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Jeri Smith-Ready – Interview & Contest


    

Photo of Jeri is courtesy of –  Photo © 2006 Szemere Photography

Sidhe Vicious welcomes Urban Fantasy author Jeri Smith-Ready! We’re looking forward to getting to know you and all about your novel WICKED GAME.

 

Thanks so much for having me.  I love your site!

 

S.V.   Thank you! J  Your Urban Fantasy novel, WICKED GAME, was released on May 13th, 2008 by Pocket Books. Can you tell us about it and a bit about the main characters Ciara and Shane?

 

J.S.R.   WICKED GAME is a fun, sexy, dark urban fantasy about a recovering con artist who tries to redeem herself by saving a vampire radio station from corporate takeover.  It’s a matter of life and un-death, since without the tie to their original lifetimes that the music provides, her strange new friends will ‘fade,’ becoming walking fossils of the past.  When she boosts ratings by turning their vampiric natures into a marketing gimmick, hot-and-cool grunge DJ Shane McAllister is the first to object—but far from the last.  The publicity from the new “Lifeblood of Rock ‘n’ Roll” campaign turns out to have unintended—and deadly—consequences.

 

Ciara is your typical con artist in many ways—clever, confident, and morally flexible. She’s a bad girl trying her best to be good, but her own impulses get in the way.  Ciara’s a little different than most urban fantasy heroines.  She kicks ass, but with her brains and charm, not with muscles or magic.

 

Shane is the dude who proves to her that vampires exist, during what could non-skankily be referred to as an ‘intimate encounter.’  He’s a stubborn idealist who wants the radio station to be only about the music, not the ‘vampire schtick,’ as he calls it.  He plays guitar and is obsessed with the alphabet.  You can learn more about him and his favorite tunes at his page on the WVMP website (http://www.wvmpradio.com/page.cfm/dj-s/shane).

 

 

S.V.   What about vampires inspired you to write about them?

 

J.S.R.   When I had the idea for characters who were psychologically ‘stuck in time,’ vampires seemed like the logical choice.  They’re the only paranormal creatures who die but go on living (except zombies, and I wasn’t forward-thinking enough to consider them). 

 

Plus, vampires and rock ‘n’ roll are perfect for each other.  They’re both about immortality, or more precisely, eternal youth.

 

S.V.   Will we be seeing more of Ciara and Shane in the future?

 

J.S.R.   Oh yes!  The sequel, BAD TO THE BONE, will be out next May.  To tide readers over until then, I’m going to post free tie-in short stories on my website every other month, the stories of how each vampire DJ was ‘turned.’  The first one came out in June with Monroe. http://www.jerismithready.com/books/wicked-game/monroe.htm

 

Beginning with the second story in August, my newsletter subscribers will get to read them a week before the rest of the world.  To sign up, just go to my website and look for the signup box on the right side of the page.

 

 

S.V.   How did you get your start in writing? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

 

J.S.R.   Not surprisingly, it was caffeine and music.  I was at a coffee shop watching a live performance of a two-man blues band.  It was too loud for conversation, and I had a double espresso coursing through my blood and brain, so I came up with a scene about a guy sitting in a coffee shop when a mysterious, mouth-watering woman walks in.  It was kind of detective noir with a comic twist.  That was my ‘practice novel,’ because it will never be published and doesn’t deserve to be.  But I’d been bitten by the writing bug.  After that, all I ever wanted to do was tell stories.

 

S.V.   Who or what was your inspiration for the characters of Ciara and Shane, if any? Any inspirations for the rest of the characters?

 

J.S.R.   For the first week or two, Ciara was a cross between MaryJanice Davidson’s Betsy Taylor and George from DEAD LIKE ME.  She was an airhead and a slacker.  But she evolved away from that pretty quickly once I figured out she was a con artist.

 

Shane was definitely inspired by his hero, Kurt Cobain.  One of my readers says she felt like Shane is what Cobain would’ve been if he’d been given another chance at life (or unlife, as the case may be).  Maybe creating Shane was my feeble attempt to bring Kurt Cobain back to life, or at least honor his memory. 

 

But like Ciara, Shane soon became his own person and grew away from my original concept of him.  As he developed (and as he fell in love with Ciara), he became a lot less self-involved and learned to occasionally look on the bright side.  There’s still a lot of Cobain in him, but some of that is his conscious emulation of his hero.

 

Regina is a tiny bit inspired by my best friend from college, who first turned me on to punk and Goth music.  She also helped me find my inner bitch, something I’m eternally grateful for.

 

 

S.V.   Did you find it hard or easy to write the first novel in this series with having to create this world?

 

J.S.R.   Actually, creating the world and writing the first novel was the easy part.  It gets harder as the series continues and I have to ask (and answer) a lot of questions.  Like, why are the vampires sensitive to religious symbols?  Are there other paranormal creatures?  Most important, what’s up with Ciara?  You’d think I’d have this all figured out before I wrote Word One, but if I worked that way, I’d never get Word One written at all.

 

 

S.V.   Do you have any funny writing quirks or habits that you do when you’re in the “zone” writing?

 

J.S.R.   Being in the “zone” is one of those few times I’m not self-conscious, so I have no idea about quirks.  But there’s something kinda cool: I used to play the piano when I was a teenager (not very well—I was given a piano but no lessons ***not that I’m bitter or anything***), and I loved the feeling of making music with my hands.  Sometimes when I’m typing and really in the zone, it feels like making music.  Even hitting the backspace key—that’s just another note.

 

S.V.   Have you ever met a vampire, werewolf, demon, fae?

 

J.S.R.   I am fairly certain that my next-door neighbor’s Yorkie is harboring a demon.

 

S.V.   What supernatural power or creature would you most like to have or be?

 

J.S.R.   Sometimes I think I’d like to be invisible, because I’m a really nosy person and I like to learn secrets (which I’m very good at keeping).  But then I go into a department store and try to get someone to help me, and I realize I already am invisible. 

 

If I could have any paranormal creature around, it would be brownies, to help with the housework.

 

S.V.   Who is your favorite paranormal or urban fantasy fictional character and why?

 

J.S.R.   I’m almost afraid to say, because my favorite characters always end up getting killed off. If you’re a character, you don’t want me to love you.  I am the kiss of death.

 

S.V.   Who’s your favorite author? TV show? Movie?

 

J.S.R.   If I could only name one favorite author, like if I were on a lifeboat and there was only room for me and one other writer, it would be—argh, you’re killing me—probably Neil Gaiman.  Not only is his work amazing on so many levels, he’s an incredibly nice and funny person, and so generous with his time and self. 

 

Favorite TV show: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, or maybe NORTHERN EXPOSURE.

 

Favorite movie: PLEASANTVILLE.  It’s so underrated and overlooked, but it’s freaking brilliant and deep and funny and sweet and romantic.  I love any stories where fiction and real life collide (STRANGER THAN FICTION, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO), and anything with existentialist themes, like what it means to be human and free and how do we create reality.  GROUNDHOG DAY would be a close second.

 

S.V.   If you could choose one fictional character to bring into real life, who would you choose?

 

J.S.R.   Of my own?  Shane, though he’d be pretty lonely as the world’s only vampire.  I could help him with the solitude, but that would lead to conflicts here at home.

 

Of another author’s?  I’d love for Neil Gaiman’s Death (from the SANDMAN comics) to be real.  To know that someone that cute and friendly waited for me at the end of my life.

 

 

S.V.   What do you do when you’re having writer’s block to “shake” it off?

 

J.S.R.   If a scene isn’t working or I don’t know where it’s going, I’ll write a different one.  By the time I get back to the tough scene, sometimes the solution has presented itself.  Sometimes the whole thing just needs to be chucked.

 

Walking the dog also helps.  Getting outside, moving the blood through my veins and brain, can jumpstart the process.  Plus it makes her wag her tail, and that always brightens my day.

 

S.V.   What can a new reader expect from your book/series?

 

J.S.R.   In a word: FUN!  At least, that’s what I’m told.  They will also get characters that they enjoy spending time with and can relate to, even the “bad guys.”

 

 

S.V.   You write about supernatural creatures. Do you do a lot of research or do you prefer to take what you already know and use your imagination for the rest?

 

J.S.R.   Research can provide the imagination with a jumping-off point.  For instance, I learned that in Eastern Europe vampires were considered what we would call Obsessive-Compulsive.  One legend instructed people to keep vampires away by scattering rice on their doorsteps.  The vampire would stop and count every grain and maybe wouldn’t finish before the sun came up (is this where Jim Henson got the idea for the Count on SESAME STREET?). 

