Thursday, June 24, 2021

Danielle Palli: Mindfulness and Meditation

Danielle Palli won her first creative writing award at the age of six, and by age fifteen, she had already been published in the Writer’s Journal. She is the author of the Acting Out Yoga series for children, and the Data Collectors Sci-Fi trilogy for adults. She also writes, teaches, and publishes online courses about mindfulness, intuition, and spirituality, and works as a multimedia specialist, voiceover artist, podcast host, and positive psychology-based wellbeing coach.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

I'm currently wrapping up the third book in The Data Collectors Sci-Fi trilogy. Between the Layers will hopefully be available in June. The story follows Lucene Jones and a team of genetically modified Data Collectors initially sent to Earth to determine what is causing the near extinction of humans as a species. Meanwhile, special interest groups would rather see us die off sooner rather than later, as Earth is prime intergalactic real estate. While the first book is set primarily on Earth, Breach of Contract (book #2) and Between the Layers (book #3) take place on the Earth-like planet, Erde (Yes, I am aware this is the German word for "Earth"). Known as the Peace-Keepers, Erde has evolved as species and enjoyed more than 100 years of peace…until now. 

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

From the time I can remember (around four or five years old), I have always wanted to write (or become a crime-solving detective with supernatural powers – it was a toss-up). But I credit my older sister for fostering my interest in reading and writing. I was really shy and insecure as a child in school, and she's the first person who taught me how to read and write. She'd also read to my siblings and me regularly, and she'd use character voices too. When she read us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we always knew whether she was Grandpa Joe, Grandpa George, or Grandma Josephine because her voices were so good. When she was a teenager, one of her first jobs was in a bookstore, and she'd often bring me Beverly Cleary books to read as a kid. She wanted to become a writer, and who doesn't want to be like their big sister? 

What inspires you to write?

I think it's a combination of having an overactive imagination and life lessons to share. I'll often awaken at 3 am with a topic in my head, and it will nag me until I get up and write it down – or at least let it tumble around my brain for a bit before I fall back to sleep. The next morning, I have to write. Sometimes, I'm writing an article related to personal growth. Other times, it's a fiction novel that, hopefully, entertains and offers a few philosophical nuggets to think about. 

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

The biggest theme is mindfulness and meditation. You'll find elements of that in my kid's yoga books, novels, articles, and programs. For me, developing a meditation practice changed my life in profound ways. That may sound odd to many people, but I believe it is one of the quickest ways to physical, emotional, and mental health. The other primary theme is environmental awareness. Just as I support people protecting their internal environment, I believe we have a responsibility to protect the world around us. 

What would be your dream project?

I would love to see The Data Collectors series turned into an anime series next. I enjoy stretching my writing limits and growing with the craft, so it would be so exciting to write and work with experienced scriptwriters as part of an entire production team, people who have the budget and know-how to bring the story to life. I'd also want to be able to voice a few of the characters.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

This is a tricky question for me to answer since, these days, much of what I read is positive-psychology-related non-fiction that supports my coaching practice. And, I never thought I would write a sci-fi series. I thought my first book would be a cozy novel, but the characters kept nagging me until I wrote The Data Collectors. I will say that readers have noted that my work has comedic elements like Douglas Adams and Erma Bombeck, both of whom I read as a teenager. I also admire the works of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman because they push the limits of fantasy and world-building and create unique characters that defy reality. Whenever I start to pigeonhole myself into one way of writing or developing a story, I think of their work and ask myself, "how can I stretch a little further?" 

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

I had so much fun narrating the female character voices for the audiobook version Breach of Contract and have plans to do that for the third book as well. Audio engineer and narrator Graham Mack did a brilliant job on the first Data Collectors book without my input. But, for consistency, I would – at some point – love to record the female voices and have me stitched into the first audiobook so that the entire audio series is multicast. 

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I guess it depends on what you're writing. If it's an academic or technical piece, it lends itself to science and practicality. If it's fiction, you can really push the boundaries, and the shift is more toward artistry. That said, you still need the discipline to research, write, edit, revise, proof again, produce, and market and promote. For simplicity, I would argue that it's 60/40 split one way or the other, depending on the genre and content. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I have a running list of more than a dozen projects I would like to accomplish … right now. For me, the difficulty is reminding myself that it doesn't all need to happen at once. My latest affirmation when I find myself working incessantly without taking a day off is, "you have all the time in the world." 

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

I would say that most of my friends are adjacent to writers vs. necessarily being writers themselves (though my publisher, Cindy Readnower, is also a successful writer and editor). These are the publishers, beta readers, artists, editors, and audio-video producers that support me and my projects. For the longest time, I had to perform every role because I simply didn't have the finances that would allow me to hire support. But over time, and working my butt off, I built up a modest production budget by focusing on the skills that I'm best at so I could eventually bring in experts in varied fields who could help me. I am so grateful to have that support because trying to go it alone is pretty darn exhausting. 

What does literary success look like to you?

I believe success is ongoing. I was fortunate to have launched my freelance writing career in 2006 as a journalist and publicist, writing on various topics and then moving on to creating multimedia content and educational programming. Novel-writing is a new experience for me, and I celebrate the success of writing three books in a year while maintaining two separate careers in writing and coaching. I love my characters and stories independent of what anyone else thinks. So to me, that's another little win. Next, I would, of course, love to become a New York Times best-selling author and have my books translated into more than a dozen languages, and then be made into an animated series, graphic novels, and movies. But overall, I get to wake up every day doing work that I love, and that's the ultimate success.  

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Thank you for asking! I would love to have people read and review The Data Collectors series. The first two are currently available in print, ebook, and audio formats. 

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