Well, this weekend I have an exciting interview with a favorite new writer of mine that I now consider a friend. She is a fantastic writer and I love her historical appeal mixed in to her paranormal scenery. I did a review of her first paranormal romance, Immortal Obsession, a few months back on this blog, which you can read by clicking on the book cover to the left. I am happy to have the opportunity to speak to her about herself, her book, and what is on the horizon for her.
At the end of the interview we will be giving away a free signed copy of Immortal Obsession, courtesy of Denise, so please stay tuned and read on!!
Erin: Welcome Denise!
Denise: Thank you again Erin for granting me this interview. I love doing them and I find that each one has a different feel to it.
Q: I think the idea for your book coming to you in the guise of a mysterious stranger is very interesting. Can you explain that encounter? Have you ever run into him again?
Immortal Obsession was inspired by an otherworldly experience I had in a New York City diner one night six years ago, when my path crossed with that of a beautiful, unusual stranger who sat down at a table behind my husband and I. Even by New York standards he was unusual. He was very tall, with waist-length blond hair and dressed entirely in black. When I turned around he said hello and as I fell into his dark eyes he felt very familiar to me.
That weekend I began writing Immortal Obsession and when my husband and I talked about our experience with this mysterious stranger, I realized we saw two very different people that night. The experience was unnerving, yet exciting. This stranger was the inspiration for my main character, the vampire Christian Du Mauré.
I have had a few other encounters with him, though we have never spoken, except when he said hello to me the first time and I said hi back. I am not sure why, but I feel uncomfortable approaching him. I do try to connect with him through the practice of meditation.
Q: Do you think you might have known him “in another life?” Wouldn’t that be something!
I must preface my answer by explaining that I have always believed in reincarnation, past lives and soul connections.
I learned that the man I saw in the diner is someone I have known from a past life. I also have learned that there are many more life times we have shared together and that he continually guides me from the other side as his role in my writing and my life continues to unfold. He is my muse.
Q: I know you write paranormal romance as your genre. But how do you think you differ from others in this genre? Why do you think this genre seems to be on the rise?
To answer the first question, I feel that my novel tells Christian Du Mauré’s story, which parallels my experiences with this spirit guide from a past life.
In April of 2006, I took a writing workshop with Canadian horror writer Nancy Kilpatrick. One of my assignments was to explain why I thought vampires were more popular now, than ever before. I spoke about the events of September 11, 2001 and their impact on our nation. From a high point near my home I could see the thick plumes of dark smoke from the burning towers and the sad truth is that death, destruction and the inability to control these events in our lives is very real. I attribute the increase in novels in the paranormal genre as a direct correlation to the unsettling nature of the world in which we all find ourselves. Perhaps creating tales about the vampire is our subconscious coming to terms with the great unknowable and uncontrollable mystery of death as we try to embrace and to control this mysterious power.
Q: Did you dream of vampires as a child? Kidding!! What were your interests as a child?
Actually, I dreamt a lot about aliens invading the earth! Strange I know. As a child I was an avid reader with a passion for art, history, ballet, archaeology and the natural world. My mother enrolled me in ballet class at seven years old and I remember loving it but hating the recitals. I have never liked competition. I would come home, toss off my ballet slippers and play in my front yard for hours, digging holes in my yard and burying coins or little plastic toys (I have 4 brothers and there were always toys around). I tried to imagine what future civilizations would think about us when they uncovered these objects. I also have always had an interest in astrology, ghosts; anything metaphysical.
Q: What are your interests now and what do you think has spurred them? or developed them?
I have the same interests! I took my love of archaeology and got my undergraduate degree in Anthropology, with my focus on Cultural Anthropology. I spent two summers doing fieldwork on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to satisfy my love and compassion for the American Indian. I took my love of art, history and museums and got my Masters’ Degree in Museum studies. I still take ballet classes when I can and I am a voracious reader. I started writing poems, plays and short stories in junior high school and to this day I keep a diary. I have always wanted to write novels and my horoscope is the first thing I read in any newspaper!
