Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.
Where did you grow up?
All over. I was adopted as a toddler in Ohio and remained the only child of my parents. It was lonely at times for me growing up, just the three of us. My parents were travelers and we moved every few years. We lived in England for a while and I retain my first memories there of writing and knowing that was all I wanted to do. By the time I was seven I had devoured most of the library in the stately old stone private school I attended. I recall the Narnia Chronicles as my first series read curled in a nook there in my gray and pink woolen uniform. During our time in England we traveled all over Europe. I always was drawing and writing stories in the back seat of the car as we traversed through the Pyrenees or dashed through Paris. We then moved to a campground in rural N.H. to fulfill my father’s dream of running a vacation spot. I had kids to play with all the time and we had barns and horses and hogs. I loved gathering the rotten apples from the orchards to feed the hogs each day. Eventually, my parents settled down to country living in the hills above Albany, New York known as the Helderberg Mountains. We lived in a 200-year old farmhouse on acres of apple trees and falling-down barns. It was a child’s world to explore. I would roam the woods around our home with notebook and pen writing in fields and beside hidden ponds, and always with my two, frumpy dogs.
When did you begin writing?
The day I became a writer I was seven years old and wrote a murder mystery screen play that I had the neighbor kids act out. Short stories followed and poems. I wanted to become a reporter but found out you can’t survive on a reporter’s salary and so dived into a writing career in writing for marketing and communications. I later launched my own resume writing service, but it wasn’t until my mother died five years ago that I began writing novels out of my grief. Eventually that grief turned to peace and then at discovering what I love to do, be a true storyteller.
What is this book about?
A Hidden Element has several themes in it. Some are…Seeking power through good leads to salvation OR Seeking power through doing evil leads to self-destruction. Relinquishing the struggle to belong can lead to self-acceptance. Choosing love over hate leads to peace.
In A Hidden Element evil lurks within…
When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?
What inspired you to write it?
A Hidden Element is book two in the Element Trilogy. A few readers of book one, A Human Element, asked for a sequel. I always thought it was a standalone until I woke up one morning with a vision from a dream and dropped the book I was writing to start it.
I write from the dark side with a glimpse of hope and am drawn to writing the tormented hero’s journey–and tormented villain’s. I enjoy creating empathy for both by blurring the lines between good and evil. And I especially enjoy using the paranormal elements of mind control to shake the foundation of my character’s world. This is where the inspiration came from for A Hidden Element. I’ve also been fascinated with cult communities since I was a child and did a school paper on Jim Jones. I still have all the newspaper clippings from this tragic event. My fascination with this fed into the cult community within my novel.
Who is your favorite character from the book?
Definitely Caleb! I fell in love with him while writing him. He is my favorite kind of character, the tormented hero. I loved taking him to the darkest depths and even while there, he still sacrifices his own desires to help others. He has a full heart brimming with love just waiting to be given away, yet has no one to give it to.
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
I wish I had joined writer communities and organizations sooner. I wrote my book and then “came out” of my writing cave. I didn’t feel like I belonged or was part of the club. I now know that anyone who wants to write and improve their writing is part of the club. Also, I wish I’d learned about how to write a book before writing my first book. I took writing workshops after I finished my first book. This required going back and fixing a ton of things! I don’t regret the learning that took place afterwards as I can now write a better book from the beginning.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
What is up next for you?
I am now plotting the third and final book in the Element Trilogy, A Healing Element, and also a young adult medieval fantasy series. I also write children’s books and in 2015 have the first two books coming out in my middle grade adventure fantasy series, Joshua and the Lightning Road. In book 1, Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance, when a bolt strikes his house and whisks him on an adventure to a world where stolen kids are work slaves for the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians. You can learn more about it here: www.donnagalanti.com