You may remember Dawn Reno Langley from her guest post on how she evolved during 40 years as a writer. (When she started she wrote articles on a typewriter and snail-mailed queries!) She has reported for newspapers and magazines, as well as edited them. She’s published dozens of nonfiction books, novels, and children’s books, as well as short stories, poems, and essays. Dawn has a BA from Johnson State College in Vermont, an MFA in fiction from Vermont College and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the Union Institute and University.
I had lunch with Dawn a few months ago and she filled me in on her new novel The Mourning Parade that releases this month, and her big adventure book tour: She’s taking Amtrak around the country for all her book tour stops! Although she lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, her tour starts one week from today in the Boston, Massachusetts area in her hometown of Everett. Check out her book tour cities – try and make it to her event if she comes near you!
200 Words With Writer Dawn Reno Langley
Write Naked: When did you start The Mourning Parade and what was the moment you knew this was your next book?
Dawn Reno Langley: I went to Thailand a few years ago with a friend of mine and visited an elephant sanctuary because my mother loved elephants (and because I knew the sanctuary was protecting elephants that had been abused). I volunteered there, feeding elephants vegetables and fruit…even going into the fields to help cut palm fronds. [One day] we swam in the river with the elephants that we’d gotten to know. I started to put together a story, and it grew from there.
WN: I love that you have planned a book tour relying entirely on Amtrak. This will bring you to places you may have otherwise overlooked. How are you making connections in new places?
DRL: It’s been really interesting to plan this trip, because it’s not all bookstores and signings. I’m talking about animal rights, PTSD, and one of the toughest subjects ever: school shootings, so I’m making it a point to invite groups of people who might be interested in those topics — as well as people who simply love to read literary novels. I’ve used traditional, as well as non-traditional ways to plan the literary events. I’m launching the book in Boston where I grew up and published my first essay. I’ll visit the first college I attended and speak to some classes there. From there, I take the Amtrak to Chicago. [After a few more cities] I’m back on the Empire Builder route on Amtrak (they actually invite specialists on board to give riders some insight into what we’re traveling by/through). In Portland, I hope to see a member of my PhD cohort who’s now VP at the state university — and I want to visit their zoo. In San Francisco, I’ll see a friend from high school and meet some book club folks I contacted through Meetup. On to LA/Pasadena, another readers’ group and staying with a friend I met in Mississippi when we both had grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study civil right. I’m at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, and that looks like a fun stop because the coordinator is connected with animal rights organization. In Houston I’ll stay with another writer, who’s also a lawyer, and will visit with a special book club who’ll be raising funds for elephants. (I’m trying to do that along the way, too, but this particular event is strictly for that purpose.) The whole trip will take a month, and I’m sure there will be more events added.
WN: How do you plan to use your time on the train?
DRL: I’m going to do a lot of writing, reading, and I’ll be narrating the trip on Facebook Live, taking pics and posting them on Instagram, and Tweeting. I have a new novel I’m working on, and I hope that the uninterrupted time on the train will give me time to work on it.
WN: How many publishers did you contact and what made you choose Amberjack Publishing?
DRL: I really didn’t contact too many publishers (three, I think)…I chose Amberjack because they’re small (I’ve been published by most of the big NYC houses), they had spoken to a friend of mine and had great ideas for her book, and they understood what I wanted to do with my book and my career moving forward. I like their viewpoint and I like them, personally.
WN: I like to end my interviews with a James Lipton question. What turns you on creatively?
DRL: New ideas! I love hearing or seeing a glimpse of something and knowing I’m going to put it into a story somehow. That makes my heart flutter.
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