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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Author Interview & Contest with Nancy Holzner

Happy New Year!

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.

Vicky Vaughn is a shapeshifter who kills other people's personal demons for a living. She thinks her biggest problems are tracking down her missing vampire roommate and introducing her werewolf boyfriend to her sister's suburban family. Then the killer targets Vicky, and she becomes drawn into an ancient feud that could change the fate of the world. And her problems are only beginning...

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.

Amber - If the series was going to be made into a TV series or film, who would you like to see playing Vicky?

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?

Nancy – The original title of the first book was “Zombie Town” (which I still kinda like). The publisher wasn't thrilled with that title, though, and after coming up with a list of a dozen or so possibilities we settled on Deadtown. My working title for the second book was “Creature Comforts,” because the inciting incident takes place in the bar of that name. But my editor didn't think that sounded edgy enough, so I suggested “Hellforged,” which is the name of a dagger in that book. I liked the way that Deadtown and Hellforged fit together in terms of sound and length; it felt like a way to link books in the series. The next two books, Bloodstone and Darklands, fit the same pattern. So now, when I'm trying to think of a title, I think in terms of two-syllable, compound nouns.

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?

Nancy – I'm a full-time writer, but a big chunk of my income comes from writing nonfiction. I've written how-to books, reference books, tech books, content for online courses (I used to teach English), and all kinds of things along those lines. My husband and I also own some townhouses that we rent out, so we spend time managing those. I tend to work on nonfiction in the morning and switch to fiction in the afternoon/evening, but lately I've been thinking I should try flipping that around.

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!

Deadtown Series

#1 - Deadtown
#2 - Hellforged
#3 - Bloodstone

Contest Time

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

Earn more entries for each link you place about 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! However please do not make individual postings for each entry. Please post all your entries in one post.

Advertise Amberkatze's Book Blog on your site and get an extra entry for this and every other contest!

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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 Bookdepository.com and Amazon.com links/Banners below and around the site.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Amber! Thanks again for inviting me to celebrate the new year with you and your readers. My first read this year is also my last read of 2011, since I started it a couple of nights ago: Carolyn Crane's Mind Games. It was published in 2010, which gives an indication of the size of my TBR stack! Really enjoying it so far. I'm looking forward to seeing what others are reading.

Brenda Demko said...

Great post Amber! I haven't read any of this series yet. It is on my tbr list though. I am in the middle of reading Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale by Christine Warren, so I guess you could say I'm starting out the year with that! Happy New Year!

Stephanie said...

I'm going to start reading Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan.


Birgit said...

Funny you should ask, because I started (and even finished) a book today! "A Week at the Airport" by Alain de Botton. Oh alright, it's relatively short, so reading it in one sitting was no biggie!

GFC follower + FB fan
Shared on FB: http://www.facebook.com/birgit.horvath.muck/posts/220962997984563
Mentioned you blog here: http://the-book-garden.blogspot.com/p/austrian-and-german-book-bloggers.html


Anonymous said...

@Birgit I enjoy Alan de Botton's writing. I haven't read that one yet, but I really liked both The Consolations of Philosophy and The Art of Travel. Would you recommend A Week at the Airport?

Natasha said...

My first book I'm going to read is Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione. I'm going to read it tonight! hehe

I also liked you on facebook!
Natasha Jennex


Barbara E. said...

The first book I'm reading for 2012 is Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla. I have Deadtown on my TBR shelves but haven't had a chance to read it yet. It will be read this year for sure.

Vickie said...

Nancy: For neo-Gothic books, have you read Amanda Stevens' books? Her current series is Graveyard Queen series and is set in the South and is dark dark dark and GOOD!

Currently reading:
BOCD in the car: THE SCARECROW - Michael Connelly, thriller

Purse book: MURDER PAST DUE: A Cat in the Stacks Mystery - Miranda James, cozy

Bedside Nookbook: TOO BIG TO MISS: An Odelia Grey Mystery - Sue Ann Jaffarian, cozy and will likely be the first book finished in 2012

I have been in cozy mode throughout most of December. I'll get back to UF, etc soon.

