novels. My earliest work was pretty lame. But after I started taking fiction and novel courses my writing evolved tremendously.Who, living or dead, fictional or real, would you like to meet and pick their brains for ideas?I admire Anne Tyler. She has managed to write compellingly about ordinary people and ordinary lives. Some of my writing instructors have compared my writing with hers, but I have a long way to go. I’m particularly impressed with how she’s managed to write bestsellers but not be “out there” in the traditional sense of touring and social media marketing, and so on. As far as I can tell, she doesn’t even have a website. I’d love to hear her take on how she’s made that work. I also would love to know Hilary Clinton. She’s a controversial figure, but a brilliant woman and politician. I campaigned for her during the primaries and was quite shattered when she was defeated. I often wonder how the national political machine would be different now, had she won. I also admire the way she handled Bill’s wanderings, although many would disagree with me. She retained her sense of self and dignity, and went on to carve out her own public and private places. Since they are still together, they’ve obviously worked out a relationship that works for them. Although we can’t know the private part of how they managed that, my imagination of it influenced how the main character in Sentimental Journey responded to her husband’s affair.

If someone granted you the power to change anything, what would you change?How about pulling off a modified Benjamin Button? I’d love to grow younger but retain the wisdom I’ve gained with age (but stop the physical regression when I hit my late twenties/early thirties)!Since that’s not possible, I’d settle for being able to afford to quit my day job and concentrate on writing, while balancing a life with the people  (and animals) and activities that are important to me.What are you working on now?I’ve just completed my second novel, currently titled Sentimental Journey. In it, the main character explores her mother's troubled past to understand and change the problems in her own family. That novel contains a novel-within-the-novel called Hope’s Illusion, which is one of the two novels I’m starting on now. The other, currently titled Kiss Petey is a sort of fantasy/tongue-in-cheek romance, a contemporary fairy tale that also explores the illegal trafficking of exotic birds.
Personally, I very much enjoyed meeting Dawn and learning a little about her. Her creativity and energy seem boundless. And, of course, I always enjoy interacting with a fellow Terrier fan!Have a great Monday!SofiaP.S. Here are some links to Dawn -

Twitter: @mtnwriter77 
LinkedIn: Dawn Lajeunesse  Facebook: Dawn Lajeunesse

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