Meet Authors Dana Bowen and Chloe Brogan

Dana and Chloe grew up in rural Ohio, and sparked a close friendship in the summer of 2019. When the Pandemic hit in 2020 they saw it as an opportunity to be adventurous. As two young moms, they spent months finding creative outlets through baking and art, but they were running out of things to do. So, when Dana came to Chloe one Friday over coffee and suggested they write a book — it seemed like the next logical step in their endeavors to use their time at home to pursue something they’d always dreamed of doing. The two discovered quickly that they made a great pair, and the story spun itself together almost overnight. The pair plan to keep up the momentum as Indie Authors, exploring all subgenres of romance in their coming stories.

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Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

Chloe and I became friends back in 2019. Our husbands were friends, and after some poking and prodding from my husband we went over to their house one night to play boardgames. Then maybe a week or so later, Chloe and I got to talking, and ended up having coffee together. And that was about it. Since then we weathered a pandemic together, and a whole year of homeschooling our kids. I’ve been eternally grateful for her friendship over the last few years.

Back in December of 2020 I was actually spending an afternoon with my cousin and she and I got to talking about my old habits of writing terribly cringy short stories. After she and I talked, I got to thinking and googling how to write a book. It seemed like a crazy idea, but it had been months of staying inside due to Covid and I felt like I was losing grip on the things that brought me joy to do. After having small children, most of my hobbies had gone out the window.

I remember it was a Friday afternoon in December, and I walked into Chloe’s house, plopped down on her couch and told her that I wanted to write a book– and I wanted her to help me. I’m very aware of the fact Chloe thought I was a little nuts, but she jumped on board with me almost immediately.

I think that night she and I wrote the first 3 Chapters together, and we had an outline for the first 6. Somewhere in the mess of things about a month later we realized we actually might have a story coming together. After a conversation we had about how far we were going to take this whole writing thing we actually got down to business. We created an actual concrete outline and a character bible. We started talking to people about our ideas, and let some of our friends and family read our first draft. It didn’t fully sink in what was happening though until we found our editor, and actually started shaping our story into something real.

I can honestly say I’ve loved every minute of working with Chloe on this, and I can’t wait to bring the rest of our works out into the open here soon.

Advice for New Authors?

As a new Author myself? Don’t let perfect get in the way of good. It’s something my Mother tells me all the time. It’s one of the reasons superman movies don’t sell well. Perfection is impossible. Making sure everything is perfect is impossible. We love flaws the human race loves to be validated. We might have one typo but it doesn’t ruin the message of our whole book. We will do better, grow, and learn and so will you.

Chasing Catherine, our protagonist is running from perfection and the lies that surround it. Perfect is impossible but Good is real raw and obtainable. I think for our antagonist Marcus that his fatal flaw is he and everything around him has to be perfect. Don’t fall into that trap or that book you wrote will never get published and you will pick at it on and off for years telling yourself you’ll publish when it’s perfect. Which it will never be perfect and so it will never be published. Take the leap go with the good.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

D: I’ve always had a love for reading and writing–and with Covid kind of messing up everything I thought I wanted from the next few years of my life–it seemed like a solid logical thing to try. After holding a physical copy of Chloe and my book, I am sure it was the right thing to do.

C: I’ve always loved to write. I’ve always been a creative person. I get hit by imposter syndrome a lot and I feel like somehow I’m tricking everyone into liking me and my art. Which logically makes no sense but it’s such a real feeling. I wanted to write and leave my mark but was too scared. When Dana came to me and said hey “I wrote this will you read it” and it was a couple pages I wanted to do for her what I was scared to do for myself and supported her. Then when we started on chapter to she trusted me to write some and then believed in me and pushed me.

So long story short I’ve always wanted to and without Dana I wouldn’t have. I held our book for the first time a few days ago. While that uglly imposter syndrome tried to creep on me I know what we wrote was good and that it was the right decision and I can’t wait to do more.

A day in the life of the author?

D: I don’t think I’m quite at the point of considering myself an author. I don’t spend days and days writing at a time. My ‘Author Life’ looks a lot like me taking care of my kids and doing chores, then standing in the shower 15 minutes longer than I should have to type out the random idea I had for a book on my phone.

C: Are we author technically but financially we can’t make it our whole lives yet. So most days I spend homeschooling kids or wiping butts and then once the kids are asleep I blast some Lo-Fi hip hop and start writing.