Anonymous said...

@Vickie: Thanks for reminding me about Amanda Stevens. I read The Restorer and really enjoyed it. Have any others in the series come out?

Vickie said...

Nancy: There's a free download prequel to THE RESTORER, titled THE ABANDONED. Just downloaded it to my Nook.
It looks like THE KINGDOM comes out in March.

I can also recommend THE DOLLMAKER, THE DEVIL'S FOOTSTEPS and THE WHISPERING ROOM. All three are Gothic and good.

Have you read CITY OF MASKS - Daniel Hecht? It's the first in the Cree Black series, takes place in New Orleans and has ghosts. Excellent story, had to read in the daytime.

Bethany C. said...

Right now I'm still reading Phoenix's Etched in Bone, but when I'm done with that I'm going to start the first book in Francis's Horngate Witches series.


Anonymous said...

@Vickie: You are expanding my TBR list exponentially--thank you!!! I'm going to download The Abandoned right now. Thanks for the other Gothic suggestions, as well--I'm wish-listing all of them. It's my favorite atmosphere; the creepier the better. I haven't read Daniel Hecht yet, but saying you had to read something in daylight is guaranteed to make me pick it up. :)

Aurian said...

Thank you for the interview ladies, I enjoyed this, and the books are on my wishlist! Yesterday I started J.R. Ward - Covet, hope to finish it today, but as it is rather thick, I doubt it.

I am sorry I have no recommendations for you Nancy. Or perhaps one gothic oldie: Christine Feehan - The Scarletti Curse.

Amber, I am a follower, a subscriber, I follow you on Twitter, and your blog is advertised on my own.

sienny said...

first book i read will be.. laurell k hamilton's bullet. actually, i'm re-reading it :D


Dovile said...

The first book I'm going to read in 2012 will be The Survivors by Amanda Havard.

Anonymous said...

@Aurian: I remember The Scarletti Curse--great atmosphere!

NoraA said...

Hi Amber, Hi Nancy,
Happy New Year to you both. My first book of the year is "The Anatomist's Apprentice" by Tessa Harris.

I'd love to win Deadtown if I'm chosen. I'm lucky enough to already own an autographed copy of Bloodstone.

Ironstrangeprompts said...

My first book of 2012 is Shadow Cay by Leona Bodie. I have a huge to read list and this was one of the first put on it so I thought I should get right on it.

JenM said...

Happy New Year. I have a humongous TBR pile and my New Year's resolution is to read at least some books from it, however, instead of doing that, I'm reading two new books - Changeling Moon by Dani Harper and True Colors by Thea Harrison. I'm really enjoying both since I love shifter stories.


trichie said...

The first book I am going to read is Honor thy Neighbor by Valerie J Patterson

Tore923 said...

I am reading the Secret Circle series. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

AEKZ2 said...

I'm reading The Magicians. Happy New Year!


Julie S said...

Immediately started reading "Never to Sleep" by Rachel Vincent as soon as it got delivered to my kindle :)

clynsg said...

Am about half way through Through the Darkness by Turtledove, #3 in that particular series.

cgclynsg0 at gmail dot com

BrigidsBlest said...

Currently reading some nonfiction: "Electric Eden", by Rob Young, a history of the folk music revival in England from mostly the 50s-present.

BrigidsBlest at yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

I am currently reading Alice in Deadland so I guess that's the first book of 2012 I am/will be reading
teressaoliver at gmail dot com

Cindy McCune said...

For 2012 my first book is: Wicked Circle by Linda Robertson. I am LOVING it! Thanks for the opportunity...I have read about these books and wanted to start them. This would be a wonderful opportunit to start them :)

katiz7 said...

First book 2012. Wow I hope I remember to write that not 2011. LOL
Rock'in Roll is Undead by Rose Pressey

Excellent first in the series. It's interesting and keeps you guessing. Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, Tattoos and more. Keeps a reader hooked and allows them to be part of the ups and downs. Well worth the read. Can't wait for book 2.

katiz7 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I am reading Veronica Roth's Divergent, and it's quite good thus far!