 

I was really struck by this, because I’d never seen obsessive-compulsive vampires in literature.  So each of my vamps has a different OCD behavior.  At first this was just a source of comedy, but then I realized it was tied in to their feeling out of place in this world.  These behaviors are a way for them to feel in control, to feel sane.  So it makes sense for their characters and for their world.  Plus, the funny.

 

But sometimes knowing what’s come before can hamper our creativity.  I think the fact that I didn’t set out to write about vampires per se (and that I haven’t read a million vampire novels) gave me the freedom to come up with a really new take.

 

 

S.V.   Are any of your characters particularly fun or easy for you to write? Any that are more difficult?

 

J.S.R.   All of the characters in WICKED GAME were fun, and most were easy.  They each have distinctive ways of thinking and speaking, so their dialogue just rolls onto the page. 

 

The most challenging character in WICKED GAME was probably David.  He has a lot of contradictory impulses, so I worked hard to make sure his motivations were clear.  Also, I wanted him to be appealing, but not so much that readers wanted Ciara to end up with him instead of Shane.  😉

 

Regarding my other books, Lucifer from REQUIEM FOR THE DEVIL was my favorite, once I got used to hanging out inside the mind of the Devil.  He’s just so cool, even when he’s not.  It was fun to imagine what it would be like to be the second most powerful being in the universe, but at the same time be so incredibly, humanly vulnerable when it comes to the people he loves.

 

Rhia from the ASPECT OF CROW trilogy was probably the most challenging, partly because she was my first female protagonist, but also because her culture is so different from ours.  They’re much more socially oriented, with a strong instinct to serve the community, even at the expense of the individual’s desires.  Her people don’t get a choice of Guardian Spirit or magic—the Spirits call them based on what their society needs for the challenges of the future.  Rhia is as individualistic and “modern” as anyone can be in her circumstances, but she still has to be a realistic part of that world. 

 

Also, she’s a very good person, and I seem to have an easier time relating to characters who are ‘bad’ in some way.  I hate to think about what that says about me.  😉

 

S.V.   Do you have any tips for aspiring speculative fiction writers?

 

J.S.R.   As stockbrokers say, diversify!  After you finish the first book in your series and start submitting it, don’t write the sequel.  Write something else.  Chances are, that first book won’t sell (first books rarely do), but if editors and agents see that you have potential, they’ll ask, “What else do you have?” If you tell them, “Uh, I have three more books in that series you don’t like,” well, that’s kind of a dead end.  And if they do want that series, they’ll give you time to write the sequels (and probably suggestions on how to do it).  Publishing moves very slowly. 

 

More important, when you turn your mind to a new idea and world, you’ll probably find that your storytelling ability jumps to an entirely new level. 

 

Also, and this applies to all writers: Get plenty of sleep. Seriously. It’s not just a health concern (after all, I support lots of unhealthy activities). It’s about the writing. I read a study that said the part of our brains that governs creativity is the first part to deteriorate under sleep deprivation. Also, I find that when I’m tired, I lose all ability to evaluate my own work. It all turns into a load of crap. Which makes for tough edits.

 

S.V.   Is there anything else you’d like to share with us at Raves & Rants and with your readers?  

 

J.S.R.   I love to hear from readers, so I encourage anyone to contact me through my website, www.jerismithready.com.  I also give away free bookmarks and signed bookplates for any of my books and frequently hold contests on my blog and in my newsletter. 

 

For more about WICKED GAME, check out www.jerismithready.com/wicked-game.  To visit the DJs and listen to a sample of their shows, go to www.wvmpradio.com.  Ciara and I can also be found on MySpace, though mysteriously never at the same time (www.myspace.com/jerismithready and www.myspace.com/ciarawvmp).  Ciara loves to get fan mail, not that her ego really needs it.

 

Also, soon Ciara will be going head-to-head with Dante Baptiste from Adrian Phoenix’s A RUSH OF WINGS, to be simulcast right here on Sidhe Vicious’s Raves & Rants.

 

Thanks so much for having me!  I really enjoyed your questions, and I’ll be happy to take more in the comments.  J

 

Thank you for spending some time here with us at Sidhe Vicious Reviews Jeri! It was a pleasure getting to know a bit about you and your novel WICKED GAME. We’re really looking forward to BAD TO THE BONE and wishing you every success in the future.

 

Jeri Smith-Ready has graciously agreed to hang out with us throughout the day to answer any reader questions, so ask away readers. J One lucky commenter will also receive a signed copy of WICKED GAME!!

 

I’ll draw a winner on July 30th  at midnight, and post the winner on July 31st. If you’d

 

like extra entries to win, you can subscribe to my blog, or post about this contest somewhere and send me the link. Make sure to let me know if you’ve subscribed or blogged about the contest. Good Luck Everybody! J  

July 14, 2008 Posted by | Contest, Interview | , , , , | 43 Comments

Yasmine Galenorn – Interview & Contest


    

 

 Sidhe Vicious welcomes Paranormal Romance Author Yasmine Galenorn! We’re looking forward to getting to know you and all about your novel Dragon Wytch.

 Y.G.  Thank you.  I appreciate the welcome.

 S.V.   Your paranormal romance novel, Dragon Wytch will be released on July 1st, 2008 by Berkley Books. Can you tell us about it and a bit about the main characters Camille & Smoky?

 Y.G.  Dragon Wytch is the fourth book in my Otherworld Series (aka: the Sisters of the Moon Series).  The Equinox is coming, and mayhem rules. A crown-prince unicorn offers the girls a legendary gift, but it disappears, as does his servant, a pixie named Mistletoe, who was carrying it, and they have to get it back before havoc rules.  Rogue portals are opening and goblins and trolls swarm the streets of Seattle. And now Smoky, the hottest dragon around, decides to stake his claim—on Camille.  It’s time for her to pay her debt to him.

 Overshadowing it all, the third spirit seal surfaces and, of course, Shadow Wing’s after it.  He sends a dangerous demon general—a Rāksasa—after it, and the girls realize they may be outmatched.  And then, they discover a secret: a new power is rising—a dangerous force from the past—and that power intends to restore balance to the worlds…whether the girls like it or not.

 Dragon Wytch is from Camille’s point of view, and you’ll get to see the background of her initiation into the Coterie of the Moon Mother, and a better glimpse of what the magic she uses is like, and how her passion can include more than one man without diminishing the others.  You’ll also have a chance to find out more about Smoky’s lineage and his life.  I had a lot of fun writing the book—Smoky’s dragon nature really came through and showed me how he really is a dragon, not human, that he just can take human form.  He plays by his own rules.

 S.V.  What about vamps, witches, weres, etc. inspired you to write about them?

 Y.G.  I grew up cutting my teeth on fantasy, SF, and horror—from the beginning I gravitated toward Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, Lovecraft, McCaffrey, MZB…all the greats.  I watched Dark Shadows when I was five, Star Trek when I was…I dunno…I think I first saw re-runs but I was very young.  Every Saturday afternoon I’d watch the SF double feature monster matinee on TV.  My life has always been steeped in the paranormal—both real and the fantasy versions.  For me, writing non-fantasy oriented fiction is very hard—it just does not compute. ~laughing~  And vamps, witches, Weres, etc., are all part of the milieu.

 S.V.  Will we be seeing more of Camille, Smoky, Delilah and Menolly in the future?

 Y.G.  Oh yes, there will be at least nine books and one novella in the series.  I’m just about ready to start Bone Magic—book 7—which is back to Camille.  If the series continues to do well, I’d be happy writing it for quite a long time.  There are a lot of places (as well as secondary characters) I’d like to explore with this series.

 S.V.  How did you get your start in writing? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

 Y.G.  The spark came when I was three (~smiles~ I’ve told this story a hundred times, I think).  I was learning to read and one day—and I remember this particular incident—I was holding one of the books I loved and something clicked.  Maybe someone said something or maybe I just put two and two together but I suddenly “got” that people make books, they don’t just appear out of thin air.  People actually made books…and right then, I knew I was going to grow up and make books.  And I never lost sight of that goal.

 S.V.  What was the path to publication on this novel like? Highlights? Pitfalls? Or because you’ve had so many novels published, does any one stand out for you?

 Y.G.  The road to publication is a long and winding one and would take a long time to cover.  Leave that to say, it wasn’t easy, it took a lot of sweat and practice (I have seven novels in the closet from before I ever got my very first contract.  I call them the ‘in the closet gang’ and they will never see the light of print because they simply weren’t good enough.  I plunder from them, though), and that I paid my dues. 