Q: On to the book now, what do you want to tell your readers about your book (I’ve already told them what I think, I love it!)……
Than k you Erin! Even though the story is set in present day Manhattan, there are themes in Christian’s life that parallel his experiences as a young vampire in eighteenth century Paris. He loves, regrets, second guesses himself and despairs, just like the rest of us.
The theme of unrequited and forbidden love comes through in my novel as my characters struggle with their choices as well as their losses. I think we all have regrets. Love is an emotion that can sustain us as well as cause us great pain. Vampire Christian Du Mauré falls instantly in love with a young mortal woman, Josette Delacore. At the risk of giving too much away, they embark on a love affair that not only changes both of their lives forever, but causes them both much heartache.
Another discovery I have always believed, but now know to be true, is that love never dies. It moves with us through time which ties into my beliefs of reincarnation and meeting souls in our present lives that we knew in a past life.
Q: I hear you have plans for subsequent books about the Christian and Michel characters. What can we all do to help you along so you get them done faster? Kidding! In honesty, what do you want to tell us about your future?
I am currently working on the next two novels in this series, which is titled The Enchanted Bloodline Series. I am hoping to have at least one of them completed by the fall of 2012.
Q: As writers we all have different times of day and different influences that encourage or hinder our writing. I know you are a morning person, while I am a night person and can’t take my head out of covers in the morning. Sometimes I get to busy to find time to write. That said, when do you write the best? What encourages you? How to time manage and what advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I love writing and though it is not something I do every day I can honestly say I am always thinking about the story I am trying to tell. Since I am back to working full-time, writing becomes another part of the balancing act which is my life. Sitting down to write isn’t just about finding the time. It’s the mindset. I am a morning person and actually I am writing this at 5:51 am before I head out to work.
Advice for aspiring writers? Believe in yourself and the story you need to tell. Understand that writing is a process. Write as the story comes to you, even if it is not in sequence. If your muse calls to you, answer!
Q: When an idea comes to a writer, sometimes it isn’t always in a convenient place, right? (I seem to find myself in the shower…) How do you organize your thoughts? What advice do you have for others who have a hard time organizing their plots, characters, and ideas?
I bought a wonderful calendar that has a section for Notes and Lists. I use it a lot. I also have a binder which contains portraits and character traits for all of the main characters in Immortal Obsession. I also keep a note pad by my computer as I am always jotting down something.
I have an accordion file which holds my current manuscript plus any articles I need as a part of my research. I try to keep everything in one place. I have genealogy charts and timelines for the characters as well, especially since most of my vampires were born in the eighteenth century. Anything to keep me organized and on track with the events in their lives.
Q: What authors do you relate to as a person? Then, as a writer?
This was my favorite question yet probably the hardest to answer. One of my favorite authors is Anne Rice. Reading Interview with the Vampire in 1976 changed how I viewed the vampire. She has had an influence not only on my love of the paranormal novel but on my writing style as well. She is approachable, intelligent and I have the utmost respect for her as a person and a writer.
I also love John Connelly, the Irish author who writes what I feel are incredibly dark yet brilliant thrillers. His detective Charlie Parker is one of my favorite characters and I so look forward to his novels. I believe that an authors’ work should speak for itself. I truly admire writers like Harper Lee or Suzanne Collins who seem to live by this principal.
Q: What do you have to say about self-publishing? What are the pros and cons of that for you?
I found the entire experience of self-publishing to be rewarding and a learning experience for me. I chose Createspace and I have found them to be professional, supportive and always there to answer my questions. Self-publishing gives the author total control over their work product, from the font type to the cover art. The entire production is in your control. As an author who has worked hard over the past few years to bring my novel to life, I find this rewarding.
On the other end of the spectrum, being in total control means just that. Web design, marketing, publicity all fall on my shoulders. I was fortunate enough to find a design/marketing team out of San Diego California who not only designed my website but also have been instrumental with marketing advice, printed materials and assisting me in all ways.
