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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Author Interview & Contest with Nancy Holzner

I may live in Austria but I will always love Wales, my home land. So when I come across a book in the paranormal genre that incorporates Wales into the story I am always desperate for more.

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.


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 fourth book in the Deadtown series, 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?

Nancy – My first husband was English, and we lived in London for several years. We didn't have a lot of money (we were both students at the time), but we traveled around the UK when we could. I thought Wales was one of the most beautiful places I'd ever seen. As I've told you in the past, it's my dream to rent a seaside cottage in Pembrokeshire and spend a month there, writing.

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?

Nancy – I've done it both ways. Coming up with the title of the first book, Deadtown, was a trial-and-error process that involved brainstorming from me, my editor, and her boss. For later books, I try to come up with titles that have the same feel as Deadtown (two syllables, both stressed) so they'll link the books and look similar on the cover. I considered quite a few possibilities before I came up with Darklands. (I think I was calling Annwn "the Otherworld" in the manuscript before I decided to use the term "the Darklands.")

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?

Nancy – Lately I can't seem to get enough ghost stories, the more Gothic the better. (This might account for my desire to write a dark fantasy/horror novel.) Recently, I've really enjoyed The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (much better than the movie), The Ghost Writer by Australian author John Harwood, and Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan. I also was really impressed by Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, which I can't believe I'd never read before. It was one of those books I kept thinking about for days after I'd finished it.

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!

Deadtown Series

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


Contest Time!

Nancy is giving away a SIGNED copy of Darklands to one lucky person!

How To Enter

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the contest.

Keep the contests going by using the Bookdepository.com and Amazon.com links/Banners below and around the site.

Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners you must claim your prize within 7 days of the winner being announced!

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Anonymous said...

Hi Amber! Thanks for a fun interview. I always enjoy stopping by your site.

miki said...

thank you for this great interview. Unfortunately i can't help with an actrice^^;; i don't know the name of the one i like and the few i know arre european so they probably don't qualify^^

thank you a lot for teh giveaway

Victoria said...

I have no idea the actress' name but it's the girl on Vampire Diaries who plays Caroline. Got it - Candice Accola. Thank you.

Barbara E. said...

I think Hayden Panettiere or Kristen Bell would be great in the role of Vicky.

Barbara E. said...

Forgot my email: Barbed1951@

Bethany C. said...

I think maybe the actress that plays Audrey on Haven could ditch the suit for demon slaying clothes and rock a short cut.

Bethany C. said...

I'm kind of confused- the mention of putting the start of your email wasn't mentioned until the last rafflecopter option. So here is mine

Diane said...

I don't watch much tv so couldn/t come up with anyone; I watch Big Bang Theory and NCIS, maybe Abby???

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone who came by and left a comment. It's been really interesting to read your suggestions! I have to admit that I'm like a couple of the commenters in that I don't remember actresses' names, so I had to look up a few. :)

Vicky's like a real person to me; I have a very clear picture of her in my mind. So trying to figure out who might play her in a movie is a little like trying to cast my sister or best friend--no one else is *exactly* right.

Dani Harper, Author said...

I'd love to see actress Katie Cassidy play Vicky. Cassidy portrayed Ruby the demon in Supernatural's Season Three.

Loved the interview, and I love all things Welsh too! My gramma was from there and I hope to visit one day.

Denise Z said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denise Z said...

This is hard because I am good with faces but not names, but one lovely I found is Emily Blunt - she is not too young, but still youthful, and has a very interesting face. I think Vicky has character and needs to be as interesting in "a real person" picture, as she is in my mind :) Thank you for sharing with us today and for the fun.

Mary Preston said...

I am absolutely useless at trying to think up who could play what. I need to watch more television or movies , but I would rather read.

Dovile said...

I too suggest Candice Accola. I haven't read the books, but she seems to look alike with the girl on covers, and she would be bad-ass enough for a UF heroine.

Dovile said...

email subscriber with spamscape

NoraA said...

Considering my age, when I look at the covers I see a young Jamie Lee Curtis. She played the wife of "The Arnold" in True Lies..

I love the series and even have an autographed copy of Bloodstone.

Nikki said...

I think Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) would be great as Vicky. She has a strong, independent personality and she has knows how to protect herself.

Nikki said...

My email is nmagante

Stephanie said...

I think Kristen Bell would be a good choice.


Christa said...

I have no idea! I'd almost like to see someone that's up and coming / lesser known in the role... like maybe Gemma Arteron (upcoming Hansel & Gretel) if she would go blonde, or Emilie de Raven (Claire from Lost)...
Thanks for the giveaway!
ambience.of.rain {at} gmail.com

Aurian said...

I still have to start reading the series, but the books are on my shelves, waiting for me to make time. An actress, well, a young Goldie Hawn or Michelle Pfeiffer perhaps?

donnas said...

I think maybe Kristen Bell, but I am really bad at casting choices from books

clynsg said...

Maybe the star of Hunger Games--think her name is Jennifer Lawrence.