 The highlights: of course, holding my first contract in my hands (it was for a nonfiction book) and crying because somebody was willing to pay ME to write books.  Another highlight—holding my first contract for a novel in my hand and realizing I’d actually broken though.  A third—hitting the USA Today list with Witchling—and then the NYT extended with Darkling—those were HUGE jumps for me. 

 And Dragon Wytch will be my 20th book on the shelves.  I think that’s a highlight in itself. J

 Pitfalls:  signing my first eight contracts without having a literary lawyer look them over, since I didn’t have an agent for my nonfiction.  Not realizing early enough that nowadays it’s really up to the author to do a lot of self-promotion.  Not being prepared for the sting when people trash your books and you in the same breath (I can handle rejection just fine, but people can be vicious!).

 S.V.  Who or what was your inspiration for the characters of Camille, Delilah, Menolly and Smoky, if any?

 Y.G.  Out of all the characters, Camille’s most like me, though I have touches of Delilah and Menolly in me too.  But they’re really not ‘based’ on anybody I know.  My subconscious works on a level all its own and I just let it chug along.  One night, the three girls just showed up and introduced themselves to me (in my mind, of course), and bingo, they were there.  I guess I’d been mulling over ideas for awhile and suddenly they emerged, like Venus rising from the seafoam.  Of course, they’re not quite so gracious as Venus. ~grins~  Smoky just showed up in the book; I had no idea there would be a dragon in the story but there he was and he wouldn’t go away and so, yes, there was a dragon in the story.  They evolve through the books—I don’t force them into molds or actions, everything evolves organically in my writing of this series.  It wasn’t quite the same with the mysteries, but this series definitely has a life of its own.

 S.V.  Did you find it harder or easier to write subsequent novels in this series because of already having created this world?

 Y.G.  Easier on many levels…the world is intact and vibrant and thriving, so I already know what’s there so far.  And I love the world that I’ve created—it’s so much fun to write in.  But I don’t want to get complacent.  I want each book to be different, though a link in the chain, with its own flavor and story.  The hard part is dealing with how much backstory to put in—I have to introduce them in each story but it’s getting trickier to find ways to do it that isn’t boring. ~grins~  I rely on my editor to tell me if I haven’t included enough.

 S.V.   Do you have any funny writing quirks or habits that you do when you’re in the “zone” writing?

 Y.G.  Oh gods, yes.  Actually, it’s more incidents.  Like for one of the mysteries that I was writing during March a couple years ago—the mystery was set in November and I was writing about Thanksgiving, and the dinner scene sounded so damned good that I ended up cooking a mini-Thanksgiving dinner because I was so hungry for turkey by the time I finished that scene!  Or writing a scene set in a thick snowstorm and looking out the window and being very confused for a moment because it was around 75 degrees and—for once—sunny. 

If I’m not writing enough, I can’t sleep, the characters and stories churn in my thoughts and keep me awake.  And I always clip my fingernails before I start a new book—an odd habit (and one I’ll have to break if I get the nail gels I want). 

 S.V.  Have you ever met a vampire, werewolf, demon, fae?

 Y.G.  LOL…well, you know that I’ve written metaphysical nonfiction and that I’m a shamanic witch.  I do believe in the Fae, but not as I’m writing them and not as the Victorians portrayed them.  To me they’re less human, very feral and not very friendly toward mortals.  I’ve seen some interesting things in my lifetime, I believe and have encountered ghosts and spirits…we have a guardian elk spirit who watches over the household and I’m a pledged priestess to Mielikki and Tapio.  My life is very magical, and I mix tidbits of the ‘real’ magic that I encounter into the fantasy magic of the series—it’s one big blend on the pages, though quite separate in my personal life.

 S.V.  What supernatural power or creature would you most like to have or be?

 Y.G.  You know, this is hard.  I’d love to have some of the powers of Neo in the Matrix.  I’d like to have the power to heal up from anything at extremely fast rates—not to heal others, but to heal up…super health and agility, I guess. 

 S.V.  Who is your favorite paranormal or urban fantasy fictional character and why? (Not counting your own of course)

 Y.G.  Aww gee, you mean I can’t pick my own? ~grins~  Okay, let me think here.  This is a hard question.  I think I’ll have to give you a list because I can’t pick just one: 

 

 

 

 

 There are others.  I could give you a huge list.  But I can’t give you just one name in particular. ~smiles~

 S.V.  Who’s your favorite author? TV show? Movie?

 Y.G.  This is easier, but again, it’s hard to give just one name because my moods change so rapidly. 

 Favorite author, overall: Ray Bradbury.  He makes prose sing like the sweetest music.  Favorite top three books:  Watership Down (Richard Adams); Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier); and Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien).

 Favorite TV shows:  InuYasha, Supernatural, Medium, Reaper, Bleach, The Deadliest Catch, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Desperate Housewives, Bones (except for the season 3 finale—I’m so ticked at them for making Zack into the bad guy), Spongebob Squarepants, Buffy, Forensic Files, Cold Case Files (nonfiction), City Confidential, Food Network Challenge, Iron Chef Japan, The Next Food Network Star, Project Runway

 Movie: Favorite movie of all time: Rebecca.  Favorite movies: SF/Fan, mystery, suspense, some comedy, classic, Hitchcock, cult favorites. Favorites: Tremors, Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, Queen of the Damned, Terminator, Terminator 2, Alien, Aliens, Andromeda Strain, All About Eve, Mommie Dearest, Matrix, Harry Potter movies, musicals like Chicago, All That Jazz, Moulin Rouge, Into The Woods, Earth Girls Are Easy, Eight Legged Freaks, The Mighty Quinn, Andromeda Strain, Fargo, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, LOTR movies, Labyrinth

 S.V.  How have the books you’ve read influenced the books you write?

 Y.G.  Primarily by teaching me what I don’t like and what I do like in a book—as a reader.  I learn from my reaction to the books—what bores me, what engages me, what I find implausible (and I can buy the most implausible storylines if its done right).  It’s all subjective of course.  I’m writing the books I’d like to read—I think most writers are doing so.  We love other books but we want the storylines tweaked, the characters a bit different, so we create our own worlds to meet those needs and desires.

 S.V.  What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever gotten inspiration from?

 Y.G.  When I was sitting on my exercise ball watching TV with friends and it exploded beneath me, dropping me to the hardwood floor below.  Jarred me up and hurt my lower back.  The ball was defective—it should never have ripped in that manner.  I sat there, stunned, thinking, “I shouldn’t be looking at the room from this angle.”  I went on to include the event in one of my mysteries.  Hey, you have to get mileage out of freak events like that—I ended up in pain, I might as well get an amusing incident out of it!

 S.V.  What do you do when you’re having writer’s block to “shake” it off?

 Y.G.  I don’t get writer’s block. ~smiles~  I do have days where it’s harder than others and if I find I just can’t plow through the rest of the day, sometimes I’ll just go watch TV or cook or something and the next day I’m fine.

 S.V.  What can a new reader expect from your book/series?

 Y.G.  Dark mayhem and warped humor.  If you dumped Buffy, Charlie’s Angels, I Love Lucy, and a good AD&D game into a blender, add a book on mythologies of the world, a book of fairy tales, and a soupcon of explicit erotica, well…there you go—my series.

 S.V.  You write about various types of supernatural creatures. Do you do a lot of research or do you prefer to take what you already know and use your imagination for the rest?

 Y.G.  I’ve studied mythology over the years to the point that I’m familiar with most of what I’m writing about, but I’ll stop and do the research if I realize I’m lacking in information.  And I also create my own creatures/mythos and blend them all together.  Apparently, I do a good job—people find it hard to pick out what are my creatures and what exist in folklore.

 S.V.  Are any of your characters particularly fun or easy for you to write? Any that are more difficult?

 Y.G.  Of the three sisters, Delilah’s the most elusive—just like a cat.  Camille’s easiest to write, Menolly’s in-between but getting easier.  I love writing about Camille’s three men—Smoky, Morio, and Trillian.  And I adore Maggie the gargoyle.  Iris is taking more of an active role as the books go along.  I find Chase and Zachary the hardest to write—they’re men I wouldn’t normally be pulled to, and they don’t fit my view of the ‘ideal male’ so it’s a bit of a challenge letting them be the way they are.

 S.V.  Do you have any tips for aspiring speculative fiction writers?

