So when I finished Deadtown I emailed Nancy straight away and asked if she would like to be a guest on Amberkatze's Book Blog. Of course Nancy said yes and this is the interview we did. I hope you enjoy it and if you haven't already read her debut novel Deadtown make sure you enter the contest or better yet - Buy yourself a copy!! :)
Amber - Welcome to Amberkatze's Book Blog! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! Your amazing book Deadtown came out a couple of months ago. Can you start things off by telling my readers a little about Deadtown in your own words?
Nancy - Thanks, Amber, for inviting me. I'm really happy to be here.
I'd love to say a little about Deadtown. The story takes place in an alternative version of Boston. Three years ago, a virus turned two thousand Bostonians into zombies. The former quarantine zone has become Deadtown, a city-within-a-city that’s home (by law) to Boston’s paranormal community. Shapeshifter Vicky Vaughn lives there, along with her vampire roommate, her teenage zombie apprentice, and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Alexander Kane, a workaholic werewolf lawyer.
Vicky kills other people’s demons for a living: personal demons of fear, guilt, and revenge. When one of her clients is horribly murdered, Vicky must face a a far more dangerous demon—one from her own past—to protect the city.
Amber - Deadtown really was a great read and I enjoyed how different it was to the other Urban Fantasy books out there at the moment. How did you come up with the idea?
Nancy - Thanks, I'm really happy you enjoyed Deadtown. :)
Several things came together and percolated to produce the book. I began my career as a medievalist, and one of the medieval texts I enjoyed was the Mabinogi, a collection of Welsh stories and legends written down in the 13th and 14th centuries. There's a story about Ceridwen and Gwion Bach that involves a great chase scene. Gwion Bach, a shepherd boy, is running away from Ceridwen, a witch/goddess, after "stealing" a potion from her (whether accidentally or on purpose depends on your interpretation). During the chase, he shapeshifts into a hare to run faster, and she changes into a greyhound to pursue him. He leaps into a river and changes into a fish, she dives in after him as an otter. And so on. Finally, the exhausted Gwion runs into a barn and throws himself into a pile of wheat, changing into a single grain and thinking he can hide there. Ceridwen turns into a fat black hen and eats the entire pile of grain, including Gwion. Months later, she gives birth to him anew and names him Taliesin; he becomes the first great bard of Wales.
I thought this story would make a wonderful basis for a race of shapeshifters who were a little different from standard weres. So I invented the Cerddorion, Vicky's race. Welsh mythology is so rich, that I'm having fun using it to develop Vicky's story as I move forward, too.
I made Vicky a demon fighter because of an offhand comment I read on an agent's blog, where she mentioned she disliked the phrase "So-and-so wrestles with his own personal demons." I thought it would be fun to create a character who killed other people's personal demons for a price. So those two things--the mythology and the idea of a personal demon slayer--came together in Vicky.
Amber - Will there be more books in the series? How much more of Deadtown and it's inhabitants can we expect on seeing?
Nancy - Deadtown's sequel, Hellforged, will be out next January. In it, Vicky faces a kind of demon that she's never encountered before and must travel to Wales to get further training from her aunt Mab. While there, she meets Pryce, who calls himself her cousin but is the blackest sheep from the darkest, most twisted branch of her family tree. Pryce has plans for Vicky, and she'll have to fight hard to stop him.
I hope to continue the series beyond Hellforged for at least three more books. I'm working on some proposals now.
Amber - How do you pick the names of your characters? Are they just names you like, people you know or do they have some other meaning?
Nancy - Characters' names come from all over. I use baby name websites, I let possibilities float up from my subconscious, I even scan the phone book sometimes. Characters often go through several names before I find one that sticks. I'll write a few scenes and see whether the name continues to feel right. If it doesn't, I'll keep looking.
In Deadtown, Vicky's full name is Victory Vaughn. Her first name chose me: A phrase came into my head, which in the novel became a dream that Vicky's father had a year before she was born: A girl child shall be born unto you, and her name shall be Victory. I love Victory as a name, and I searched around for a while before I found a surname that worked with it. Vaughn is a Welsh name, of course, and I liked the way it sounded with Vicky.
Amber - I may have made my home in Austria the last ten years but I was born in Wales and will always be Welsh! What made you use Wales and Cymraeg in Deadtown?