Describe your writing style.

D: I don’t really know. Modern, descriptive, and slightly romantic.

C: I think my writing style can be very casual and I lean more towards comedy. I wonder if you all can pick who’s who from our book.

What makes a good story?

D: Passion. I don’t mean passion like romance specifically, I mean as an author you have to have some sort of passion for what you’re doing. You can have good ideas, but if you don’t feel a certain way about your setting, characters, or story, you won’t have a good story.

C:{Uh insert cheesy thing here} To be honest no matter what, to have a Good story you need a certain level of talent. My grandpa always said there some people who tell you “I got this bag from Kroger” then there are people you say “So you’re not going to believe this I was in Kroger today and they were out of tofu so I strolled around and from the corner of my eye I caught this beautiful man so I walked his way pretended I was shopping for book bags too and so I bought this book bag to get a guys number.”

What are they currently reading?

D: I’m currently reading two books. Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and A Week to be Wicked, by Tessa Dare.

C: I’ll be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara and The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn. Honestly life is stranger than fiction for me.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

D: I really like having a plan laid out before doing too much. I like making sure my characters are in order, and I like to have a general idea in place before diving too deep.

C: I will lay out something real basic then just word vomit.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

D: Mental Illness. Lol

C: Digging deep. I love writing the levity and comedy scenes, but I wrote a few scenes from Catherine’s point of view and had to face some of my own struggles while writing it and avoided writing the scene.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

D: I think in Chasing Catherine I got everything I wanted the book to be. In some ways I know that we didn’t do things quite like everyone expected, but Chloe and I knew what we wanted.

C: I think we deliver what we want. We don’t have a following yet so for now we get to be raw and write for us. Who knows if we get famous maybe we have to be more conscious of what readers want but now it’s raw and real.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

D: I would push my younger self to be fearless when writing a lot sooner. I think everything happens for a reason, and I don’t think I’d have published my book before now anyway. But I wish I wouldn’t have quieted this love for writing for so long. I told myself it was an impossible feat, but it turns out putting your work out there is way more possible than I let myself believe for a long time.

C: I agree with Dana. I think this book was meant to be our first book. I had a teacher who just didn’t like me. I excelled in language arts in school but she brow beat me into not believing in myself. I just want to show young Chloe we didn’t and we shouldn’t believe that teacher.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?

D: Chasing Catherine is a single POV, so we didn’t run into too many issues with that. But I have noticed in other things I’m working on, it’s hard to balance what people really think and do with what we can perceive from an outside view. But I’m not sure that’s a matter of gender. I think it’s when trying to write from any POV that isn’t your own. It’s just a lot of experimenting to figure out what feels right,

C: I 100% agree with Dana, it’s not so much gender but that person in particular may respond differently. We were working on a scene where someone is comforting Nathan. She felt that the should hug and do this or that. Nathan is raised catholic and physical touch would not be appropriate for him to be touched by a femme character or anyone because that’s not how within his culture he would associate in that way with a nonromantic partner who’s not family.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

D: Alone it’s appearing to take me much longer. But together I think Chloe and I finished the first and second draft of this one and editing process in about 6 months.

C: For this book it was about 6 months. My solo project has taken me longer but our main focus has been this so that’s to be expected.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

D: Oh for sure. Lack of inspiration can be infuriating. Honestly it’s part of why I was so glad Chloe and I could do this together. Because there were nights where my brain just wouldn’t work and I could text her and tell her I was tapping out for the night, and Chloe would pick up where I left off without missing a beat.

C: I think mental health is a big player in writers block. So of course writers block is real. I’m really glad we were able to tag team this book and tag out if we needed.

What book do you think everyone should read?

D: I think everyone should read George Orwell’s 1984, and anything by Ted Dekker.

C: I think The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, it’s just a favorite of mine.

How long have you been writing?

D: creatively and for myself I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I started writing poetry and short stories in elementary school, and was always filling notebooks with book ideas. But this is my first actual work that I’ve published.

C: Dana and I have similar writing stories a lot privately to keep to ourselves. My love of reading really pushed that creative side of me. Without Dana I don’t think I would’ve ever had the courage to actually get something published.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

D: In my experience so far, characters seem to come as needed. Whether it’s during the initial outline process where you’re deciding what’s going to happen in the book; or when you’re in the midst of a draft and decide you need things said that a certain person needs to say. We didn’t originally give Nathan’s family a ton of depth, but after writing the first draft it became apparent we needed them for Nathan’s backstory to have real depth.