 Y.G.  Be prepared to work your butt off.  I work 50-70 hours a week and the more successful I get, the harder I work.  Just because you can find your way around the keyboard doesn’t mean you can write a book.  If you want to be a writer—especially a career writer—you have to put in the hours pounding the keys, doing the research, studying the markets. 

 Don’t go into the work expecting to become rich and famous—if that happens, great, and there are things you can do to promote your work—but go into it wanting to write the best stories that are suited for you to write.  Go into it for the love of writing, for the passion of creating worlds on paper. 

 Be prepared to pay your dues—in patience, in accepting criticism, and accepting the inevitable rejection that’s fraught in the business.  Don’t expect instant acceptance at the publishers—this is not a business for someone who requires instant gratification. 

 Learn how to approach agents and editors—do the leg work yourself, it’s part of the job.  Don’t expect people to hand you answers on a silver platter.  Get used to research.

 And lastly I leave you with this: nobody can guarantee you success as a writer.  But I guarantee that if you quit, you will fail.

 S.V.  Is there anything else you’d like to share with us at Raves & Rants and with your readers? 

 Y.G.  My favorite quote is from Ursula Le Guin: Those who refuse to listen to dragons are probably doomed to spend their lives acting out the nightmares of politicians.  We like to think we live in daylight, but half the world is always dark; and fantasy, like poetry, speaks the language of the night.  ~ Ursula K. Le Guin “The Language of the Night”

 You can find out more about my work and me on my website: www.galenorn.com and I’m on MySpace: www.myspace.com/yasminegalenorn and to some degree, Live Journal (though my blog at this point is mainly on MySpace).

 S.V.  Thank you Yasmine! It’s been a pleasure spending some time with you and getting to know more about Dragon Wytch and the rest of your books. We wish you every success with your Sisters Of The Moon Series, and look forward to many more of them.

 Tomorrow I’ll have my Spotlight & Review of Dragon Wytch up, so be sure to come back!

 

CONTEST     

 

Yasmine has graciously offered a signed copy of Darkling to one lucky commenter, so get your fingers busy and start commenting.  Only one entry per person, or if you want to get an extra entry in, you can blog about this contest and send me the link. I’ll draw a winner on June 30th. Good Luck everyone! 

 

( Moved over from my origional blog )   

 

 

38 Comments. ( Edited July 4th, you can click on the “38 Comments” to view them, but this contest is now over )

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Contest, Interview | , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Patrice Michelle – Author of Scions: Insurrection


 

Sidhe Vicious welcomes Paranormal Romance author Patrice Michelle! We’re looking forward to getting to know you and all about your new novel Scions: Insurrection.

P.M.   Hi Sidhe Vicious! Thanks so much for having me.
 
S.V.  Your paranormal romance novel, Scions: Insurrection was released in May 2008 by Silhouette’s NOCTURNE line. Can you tell us about it and a bit about the main characters Kaitlyn and Landon?

P.M.  Landon Rourke is a Lupreda werewolf who lives on the fringes of his Lupreda world. At the same time he keeps one foot in the human world, due to a mistake he has made in the past.  Steadfast in his loyalty to his wolfpack, he’ll do everything in his power to keep his brethren safe. Yet there is one other person who has his dedication–Kaitlyn McKinney.

Kaitlyn McKinney is a human who was recently promoted to Detective.  All her life she had tried to follow in her deceased father’s footsteps, hoping her cop father would be proud of her accomplishments.

When Kaitlyn runs across a strange burned body in a local park, she teams up with the sexy PI Landon Rourke as they try to discover the truth behind the murder.  
 

S.V.  What about vamps, weres, etc. inspired you to write about them?

P.M.  Vampires and werewolves as heroes have always intrigued me. Beyond the fact that their primal and dangerous, unpredictable and uncensored by human’s standards, what I wanted to do with my SCIONS series is explore where vampires and werewolves came from, not just the concept that they already exist.
 
S.V.  Will we be seeing more of Kaitlyn and Landon in the future?

P.M.  Absolutely.  Kaitlyn and Landon play key roles in Caine’s story in the third book Scions:Revelation. You’ll also see Jachin again as well, since the third book ties up the final answers to the prophecy that has been a running subplot through all three of the SCIONS books.

S.V.  How did you get your start in writing? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

P.M.  I’ve always been an avid reader from early elementary school, but it wasn’t until I finished reading a non-fiction book that I closed it with a smile and told my mom, “I want to be the author who puts a smile on the reader’s face.”  To which my mom responded, “Then be an author.”  It only took me growing up and living life a little more (just a couple decades…lol) to finally put pen to paper. *g*
 
S.V.  What was the path to publication on this series like? Highlights? Pitfalls?

P.M.  Getting an agent and selling my SCIONS books was quite the whirlwind—within a few months, but then I had to buckle down and write the books, edit them and get them turned in.  Just to give an idea of time frames. I sold the first Scions books in August 2006 and the first book Scions:Resurrection came out January 2008.  That’s how far in advance publishers buy books.

S.V.  Who or what was your inspiration for the characters of Kaitlyn & Landon, if any?

P.M.  As for inspiration, I love my heroines but I really do focus on my heroes.  So if I had to pick a movie character that makes me think of Landon, I’d say Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine…okay, with light brown hair.   Wolverine was so intense and very dedicated, just like Landon.

S.V.  Did you find it harder or easier to write subsequent novels in this series because of already having created this world?

P.M.  It was easier to write the characters because I’d learned more about them while they played secondary characters in previous books.  It was harder on the world…not so much on the world building itself, but incorporating aspects of the world and grounding the readers on what came “before” in previous books in such a way as to not “info dump” the information and unveiling it in fresh and unique ways. 

S.V.  Do you have any funny writing quirks or habits that you do when you’re in the “zone” writing?

P.M.  I can’t start the book unless I know the “basic storyline” and the hero and heroine’s names. Until I know those things, I won’t start the book.  When I’m ready to write, I must have coffee.  I don’t know why, but when I have my morning coffee, I can really get going on a manuscript.  Mmmmmm, caffeine!

S.V.  Have you ever met a vampire, werewolf, demon, fae?

P.M.  How about I answer this from a “who I’d like to meet” perspective?  Since I’ve written about vampires and weres, I can pretty much imagine them in my mind, so I think I’d like to meet a dangerous and sexy fae.

S.V.   What supernatural power or creature would you most like to have or be?

P.M.  I think I’d like to be able to move things with my mind, not just small objects, but heavy ones.  Of course being able to wiggle my nose and have my house suddenly clean would be awesome, too. ;o)

S.V.  What’s your favorite TV show?

P.M.  I love, love LOVE Supernatural! Not only are the supernatural stories fun/creepy/exciting, but I love watching the brothers’ interactions.

S.V.  How have the books you’ve read influenced the books you write?

P.M. Books I’ve read have influenced my writing in many ways.  They’ve inspired me to dig deeper into my characters’ psyches, to build a world that “feels” so real the reader falls right into it without hesitation, to create the kind of characters that readers think about long after they’ve finished reading the story.

S.V.  What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever gotten inspiration from?

P.M.  Hmmmm, probably a ring that seemed to carry a pleasant perfumed scent no matter how many times I washed my hands.  That was the inspiration for my first Kendrian vampire novel.  A surreal dream inspired the first Scions book, Scions:Resurrection.

S.V.  What do you do when you’re having writer’s block to “shake” it off?

P.M.  I watch movies, read other books, or do something relaxing.  Basically, I get away from the novel and give my mind a break.  That’s usually when I’m able to refocus and get through the block.

S.V.  What can a new reader expect from your book/series?

P.M.  Well, I’d say, expect lots of action and twists and turns as well as characters you can relate to, even if they are paranormal ;o) .  You’ll get to see characters from previous books in later stories so you reconnect with them.  My books tend to fall on the darker side, but there is always humor sprinkled throughout the story to lighten it in places. Above all, with every one of my books, I hope the reader will be entertained and close the book, ready to read the next one!

S.V.  You write about various types of supernatural creatures. Do you do a lot of research or do you prefer to take what you already know and use your imagination for the rest?

P.M.  I do some research, but mostly I prefer to let my imagination run wild. It’s a lot more freeing and fun to explore new worlds and races that way.

S.V.  Do you have any tips for aspiring speculative fiction writers?

P.M.  Read a lot of books in the genre you want to write in, not so much for the storylines themselves (because you’re creating something fresh and new with your own book), but for the pacing and overall “feel” of the world building.  From there, let your imagination go wild and above all…have fun doing it!