Nancy - My number one reason was being inspired by the Mabinogi. Besides that, I think Wales is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I love both the mountains and the coast. Its landscape is thoroughly steeped with the legends and history of the people who live there. Plus I love the sound of the language.
Because Vicky goes to North Wales in Hellforged, I was hoping to make a research trip there, but that didn't work out with my schedule. Maybe for Book 3. :)
Amber - Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?
Nancy - Right now, I'm revising Hellforged and outlining Book 3. I've also got an idea for a dark fantasy set in the Catskills. There's a lot of possibilities there for a spooky Gothic setting, with abandoned, falling-down hotels, dangerous gorges, impenetrable woods... It'll be fun, I think, if I can make it come together.
Amber - How did you end up being a writer? Did you always want to be one? What kinds of ups and downs have you come against so far?
Nancy - I've always been a reader. And for me, writing was a natural extension of that. I wrote a lot as a child and teenager. In college, I started focusing more on having a career--I went to grad school and eventually became an English professor. I also started a family. During that phase of my life, there wasn't much time for writing creatively.
I started writing again about seven years ago. By that time, I'd left academia. Probably the most difficult thing about taking up writing again was developing confidence in myself as a writer. Then I published several nonfiction books (that's still my day job), which helped. It took several months to find an agent for my first novel, a mystery called Peace, Love, and Murder, and she sold that book to a small press. The book didn't make much of a splash, but that sale was a great confidence booster. Soon after, we sold Deadtown in a two-book deal.
Amber - There are alot of online sites such as Facebook that authors are using to reach their readers. Do you use any of these sites? Do you think they are good or evil? ;)
Nancy - I'm on Facebook and Twitter, and I try to post fairly regularly at my blog and at Good Girls Bad Juju, which is a group urban fantasy and steampunk blog. I also have a Facebook fan page for people who might want to keep up with what's going on with my books but don't necessarily want to follow every little hiccup of my life. I love being able to connect with readers in all those ways, but I have to be careful about my time. Besides fiction, I write how-to books full time, which can be very demanding because the world of technical publishing moves much faster than fiction publishing. So I have to be careful not to suddenly look up from a Twitter conversation, for example, and realize that I've just squandered two hours I was supposed to be using to finish Chapter 12.
Amber - Werewolf or vampire? Both appear in your books but who do you prefer? Team Jacob or Team Edward? ;)
Nancy - I like the animal passion of werewolves. Vampires seem much colder to me. Werewolves act on instinct and appetite; vampires act in self-interest. At least that's my take on them. On the other hand, vampires are more sophisticated. A vampire would probably be more likely than a werewolf to go to the opera with me. (I'm a big opera fan.)
Amber - What books do you like to read? Any favourite authors or series?
Nancy - I read everything. It's the former English professor in me. :) In urban fantasy, some of my favorite authors right now are Ilona Andrews, Devon Monk, and Patricia Briggs. In the past year, I've read terrific debuts by Kelly Gay, Kelly Meding, and Seanan McGuire, and I look forward to reading their next books. But I also enjoy reading mysteries, thrillers, 19th-century novels, literary novels. If it's got pages, I'll pick it up and take a look and then probably read it all the way through. I also like to reread some of my favorite medieval texts; I love stories about King Arthur and his knights, for example.
Amber - If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be?
Nancy - I think it would be fun to be a shapeshifter like Vicky. She can become a bird and soar over the landscape or a lion and defend herself. If I had to choose from beyond the world of my novel, I might pick one of the fey. I really enjoy novels that go into the politics of the faerie courts.
Amber - Thank you for being a guest on Amberkatze's Book Blog! I hope you will come back again soon!
Nancy - Thank you so much, Amber! It's been fun!
My review of Deadtown
Nancy has said she will send a signed copy of Deadtown to the winner of this weeks contest! However I personally expect you will all want to buy a copy anyway ;)
How to enter?
Mabinogi, a collection of Welsh stories and legends helped bring Deadtown to life. So I want to know what book inspires you??
No Book = No entry!
Earn more entries for each place you link this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries!
You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.
Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.
Keep the contests going by using the Amazon links below and around the site!
The contest will stay open until Sunday 7th of March 2010 4pm CET and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.