I hope you all had fun last night and don't have any huge headaches keeping you from reading today! :)
I thought it would be great to see the new year in with an author interview and I decided to ask Nancy Holzner to do the honours.
If you haven't already tried Nancy's Deadtown series then you really need to catch up and get reading. The 3rd book in the series, Bloodstone, is near the top of my TBR pile and I can't wait to curl up with it.
Get to know the series and the author by reading the interview and then enter the contest and you may just win a book!
Amber - Welcome back to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you here again as a guest! Could you start things off by telling us a little about your third book in the Deadtown Series, Bloodstone ?
Nancy – Thank you, Amber. And thanks for inviting me! It's always a pleasure to visit your blog. As you mentioned, Bloodstone is the third book in my Deadtown urban fantasy series. The series is set in Boston, after a plague has turned two thousand citizens into zombies. The former quarantine zone is now Deadtown, the paranormal district. (Deadtown's zombies aren't exactly the kind you see in horror movies; they can talk and think, and they retain their human personalities.) In Bloodstone, a series of ritual killings has Boston on edge, and tensions are high between the human and paranormal communities.
Amber - How did you come up with the plot for Bloodstone? Was it easy to decide what to throw at Vicky this time?
Nancy – The plot followed from several story lines that have been developing in the previous books. As the series continues, plotting becomes . . . not easier, but more natural. When I'm writing a book, I jot down notes about how an event in this book might affect the developing storyline. Hellforged ends with questions about two characters: Vicky's roommate Juliet and her demi-demon nemesis, Pryce. So I started Bloodstone with those questions in mind about what happened to them.
That said, I do have a goal for where the series is headed. But each book offers surprises and twists and turns along the way. That part of writing is the most fun for me.
Amber - How long on average does it take you to write a book? Do you have a process you follow? or do you just start at page one and see what happens?
Nancy – It's funny you ask this question just now, because I'm working on a novella (outside of the Deadtown series) and am figuring out how to get started. I usually begin by coming up with the main characters (in a series, of course, this is easier after the first book) and then sketching out the main plot points—there might be 5-7 of these. This breaks the novel down into manageable chunks and gives me goals to write toward. But the outline is loose enough that those surprises can happen along the way. I've written a novel in as little as two months (for the first draft) to as long as two years (for a very polished draft). Average is probably six months to produce a draft that's pretty close to the finished product.
Amber - Will there be more books in the series? How long would you like to see the Deadtown series run? Do you already have an ending ready?
Nancy – Book #4, Darklands, will be out next summer. I hope to continue the series for 2-3 books beyond that. I do have an idea about an ending. It surprised me when it popped into my head, so I hope it will surprise readers, as well.
Nancy – This is a hard question for me, because Vicky is a very distinct person in my mind. It's kind of like asking who I'd pick to play my best friend—it's hard to look at an actress and see that person. But when I see pictures of them with short hair, I think either Keira Knightley or Emma Watson (in a few years) could play the role. But I figure a casting director would do a far better job of finding an on-screen Vicky than I ever could!
Amber - How much say do you have in the book publishing process? Eg. Do you get to pick the cover?
Nancy – The text belongs to me. My editor will suggest changes, and usually she's right. But sometimes I don't agree with her suggestion, and I've always been able to convince her of my point of view. For covers, my editor will ask me for ideas before they give the project to an artist. If I have comments about the resulting cover image, the publisher listens, but it's definitely their call. I've been lucky, though. I love the covers for this series. The artist, Don Sipley, is terrific.
Amber - How do you pick the names for your characters? Do they have any special meanings?
Nancy – Well, Vicky's full name is Victory, which does have meaning. Before she was born, her father had a dream in which he was told to give her that name. Among her kind, a race of shapeshifters, there is a prophecy about someone who'll end the war between humans and demons. Is that “Victory?” She isn't sure.
It takes me a lot of trial-and-error to find a name that sticks. I use baby-name books and websites, paying attention to sound, then meaning, then popularity. If I know a character's nationality, I'll use genealogy sites to find a surname. Sometimes I'll even browse the phone book. I'll write a scene with a tentative name (maybe several scenes for major characters) and see whether the name "sticks." If it doesn't feel right for the character, I'll look some more.
Amber - How do you come up with the titles for your books? Do you always go with the first title or is it hard to come up with the right one?
Amber - Did you always wanted to be an author? Why did you pick the Paranormal Urban Fantasy genre?
Nancy – I've always loved to read, and yes, I've wanted to be an author for just about as long as I can remember. I got sidetracked into an academic/teaching career for a while, and didn't write creatively during that time. But the desire was always there, even while I was pursuing other goals. I decided to write urban fantasy because I was reading that genre almost exclusively. It was so much fun to read that I wanted to try writing one.
My first published novel, though, wasn't an urban fantasy but a mystery. Peace, Love, and Murder was published by a small press several months before Deadtown came out, and I recently made it available in ebook format, as well. It's an amateur sleuth mystery set in a fictional version of the upstate New York college town where I live. It's got lots of action, some humor, and just a touch of romance—nothing paranormal, though. I'm hoping to write its sequel this year.
Amber - Do you have any other projects you are working on? Have you thought about doing the Young Adult thing?
Nancy – I'm working on a novella that's urban fantasy with a stronger romance element. As I mentioned, I'd like to write a sequel to my mystery. I have an idea for a series of paranormal YA books, but right now that's less fleshed out than my other back-burner projects.
Amber - Are you a full time writer or do you have a day job? If yes, How do you divide your time?
Amber - Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?
Nancy – I've had lots of inspirations. My parents, who both worked hard while raising their kids in a loving environment and emphasized the value of education. Several teachers inspired me to challenge myself. Tons of writers amazed me with what the written word can do. My daughter found her way through some tough times and didn't give up. But my biggest inspiration has been my husband, Steve. He's an incredibly generous, loving, and smart person, and he made me believe I could succeed as an author.
Amber - What have you been reading, watching and listening to lately?
Nancy – I like to mix up my reading, so that I don't get in a rut reading the same genre all the time. I've been closing out the year reading some books on my literary TBR pile: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, and The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass. I'm ready for a good dose of paranormal to begin 2012, and I'm planning to start with Mind Games by Carolyn Crane and Witch Ever Way You Can by Deborah Blake. I'm always on the lookout for good ghost stories and atmospheric, neo-Gothic books—if you or your readers have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them.
Amber - If you could live anywhere in the world. Where would you live? (I think I know the answer to this one...but we will see hehe)
Nancy - “Hehe” is right. :) As I believe I may have mentioned to you, my dream is to have a cottage on the Welsh coast. I have the exact picture in my mind. It would be on a cliff overlooking the sea, with a path that winds down to the beach. And it would be close to a village with a good pub. Whether I manage to do that as a month-long writing retreat or my residence, that's my ideal. Wales is so beautiful, and I would love to live in view of the water. On the other hand, my husband wants to move to Hawaii, where he lived for a time as a child. So that will be an interesting coin toss. :)
Amber - Thanks for stopping by again! Happy New Year!
Nancy – Thanks again, Amber. Happy New Year to you, your family, and your readers, as well!
#1 - Deadtown
#2 - Hellforged
#3 - Bloodstone
Take your pick! One lucky winner chooses their choice of Deadtown book signed by Nancy! So if you haven't started the series yet you can go with the first book. Missing the newest release? Get the new one!
How To Enter
The first book you are reading/read in 2012 is?
No Answer = No Entry
'Please enter me' posts will NOT be counted as an entry
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The contest will stay open until Saturday 8th of January 2012 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.