Colleen Gleason

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Interview By: Roxanne

Date: July 01, 2008

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I've read that you have been writing for as long as you can remember. When did you seriously try to start writing for a living?

I wrote for years. Off and on through college and beyond. I wrote eight books before selling my ninth novel, and I guess I always was trying to write for a living--I mean, that was the ultimate goal.

But I had to have a day job until I sold, and even then, it took awhile before I was able to feel comfortable saying that I wrote full-time.

Do you write every day? Do you have a set writing schedule? As a mother of three, how hard is it to balance being a writer and a mother?

I write every day when I'm on deadline, which I am right now.

Before I sold my first book and was able to write full-time, I wrote almost every night after my children went to bed; eg, 9-11 or so. I missed a lot of TV! But that was how I managed my time then.

Now, all of my children are in school full-time, and although one would think that I'd be writing all day while they're in would be wrong. It seems that I've fairly trained myself to be an evening writer, so I do most of my raw, new writing after 7 pm. Usually, I actually leave the house to write because there are just too many distractions here. I often go to a coffee shop or restaurant (preferably one without free Internet) and write until I get my page/word count quota done for the day.

During the day, I usually spend the morning getting the kids off to school, writing my blog, answering email, running errands, thinking about what I'm going to work on that day. I have lunch, often with a book, and then start to write in the afternoon. But, really, the muse doesn't usually kick in until later in the day..juuuust about the time the kids get home from school.

Summer has been harder, but they are now old enough to do much for themselves. And they understand when I say that "Mom's writing. Do not bother me unless the house is on fire, you're bleeding, or someone stopped breathing." (I borrowed that from Nora Roberts.)

And most of the time, they're delighted to leave me alone-because that means that I'm not telling them to turn off the TV or video games. They know they can do that without being interrupted!

My youngest has taken to making little signs that hang on the stairs leading to my office: Do Not Bother Me Until X Time. (PS I still love you.)

What do you do if you encounter writer's block or get stuck at a place in your book?

I get up and walk around, or talk to someone. Sometimes I actually take a break and read a book or watch a movie--often that will unstick the juices and get them flowing again.

I've sat and brainstormed with my children, and also with my husband. The kids often have some great thoughts that really get me to thinking outside the box--they range in age from 7-11, so they're young and not stifled. They all have great imaginations.

My husband is more of a listener. He listens and lets me talk, and as I'm explaining the situation to him, I often end up talking myself through the problem. Although once, when I was really stuck, he said, "Why don't you put in a trap door?" And WOW! I did. (That was in RISES THE NIGHT, at the Tutela meeting.)

I know you're a history buff, but how did you come up with the idea for a historical vampire slayer? It really is rather unique.

Well, when I first had the idea for the series, vampires were a hot commodity. Publishing houses were buying vampire romances left and right.

But, I must confess. I'm one of those seemingly rare people who don't find vampires attractive or sexy. (I know, I KNOW!) So I was trying to think of a way that I could capitalize on the market for vampire fiction without writing something that didn't appeal to me--an undead hero or heroine.

I'd always been a fan of historical romances, too, as you've noted, but at the same time I found myself intrigued by strong, contemporary female characters like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sydney Bristow of Alias.

I got to thinking...Buffy and Sydney had it hard enough balancing their double lives in 20th-century America, but what would it have been like for them if they'd lived a century earlier - during a time when a woman was always chaperoned, could never go out alone at night, and whose main goal in life was to get married?

And voila! The idea of a female Regency vampire hunter was born. The setting, the history, everything is so detailed. How much research do you have to do for your novels?

The series started with me doing research mostly about Regency Era England, and vampire lore and mythology, when I wrote the first book. But as the series developed and I became more comfortable with the time period, my research became much more specific.

For example, in RISES THE NIGHT, the second book in the series, I researched Lord Byron and his time living in Venice, because my heroine meets him in Venice. I also was intrigued by the fact that Dr. John Polidori, who wrote THE VAMPYRE (which was the predecessor to today's vampire fiction with the first sort of gentleman vampire), died a mysterious death. So I wove that into the story.

