July 6, 2010

Profile: Novel ideas

Desiree Day

When Desiree Day was a little girl, she loved to read.

In kindergarten she recalls walking around all the time with a book tucked under her arm.

And while words were very important to her, even at the age of 5, Day was never big on writing. She never aspired to become the accomplished novelist and author she is today.

Mostly, she dreamed of becoming a mother. Which she accomplished three years ago with the birth of a son.

Day works as an administrative assistant in the Office of Admissions and Student Services in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

There she is responsible for enrolling undergraduate students, reserving rooms, completing degree verifications, coordinating Commencement, securing speakers, and creating topics for weekly “Lunch & Learn” sessions for the students.

When she first came to Emory in 2003, Day had not given much thought to how long she would be here. But the work environment, the people and the flexibility of the job has made it that much more enjoyable.

“Emory is a really nice place to work,” she says.

And the school has been receptive of her writing.

“I have had one of my novels in the bookstore and I recently donated a couple of gift baskets with my novels to a fundraiser,” she says. “Each opportunity has exposed my novels to individuals who might not have otherwise been aware that I’m a writer.”

In 1996 she moved to Atlanta from upstate New York. The only writing she had done up to that time was journaling, she says.

“I still have them all,” Day says of her notebooks. “It’s interesting to see how I handled situations back then and how I handle them now. I found that journaling isn’t just a way to vent frustrations or document happy occasions, but as a way to see my progress on the journey we call life.”

One day in 1996, she was on a temp job sitting at a computer when she got an idea for a story. And so, she started writing.

“I just kept writing,” Day says. “The story consumed me.”

A year later, she had her first novel, “Bourgeois Blues,” in 1997. She searched for a literary agent, querying at least 100, to shop the book around to publishers. Finding that effort unsuccessful, she self-published that first book.

In 2004 she was signed to a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. She wrote and published “Crazy Love” (2005) and “Cruising” (2006). A year later, the company signed her to another book deal and she published “One G-string Short of Crazy” (2007), and again this year with the release of “Spiritual Seduction.”

She describes her first novels as mainstream fiction and her latest as a paranormal romance story.

“My readers are people who love romance,” she says. “With my latest novel, ‘Spiritual Seduction’, my readers are people who love romance with a touch of horror.”

Through her books, Day says, readers get a chance to experience her progression of maturity. Day’s characters are all extensions of her, portions of her own personality, desires, wants and aspirations — even the male characters.

“Character development is very important to me,” she says. “And I put a lot of energy into developing who they are, which means putting a small nugget of myself into them.”

When she starts a project, she always knows the beginning and the end, but never the middle. That is the joy of the experience for her; figuring out how the characters are going to get from beginning to end.

She tries to write at least 1,000 words a day.

She applies that commitment to all of her responsibilities — working at Emory, being an author and being a single mother.

It can be challenging, Day says. But in order to fulfill her goals of being on the New York Times bestseller list, a guest on Oprah, and raising her son into the most sensitive and responsible man she can, she says it’s all worth it.

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