(Erin: Sorry for the plug here on my blog during your interview, but I just want to note how important this can be and a well-worth-it investment. Tim and I own a PR business in which we copy write, edit, proofread, consult and we love to help writers. We are a small agency and work from home, from a small rural town and always enjoy talking to new authors and writers. We have over 25 years combined experience in our field. Our website is www.addisonscompass.com)
Q: How has the dawn of e-books changed the reading world? How about an author’s world?
It’s much more convenient to download books and generally, they are less expensive. I still like holding a book in my hands. I am always reading and I have such a hard time parting with a book so my house looks like a library! E-readers allow for the storage of thousands of books and if I had a career where I travelled or commuted then having an e-reader makes so much sense. I am glad my book is available as an e-book which again, gives readers the option to download it rather than buy the paperback.
As e-books become more popular we are losing book stores and personally, browsing a book shop is one of my favorite activities. There needs to be a balance and I believe there is room for both.
Q: Lessons learned, what would you tell first-time authors?
Hire a professional editor and copy editor to read your manuscript and pay them. I was fortunate enough to have a very experienced editor; publisher and writer read my draft of Immortal Obsession. He then wrote me a very detailed letter highlighting what he liked but also how I might make my story better. I took his advice on most things and then hired a copy editor to read it line by line and also make suggestions.
Writing may be a solitary process but please, hire competent professionals whenever possible. Connect with other writers whether on the internet or if you are lucky enough to meet and talk face to face, do so. Build a platform. Visit website and blogs that you enjoy and let them know it. Map out your publishing goals yet be realistic, patient and flexible.
Q: Where can other authors or interested readers contact you?
My website link is www.denisekrago.com. Please visit me there as I have several portraits of some of the characters as well as reviews, interviews and guests posts. Readers can get a clearer sense of who I am and what the buzz is about my novel. I can also be reached on Facebook and Goodreads as I have pages on both sites.
Q: Where can everyone find Immortal Obsession?
Again, visit my website at www.denisekrago.com
There is a buy button with a drop down menu to select from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, Indie Books and Smashwords. My novel is also available as an e-book too. If you happen to live in New Jersey near the historic town of Clinton, there is a wonderful book store there which carries a few signed copies of Immortal Obsession.
I can’t finish this interview without mentioning the importance of supporting local book stores and the role they play in our communities. There is room for the massive corporate chain, e-books and local book shops. Please utilize them so they remain with us.
(Erin: I so agree, Denise. Our home too looks like a small library. We love our bookshelves. I love looking at the covers, touching the pages, imagining the blood, sweat, tears, and joy that the writer poured into the book. I haven’t gotten into e-readers at all yet, though it does seem like something that can be used alongside private book collections and library use. I can’t state enough the important of library funding, and the utilization of libraries, as well as the small town bookstores that let you browse on a balmy, or snowy, Sunday afternoon. If that ever dies, a small part of me will too.)
An avid reader with a lifelong passion for vampires, history, and art, Rago’s work deftly mixes elements of Gothic art, historical fiction, and the storied literary legacy of the undead. And it all takes place against the backdrop of the world’s most unforgettable cities: a ravished, Revolution-era Paris and modern-day Manhattan. Denise K. Rago was born and raised in New Jersey, where she resides with her family.
Erin: I so appreciate your spending this time with us Denise and I have enjoyed getting to know you. You are a fabulous woman of varied intertests much like my own. I hope for future communication and we’ll look forward to your next book!
Immortal Obsession GIVEAWAY
Author Denise Rago is giving away a COMPLIMENTARY copy of her paperback book Immortal Obsession to one lucky reader! All you have to do is comment on my blog with what you liked best about the interview, comment it on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/almehairierin) and include my blog link www.hookofabook.wordpress.com, or comment it to me on Twitter with a mention @ErinAlMehairi. In one week, a winner from all commenters will be chosen and it could be YOU. YOU don’t want to miss the opportunity to receive this book in the mail. It is phenomenal!