We sat down with military veteran, supermom, and author Dacia Arnold ahead of her appearance at Denver Pop Culture Con this weekend, May 31 to June 2.
Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con) is nearly here! The three-day pop culture extravaganza will be arriving at the Colorado Convention Center this weekend, May 31 to June 2. (Read more about the convention with our handy guide!)
We had the opportunity to chat with one of many authors you'll have the chance to meet at the convention this weekend, and she's a superhero in her own right! Dacia Arnold – a 10-year Army veteran, mother, and author – sat down with us to talk about her new novel, Denver Pop Culture Con, and more.
Check out the full interview with Dacia Arnold below.
OCN: Shifting Power, the sequel to your first full-length novel Apparent Power, is set to publish later this fall. Care to share with us more about that and what audiences can expect?
Dacia Arnold: Absolutely. My hope for Shifting Power is to keep in with the relatability of a mother in a post-apocalyptic setting. So, without giving too much away, a lot of Shifting Power will be adjusting to life as a new normal, in this new dystopian world. So she's dealing with a child, who's also adapting, as well as trying to come to terms with everything that she's experienced in the book before. There's, of course, new conflict, and there may, or may not be, some extremely happy times and some extremely sad times ahead.
Shifting Power, set to publish this fall. | Courtesy of Dacia Arnold.
OCN: What first inspired you to become a writer?
Arnold: I was in the army for 10 years. I joined the army because my dad was in the army, and he's my hero. So when my dad retired, he published a science-fiction novel that he had been working on since high school. When I got out of the army, my son was a year old and I was working night shifts at a medical center and had a lot of time to read. Then, when I got done reading a book, I'd ask my sister, "What's the next thing? What's the next popular thing?" And she'd be like, "Oh, this YA novel. This YA novel." And I'd be like, "Well, where are the adult versions of these things?" And I couldn't find them. So, I'd finished reading my dad's book and thought that I could totally write a book. I read so many books, that I'm just gonna duck my head down and pound out this story. And it's all history from there.
OCN: You’ve written several works across various types and genres, including dark fiction and dystopian, as well as short stories and poetry. What is your favorite genre to write, and why?
Arnold: I'll tell you what, my least favorite to write is poetry; I stink at it. I'm not good. [laughs] The things that I do have published were written a long time ago and were very dark and disturbed. Now, I really enjoy dystopian fiction and I also enjoy representing moms, that demographic. You know, today, you'll see young adult females who are without children, because it's easier to save the world without kids. But, saving a world with kids is a feat in and of itself. It's just a lot more fun for me to figure out how I would accomplish these tasks while also keeping little people safe and alive.
The Brightest Firefly: A Collection of Short Works is available now. | Courtesy of Dacia Arnold.
OCN: What are you looking forward to the most at Denver Pop Culture Con?
Arnold: This will be my first Pop Culture Con as a professional, vendor, and author, so as anything other than a fan. And I'm looking forward to schmoozing with the other successful, famous authors that are gonna be my neighbors at my table. This year, I'm also sitting in on panels with other big-named people, and I am gonna fangirl, hard. Like, worse than anyone! [laughs] It's not even a cute fangirl; it's like a really awkward fangirl where you stare at them from across the room and then as soon as they look at you, you sort of wave all weird. Totally me. So, that's what I'm looking forward to! [laughs] Just weirding people out. Like, I am instantly everyone's biggest fan.
OCN: Looking at your schedule for DPCC, you’ll be part of several panels throughout the weekend. One of them is “Putting Your Own Life (& Relationships) Into Your Books.” How has being a military vet and mom inspired your work?
Arnold: This is a really interesting question, and I'm glad I got to read ahead because it gave me the opportunity to sit and think like, you'll hear or read a lot with people who have training in these types of situations – military training, police offers, firefighters, emergency medicine – where we have this switch; it's an on and off switch. There's this type of hypervigilance, where you're aware of everything. You're creating contingency plans right there in the moment. You're anticipating something going wrong. It's very high-adrenaline and, really, high-anxiety – especially if you can't turn it off. So we're [military veterans] transitioning from that kind of mentality. My entire adult life to motherhood is really hard. I have to set boundaries with myself, as far as that.
I'm not like a helicopter mom, like hovering, and I do allow my kids to get hurt and take risks and jump off the table so they can enjoy their childhood. But there are also things that I do or don't do, so turning off the switch. Here's an example: my son graduated kindergarten this year, and part of me thinks, as a mother, I should protect these children. I should sit in the back. I should sit next to an exit. I should be able to observe the room and see who's in there, who's coming in and out. But also, I'm a working mother and I hardly ever get to do anything with him, so if he can't see me, then he's going to think that I'm not there. So, I have to make that choice, to put away my anxiety, my hypervigilance, and sit in the front so that my little dude can be like, "my mom was there for my childhood." ... As a mother, as a parent, as a person, I can not be constantly looking for a threat. So there is some give and take for separating the two.
Dacia Arnold's Denver Pop Culture Con Schedule.
OCN: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Arnold: I still feel like an aspiring author [laughs]! My best advice is to research while you write, to always write. Write every day if you can. Set word count goals for the month; put 5,000 words down, regardless if it's garbage. Set those small goals, research the craft. I have a GED, that's it. I never graduated high school, so I got my GED and joined the military at 19. I didn't start college until after I started my book, and hit writer's block. I thought that if I knew more about the writing industry, if I knew more about writing, then I can write past this. Ultimately, though, that word count goal is what pushed me through where I was stuck and moved me to finish my book, because I ended up finishing and publishing my book before I even got my degree. And now, I've got about less than a year left before I graduate with a 3.9 GPA in an English degree. So, as long as you're willing to learn the process of writing, then go for it! The sky's the limit.
OCN: Thank you for taking the time out of your day and busy schedule to speak with me. Looking forward to meeting you at Denver Pop Culture Con this weekend.
Arnold: Thank you. I'll look out for you!
Will you be attending Denver Pop Culture Con this weekend? Which author and/or other celebrity guests are you looking forward to meeting? Sound off in the comments below. Allons-y!