Good Morning Denise. It is so nice to have you here today.
Grab a coffee and some choccy biscuits and let’s chat about you and your new release. Can you tell me what drew you to write in your current genre?
I write about vampires because to me they are a metaphor representing the darker side of human nature. I’ve always found it interesting that in real life seemingly normal people can do monstrous things under extreme circumstances. Like in Nazi Germany, where there are examples of doctors and nurses, even those in religious orders, who took the life of people with disabilities, because it was politically expedient, or out of fear for their own lives. The Human Behavior project showed that people given “permission” would cause pain or abuse other people. I do think we need to understand our darker impulses in order to confront them. My stories do have some “good vampires” and some bad mortals, but most of my vampires are old-school nasty. In their society the concepts of individual rights and equality haven’t yet caught on, as these are fairly recent developments in history. My heroine Mia has traveled a dark and tortured path.
It’s a strange old world we live in. Your book sounds intriguing. How many novels have you written to date and are they all in the same genre?
I’ve written three so far in this series. Cara Mia is the first to be published. Twilight of the Gods, book two will be out in the fall. And the third? Fearful Symmetry is book three and it is still going through critique with my writer’s group. I’m currently working on book four, Ratopia.
Goodness you are busy. I hate to plot. I’d much rather let the story be carried along on its own. Do you plot?
The first book evolved over time. The subsequent novels started with a basic outline.
My work is very character driven, so things change a lot. I started out with a few characters, Mia, Ethan and Brovik, and then Kurt came to me. I still didn’t really have a story. I had a couple of love triangles and that was it. Then I started reading about biotechnology and it occurred to me that some vampires might try to study what it is that gives them immortality. Think of the profit in immortality if the bloodlust and need to avoid the sun could be genetically altered. There could be rivals factions competing for this prize. It stood to reason that others would oppose this kind of research. This led to the creation of my vampire hierarchy and religion. Now I had a story with high stakes (that’s my first unintended pun). My vampires are biological beings, rather than magical ones. To suggest their immortality is a mere biological agent is heresy to the Chief Elder, who claims the goddess Kali gifted him immortality. Despite this, Mia’s house is deeply invested in this “forbidden science”. Her elder, Brovik, is bound and determined to find the causal agent before his rival elder, Gaius. Mia is thrust into the middle of all of this and exploited by Brovik, who uses her to seduce information from his enemies. At first, Mia is more concerned with the reward Brovik promises, which is to free her from her master Ethan that so she can be with Kurt. But when Brovik plays too many tricks on her, she rebels.
I’ve always been a rebel myself. As a little girl, I chafed at doing what girls are supposed to do. What was wrong with being different and liking things other girls might find icky? I grew up in the sixties and seventies when feminism was really gaining steam. When I was a little girl, I didn’t even have the opportunity to play sports. This thankfully changed when I was in secondary school. This rebellious attitude of mine bled over (pun number two) into Mia, I suppose. I have a little sign in my house that says, “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere”. No one ever makes a splash by doing what is expected of them.
Love the sign. I’m going to go everywhere lol. I have an office to write in, but when the sun shines you’ll find me in the park, on the beach or in the garden. Where do you do most of your writing?
On my living room sofa. I sit hunched over my laptop computer, looking pale and somewhat maniacal, like the character L from the anime and manga, Deathnote. I usually have two of my parrots for company and Queen, The Beatles, The Who or David Bowie playing on CD. My window there looks out on a small wooded area with lots of birds and small wildlife. I find nature soothing.
Your writing polayground sounds lovely. Now you’re going to blush lol be honest now!! Looking back, what’s the worst thing you’ve ever written? Mine was a full novel with no pov’s , no real plot and characters with no real point to them. A disaster on A4 paper!!
Poetry as a teenager. All those syrupy rhyming couplets, eek! I cringe with embarrassment when I think of them, like limericks of love. Thankfully, no one ever saw them. My first attempts at fiction were pretty awful as well. It took a lot of practice and reading books on writing to improve. I found it hard at first to write in third person, so I switched to first person. After I became more comfortable, I could write in third person and even present tense. I still find present tense very challenging. The prologue to Cara Mia is present tense, stream of consciousness.
