Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you are up to.
Last October, I moved from Huntsville, Alabama, to Tallahassee, Florida. It's taken a while to settle in! My third published novel, The Visconti Devils , is being released September 1, 2006. Now I'm getting down to work on an expanded version of my first published novel, The Blood Waltz . Originally, I was going to write a sequel, which I started, but I've decided to combine the two books into one and shop it around to the major publishers. I think it's time.
To start out, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, but I've also lived in Nashville, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. I now live in Tallahassee and plan to stay here, since I've just bought a house. Also, I like living where I can wear sandals year-round. (I hate having things on my feet!) I've been writing novels since I was 14 but didn't publish until many years later. (And, no, I'm not going to tell you my age - just suffice to say I'm not all that young any more.) I've been fascinated by the supernatural since I was a kid - I've always liked living in a word where the usual rules don't apply - and I read extensively on various supernatural or occult subjects, which give me a lot of my ideas.
Who are your publishers?
Please tell our readers about your newest books? Any series? When will they be out?
Fiend Angelical , a vampire romance inspired by Romeo and Juliet , came out last year. It was nominated for an award by Romantic Times Book Review. The Visconti Devils , my newest, is coming out September 1, 2006. A tarot card artist and a curator from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University are out to find the Devil cards missing from the 15th-century Visconti tarot decks. Their quest takes them from New Haven, Connecticut, to Milan and soon turns from a searching expedition into a battle of good versus evil.
Where did you come up with your ideas? What was your trigger?
The Visconti Devils got its start when I was doing research for Fiend Angelical . I was trying to make sure that tarot cards were actually around during my vampire's mortal lifetime, and I found that the oldest tarot cards still in existence today were created in Milan during the 15th century for the Visconti family, the ruling family of Milan at that time. There are three decks surviving, each missing some cards - four from one, seventeen from another, etc. But one card missing from every single deck was The Devil. Literature of the period seemed to indicate that The Devil was indeed part of the tarot deck at that time, not added later; so, where did all the Devils go? And why? There's a story there somewhere, I thought. One day it'll come to me. And one day it did. Dropped out of the sky and bopped me in the head. I had to sit down that very day and start writing it. I remember that it was a Saturday in September of 2003, but I don't remember the exact date.
Please tell us about your life - Do you write full-time or part-time? What do you do for fun? Any hobbies?
I work a full-time job as a legal secretary and write in the evenings and on weekends. I'm also a single mom with a teenage son. I don't sleep much, needless to say. I enjoy visiting and photographing old cemeteries, and I collect dolls and tarot decks. I bought a townhouse recently and have been fixing it up, painting and planting things in the garden. Recently I started taking ballroom dance lessons.
Is writing your main career or is it a side project?
Let's just say it should be my main career, as it has certainly been one of the driving forces in my life. My day job pays the bills, but I would quit in a heartbeat if I could make a living writing.
If you have a website - Please tell us what we can expect of it - Will you update monthly, daily, yearly? Are there any excerpts for us to read? Contest? Writing tips? Interviews?
www.home.earthlink.net/~dragonria is my personal web page. I update it whenever I've got something new to add, which is not at any prescribed interval. I do have a page called My Excellent Yale Adventure, where I've posted photos and some commentary about my research trip to Yale for The Visconti Devils . I visited the Beinecke Library, where the hero works and where one of the real Visconti decks is kept, and I walked around the campus and the downtown area to familiarize myself with the places my characters would go. I tried to post some excerpts, but my computer locked up every time. But you can read excerpts from The Visconti Devils and Fiend Angelical at www.ragnellpress.com .
What advice would you give our readers about writing a romance book?
I'm the wrong person to give advice, because I don't play by the rules! But I would have to say, write what interests you. You can't put your heart into something that leaves you lukewarm - and who wants to read a lukewarm book? Also, the first person who has to fall in love with your hero is you. If you aren't head-over-heels for him, why should your heroine be - or your readers?
How much research do you do for each book?
It varies. Usually a lot, but Visconti really ate up my time. I'd be researching one thing and would find something that would lead me onto something else that would open up a whole new angle. It just sort of snowballed and, as a result, took me nearly two years to write. But it resulted in a story that was even better than what I had envisioned when I started out.
What else would you like to tell our readers?
Don't stop believing in yourself, and don't let anyone talk you out of your dream. For years, I sent out manuscript after manuscript and got rejection letter after rejection letter. But I didn't give up, because I knew God had given me a talent that was real and meant to be used. I've got three books out now, and every one of them has gotten great reviews. I've been nominated for an award. People I don't even know tell me how much they love my books. When you work long and hard for something, you'll really appreciate it when it happens. No one will ever be able to call me an "overnight success." It's been a long, hard road, and my ultimate goal is still a long way off. But the only thing to do is keep going.
Please tell us about your favorite characters. Please include information on the books they are in.
That's a tough one. I love all my characters. I have to, or I couldn't write about them convincingly. But I have to admit to having a soft spot for Michael LeClaire in The Visconti Devils . He's very intelligent, scholarly, artistic, and very romantic too. And I have an especial weakness for guys with long dark hair and brown eyes. I wish I could find him in real life!
Thanks again for letting me interview you - I'm looking forward to reading your next book.