-wookieecookie7 at sbcglobal dot net

Cheryl said...

The first book of 2012 I'm reading is 12-21-12 by Killian McRae.

Happy New Year!

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

I just started Maggie Shayne's "Twilight Fulfilled".

+1 shared on Facebook

+1 shared on Twitter

+1 mentioned your blog here
right sidebar of

GFC- Lisa Richards
FB- Lisa Ann Richards

alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

Dawn M. said...

My first read is The Walking Dead, Book 1 by Robert Kirkman. I wanted to see how it compared to the tv show.


Thanks! :0)
librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Danielle D said...

First book I'm reading for 2012 is Shining in Crimson by Robert S. Wilson.

Sadly I have not read any of the books by Nancy, her name has been droped quite a few times by my friends of late, so I figure I have to check them out at some point this year.

Follower on fb.

Thanks so much for the interview and the giveaway

felinewyvern said...

I read In Fury Born by David Weber (ebook) and am almost finished with Kiss Of Snow by Nalini Singh (Print book).

I haven't read this series yet so throw my name in the hat to try and win book one please. Thank you.

Diane said...

I'm reading Up close and Dangerous by Linda Howard, an older book of hers!

Victoria said...

I've read two novellas so I won't count either of them. That said it would be FOREVER. The final book in the Mercy Falls trilogy. Next up will be THE DARKEST SECRET by Showalter.


Linda said...

I found a really interesting book from Fictionwise at the end of 2011; it was on sale at 15% off. Surrender Her Touch by Kari Thomas, I'd never come across this author before but I totally loved the book! The hero was a dragonshifter (I was sold just based on that) & the heroine a healer (another plus!). It was a great way to start the year; by discovering a new author.


binabug said...

the zombie survival guide LOL, my daughter bought this book for me and tis the only thing in the house that I've not read yet, some fun reading I tell you (the auther is mel brookes son, so its all fun)

Mary Preston said...

I'm reading SNUFF by Terry Pratchett.

Unknown said...

I just started reading "Woles in Chic Clothing" by Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman. Happy New Year.
halochanel at gmail dot com

clenna said...

I'm currently reading My Heart Remembers, and plan to start Deadly Sister soon


tetewa said...

I'm readin Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath, this is the second book in the Jack Daniels series! Loving it! tWarner419@aol.com

Digital Diva said...

That is so funny because the first book I am reading this year is Hellforged by Nancy Holzner. I kid you not! I didn't even know the next book of the series is available.

wade2121 said...

I'm still reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

DANIELA said...

My first book started and read in 2012 will be DB Reynolds Raphael.
Thanks for the giveaway!

dany7578 at hotmail dot com

Jolene and Family said...

Great post, this sounds like a really good series and I would love the first book. I am currently reading Avenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden. I'm really enjoying it so far

follow on facebook-Jolene Allcock


Maegan Morin said...

The first book I read of 2012 was Jamais Vu and it was awesome. I hope that its a sign of good books to come this year!

megnate at telus dot net

CrystalGB said...

Hi Nancy. Great post. The first book I am reading in 2012 The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa.

Mardel said...

My first book that I'm reading is called Blood of Eden by Tami Dane. It's interesting, but inconsistancies are beginning to bother me. So I might jump over to Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - a gift from a friend.

contest link up in my sidebar at Rabid Reader

and, Happy New Year

Aik said...

The first book I read in 2012 is Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder.

+1 Tweeted:

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Audra said...


Christa said...

I read Destined by Jessie Harrell.

ambience.of.rain {at} gmail.com

Cindy said...

My first read of 2012 was Dianne Duvall's Night Reigns...awesome read!!!
Thanks for the great interview Nancy...appreciate your time...
ctrim at wi dot rr dot com

Unknown said...

The first book I read in 2012 was The Last Slayer by Nadia Lee, it was fantastic, I loved it and can't wait for the sequels! :-D

Thank you for the great giveaway, I've had Nancy Holzner's books on my wishlist for some time :-)

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com