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A Conversation with Donna Galanti, author of ‘A Hidden Element,’ book 2 in the Element Trilogy

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.


When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I am drawn to writing dark fiction with themes that touch on family, blood connection, genes vs. environment, and belonging – all themes in my own life as an adopted, only child who has sought to fit in with family and battle the dark genes that come with us. The first short story I wrote (and still have), is from when I was 10. It was an 18-page story called One by One They Disappear. A murder tale of a man who killed everyone around his home in an isolated, rural community. He bulldozed down their houses to create his dream of always having a buffalo range. He spared one girl as he had always wanted a daughter, and so she could help him raise the buffalo. She is brainwashed by him but eventually gets loose and braves the wilderness to turn him in. Yes, I’ve been writing dark stuff since I was a kid!

But it was the death of my mother that propelled me to finally write the novel I always wanted to write. The story came to me in a vision fifteen years ago and my mother was the first person I told it to. I wrote two chapters, but then life got busy and I shelved it.

After my mother’s death, many years later, I sat down and finished writing A Human Element, book one in the Element Trilogy. I did it through grief without looking back. Writing The End was a private made-it-moment for me as a writer. It’s a bittersweet feeling, knowing that I would not be a published author today if it were not for my mother’s passing.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

I am fascinated by the power of the brain and how little we use. We are not even close to tapping our potential of brainpower. Writing in the paranormal allows me to tap into the “what if”. What if we possessed the power to do the unbelievable? Like telepathy, telekinesis. And what if we could use those powers to heal – or to kill? Some people like to imagine that aliens would have such power, as eluded to in A Hidden Element, but what if it was inside us all along and we just had to tap into it?

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?

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

My creative ideas come from sitting outside with good old fashioned pen and paper in hand, overlooking the woods. When I am looking to start a new book I ask myself “what if?” questions to find the kernel of a story. There is something about how you are forced to slow down when the brain is connected to the pen to the paper. It’s a physical connection that helps me create in a different way rather than typing 80 words a minute on my computer. It also takes me back to my primal roots as a writer when I would take my notebook to the woods to create my stories. It reminds me that no matter what fancy technology or resources we have to help us create, that ultimately it comes down to our imagination and pen and paper.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

I don’t necessarily believe this. At least it’s not true for me. Success in writing can also only truly come when you let go – let go of your ego that is. I believe that this is the biggest reason why I am published, have a wonderful agent as my champion, and have four books coming out in the next year. And this is the biggest reason I see writer’s fail because they do not accept criticism and are not willing to do the hard work to make their writing better. As a writer we need to be open to constructive criticism to become better writers. And when it comes to reviews here’s the thing about books – they are personal. Every reader will bring their own experiences to reading a book and will be affected differently by that book that any other reader. In a way books are like snowflakes, no one is the same to every person. Keeping this in mind, I understand that my book will affect readers on different levels. Some will connect, based on their personal experiences, and some won’t. Negative reviews don’t bother me at all. I actually enjoy mixed reviews where the readers talk about what moved them and what bothered them. This tells me that my book touched them, and they took the time to share how.

How do you divide your time between taking care of a home and children, and writing? Do you plan your writing sessions in advance?

It takes quite a bit of discipline (like setting the alarm for 4:30am many days to write)! My husband is very supportive and I often hide away one full day on the weekends to write. I also meet up with a wonderfully supportive group of women writers one day during the week at Wegman’s Café, where we write, share advice, help each other with story issues, and enjoy lunch. When I am not feeling disciplined I head out of the house to write. Home can have too many distractions! It’s all about getting the butt in the chair and ignoring email and social media distractions. During the school year my writing day ends at 3:30 when I get my son (hence the 4:30 wakeup call many days! My friends think I’m nuts. Am I?).

Do you have an agent?  How was your experience in searching for one?

My wonderful agent is Bill Contardi with Brandt & Hochman. I submitted nearly 200 queries to agents over the years and kept getting closer with more feedback and increased requests to read the full manuscript. It’s all about finding a champion for your work and someone who loves your voice, and for me – finding the right fit personality-wise. Also important in finding an agent, is demonstrating that you are a writer seeking to launch a career and have many different projects and ideas in the works and not just a one-time wonder.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Please visit me at for more information on the Element Trilogy and to follow my blog. I also have a Writers Corner there with dozens of articles on the craft and business of writing.

Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

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:


Purchase Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element:

Purchase Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element:

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