You have several books in print. Tell us what they’re about.
I have several series in print; Dark Brothers of the Light is about an apostate necromancer named Isranon who is taken as a slave by a demon-eater, Anksha. In a sense it was Ghandi meets Hitler. Isranon is a sa’necari-born, which means that he has the proclivities, appetites, and abilities of a vampire while being a living – rather than and undead–hemovore. The Dark Brothers of the Light were a group of sa’necari who foreswore the rites and practices of their brethren and embraced a harsh and unrelenting form of pacifism. Isranon is, at times, his own worst enemy because he is trapped between his dead father’s teachings of pacificism and his lycan mentor’s warrior beliefs as he tries to stop a hellgod from taking over the world.
Lycan Blood is about a sa’necari bounty hunter, Malthus Estrobian, who infiltrates one of the major lycan clans to destroy it during the Waejontori Rebellion against the Sharani occupiers. The protagonists, a small group led by Kynyr Maguire, have to stop him and save their people.
The Journey of the Sacred King series is about a paladin who has lost her faith in god and must reclaim it in order to save her people from a coup by a sa’necari infiltrator, Mephistis de Waejonan, and her sister.
I had started another series with co-author, Phil Smith, the Mother Damnation novels. Four are in rough draft, but because of low sales will not be released.
Do you have a favorite character that you write?
Anksha the Demon-Eater is my favorite. She’s very complex and difficult to write because she’s primarily instinct driven and child like, while at the same time sophisticated and intelligent. She’s an evolved cat and blending feline instincts with human like intelligence has been challenging.
Second favorite would have to be Cullen Blackwood. I created him as a character in Serpent’s Quest as a middle-aged lycan military courier who was profane and obnoxious, but good-hearted. I knew from the start that I intended to kill him off in that book, but when I did so, I felt terrible. So I went and wrote short stories about his younger days.
Have you written anything else?
The only thing I have written that was not part of my Daverana world was a short story that appeared in I, Vampire: Interviews with the Undead edited by Jean Marie Stine and Forrest Ackerman. “Visiting the Neighbors” is my homage to Le Fanu’s Carmilla.
Almost every writer is inspired by someone else. Does anyone inspire you?
My early inspiration was Stan Lee (I purchased Marvel comics from the time they first started coming out), Louis L’Amor, Shakespeare, and Nikolai Gogol, all whom I had read before I was 14. Then I have to add in Tolkien which I discovered at 18. While there are many other writers that I have enjoyed, none of them had the impact that those I just mentioned had.
How long have you been writing?
I could say since I was nine since I wrote a couple of paragraphs about a ghost horse back then, but writing seriously did not begin until I was 14. It was a scattershot effort until I read Tolkien and realized that I did not have to hide the fact that I wanted to write fantasy as if it were some secret perversion.
What made you want to start writing?
I had polio when I was eight. Faced with not being able to do the things physically that I dreamed of, I began instead to write them down as a way of doing them vicariously.
Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why, or why not?
I have never participated in NaNoWriMo and have no desire to. I can write a 50k word rough in a month with no sweat. I do it four times a year. However, I think the concept is a solid one and good for those who are just beginning or need to jumpstart their creative engines.
Who drives the story, you or your characters?
The characters. I toss out a lot of material as I go, the final draft bears little resemblance to the early draft because the characters start telling me what they will, would, and can do in the course of the tale. I might get to the same conclusion, but it will be by a path the characters have chosen.
Who proofreads and critiques your work?
I have several people who proof and read my work. Steven Beeho, a British author, is kind enough to read through for plot holes and places that don’t work. Mark Prins, a Dutch translator, is one of the keenest eyes for proofing that I have ever had. He doesn’t always have time to go through for me, but when he does the frequency of typos goes down noticeably. I usually have more people than that, but a lot of my previous critters have gone on to other things.
Where do you get your ideas?
That’s a hard one. Honestly, most of the plots have been in my head since I was a child. I acted them out with my Barbie dolls. I had over 20 of the darn things and used to stage shootouts, stalkings, and bombings with them. This so freaked out the neighbor girls that they refused to play dolls with me. I get some of my ideas from reading the news and magazines. Sometimes it will start with an image or a situation and then my old loves from Barbie doll days will creep in and take over, including a tendency to butcher my characters. Author Debbie Moorhouse says that a high body count is typical of my work.
Where do you write?
I have a very small apartment and my writing space is combined with my bedroom. The entire apartment looks more like an office than living space and my landlord once tried to give me a bunch of living room furniture because all the bookcases and filing cabinets freaked him out.
When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you?
My best writing tends to happen in the wee hours of the morning. Today I got up at 3 AM and started writing. Back when my daughter, Sovay, still lived at home I wrote primarily by getting up well ahead of her. I write off and on all day. Sometimes I will ‘binge write’ and go 24 or more hours without sleep, until I have either written myself out or fallen asleep at the desk.
If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?
Warren Ellis. He’s a graphic novelist whose work I have become addicted to. I would love to ask him where his fabulously outlandish ideas come from or just listen to him pontificate on issues.
Do you use the Internet to check facts, or the library?
I used to use libraries extensively, but as my disability has become more of an issue, I use either the internet or my own extensive collection of resource materials. I currently have more non-fiction than fiction on my shelves. A friend once said that if anyone in my circle of acquaintances died under mysterious circumstances and the police got a look at my bookshelves, I would become an instant suspect.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
Computer games, anime, and reading. I just beat Diablo II for the fifth time and read Eleanor Herman’s Sex with Kings, a history of mistresses and their effect on politics. Do you ever have a problem with writer’s block?
I had a fifteen year case of writers block. During that time I did journalism and freelancing as well as editorial work. I could not finish anything when it came to fiction. Life got in the way and I lost my confidence in myself as a fiction writer.
Who’s your favorite author (other than yourself) and why?
My current favorite is David Gemmell. Anne Bishop is another favorite, as is Lynn Flewelling. Characters are more important to my likes in fiction than plot. Druss, Decado, and Chareos (Gemmell) are very well defined and kept my interest. Flewelling captivated me with her view of children. The scene in Bone Doll’s Twin where the two little boys are discussing why you should wear swim trunks while swimming in the river was wonderful. (because other wise the snapping turtles will bite your diddler off). With Bishop it is the poignancy. I eat it up.
What’s your favorite book (other than one of your own) and why?
Choosing a single favorite book would be next to impossible at this point because there are so many that I love.
What’s the last book, other than your own, that you read and really enjoyed?
David Gemmell’s Quest for Lost Heroes.
Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount of words every day. Do you do this? Why or why not?
No, I don’t have a certain amount of words set for each day; I just try to get as much done as I can. Part of this goes back to the subject of blocking. I am terrified of ever blocking again. So I tend to go with the flow. If I can’t get scenes done, I’ll make notes for the future; niggle at things, or blog. I average at least 5 to 10K a day, but not always on the same book or project. If you could be any character (other than one of your own) from a book or movie who would it be? Why?
Storm from X-men. I have always adored that character. It would be fun to compel the weather and to fly.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I believe that writers should shake off the constraints and expectations of genre and just write what is in their hearts. I don’t like the straight jacket that genre has become. I combine elements of horror and fantasy to get the world I write about. However, I have been subjected to a lot of hassling from authors who like wearing that straight jacket. Horror authors say I don’t write dark fantasy because I have an alternate world and fantasy authors say I don’t write fantasy because of all the horror elements. They shove me back and forth like the unwanted child. I would like to see a time when that ceases to happen. After all, if it happens to me, statistically speaking, it is happening to others also.
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