S.V.  Is there anything else you’d like to share with us at Raves & Rants and with your readers?  
 
Thank you for having me.  As a follow up to this interview, I just wanted to mention that there are excerpts for each of the books in my SCIONS world on my website at www.patricemichelle.net , and the next book in my Scions world SCIONS:REVELATION will be released in December 2008.

Thank you Patrice! It’s been a pleasure spending some time with you and getting to know about the SCiONS world. We wish you all the best with your SCIONS series!

 

( Moved over from my original blog )

May 30, 2008 Posted by | Interview | , , , | Leave a comment

Staked by JF Lewis – Interview & Contest


Please note that this contest is over – just moving it over from my old blog – thanks! I hope you all enjoy the interview if you have’t read it yet. 🙂

  

Sidhe Vicious welcomes Urban Fantasy novelist J.F. Lewis! We’re looking forward to getting to know you, and all about your novel Staked.

 SV:  Your debut Urban Fantasy novel, Staked, was released in March 2008 by Pocket Books, can you tell us about it and the main characters Eric, Tabitha & Rachel?

 JFL:  Thanks for having me; I’d be glad to!  

 Eric is very much a “guy’s guy” turned vampire.  I like to think that he’s very different from your typical lead vampire in urban fantasy.  He’s physically older than many… in his late thirties.  He’s only been a vampire since 1965, so his past is not so far behind him that it no longer counts.  He lived through World War II and Korea, which makes him an undead representative of the greatest generation.  He’s a good guy deep down and he’s coping with the fact that he’s become a monster.  He isn’t going to revel in it, but he’s not one to whine about the situation either.  When he was a boy, you took the hardships life handed you and made do… so that’s what he’s doing.  The love of his life is still around, but since she wouldn’t let him turn her, she is in her eighties.  He’s always trying to move on, but he’s not very good at it.  He’d dump any of his younger girlfriends for Marilyn in an instant, age notwithstanding.

 Tabitha is Eric’s current girlfriend.  She’s in love both with Eric and the idea of vampiric immortality.  She’s young, attractive, and smarter than she acts… essentially, she has tons of potential, but she’s not living up to it.  At the beginning of the novel, she convinces Eric to turn her into a vampire and roughly a third of the novel is from her point of view.  When it comes to his own feelings, Eric is an unreliable narrator, so I put Tabitha in, both to provide a more interesting way to show readers the process of becoming a vampire, and to let us see Eric through her eyes. 

 Rachel… where to begin with Rachel?  Um… Rachel is evil?  Before the beginning of Staked, Tabitha’s little sister Rachel died.  Yet she’s alive and willing when Eric runs into her in Staked.  Is she really Tabitha’s dead sister?  (You’ll find out in the sequel, tentatively titled ReVamped.)  Of the three, she’s the most mysterious.  People who have read the book tend to either love her or hate her… or both.

 SV:  What about vampires and werewolves inspired you to write about them?

 JFL:   This may sound odd, but I when I decided to write about Eric, he was already a vampire, so there wasn’t really a decision to make.  The werewolves came in because it just seemed natural that werewolves and vampires should be at odds with one another.  The whole Werewolves versus Vampires schtick was something that had been done to death though, and that’s why I decided to spice things up by having the werewolves be religious and… not necessarily the bad guys.  I mean:  William’s son is dead.  He wants revenge.  What father wouldn’t?  Werewolves tend to stick together in packs and when the pack is attacked, the whole pack responds.  Why wouldn’t they?

 I decided to write Eric’s story when I did because I wanted to write a very different take on something that was out there.  Plus, I’d been rereading a very well written vampire series, one that I’d enjoyed before.  I’d loved the main character the first time through, but on the second pass, he struck me as whiny and unpalatably consumed by his own ennui.   I’ve said it before, but I could no longer stomach the idea of vampirism being the ultimate coolness aid.  Want to be cool?  Want to know how to dress?  How to dance?  Want to be tragically hip and bi-sexual in an instant?  Just get bitten and join the rest of us in our eternal gloom/party!  I don’t think so.  I pretty much tossed the book across the room and started writing my own. 

 SV:  Will we be seeing more of Eric, Tabitha & Rachel in the future?

 JFL:   I certainly hope so.  I’ve submitted the manuscript for my proposed second book in the series.  I hope to get the yea or nay in the next week or so.  In the meantime, I’m working on book three and a few other projects.  Book two’s tentative title is ReVamped.  It focuses on a soul-stealing demon that has something Eric wants.  It also features Eric’s first meeting with the infamous Lord Phillip from Staked.

 SV:  How did you get your start in writing? What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

 JFL:  Getting sent to the counselor’s office by a supposed creative writing teacher was a good start.  I wrote a short story during free write in which I personified all of the furniture in the class room.  The funny thing was… there wasn’t anything objectionable in the story.   It was thoroughly G-rated.  The desks were tired of people sitting in them, except for the ones that didn’t have anyone sitting in them.  The chalkboard wanted everyone to stop looking at it until they did.   It’s not hard to figure out where a kid would get such emotions, but the teacher suggested therapy. 

 In a college creative writing course, I ran into another closed-minded individual.  It was an award winning published author who told me, “Genre fiction is a masturbatory effort.  It’s sad to see you wasting your time with it.”  I’ve been determined to get some “genre fiction” published ever since. 

 /shakes head

 Masturbatory effort.  That still gets me.  Let me go write some more…  I have got to outsell that guy.

 SV:  What was the path to publication on this, your first urban fantasy novel, like? Highlights? Pitfalls?

 JFL:  Now that is a long story.  I’ve been chronicling the whole journey on my blog, but here are some of the highlights:  I’d describe the road to publishing as this incredibly Quixotic quest.  When you think about it, the whole idea requires no small amount of hubris on the part of the writer.  You’re setting out with the idea that essentially your stories are so good that you should be paid for them.  The highlight is, of course, when people agree with you.  In-between those agreements, you have lots of anxiety about whether there will be another kind soul along the path who will also agree.  So, in my case, I sent off query letter after query letter, a little over a dozen, I think , and then Shawna McCarthy picked me up along the wayside of my quest and gave me new armor, sharpened my sword, and went out in search of a patron for me.  Another highlight was when Jennifer Heddle over at Pocket Books bought the book.

 One of the coolest moments for me was seeing the cover art.  I’d been walking through the book store, at one point, checking out the book covers of other Urban Fantasy books and I picked up cover after cover with these awesome cityscapes that were all done by Chris McGrath and I thought, “Wow.  If I could pick anybody to do the cover, I’d want him.”  I didn’t say anything to anyone about it, because I really had no control over the cover.   When I got the email with the cover art work, and I was looking at it for the first time…  Chris has this feel to a piece that really stands out and I realized “Holy crap!  This was done by Chris McGrath!”  I checked the email and sure enough, it was Chris.  So I promptly printed it out and carried it around with me at Dragon*Con, showing it to everybody who would look.  Which lead to another highlight when several authors at the con (most notably in terms of sheer niceness Sherrilyn Kenyon, Maggie Shayne, and L.A. Banks) took the time to congratulate me and talk a few minutes about what I should do next and what I should expect.

 After that?  Getting my first blurb was cool.  Finding out that I was going to get a foil effect on the cover, holding the first real copy of the book in my hands, actually seeing it in on display in a store.  All that stuff was just awesome.  My Author Debut party, featured in Locus Magazine… awesome. 

 The pitfalls?  I’ve caught a lot of flak on a personal level for some of the content in the book, the language, and some of the things vampires say or do…  acquaintances who have never taken the time to really get to know me tend to have a “you wrote what?” reaction.

 SV:  Who or what was your inspiration for the characters of Eric, Tabitha  & Rachel, if any?

 JFL:  I think that all characters are some aspect of the writer’s own personality even if it’s a tiny sliver that gets warped and twisted all out of proportion.  Eric’s rage, for example,  is very much the rage of a much younger me.  When I was growing up, I had rage blackouts, so I really do know what it’s like to be standing there getting annoyed one moment and then to “wake up” later with people holding you down and having no idea what happened.  I never did irreparable damage, thank goodness, and I don’t have that problem anymore.  Sooner or later you have to make a decision that you’re never going to allow yourself to become that angry again and then stick to it.  It’s been twenty years since I’ve been anywhere close to that angry.  Writing helps.  

