This author interview comes to you on my birthday, as a way of me being lazy, not having to actually blog on my day of being me-centric.
Tracey found me and left a review request that pushed all the right buttons for me, so expect to see that coming soon as well. When I investigated and discovered her blog, I knew I had to interview her too. She’s been blogging for quite a while, so has let a few secrets slip over the years, some of which she’s willing to share in this interview.
1. You mentioned once that you couldn’t recite Shakespeare in Klingon. If time and other factors weren’t an issue, is there a made-up/fantasy world language you would like to learn? Which character would you want to talk to in that language?
To be honest it’s not something I would do: I understand those authors and readers who feel it adds veracity to a universe but it’s not for me – I have enough trouble with real languages!
2. You’ve been blogging since 2009; how has that impacted your novel-writing schedule?
Well, in some ways it hasn’t – my first two books were published a few years before I started blogging. But I went through a phase where I was starting to find writing a bit of a slog, and blogging became a way of just writing for the fun of it, without being weighted down by worries about whether it would be published, whether it was ‘good enough’ – which I found reignited my passion and made me more productive, so it’s had a positive influence on me. Also, blogging about science fiction and fantasy gave me the confidence to write about it more; I don’t think I would have written Dark Dates had I not been writing at Body of a Geek Goddess.
3. You say there are Roma in your family history. How has that inclination toward the supernatural played out in your stories?
I’m wary of any suggestion that Roma = interest in/belief in the supernatural, and no one in my family is particularly traditional anyway, so I don’t think there’s any real connection. I think it’s more that as a child I was drawn to those kinds of stories, so it’s natural that that has played out in later life.
4. Also on the topic of personal history… Blue? From head to foot? This is a story we have to hear!
Oh, dear, no, the story of how I once accidentally dyed myself completely blue is one I only share after a couple of glasses of wine. And this was before Avatar came out, so I couldn’t even pass it off as failed cosplay. Trust me, though – not a good look!
5. You have a lot of foodie inclinations; have those seeped into your writing at all?
I think it’s not that I’m a foodie – in fact, most of my friends would laugh at the very suggestion – but I’m fascinated by the social and emotional rituals around food. I’m lucky enough to know some great cooks – some of whom are also amazing food bloggers – and I love being cooked for, but I think a big part of that is the nurturing aspect of someone taking the time to prepare a meal for you. One of the characteristics I share with Cassandra from Dark Dates is a complete lack of domesticity being drawn to it in other people. In the book, as her relationship with her assistant Medea changes from professional to personal, and they become friends, I think she’s very drawn to the comfortable domesticity of Medea’s life because it’s lacking in her own, and I think that’s reflected in a lot of my relationships. Nothing makes me happier than sitting around someone else’s kitchen table!
6. You’ve regularly posted about your love of Star Wars/Game of Thrones/X-Men. If someone held a gun to your head, which one would be the one you couldn’t live without? Do you have an analogous series in written form?
I think at the moment Game of Thrones simply because it’s a new and unfinished universe to me, and I’m desperate to know what happens! In terms of books, I would probably say the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels and the Jim Butcher Dresden Files. I love series like the Harry Potter books, where you really care about the characters and what happens to them.
It actually started as a short story I wrote to cheer up a friend who loved vampires. I liked the idea of an ancient vampire looking at the modern world, including its fascination with the supernatural, and being slightly nonplussed by it. That sort of coincided with me feeling frustrated at the kind of books I was finding in the genre: I couldn’t seem to find anything where the heroine wasn’t completely kick ass – which I love, but isn’t exactly relatable – or drippy and annoying. I wanted to write a modern, fun, flawed heroine, the kind of woman we could happily have a girls’ night out with, and who had a job, and friendships, and wasn’t all about just falling in love with a vampire. I was also keen to write a book set in London, because I think it’s such a fascinating city with its juxtaposition of history and modernity, and I thought it would make a good backdrop to characters who are centuries old but exist in a very modern world.
8. How many books do you anticipate this series will run?
At the moment it’s going to be at least 3 – I’m just finishing the second draft of the sequel and that leads into another book – but after that I’m just going to play it by ear. I tend not to plan miles in advance, more see how things unfold (and, of course, it depends a little on if anyone wants to read them!)
9. In your experience, do you prefer indie or a more traditional publishing path? Which would you recommend to new authors?
I think the best route, still, is the traditional one – get an agent, get a publisher – simply because that’s still the most efficient way to get into bookstores and to make money, and without that network in place it can be very hard to promote yourself. But obviously that’s an increasingly difficult route: agents and publishers are very risk adverse these days, and much less likely to take a chance on an unknown author. Self-publishing is hard work, simply because you have to do everything yourself, which can take a huge amount of time, and require skills that many writers struggle with, like marketing, so I think if you want to go down that route you have to be willing to devote a lot of energy to things that you may not be that keen on doing. But I think we are in an interesting period for publishing, and that may be changing – so I think that indie publishing is a fascinating space to be
in at the minute.
10. What made you decide to self-publish this one?
Partly because it wasn’t a fit with my existing publisher, and partly because I was struggling to find an agent – the feedback I was getting was very much along the lines ‘we really like it, but vampires are over’. I thought that rather than wasting the next six months sending it out and simply hoping it would end up on the right desk, I’d take matters into my own hands and put it out there and see what people thought. Plus I think because so much of my work these days is online, the immediacy of digital publishing appealed to me hugely.
11. Author’s choice: What question should I have asked, but didn’t?
Haha, I think you covered it all pretty well! In fact I’m slightly scared by how thorough your research is…!