Limitless Possibilities: An Interview with Dani Resh

Fantasy is a genre I don’t read a lot of, and I’m continually impressed by authors who take on the challenge. One such person is Michigan author Dani Resh, whose first and second books in her planned trilogy published in 2021 and 2023, respectively, by Warren Publishing. Readers loved the debut, Compass to Vinland, calling it a “captivating adventure” with “realistic voices” as well as the follow-up, Clarity of Sight. All readers are early awaiting the third book in the series and whatever else Dani has to offer. Dani enjoys visiting local schools, so read on and check out her website to see if she’d be a good fit for your school.

Welcome, Dani!

Christina: Clarity of Sight, the second book in The Magic Shoe series, released last year. When you set out to write Compass to Vinland, the first book, did you know it was going to be a series, or did the idea arise organically? What challenges have you faced with writing a series?

Dani: When I started writing Compass to Vinland, I wasn’t sure if I could complete an entire book. Although I had wanted to write since childhood, my insecurities held me back. However, as the story developed, I realized it would need more installments to feel complete. While Wren is the first book’s protagonist, I discovered that Maria and Rusty proved equally important to the story. Hence, I concluded that a trilogy was necessary.

When I started the second book in the series, I quickly realized that the freedom I experienced when writing the first book was a thing of the past. I could no longer let my imagination run wild and instead had to stay within the framework of the world I established in the series’ first book. Now that I am writing the third book, there is even more to keep track of, and I have found that I need to pay close attention to details to avoid plot, character, and worldbuilding inconsistencies.

Christina: The books are middle-grade fantasy “with a splash of the paranormal.” What about that genre compels you to write it? Do any other genres speak to you?

Dani: I love writing fantasy because, for me, it represents limitless possibilities. As a writer, I found I need that initial burst of unhindered creativity when developing a story, and fantasy is the perfect genre for me to explore ideas freely. While I’m open to exploring other genres in the future, I’m more inclined to focus on ones that incorporate otherworldly elements such as the supernatural, ghost stories, dystopian worlds, and science fiction.

Christina: Wren Larkin serves as the point of view character for Compass to Vinland. He lives in a shoe. Where did that idea to have him live in a shoe come from? How did you go about crafting a character who is “not the most popular kid in town”?

Dani: When I started developing the series, I was inspired by the popular trend of retelling fairytales and decided to use nursery rhymes as a starting point for a story. Once I considered the Old Lady Who Lived in the Shoe nursery rhyme, I began to visualize a shoe house—what it would look like, where it would be situated, and most importantly, who would reside there. I envisioned a shoemaker living in the shoe house, but not just any ordinary shoemaker—this man would create magic shoes. Years later, the shoemaker’s grandson would discover three pairs of shoes hidden in a workshop beneath the shoe house. Each pair was crafted specifically for Wren and two of his friends, granting them specific powers that play a crucial role in the story.

In my personal life, I have witnessed many young people struggling to build connections, especially with their peers. That’s why, when I was creating Wren’s character, I decided to have him work through similar issues. I wanted to show the nervousness and apprehension I’ve observed through his character and convey to the reader that putting yourself out there is worth the risk. Although reaching out may lead to disappointing and hurtful experiences, it can also open the door to amazing, life-changing friendships.

Christina: You changed it up for Clarity of Sight, giving Maria Tovar, a character in the first book, a chance to tell the story. What was your reasoning for switching point of view characters? Did you ever doubt the decision?

Dani: No, I never doubted it. I planned to write a trilogy revolving around three main characters: Wren Larkin, Maria Tovar, and Rusty Whitaker. Each book would be told from a different perspective and titled after the words etched into the sole of the magic shoes made for each of them, giving them specific powers. Wren’s shoes have the words “Compass to Vinland,” Maria’s western-style boots have the phrase “Clarity of Sight,” and Rusty’s combat boots have the phrase “Cunning Warrior.” Writing from different perspectives has allowed me to delve deeper into each character and give each of them the voice and care they deserve.

Christina: The series also features Pana Kalluk, who “is a Tariaksuq, an Inuit mythological being who can travel between the material world and the spirit world.” What sort of research did you have to do to portray Pana? Did you unearth anything surprising?

Dani: I am fascinated by world mythology and folklore, and I draw a lot of inspiration from it for my writing. When researching different mythologies, I came across the Inuit creature called a Tariaksuq, which can shift between the real world and the spirit world. What intrigued me the most was that you could only see a Tariaksuq out of the corner of your eye, and if you looked directly at it, it would disappear. Although I didn’t strictly follow the mythology associated with Tariaksuq when creating my character Pana, I was inspired by the mythology that surrounds it. Pana exudes that mystical quality that I imagine a Tariaksuq possesses, but is still just a teenage boy trying to figure out his place in the world, or his case, two worlds.

Christina: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication?

Dani: As a new writer, I found the world of publication to be intimidating and daunting. After completing my first book, I tried to query agents for many months but became very discouraged due to repeated rejections. At that point, I was considering self-publishing when a friend recommended a hybrid publisher called Warren Publishing. I decided to send them my manuscript and they agreed to work with me to publish my first book, and they also published my second book as well.

Christina: Regarding Clarity of Sight, Afifa Raisa of Readers’ Favorite said, “Resh not only offers us excitement but also delivers important lessons throughout the story.” Books, like life, require balance. How do you go about finding that balance and making sure the book is both exciting and offering lessons?

Dani: Honestly, I don’t see myself as someone who imparts life lessons. Instead, I aim to write from a place that delves into life experiences—the good, the bad, the triumphs, the disappointments, and the small and big moments that can be equally impactful. By exploring the various aspects of life, I believe the story will feel authentic. Endless excitement might give you a thrill, but if the reader doesn’t feel connected to the character or fears for their safety, the story will fall flat. It is only through a combination of the quieter and louder moments of a story that a character’s true self can shine through.

Christina: Late last year you visited Smith Middle School in Troy, Michigan. What about school visits is so appealing? Do you have a “bucket list” of schools you’d like to attend?

Dani: No bucket list. I thoroughly enjoy visiting schools, and I am amazed by how engaged and enthusiastic students become when discussing the writing process. I strongly believe in the importance of nurturing creative skills and I am always eager to share what I have learned about the creative process with students of all ages. With a background in the arts, I am concerned that students may not have enough exposure to tools for creative expression and I welcome any opportunity where I can demonstrate how incredible and therapeutic it can be, and the different ways it can be explored.

Christina: Aside from the third in the series, what’s next for you?

Dani: I am currently working on a young adult fantasy. The story is told from the perspective of three young women who are caught in a 400-year-long war between two lands. When the enemy releases a barren curse that doesn’t reach their mountainous home but renders the rest of their land infertile, the three women are bargained off to other kingdoms due to their ability to bear children. When their carriage is attacked on their journey, they are propelled into foreign lands full of mysticism and forbidden magic.

Dani can be found in multiple places!
Podcast: Reading with Your Kids
Facebook: Dani Resh

Thanks to Dani for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author or artist who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.

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