 Tabitha was inspired by those girls (and guys for that matter) we’ve all met at some point who are incredibly good looking, have a lot of things going for them, but choose to dwell on the superficial.  I like her because she really *is* smart and clever, she just has a lot of growing up to do.  She’s extremely confident about herself in some areas and yet, in others not so much.

 I can’t put my finger on exactly or where Rachel comes from other than green kryptonite.  Yeah, she’s definitely inspired by green kryptonite and if she wasn’t, then she should have been, because she’s certainly Eric’s equivalent.  Rachel is one of the characters I have the most fun writing, because it’s not as if she wasn’t born with a moral compass, she just sat it next to really strong electromagnet until it didn’t point North anymore.  In book two, we find out much more about why Rachel is the way she is, the full extent of her powers, and whether or not she’s really Tabitha’s sister.  I’ll spill the beans on one of those questions right here:  She’s really Tabitha’s sister.  One day we might meet Tabitha’s mom… that would be fun.

 SV:  Did you find it harder or easier to write the second novel in this series, because of already having created this world?

 JFL:  Easier.  In the first book you have all of this setup to do, characters to introduce, and while the second novel does need a little recap, it’s more jogging the reader’s memory.  I’d also sold Staked at that point, so I had more confidence that I wasn’t wasting my time.  I still have these feelings of anxiety about never getting published, never finding an agent… only they’re very silly now because I have and I did.  Now I stress over sales numbers. 

 The only hard part is being consistent.  I have a word document called The Rules of Void City, that I use to make sure that my vampire stuff works the same way all of the time and so even if I haven’t revealed it yet, I know how Eric became a vampire, what happens to each kind of vampire when they die, that sort of thing.

 SV:  Do you have any funny writing quirks/habits that you do when you’re in the “zone” writing?

 JFL:  I build playlists for characters, places, situations, etc and then listen to them to get me in the mood.  Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing  is perfect for writing Rachel.  For Eric I tend toward an eclectic mix of Sinatra, Iron Maiden, and Nickleback…  Tabitha is powered by Tori Amos and Alanis Morisette.   I have a playlist for fight scenes and one for romantic scenes.  When I’m stuck on a scene, I get up and pace, which drives my wife crazy because there is a squeaky board in my office and it’s right over our bedroom…  remember that I work full-time and write late at night.  When I’m on a deadline, I put a sleeping bag in my office and get up frequently though the night to write/edit.

 SV:  Have you ever met a vampire or werewolf?

 JFL:  Well, one of my close friends is awfully hairy and he *thinks* he’s a werewolf…

 SV:  What supernatural power or creature would you most like to have or be?

 JFL:  Okay, two answers:  first, I’m a comic book geek, so I’d want to go with the Power Cosmic.  With just that one power, you get virtual immortality, the ability to fly through space unprotected and under your own power, you don’t have to eat or drink anymore, you shoot energy bolts, and you get a funky glowing effect.  The only drawback is that you tend to wind up with a skin tight costume or metallic coating.  I’d be the only guy with the Power Cosmic wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  J

 But the dad in me would pick the ability to heal.  One day people all over the world would just stop getting sick.  Severed limbs would grow back.  The blind would see.  The deaf would hear.  Peanuts would no longer send kids into anaphylactic shock.  We’d all still grow old, but it would be gracefully.  Best of all, I’d never even know I was the cause.  It would just happen one day when my powers turned on and no one would ever know why.  That would be cool.

 SV:  Who is your favorite urban fantasy fictional character and why? (Not counting your own, of course)

 JFL:  Corwin of Amber.  Does he count?  Corwin is the protagonist in Roger Zelazney’s Amber series.  One of my rules about writing first person comes from reading Nine Princes in Amber, the first book in the series.  I feel that first person narrators need to have an excess of personality.  They need to be flawed, witty, and opinionated.  Corwin is all of those things, but we root for him anyway.  He doesn’t always come out on top, but he’s only ever “down” or “out” –  never both at the same time.

 If the Amber series doesn’t count, then I’d have to go with Hellboy.

 SV:  Who’s your favorite author? TV show? Movie?

 JFL:  I’m a huge fan of Roger Zelazney’s Amber series (as if my answer to the previous question didn’t give that away), but I’d have to go with Terry Pratchett as my absolute favorite author.   I love his Discworld series, particularly the ones featuring Death or Granny Weatherwax.  Athough my favorite Pratchett novel is Maurice and His Amazing Rodents.  When I was a teenager, I wrote a serial for a local BBS magazine called BTN.  Anyone who has read that stuff can see that I was clearly aping Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams… quite badly, I might add.  It’s hard to write funny.  One of the hardest scenes to write for Staked was the scene with Eric, Greta, Talbot and the telephone.  Since the humor in that scene is somewhat physical, it was very hard to get it right.  Still makes my wife laugh out loud, though.

 The TV show question is much harder.  If we’re talking currently on the air, then I’d have to say either Battlestar Galactica or the new Doctor Who.  If we are talking shows that no longer air, both Buffy and Angel come really close, and so does the original Muppet Show… but I’ll have to go with… <drum roll, please>… classic Doctor Who. Tom Baker was my Doctor, the one that I watched on PBS every afternoon when I got home from school.  I remember taping all of the episodes as they were replayed time and time again, cut down to one show a week and moved later and later at night.  The special effects don’t hold up very well, but I still love them. 

 Favorite movie gets us back into the easy question realm.  It’s a near tie between Casablanca and Singin in the Rain.  Casablanca always comes out on top, but Singin in the Rain always finishes a close second.   I’m a huge fan of musicals, but I’m a bigger fan of Humphrey Bogart.

 SV:  Do you have any tips for aspiring speculative fiction writers?

 JFL:  Well, the obvious advice is to write.   Write every day.   If you get stuck on something, write something else for a while and come back to it.  I also think any aspiring writer should read Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas.  I also think that listening to Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast is a good idea… particularly her interview with Neil Gaiman and her interview with Christopher Moore.

 SV:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with us at Raves & Rants and your readers?

 JFL:  Really, I’d just like to thank all the folks who’ve gone out and read the book and ask them to keep spreading the word.  This is my first time out of the box, so if you like what you read, then make sure folks know it, so we can keep the Void City universe going.  Great reviews on websites, blogs, or five star Amazon.com reviews don’t hurt, either.  And if you happen to be a Hollywood type that wants to make Staked into a movie, call Kevin Cleary at Content House.  <shakes head>  Okay, that was shameless.  I’m tempted to delete it, but it’s true.  Shameless hucksterism at it’s finest…

 Also, for those who have emailed about buying WELCOME TO THE VOID T-shirts, we are still working out the kinks but should have them available for sale soon.  Check my blog at http://writethefantastic.blogspot.com for details.

 Thank you for spending some time with us here at Raves & Rants Jeremy! It was a pleasure. We’re crossing our fingers and looking forward to ReVamped as well as wishing you every success in the future! You can find out more about Jeremy and his writing at http://www.authoratlarge.com/

 

 J.F. Lewis has graciously agreed to allow me to have a contest with not one, but two winners! 1st place winner will receive a much coveted WELCOME TO THE VOID T-Shirt, and I mean you will be among the first to own one of these awesome shirts, and the 2nd winner will receive a signed copy of STAKED.

 

Apologies to my overseas readers, but only residents in the USA and Canada may enter. To enter the contest, leave a comment by May 15th, it’s that easy. On May 16th I will put all entries into the “hat” and have an unbiased party (probably my 4 year old nephew), pull two names, which will then be posted here. Good luck everybody! And don’t forget to check back on the 16th

 

NOTE: To view the comments/entries from this contest go HERE  There were 23 comments and it would’ve made this post really, really long to include them.

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Interview | , , , | Leave a comment

Interview With Adrian Phoenix, Author of A Rush Of Wings


  

Sidhe Vicious welcomes Urban Fantasy novelist, Adrian Phoenix!  We’re looking forward to getting to know you and all about your novel, A Rush of Wings.

 AP:  Thanks so much for the warm welcome, Sidhe, and I’m very happy for the opportunity to meet your readers.

 SV:  Your debut urban fantasy novel, A Rush of Wings was released in January 2008 by Pocket Books.  Can you tell us about it and the main characters, Heather, Dante, and Lucien?

 AP:  You bet.  FBI agent Heather Wallace tracks a serial killer known as the Cross-Country Killer to New Orleans.  The location of the latest victim’s body leads her to Club Hell and Dante, the young frontman of the band Inferno.  She comes to believe that Dante is the killer’s next intended victim and does everything she can to keep him safe and alive. 

