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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interview & Contest with Author Nancy Holzner

It is only the end of February and there were alerady a few books this year that really made me go Wow! Deadtown by Nancy Holzner was one of them.

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

Deadtown 101


Contest Time!

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.

Good Luck!


Nancy Holzner said...

Hi, Amber! Thanks again for inviting me. I'm looking forward to seeing the books readers name as inspiring.

Sarah said...

Great interview! I love the sound of Deadtown, definitely another one to add to my wishlist LOL. I spent a lot of holidays in Wales when I was growing up so I'm sure I'll enjoy the Welsh mythology aspect.

It's a difficult question about books that inspire me. I read a lot of books but mainly to escape from reality :o) I guess books like A Child Called It & other true life stories inspire me to believe that no matter how bad things get there is hope for the future. Sometimes I think we all need to be reminded that while we may think things are bad they could be a lot worse. It makes you appreciate how lucky you really are.

Blodeuedd said...

Great interview :D

Well to be honest, it is hard to pick a book. I get my inspiration from mythology and history. So I could say the Mabingnion too. Those stories are great and history, well you always learn something.

IceJewel said...

Sounds great !!!
Well, tough question..! Inspires me ?
Umm..I usually read fictions(fantasy and romance) only as I want to escape reality and be a part of another world! Have read only a few memoirs/non-fictions.
To say, Abandoned, A child called it are a few books which I would say has made me feel lucky and realize what I have.But, inspire...none ! Ya, but if you count, I would say Hunger Games as it inspired me the very next day to jog and work out more.. :)
Also, whenever I read any Nancy Drew books, I get inspired to check my detective side :)

I have posted the contest on my sidebar

Thanks or giving a chance to read this book :)

Vickie said...

DEAD TOWN has been on the WWBL for a long while, I keep hoping to win in the contests I've seen, but am willing to do a purchase this Friday. I have whittled down Mt Git'r'Read and I have earned a book purchase. = )

Which book or books have inspired me? Various books in the Bible have had a lasting influence like the Book of Esther. Or any of the biographical books about strong women of history that I collect like Eleanor Roosevelt, Madelyn Albright, Katharine Hepburn. strength of character has always been important to me, especially strength of character in women.

Llehn said...

I get inspired by something I read or a piece of music or a picture.

mariska said...

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery inspires me. i love the story and the meaning of life in this book. one of my favorite book all the time.

i tweet'd here : http://twitter.com/becunique/status/9810132525

Nancy Holzner said...

Really interesting comments--thanks to everyone eho's participated so far. I have to admit that I didn't even think of true-life stories when Amber asked the question, but of course seeing how real people have overcome real challenges is a great source of inspiration. I also enjoy reading biographies of my favorite authors and composers of the past. It's fascinating to see how they shaped creative lives.

And, of course, as I mentioned in the interview and several commenters have noted here, mythology is a rich source of inspiration. (Btw, if you're wondering why I say Mabinogi instead of Mabinogion, scholars pretty much agree that the title used by William Owen Pughe and Lady Charlotte Guest in their translations was based on a scribal error in the manuscript. There's a good discussion of the issue here: http://sites.google.com/site/themabinogi/mabinogiandmabinogion I will say, though, that "Mabinogion" sounds more mellifluous to me!)

As a writer, I'm going to say that I find inspiration just about everywhere. I'm always surprised by what by my subconscious tosses up when I'm reaching for a line of dialogue or working on a new character or even pushing forward to see what happens next.

Thanks to everyone who's read or wants to read Deadtown! :)

SandyG265 said...

Deadtown has been on my wishlist for a while. I will go with a book that inspired me when I was much younger - My Side of the Mountain.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I know this might sound out of left field BUT I just finished the Heaven Sent series and the book HELL really inspired me to be express my inner artist. Actually the whole series kinda hit on that!

Nancy Holzner said...

@SandyG265: OMG, I LOVED that book when I was a kid! I was so ready to go out and find a hollow tree to live in LOL. I recently picked up a copy at a friends-of-the-library book sale. It was fun to read it again.

@Sweet Vernal Zephyr: That's the best kind of inspiration! :)

BrigidsBlest said...

There are different sorts of inspiration. Books that inspire me in my own writing are works of Greek mythology like Ovid's Metamorphosis and Hesiod's Theogony; also Irish mythology like the Tain bo Cuilaigne and the Second Battle of Moy Tura.

In how I live...there's a book by author Margaret Atwood called The Handmaid's Tale that is the most horrifying thing I have ever read. It is far scarier than anything by Stephen King or Dean Koontz. I live my life in a way that I work very hard so that the world portrayed in that book never comes to pass. I encourage everyone who hasn't read it to do so.

Great interview, Nancy! I'm looking forward to reading Deadtown; the Mabinogion is another favorite of mine.

throuthehaze said...

It is hard to pick a book that inspires me...I would say The Giver by Lois Lowry. That really made me fall in love with reading.

Persephone said...