This is my favorite part of the interview. Do you need more coffee? When you’re ready and sitting comfortably, tell me about your latest release.
Cara Mia is an urban fantasy with a strong science fiction component. My heroine and hero, Mia and Kurt are in a biotech lab in California, where they have apparently submitted themselves for study. The POV character is Dr. Joe Ansari, a neuroscientist assigned to work with Mia. Mia and Kurt are locked into separate cells. Needless to say, she’s upset at being kept apart from her lover and takes out her anger on some staff members. Joe isn’t happy with this assignment and Mia won’t cooperate at first, but she is crafty and strikes a bargain with him. If he agrees to carry letters between her and Kurt, she’ll talk. Joe agrees and she tells the of her fifty-year struggle to survive as a modern woman in a culture where she is regarded as chattel to her master. In Mia’s world, she is a slave and not able to come and go as she chooses, much less love the man she wants, Kurt.
Mia is nineteen, a young actress in 1950’s New York, when she meets Ethan. After a disastrous affair with a married man, she is easy prey for this apparently perfect, alpha male vampire. Ethan swears eternal love and all that jazz, but Mia figures out before long that he isn’t as wonderful as he appears to be and that she’s in fact his property. She becomes the pawn of Brovik, who exploits the growing affection between she and Kurt to further his intrigues. However, after decades of nursing her grudge, Mia gets Kurt and her chance at freedom and revenge against Brovik. I won’t give more away and spoil the ending.
I love a good vamp story and I’m sure a lot of to hers will too. How can your readers keep up with your news?
They can go to my website
I have two fabulous critique partners. One very new and one who I’ve had for over 5 years. Most authors rely on critique partners for an extra eye on when they are writing. Do you rely on anyone?
I belong to North Columbus, Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers. Everyone in the group brings a fresh perspective to the work. They give me feedback on character and story and catch inconsistencies and typos. The editing advice is priceless. When I get stuck I can bounce ideas off of them.
Do you have link so that other authors might visit them?
Not really. We used to have a Metetup.com site. We meet in person in Columbus, Ohio, twice a month and have a private Yahoo group. We’re pretty full at the moment. We like to keep around ten members, so that everyone can handle the reading load.
There is so much about writing that I love, THE END being the best part lol What’s your favorite part of writing?
Creating new characters. My background as an actor really helps me here. As an actor, one is taught to flesh out the clues a playwright gives to a character. Every character must have a back story, relationships, attitudes, likes and dislikes moral and philosophical beliefs. Even the way someone dresses and moves is indicative of character. I always kept a character notebook to help me. As a writer, I jot down ideas on each character and work very hard to give them dimension. You don’t want stock characters. Even vampires are unique individuals. I don’t care if a character is an android or a wood elf, he or she is a person with driving passions. A character in a novel or in a play has small objectives and a super objective. The super-objective can be stated in one sentence: Mia is a vampire that wants to walk again in the sun.
What do you like to read?
Historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy and thrillers. I like books that transport me to a new world, whether it is outer space, Middle Earth or ancient India. Some of my favorite authors are Ursula K. Le Guinn, J. R. R.Tolkien, Mary Renault, Robert Graves, Jane Austin, J. K. Rowling and Anne Rice. I love the vivid pictures, rich characterization and world-building in their novels. I set out in Cara Mia to create an entire history and culture for my vampires that would do for my readers what my favorite authors have done for me.
What actor/actress gets your pulses racing?
Gosh, there are so many. I really like Elijah Wood. It’s those eyes. I admit to borrowing them for Kurt. I’d love for him to play Kurt in a movie. The young British actor, Nicholas Hoult would make a wonderful Cedric MacKinnon, the POV character in fearful symmetry. He’s adorable.
Good choice, Denise. Thank you for visiting today. Denice is also giving a book away when her tour's concluded. Just leave her a comment to enter. She'll post the winner on my Facebook and Blog in July when her tour is over on the 15th.
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