 What she learns in the next few fast-paced and heart-wrenching days is that not only do vampires – nightkind – exist, but Dante is nightkind and he is guarded by one of the Fallen, Lucien De Noir.

 She also learns that the Cross-Country killer may not be working alone and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on Dante.  The reason why is in the past Dante can’t remember, the source of his migraines and nosebleeds.

 And Heather quickly learns that she can’t trust anyone – not the Bureau, not her mentor and supervisor, not even the New Orleans police – except Dante and those who are trying to protect him from his past, the Cross-Country killer, and his own destiny.

 SV:  Will we be seeing more of Heather, Dante, and Lucien in the future?

 AP:  Yes.  The next book, In the Blood, will be released in January 2009.  The story picks up three weeks after the events in A Rush of Wings.  Two more books are planned for this particular story arc.  And I have other stories planned for the characters.

 SV:  How did you get your start in writing?  What, if anything, lit the “spark” to get you started and keep you motivated?

 AP:  Writing has always been my one true love.  Well, that and reading.  I wrote short stories for my sisters and friends all through school.  I’d create characters and yearn to put them in situations and tell their stories.  When I was raising my sons as a single mom, I didn’t have much time or energy for writing.  I wrote and sold a handful of short stories, one of which received an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Horror and Fantasy, fourth edition.

 Once I’d successfully raised the boys, I returned to writing.  I’d never written a novel before because I believed I didn’t know how.  I attended a workshop on story structure taught by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and learned that, yes, I could write a novel.  There was no mystery behind the process at all.  So, I sat down and wrote A Rush of Wings.

 I wrote the book I wanted to read about characters I’d fallen in love with.  Writing is a job and needs (I learned) to be approached like one.  You need to sit down and write everyday.  Even when you’re tired.  Even when you don’t feel good.  Even if it’s only a page a day, that’s still steady progress.

 I keep motivated because this is what I’ve always wanted to do.  Even if I hadn’t sold anything, I’d still be writing and hoping that I would.  Each story I wrote would bring me that much closer to my goal.   

 I love writing.  And I love hearing from readers who’ve connected with the story and the characters!  Truly, it’s like a dream come true and I couldn’t be happier.  (Well, okay, I’ll be even happier once I can give up the day job and just write.) 

 SV:  What was the path to publication on this, your first urban fantasy novel, like?  Highlights?  Pitfalls?

 AP:  Research is part of that path.  Know your markets, learn about agents and editors and who is buying what and from whom.  The Publisher’s Marketplace is an excellent online resource.  Agents and editors list their sales and deals and you can look up everyone listed.  (It costs $20/month.)

 I landed my agent first, Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger (Dan Brown’s agency) and he immediately sent the manuscript out to eight major houses.  Pocket bought it and the unwritten sequel two days after I’d had a car accident.  Believe me, I was so excited I pogoed around the house even though it hurt!

 I haven’t really experienced any pitfalls, but I’ve heard horror stories from other writers, so I realize I’ve been very, very lucky.  Have I mentioned how happy and grateful I am? 

 SV:  Did you find it harder or easier to write the second novel in this series because of already having created this world?

 AP:  It was both.  It was easier for the very reason you mentioned – I’d already created the world, the characters, and the driving force behind the story.  It was also harder because, suddenly, I had to think about other people’s expectations while writing.  The only person I’d worried about pleasing while writing A Rush of Wings was myself.  Now, I was wondering what my editor expected, what the readers of RUSH expected, what I expected and it was a little daunting.  Eventually, I had to shut out all these outside expectations and just continue with the story, being true to the characters and myself.  In doing that, I also keep true to my readers.  At least, I hope so!

 SV:  Do you have any funny writing quirks/habits that you do when you’re in the “zone” writing?

 AP:  In the zone – I love that place, writing in a white-hot heat.  I start talking out loud as my fingers fly across the keyboard.  “And then he turns, man, he’s so pissed off…”  A constant little narrative to myself.  I also eat red licorice vines.  Bad, bad, bad, but so good.

 Once I attended a week-long workshop learning how to write query letters and proposals.  The writers had each been assigned a room (in one big house) with bed, bookshelves and a desk.  I was at my desk working on my assignment with my earbuds in (I listen to music non-stop while writing) since I didn’t want to afflict my particular tastes (and volume preference on innocent ears).  I finally realized someone was standing in my doorway.  One of the other writers was looking at me with some concern, so I plucked out the earbuds.  He asked me if I was all right.  Puzzled, I assured him that I was.  He told me that I’d been saying, “Goddammit!  Goddammit!  Goddammit!” over and over.  Hysterical!  I had no idea. 

 SV:  Have you ever met a vampire or angel?

 AP:  I’ve certainly thought so in the bedroom! *winks* (In my dreams, that is!)  I like to people watch, especially while sitting in a dark corner of a club nursing a drink, and I’ve seen a few that I thought could very well be beautiful vampires (or nightkind as Dante says) out playing games with unsuspecting mortals or maybe a vampire hoping to just have fun for the evening like anyone else. 

 And as for angels, look up, take a long look at the roofline of that tall building across the street.  Is that silhouetted figure perched on the edge a shadowed gargoyle or something else altogether?  Someone dark and brooding, whose wings unfurl behind in a rush of air…

 SV:  What supernatural power or creature would you most like to have or be?

 AP:  I’ve always thought it’d be incredible to teleport, go anywhere in an instant. I’ve also always coveted the gift of telepathy.  To speak mind to mind, even in moments of intimacy, wow, imagine the connection.  I’ve often wondered about being a vampire, so I’d probably pick that.

 SV:  Who’s your favorite author?  TV show?  Movie?

 AP:  I’ve always loved Stephen King’s work.  He always inspired me.  I enjoy Neil Gaiman’s work, as well – always beautiful and tragic and deeply, deeply moving.  I so hate to admit that I haven’t read very much urban fantasy.  I have tons of urban fantasy in my TBR pile, but…ack!  I can’t wait until I discover the same writers that you and your readers have already discovered.

 My favorite TV show is Supernatural, with Lost as a close second. 

 Ah, movies!  I love, love, love movies!  I think one of my all-time favorites is Moulin Rouge.  And The Crow, that one always breaks my heart (hell, so does Moulin Rouge).  I loved Aliens, The Last Samurai, Gladiator, The Last Mohican, Desperado, Casino Royale (when Bond tells Vesper, “You’ve stripped my armor from me…whatever is left of me is yours.” So moving!), all of the Bourne movies, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Underworld movies, Big Trouble in Little China… the list goes on!!

 SV:  Do you have any tips for aspiring speculative fiction writers?

 AP:  The most important one is to believe in yourself, always.  No matter what anyone tells you!  My father once told me not to pursue writing because it was so competitive and I was bound to fail.  I believe he meant well, that he was hoping to spare me hurt, but I ignored his advice.

 And write!  Write every single day – even if it’s just a page or for only 30 minutes.  Practice your craft.  How can you expect to improve and grow if you don’t practice rigorously and with dedication?  Look at musicians – if a violinist wants to become the best, they practice for hours every day, sometimes until their fingers bleed.  I’m not saying you need to smear blood on your keyboards, but practice, study, read.  Pursue your dreams and they will come true.  But first and foremost, believe in yourself.

 SV:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with us at Raves & Rants and your readers?

 AP:  A cool place to visit if any of you visit New Orleans – in the Quarter, on Bourbon Street, there is a bar – Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which was built sometime before 1772.  The interior is lit only with candles just like it was back in the day.  Stepping inside into the flickering orange light and long shadows was like stepping back in time.  I loved it.  It used to be a favorite hangout for the vampire crowd for that very reason.  Just sign up for the vampire tour and a visit to the bar is included.  The vampire tour was incredible fun and our guide was a master storyteller and managed to totally creep me out several times.  I loved it!!

 I want to thank everyone for their interest and support!  I appreciate it very much.  Please feel free to contact me via my website, I’d love to hear from you.

 And, thank you, Sidhe for your time and for the interesting questions.  Merci beaucoup!

 Thank you for spending time with us Adrian! It was a pleasure. We’re looking forward to In The Blood and wish you every success in the future. Go to Adrian’s website  www.adrianphoenix.com

 

( Moved over from my original blog ) 

 4 Comments.

 

 

Posted by Louise:

Yay!!!
Judi, this interview rocks and Adrian you are so cool!!!
Really enjoyed reading this.
Hugs to you both 🙂
xxxxxx
Thursday, April 17th 2008 @ 1:44 PM

Posted by Pike stephenson:

Great interview! Adrian’s books is on my TBR hot list. I love hearing the writer’s process, what’s going on while they’re plugging away, and those little tidbits (chomping on red licorice) that reminds us that they’re just as quirky as we are.
Saturday, April 19th 2008 @ 11:56 AM

Posted by Amber:

I am looking forward to reading this! I just hope I get a copy sent to me…problems ordering lately…

Thanks for the interview!