I, myself, write poetry. So I get inspired by other poets. The most recent book I read that inspired me was Lost River by James Tate. Some funny and unique poetry.


Michelle M. said...

Sound like a great read and an interesting twist on Urban fantasy.
Books that inspire me??? All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg inspired me to learn more about my family. It's a wonderful book full of laughter and crying.

heatwave16 said...

Loved the interview!!! Well, I don't have an exact book that inspires me, but I have a movie based on a book that inspires me.

Tina Turner's autobiographical movie, 'What's Love Got to Do with it?' If she can make it through everything she faced and succeed, then I can tackle everything that comes my way.


heatwave16 said...

tweeted the interview:



Pamk said...

A child called it and that whole series made me think my life isn't so bad after all. That was inspiring. I normally don't read for inspiration I read for escapism. Your book sounds absolutely fantastic. Love strong heroines.

Unknown said...

Great interview! Deadtown sounds exciting, I will definitely add it to my TBR list. I'm sure I will enjoy it as I love the athmosphere and world of Celtic mysteries.

A book that really inspired me was the Biography of Helen Keller. It was humbling to read how many hardships she had and how she overcame them! It was amazing.

I twittered about the contest here: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/9917217444

stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

Suzanne Johnson said...

Can't wait to read Darktown!

From a life standpoint, I've been inspired by Gone with the Wind, which is probably why I have a really warped view of romance!

In my own writing, I have probably been most inspired by Patricia Briggs' work. Every time a new one comes out, I sigh and say I want to write like that when I grow up.

Lynette said...

As much of a reader I am of fantasy/scifi - I am inspired by Nagarjuna's Middle Way

Would love to get a copy of Nancy's book


KMichelleC87 said...

I dont really think I have a book that inspires me but I really loved A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. It really made me think about things in my life and my beliefs.

Thanks for the contest.

whitewolfreads said...

The Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong really inspires me. I love her originality and writing style. Her characters are awesome (especially Clay and Elena) and every time I read them it makes me want to write.


Anonymous said...

I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal, inspired me to connect with the world around me and rediscover who I am as a person.


clynsg said...

I don't know that there is a particular book that inspires me, but I do know that there are many which give me insight into the actions of others and which educate and entertain me. Possibly just making me laugh out loud is a form of inspiration. But since I am supposed to name one, I think I will go back to my children's early years and pick The Little Engine That Could--it shows the importance of never giving up!

cgclynsg0 at gmail dot com

Cathy M said...

I need to thank the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books for getting me hooked on fantasy stories when I was younger, which then drew me to paranormal romance and urban fantasy books. Now a days these are the genres that I read the most.


All This Silence... said...

Great interview! Let's see...the book that has inspired me the most would have to be "Where The Red Fern Grows". I read it in elementary school and still love it to this day. It reminds me that I was once more naive than I am now.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED the interview! Deadtown sounds soooooooo good, I must read it! Your imagination must be wonderful. I could never pick just one book that inspires me, every one I read does to some extent(I read between three to seven a week).

Sue Brandes said...

Great interview Nancy. Books that inspire me are usually true to life stories. Dewey The Small Town Library Cat(Vicki Myron), Against Medical Advice(James Patterson), & Crazy Aunt Pearl's Drunk, Divorced & Covered In Cat Hair(Laurie Perry) were a few. I do really enjoy reading books that aren't real life. It takes me to another world & away from everyday life problems.
Sue B

Barbara E. said...

I love history and have read a lot of historical fiction and historical romance through the years. I'll pick Queen of the Realm by Jean Plaidy as a book that inspires me - I enjoy reading about Queen Elizabeth I and the life she led - the obstacles she overcame to reign as queen for so many years.

Diana Dang said...

That's hard. I guess Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon! :D Amazing Chinese mythology and culture!

faked_sugartone at hotmail

Heather Y said...

Thanks for hosting a great giveaway! There's a few books that inspire me... mostly comedies. I love anything by PG Wodehouse and I especially love Douglas Adams. Laughing out loud helps! :)

heather y

wanda f said...

Hmm awesome question I would have to say that a book that inspires me would have to be Great Expectations by Charles Dickens I love that book I cant count how many times I ve read it .

Anonymous said...

The book which inspired and still inspires me is "The Other Side of the Rainbow" by Máire Brennan (singer of Clannad). I got my copy signed by her at one of her concerts and she's really an adorable person and a great artist.

SiNn said...

awesome interview!

I agree about a child called IT the tina turnher story the illiad (spelling) homerall the greek mythology books and even the bible i find inspration in all sorts of books and ways linda howards after the night inspired me simpleybecause it read so real that made it worth reading

Anne said...

This book sounds great. I have to say a book that inspired me was "To Kill a Mockingbird" because it is about not letting society's expectations guide you and standing up for what is right.

ajolly1456 at gmail dot com

Anne said...

I tweeted about the giveaway


Spav said...

A book that inspired me was The Hobbit. It was my first fantasy book and thanks to it I started reading much more and also began to write.

Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/10097210407

Roxy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.