Please tell us your latest news!
I'm thrilled to announce the debut of my novel "Dracula, My Love," the untold story of Mina Harker's secret, forbidden romance with the most famous, powerful vampire of them all.
I envisioned a passionate love story for Mina and Dracula, a story that even Bram Stoker didn't realize was taking place in between the pages of his own book. I saw that there existed a wonderful opportunity to fill in the voids that Stoker had created-a way that I could answer the many unanswered questions in his novel, explain away all the inconsistencies, and bring a fresh perspective to this timeless work.
I had a fabulous time writing "Dracula, My Love." One of my primary aims was to flesh out Mina's character arc, creating a compelling back story for her and a storyline that showcases her evolution as a woman. Unlike Stoker's Count (an evil predator), my Dracula is young, drop-dead gorgeous, sexy, highly intelligent, extremely well-read, and accomplished. Add to that some truly amazing vampire powers and the gift of immortality (at age 400+ he's expanded his mind and talents and is good at . everything .)-and I knew Mina could fall in love with him. Admittedly, so did I. Is he the hero or the anti-hero? Does he have Mina's best interests at heart or his own? Ah, but to reveal that would be telling.
The book has only been out two weeks and is already going into its second printing. I had such a fabulous time writing this book. I was so swept away by my characters and story that I kept vampiric hours and habits for many months on end during the creative process.
The response has been very gratifying. To my delight, the Chicago Tribune deemed it "a spooky yet thoroughly romantic love story." Austenesque Reviews called it "a poignant, passionate, and powerful novel you should not miss!" The BittenByBooks review, in particular, does a better job of explaining what the book's about than I ever could:
Have you ever wondered what really happened between Mina and Dracula? Syrie James provides her own provocative interpretation in the exciting "Dracula, My Love" . the author manages to explain away elements from the original Dracula, putting a less-sinister spin upon the events and Dracula's motivations . Ultimately, this thoroughly engrossing novel serves as both an homage and as an alternative to the original story, inspiring the reader to ask that most important of questions: what if? Was Dracula truly the epitome of evil incarnate . or should that judgment take into account the perspective of the person telling the story? To James's credit, she keeps the suspense level high, so that even readers familiar with the original story will be furiously turning pages to see what happens next.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Just one technical error which will be corrected in the next printing.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have too many favorite authors to list them all. When it comes to the classics, I love Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Louisa May Alcott; I have read their novels again and again, and always find something new to appreciate. For contemporary authors, among many others, I enjoy the work of Maeve Binchy, whose stories are all set in Ireland and England, and whose characters feel so real. I love Lisa See's beautifully researched historical fiction, which always fully reflect its time and place. I love the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon. And I enjoyed the Twilight books!
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I feel so fortunate to able to write fiction for a living.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I like to say that I was born with a pen in my hand.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read everything. Study hard. Join writing groups. Write what you love. And: don't get bogged down by trying to make the beginning perfect. Even if you change your mind midstream about a story or character or book's direction, just jot down a few notes about it and keep going with that new direction in mind. When you get to the end, then--and only then-- should you go back and revise. Reaching the finish line of that first draft is an indescribable feeling, and you don't want to derail yourself by constantly revising the first few chapters.
I believe that the secrets to success are threefold, and they all begin with P: passion, patience, and perseverance. No matter who you are, how old you are, what you do, or what you wish for ... I believe that if you press on, keep your goals in sight, and put in the hard work, you can achieve your dreams--no matter how impossible or unlikely they may seem to others.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
My family is my biggest support group. They read everything I write. My husband, Bill, is always ready and willing to listen and whenever I get stuck on a plot point or need another viewpoint. He's the first person to read a manuscript the minute it's finished. After I address his notes, my son Ryan gets his hands on it, and gives me his in depth, perceptive, very insightful feedback. Only then do I send it to my agent and editor. In fact, Ryan has been so helpful and supportive over the years that I decided to co-write a Young Adult novel with him. It was a fantastic experience. We sold the novel to Harper Teen and it'll be out in 2012.
What did you do before you became a writer? Do you write full time?
For many years before I began writing novels, I was a professional screenwriter. I do indeed write full time. I'm at my computer writing every weekday from 10 - 6, and sometimes long into the night. My weekends are usually packed with family and social activities, but from the time I turn off the computer on Friday evening to the moment I'm back in my chair on Monday morning, I'm anxious to get back to the characters I left in limbo, who are just waiting for me to continue their story! When I'm not actively writing, I'm thinking about writing-- even when I'm supposed to be sleeping.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
I write an outline. I always know my beginning, middle, and end. I write characters biographies. I do intense amounts of research. Then I begin. In general I follow my outline, but the story always changes for the better along the way as the characters and plot reveal themselves to me. The fun is waking up every morning, tackling the scene that's delineated in my outline (usually by just a sentence or two), and bringing it to life with action and dialog.
Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it. (Pen, Coffee Cup, Pet, Blanket, Chair)
My favorite objects are my computer and the ergonomic arm supports that allow me to write for untold hours on end!
Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example..get coffee, blanket, paper, pen and a comfy place
Wake up. Turn on computer. Check email. Start writing. Two hours later: realize I'm starving. Go eat brunch. Rush back to work.
Thank you so much for interviewing me. Please visit my website www.syriejames.com to read all my latest news, reviews, and What's Next on the publishing horizon. I hope you'll consider signing up for my newsletter and leave me a message. Share what you think about "Dracula, My Love." I love hearing from my readers!