Sunday, April 20th 2008 @ 12:29 PM

Posted by Judi:

Thanks everyone, I had fun doing the interview with Adrian! She’s a great inspiration to me. 🙂
Sunday, April 20th 2008 @ 3:55 PM

 

April 17, 2008 Posted by | Interview | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview With Stacia Kane – Author of Personal Demons


 

Sidhe Vicious welcomes Urban Fantasy novelist Stacia Kane, author of the up-coming release Personal Demons. We’re looking forward to getting to know you and all about your new novel.

 

Your new Urban Fantasy novel Personal Demons is being released on April 1st by Juno Books. Can you tell us a little about it and the main character Megan Chase?

 Oh, I love Megan. She’s not really a “kick-ass heroine”, but she holds her own. Her strengths and abilities really come from herself; she’s determined and strong-willed but not really accustomed to fighting.

Megan is a counselling psychologist who’s basically let her desire to help people get her roped into doing a horrible therapy call-in radio show. (The show isn’t horrible, lol, but she thinks it is.) It goes against all of her principles to do it, but she figures at least she can really help people.

The station creates a tagline for the show: “Dr. Demon Slayer will help you slay your personal demons!” Which Megan finds cringe-inducing in itself, but when she realizes there really are personal demons and they think she means it when she says she’s going to slay them…adventure, danger, and romance ensue,

 

What about Demons attracted you to write about them rather than other supernatural creatures?

 Oh, I just love them. Demons are the true outlaws, aren’t they? And writing about them gave me a good way to include the Mafia, which I adore.

Anyone who loves (like I do) The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” will have a good idea what kind of demons are in the book.

 I really enjoy any kind of supernatural creature–although weres aren’t my favourites (with the exception of Caitlin Kittredge’s Luna Wilder). I write vampires for Ellora’s Cave and love a good vampire. But I had so much fun creating my demons because while there’s a lot of religious mythology about demons, there’s no “everybody knows” about them–I could make them do and be whatever I wanted.

 

What influenced you to make the jump from Romance to Urban Fantasy?

 Actually, Personal Demons is quite a bit of both!

 It wasn’t really a decision I made, actually. The idea for the book just came to me, and I realized as I was writing that while romance was an important part of the story, it wasn’t the entire focus. And that it was fun; it gave me a feeling of freedom. Not that I don’t love romance, both reading and writing. I don’t mean to say or imply that at all. But it was fun to hold back the part of me that wanted to get to the HEA and see what other directions I could take the romantic relationship in.

 

Will we be seeing more of Megan and her world in the future?

 Absolutely! The second book, Demon Inside, is already finished, and I hope to have some news about a third at some point in the near future,

 

What supernatural power or creature would you most like to have or be, and why?

 Hmmm. I’ve always said I’d like to be a vampire, and I have to admit that’s still true. I know some people don’t want to live forever but I’m not one of them. There’s just something very sexy about them and there always has been for me. But being a fire demon like the ones in Personal Demons would be great too–imagine being able to create fire from nothing!

 

Who is your favourite U.F. fictional character and why? ( Not counting Megan, of course.)

 Oh, my. I’m lucky enough to know a few great uf authors personally, so I’m always afraid it just sounds like a plug. But I do adore, for example, Mark Henry’s Amanda Feral; Richelle Mead’s Georgina; Jackie Kessler’s Jezebel; Anton Strout’s Simon Canderous; and Caitlin Kittredge’s Luna Wilder (and, she just sold a new series set in “Black London”. I was lucky enough to read the first in the series and the story and characters in that one absolutely blew me away.) I also love Kelley Armstrong’s Paige and Lilith Saintcrow’s Danny Valentine.

 

How did you get your start in writing? What if anything lit that spark to get you started?

 It sounds so cliche to say I always wanted to be a writer, but I always did. If I’ve started one novel from childhood to my late twenties I’ve started two dozen. But it wasn’t until my first daughter came along that I actually decided to get serious about it. I wrote a medieval romance, a horrible, cliché-filled behemoth called “The Captive Heart”, and was convinced it was brilliant. Ha ha. (Although I still think I wrote two good scenes in that book. Only two, but still.)

 But it taught me that I really could finish a book, that I loved writing, and that it was something I wanted to keep doing. It wasn’t much later that I discovered Ellora’s Cave and was totally entranced–I loved writing sex scenes, and here was a publisher who wanted a LOT of them! And that was basically it for me, until I started branching out a bit. (I got sidetracked for a while by a second pregnancy, but I think taking that time and just studying writing and the industry really helped in the long run.)

 

What was the road to publication like with this, your first U.F. novel, like? Highlights? Pitfalls?

 I think the highlight was the day I got the offer for it–especially when Paula (the Juno Books editor) told me it would be a mass-market paperback. That was exciting.

 Pitfalls? Honestly? The pitfalls come later, when you look back at your old work–as every writer does–and think, “I should have done X instead of Y, I should have made that different, this could have been better.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of Personal Demons, and extremely excited and gratified by the good reviews it’s been getting so far. But I think it’s impossible for me to look at anything but my current project and not see it as a big collection of flaws.

 

What or who was your inspiration, if any, to come up with the character: Megan Chase?

 Oh, gosh, I really don’t have one. She just sort of came to me; someone who’s very strong but has insecurities and fears like anyone else, who’s rather isolated and always feels at the edges of things. I always try as hard as I can to make my characters real people. They don’t always do the right thing or have the perfect response in any crisis, but they’re smart and know how to use their wits.

 

Do you have any tips for aspiring speculative fiction writers?

 Read a LOT. Write a LOT. Don’t get discouraged if your first tries fail; it’s part of the learning process. Don’t get discouraged if your first ideas are cliché, either. I’ve found the Idea part of my brain works like any muscle; the more I use it, the stronger it gets. One day a real, new, original plot or character or world or whatever will come to you, and you’ll be able to recognize it and do something with it because you’ve been practicing. Nothing is worse than a great idea badly written.

 Oh, and eliminate as many dialogue tags as you can. I hate dialogue tags. They’re necessary, sure, but not nearly as often as we all think when we’re just starting out. (And when you do use them, just say “said”. Nobody needs to whisper, shout, interrupt, interject, cry, scream, or moan their dialogue more than once or twice per book, if that.)

 

Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us at Raves & Rants and your readers?

 Just that I really hope you enjoy the book! I’ll be running another contest when it’s released, so check my livejournal (http://stacia-kane.livejournal.com/) for details.

Thank you Stacia, it’s been a pleasure spending some time with you and discussing your new book! We wish you all the best with Personal Demons.

 

( Moved over from my original blog ) 

8 Comments.

 

 

Posted by Pike stephenson:

Great interview! I love hearing from new novelists; it helps to know that I’m not the only one fumbling through the process. I heard about Stacia’s book a short while ago and loved the premise. Can’t wait to read it!
Saturday, March 15th 2008 @ 9:56 AM

Posted by Judi:

Thanks! Stacia was a fun interview for me to do. She’s a lovely person. I read it already and I’m still stoked to buy a hard-copy for myself.
I think we all fumble through the writing process, regardless of how much we’ve written. You are not alone! 😉
PS: I love your avatar
Saturday, March 15th 2008 @ 10:29 AM

Posted by Amber:

I am really looking forward to reading this one. Not easy to get hold of over here though…
Saturday, March 15th 2008 @ 1:57 PM

Posted by Judi:

I hope you can get a copy. I can imagine the difficulties.
Saturday, March 15th 2008 @ 4:33 PM

Posted by Stacia Kane:

Thanks again Sidhe! It was fun for me too, and I’m thrilled you liked the book!
Saturday, March 15th 2008 @ 7:00 PM

Posted by Judi:

You are most welcome Stacia. 🙂 It was my pleasure.
Saturday, March 15th 2008 @ 11:31 PM

Posted by UFR:

Nice interview. I’ll be adding this book to my future reading list.
Monday, March 17th 2008 @ 8:33 AM

Posted by Judi:

Thanks! The book was a good read. 🙂
Monday, March 17th 2008 @ 11:34 AM

 

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Interview | , , , | Leave a comment