My author guest this week has made Welsh stand out in her books and her series has even taken a trip to Wales. Nancy Holzner is the brilliant writer of the Deadtown series and love having here as a guest on the blog.
I hope you all enjoy this latest interview with Nancy and read till the end for details on how to win a signed copy of her latest release, Darklands.
Nancy – Hi, Amber! Thank you so much for inviting me back. It's always a pleasure to be here. As Darklands begins, Vicky is trying to figure out why so many of her clients, who've hired her to kill their personal demons, are canceling. Why are Boston's demons disappearing? She suspects it may have something to do with Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and nemesis, trying to regain his full powers. Finding out what Pryce is up to—and putting a stop to his ambition to rule all the realms—will send Vicky into the realm of the dead, with no promise she'll make it out alive.
Amber - How did you come up with the idea for Darklands? Did you already have it planned out when writing the previous books?
Nancy – When I wrote the very first book in the series, Deadtown, I thought of it as a standalone novel that I could develop into a series if a publisher was interested. So when Ace wanted me to write more, I started thinking about what my long-term goal for the series would be with the second book, Hellforged. I knew then that the war brewing between demons and the human world would escalate and come to a head in book 6. So I've known where this larger story arc was heading right from the second book. Still, things always come up as I write. At the end of Hellforged (CAUTION: spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn't read that book), Vicky triumphs over her demi-demon cousin, Pryce, and his Hellion allies. I knew then that Pryce would try to restore what he'd lost, and (given the world I'd created) he'd travel to the realm of the dead to do it. Ever since I started the series, I really, really wanted to write a book set in Annwn, the Welsh realm of the dead.
Amber - Vicky has already been up against a lot of so far. How do you decide what to throw at her in each book?
Nancy – After each scene, I ask myself, "What's the worst thing that could happen now?" Occasionally, I give Vicky a break, but usually, the worst thing I can think of is what happens.
Amber - You know I love how you incorporate so much Welsh into your books. How did your love of Wales/Welsh start?
Amber - How do you pick the names for your characters? Do they have any special meanings?
Nancy – I pick names more by how they feel and sound than by what they mean. Sometimes, I'll be writing and using a certain name for a character, but the name somehow doesn't "click." When that happens, I pick another name and try that one out. I get a lot of character names from browsing the phone book; I've also given a couple of friends cameo appearances by naming a character after them. (They asked; I wouldn't use someone's name without their OK!)
Amber - How many books do you have planned for the series? Do you already have an end game ready?
Nancy – There will be six books in the series, and I do know how it will end (although I'm always open to surprises as I write). I'm also planning to write a novella-length prequel set during Boston's zombie plague. I'd like to package that with some short stories featuring supporting characters and make it available as an ebook.
Amber - When can we expect the fifth book? Can you tell us something about it?
Nancy – The fifth book will be out in 2013; I don't know the exact date yet. Its working title is Hellhound. In Darklands, Vicky makes a bargain with the Night Hag, who chases lost souls across the border into the Darklands, to get into the realm of the dead. The Night Hag is a huntress who drives a pack of hellhounds, and by the end of Darklands she's not yet finished with Vicky and her friends.
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 – I can usually write a first draft in 2–3 months. It takes another 1–2 months to get that draft into decent shape (which means one significant rewrite and one polishing). And of course, I'll work with my editor to complete another draft or two after that. For me, the first draft is the hardest. It's tough facing the blank page. I like having something to work with, taking a sketched-out scene and bringing it more fully to life.
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 - If the series was going to be made into a TV series or Film, who would you like to see playing the main characters?
Nancy – I go back and forth on this question. I've never yet encountered an actress who's quite like the image of Vicky who lives in my mind. When Emma Watson first cut her hair short, I thought perhaps she could play Vicky when she got a bit older. I'm always interested to hear which actresses readers think would make a good Vicky, because it helps me see how they imagine her as they read.
Amber - Are you a full time writer or do you have a day job? If yes, How do you divide your time?
Nancy – I'm a full-time writer, but half my income comes from writing nonfiction. I do freelance writing related to education (such as content for online courses), and I also write how-to and reference books. I try to write fiction first thing in the morning, but I'm not always good at jumping right in. I've found that taking five minutes to sketch out what will happen in the scene really helps me focus.
Amber - Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?
Nancy – I've got several back-burner ideas I'm getting ready to develop. The one I'd most like to write is a dark historical fantasy set in the late 19th century. Not steampunk—what I have in mind is closer to horror. Sort of stylish horror. I've also got an idea for a standalone that would be closer to paranormal romance than my urban fantasy is. When I finish the draft of Deadtown 5, I plan to spend some time with these ideas to see which one takes off.
Amber - What are you listening and watching lately? Is there any music or other media that influences your writing?
Nancy – I'm an opera fanatic, so I'm looking forward to the start of the new opera season. A movie theatre near my house shows HD simulcasts of certain productions at the Metropolitan Opera. I rarely miss those. I don't listen to music while I write, though. I'm one of those writers who work best when it's quiet.
Amber - What about books? What have you been reading? Any recommendations?
Amber - Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?
Nancy – That's hard to say. Probably my husband, Steve, who helped me believe I could become a writer—and gave me the time and support I needed to actually do it.
Amber - If you could talk to any famous person, alive or dead, who would you meet up with? and why?
Nancy - I started my career as a medievalist, and I've always been fascinated by Christine de Pizan, who lived in France in the late 14th/early 15th century. She's considered Europe's first professional woman writer. As a girl, she received an unusually strong education in languages and the classics, at least partly self-taught. When she was widowed at the age of 24, she decided she'd support herself, her mother, and her three children by writing. She was a popular poet and wrote The Book of the City of Ladies to refute the misogyny expressed in works such as The Romance of the Rose. I'd love to hear her thoughts on writing, her life, and her times.
Amber - Thanks for visiting Amberkatze's Book Blog again!
#1 - Deadtown
#2 - Hellforged
#3 - Bloodstone
#4 - Darklands
Nancy is giving away a SIGNED copy of Darklands to one lucky person!
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