C: I think our character came to us as we needed when we started writing all we had was Darby (What Dana OG named Catherine) Then Darby became Catherine and the man in the distance became Nathan.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

D: Aside from the initial googling I did on how to write up a Character bible and a book outline, I didn’t do much research. We kept things pretty familiar–drawing a lot of scenery and dialogue from what we knew.

C:Most of our research was done during, to make sure we had some accuracy.

Do you see writing as a career?

D: I honestly really want it to be a career. I have more stories to tell!

C: I would love if we really were able to keep doing this. I love every second of it and want this to be my life forever.

What do you think about the current publishing market?

D: I think that the ease behind self publishing is both fantastic and horrible. I think everyone has a story to tell, and everyone should get to have their voice, but as a self-published author it is incredibly hard to make it. Big publishing firms are looking for the next Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey, and it’s really hard as a small author to compete with huge companies.

C:I think self publishing is a gift and a curse. We can get our story out with out paying an arm and a leg for an agent but it’s impossible to compete with the reach of a publishing company.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?

D: I love reading. But I am a genre jumper. I don’t have just one I love. As a kid I read mostly classics. I loved Treasure Island, and Romeo and Juliet. As a teen I read a lot of fantasy, and YA books. As an adult I love romance, mystery/thriller, and true crime.

C:I have loved reading forever, its been a safe haven for me as long as I can remember. Growing up poor books gave me the things I could never have. I love all genres honestly I currently mostly read biographies.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

D: My poor ADHD brain doesn’t know what it wants, I do best with minimal distractions, but if it’s too quiet my mind wanders.

C: I think being a parent means silence isn’t even an option.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

D: Currently I’m working on the second book for this series, a shorter Novella type story with Amber, and a few other things.

C: Currently I have few projects going dana has a few projects we have a few together.

Pen or type writer or computer?

D: For a long time I always wrote on pen and paper. But for ease while trying to write professionally, and with another person it makes the most sense to share a google doc with Chloe.

C:I use to prefer pen and paper but I’ve become quite fond of typing on the computer through this process.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

D: I have two. Eleanor from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. To this day that whole book is a favorite, and should be on everyone’s reading list. And as a kid I idolized Arya from the The Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini. They are both amazing female characters. 

C: I’ve mostly been reading biographies and nonfiction. To pull back from my brain of characters I love a lot fall under the John green Manic Pixie girl like Alaska from Looking For Alaska.

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Convince us why you feel your book Chasing Catherine is a must-read.

I think there is actually a lot to say for this, more than just a rapid fire interview question. We have a very deep connection to this book. When we started out to write this story, it was a bit of a joke. We started writing with all of the classic tropes in mind. Girl meets boy, boy fixes all of her problems, and they live happily ever after.

But something that has been so treasured through this writing experience is how many other forms of love come in this novel. I remember sitting with Chloe sometime after we had really gotten into writing our second draft, and we were trying to think of a name for the book. We dug through a laundry list pile of book names that we either randomly generated or took from key words in the book. But none of them seemed to truly fit with what we wanted to express.

When we spent some time looking through the themes of our book, it became quickly obvious that we had so much more in between the pages than just steamy romance. While steamy romance is amazing and so much fun to write, we really wanted to drive home what it looks like to experience loving relationships with family and friends as well. I think true, loving platonic relationships aren’t showcased enough in literature as it is. And true passion for someone can extend farther than stolen kisses and bedroom eyes. We all love a good whirlwind romance, but my true love for our story lies in Catherine’s relationship with Cici, Amber, and Meghan.

People experience all kinds of love throughout their lives. Familial love, friendly love, and romantic love. Catherine is lifted by the people around her for the first time in her life. It’s an incredibly healing experience to bear your soul to people and have them love you unconditionally. And sometimes it’s those people around you that help you learn to love yourself. A great deal can be said for pursuing your own life, thoughts, and dreams with the support of the important people around you. It was so important by the end of our story that we showed Catherine choosing to chase herself for probably the first time in her life.

I think our book is a must read because of those things. I want people to see the healing that comes from being supported, and I want people to see that even when you’re faced with hard things, toxic people, and your own self doubt. There are people around you that will hold you up. There are people around you who will always help you succeed, and be the support you need. You just have to be willing to ask for help and look around. The world isn’t hopeless.

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