For the third book, THE BLEEDING DUSK, I spent time researching Rome in the 19th century. I learned about a mysterious Door of Alchemy, a real door that still exists today, and used its legend as the basis for Victoria's adventures in Rome.

In WHEN TWILIGHT BURNS, Victoria heads back to England, and I found myself fascinated by the underground (literal and figurative) waste recycling industry in 19th century London--so of course I had to send Victoria into the infamous London sewers. And there was also the fact that the Prince Regent, who was crowned during this book, refused to allow his wife to attend the coronation--and that she was literally refused admittance to Westminster Abbey. That event figured in my book as well, with a paranormal twist.

Finally, for the last Victoria Gardella book, AS SHADOWS FADE, I sent my characters to Prague and I had a wonderful time researching that city.

How did you come up with the idea of the vampire line starting with Judas?

I'd been researching vampire mythology for a few weeks, and was fascinated by the elements that sprang up in cultures all over the world.

I wanted to do something fresh, but I also didn't want it to be too complicated--or too unlike accepted vampire lore because I wanted the story to focus on the Venators (vampire hunters) and their mythology--not the vampires.

Since the series was built around vampires being demonic and evil (and thus worth killing), I was looking for a way to explain that, and I found a little snippet on the Internet about a cult of people who though they were descended from Judas, whom they believed was the first vampire.

And I thought....whoa. Now that works. And so I built it from there.

It was only after I was in the middle of writing the second book, Rises the Night, that I heard about (and watched) the movie Dracula 2000, in which Gerard Butler plays Dracula...who is really Judas. It definitely wasn't an original idea, but the mythology of the Venators is.

So, now to the men.did you always know who Victoria would end up with or has it changed as you've written the books? I surprised myself by rooting for golden boy Sebastian. I usually always go for the dark and brooding guys like Max, but something about Max is off for me, I'm not sure what it is.

I have always known who Victoria will end up with, ever since the first book. And though I've gotten fan mails and lots of people arguing for or against one or the other, I've never wavered in my decision. The right guy for Victoria is the one who really fits with her, who's really going to be her partner and accept her. And who she can be herself with. He's the only one.

They're both worthy, wonderful, fabulous heroes--but Victoria has to pick one (or so my editor says), so she does. By the end of When Twilight Burns, it will be obvious who it is.

Will she end up with one of them in the final book?

Yes, she will. I promise. :-)

In old fashioned historical novels and older romance novels the sex seemed to be all off camera, just hinted at or not there at all, while your Gardella novels would never be considered to be erotica you've definitely made them a little hotter than grandma's historical romances. Have you been criticized or appraised for this, or maybe a little of both?

There is definitely a trend in historical romances right now: the hotter, sexier, the better. I have always tried to avoid writing sex scenes for the sake of writing "hot" or "sexy" and fortunately, my editor has been supportive of that. Compared to most other historical romances released in the last few years, mine are relatively mild--although definitely R rated.

I think that's because Victoria not only hasn't made her choice (and thus isn't about to go sleeping around) but also because the books aren't focused on the romance as much as her own character growth.

Only one more book, are you going to miss Victoria? Do you get attached to your characters?

Oh, yes! Definitely. I've already finished that book, and it was very bittersweet to say goodbye. I got really teary-eyed and sad, and I've re-read the last two chapters about four times because I miss them.

In one sense I'm glad to be done...the story was finished. There wasn't really much more to say--everything is going to be as fine as it can be for Victoria in life as she knows it, and to belabor it wouldn't have worked for me or the readers. So I was glad that everything was resolved and I felt like I left her, and her friends, at a good place.

In another interview you hinted that you may write more books about the Gardellas, maybe a female Venator from an earlier period, are you? Will you continue The Gardella Chronicles with another Venator?

I'm currently talking with my publisher about that very thing. Hopefully I'll have news on that front soon!

If not more Gardellas and Venators what are you onto next?

I do have another project in the works and will let you know more about that when I can. I'm very excited about it, but it's pretty much a polar opposite from the Gardellas--no vampires, and it's not historical

Well, that's all I have for you right now. On behalf of Night Owl Romance and myself, I want to thank you for your time. I look forward to reading your future works.

Thank you so much! I'm very appreciative of you having me here, and thanks for all the support!


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