Q&A on Urban Fantasy (Previously appeared on SFFWorld)

Q: Can you tell us a bit about Deadly Curiosities and what your fans can expect?

A: Deadly Curiosities takes place in historic, haunted Charleston. Welcome to Trifles & Folly, an antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670 – acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history. Together with her business partner Sorren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market.

When a trip to a haunted hotel unearths a statue steeped in malevolent power, and a string of murders draws a trail to an abandoned section of the old Navy yard, Cassidy and Sorren discover a diabolical plot to unleash a supernatural onslaught on their city.

It’s time for Kincaide and her team to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.

The novel will be out June 24 in bookstores everywhere and online. I also have a free novella, The Final Death, set in the Deadly Curiosities world that’s available free on Wattpad here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/15334006-the-final-death. And I write short stories in the Deadly Curiosities universe (including several time periods in the past) available on Kindle, Kobo and Nook, with more to come.

Q: Can you give us some insight into your main character, Cassidy?

A: Cassidy is still relatively new running Trifles and Folly. She had moved away from Charleston and then moved home when she inherited the store from an uncle she barely knew. Along with the store comes the need to develop her gift as a psychometric, someone who can read objects by touch. She also inherited the store’s silent partner, Sorren, who is a nearly six hundred year-old vampire and part of the Alliance, a secret group of mortals and immortals who work together to get dangerous magical items off the market and out of the wrong hands. So Cassidy has a lot on her plate!

I like beginning the series early in Cassidy’s work with the store so that readers can be part of her growth in her psychic abilities. She’s smart and she has a lot of courage, but she’s getting her training on the fly. It’s going to be fun watching as she moves into a role that someone in her family has held for over 350 years.

Q: Have you done a lot of research into the occult and Charleston’s history?

A: I’ve needed to do research into the occult for all of my books, and each series takes me in a different direction. For the Deadly Curiosities books and stories, I’m not only looking at ghost stories, I’m also looking into Voodoo and Hoodoo.

And of course, having a series set in a real city means a different kind of research than I did for my epic fantasy novels set in completely fictitious worlds of my own creation. Real people live in Charleston, and if I get the details wrong, they’ll let me know about it! On the other hand, I can take some creative license and add some things or change some things, so long as I give the heads up that it’s intentional!

Q: Have you ever struggled between what you would like to happen to a character and what you considered more sensible to occur? Can you tell us when and what did you do at last?

A: I don’t think I’ve ever really had to change a character’s complete fate, but I have had to contemplate just how they end up where they’re going, and what that final conclusion looks like. I can’t be more specific without giving spoilers, but there was one character in particular (in another series) who was going to be trouble, but where that took him was something I had to consider for a while. I think the ultimate conclusion made sense for that character and the story.

Working with characters in a series, you have to be willing to live with the consequences of whatever they do or whatever you do to them. So it does make you stop and think!

Q: Your writing spans many subgenres of the supernatural so to speak, which one do you enjoy the most to write?

A: I enjoy all of them, which is why I lobbied so hard to be able to write in more than one niche! What does remain consistent is the supernatural. It’s very different writing about magic and the supernatural in a medieval, epic fantasy setting compared to a modern urban setting compared to a Victorian steampunk setting. That’s part of the fun for a writer! It’s exciting and satisfying to be able to jump time periods and settings—keeps me from getting in a rut!

Q: What sort of challenges, as a writer, might you have faced before your first book was published? Any insights you would be able to share for those aspiring writers seeking advice?

A: Writing the first book took forever, and life got in the way a lot. It takes a while to learn the craft, and to get a book to the point where it really is ready to be published. It gets discouraging. You think you’ll never get there. You get rejection letters, and it really hurts. That’s why it’s so important to have a couple of trusted friends or family member who believe in you to encourage you. The big thing is, never give up. Keep writing, and eventually, you’ll break through.

Q: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

A: Covers are very important, even in today’s online bookseller age. People do judge a book by its cover, so you want the very best cover you can get. Readers also look for clues in a cover as to genre and type of book, to help them find books they’ll enjoy. That’s why different genres have the “cliché” art styles—it’s a shorthand message to readers to say “if you liked that book, you’ll like this book”. Until you get so famous that all they put on the cover is your name and the name of the book, your cover art is a major element in selling your book.

Q: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

A: Good reviews are wonderful! Too often, people who really like books don’t take the time to say so. If you want to help your favorite authors, post reviews on Amazon and other online bookseller sites, post them on Goodreads, post them on your blog. Good reviews, especially soon after a new book comes out, helps to encourage sales.

Bad reviews aren’t fun. No book is right for everyone. Even the biggest best-selling authors don’t make everyone happy.

There are a couple of different types of bad reviews. Some are trolls—grouchy people who enjoy saying nasty things to get a response. You’ll never be able to make them happy because they are looking for a fight, so you’ve got to ignore them, and report them if they’re abusive. Then there are the folks who are mad because you didn’t write the book the way they wanted it to go. They aren’t judging the book you wrote, they’re judging you against what they think they would have written if they were you. Again, hard to ever please these folks. Best advice would be for them to go write their own books! Then there are the people who confuse “I didn’t like this” with “It’s not good.” Here’s my sushi analogy: I’m personally not a big sushi fan, so even if a world-class chef prepared it, I probably wouldn’t be impressed. That’s my personal preference, not the fault of the chef. That sushi would probably be very, very good, but I still wouldn’t like it. Important distinction. And finally there are the people who may have valid feedback about something that was inaccurate, maybe taking exception to your unquestioned assumptions. They are worth listening to, even if you ultimately decide not to change anything, because they have a valid point.

Q: How do you define success as an author?

A: Having enough people who enjoy reading my books that I keep getting asked back to write more books!

Q: What is the hardest thing about writing?

A: Editing. After about the 20th time you read a manuscript, it’s really hard to focus!

Q: How do you market your book?

A: I try to be accessible. I spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Wattpad putting up content that I hope is fun and interesting. I want to engage with readers, editors, reviewers and other writers. I attend a lot of conventions as a professional and am on panels to discuss genre-related topics and meet readers. And I do book signings and blog tours to reach out to people who like my kind of book and hope that they’ll hear about me and give me a try.

Q: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

A: I’ve never been into hardcovers if I’m going to actually read them and not just put them on the shelf for display. Ebooks are very nice for traveling, especially on planes where there’s a weight/bag limit. And ebooks are nice when you’ve run out of bookshelves and can’t bear to part with any of the books you have! I can enjoy reading ebooks, but I also still enjoy a good paperback, especially at the beach—I don’t want to get sand on my e-reader!

Q: What kind of books do you read, any favorite authors?

A: I read epic and urban fantasy, steampunk, mystery, and non-fiction. I have so many favorite authors it’s hard to list them all! Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green, but I follow at least 30 or so series that I’m caught up on, so I’m always watching for the new one to come out! If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll see nearly all of the books I’ve read in the last couple of years (except for some ebooks and non-fiction, and old books that don’t scan in easily).

Q: What do you do when you’re not writing, any hobbies?

A: Well, I have a husband and three teen/adult kids plus two dogs, so there are chores! I like to travel, and my husband and I have also been doing a lot more cooking at home, trying to do restaurant-quality meals without needing to go out. That’s fun. I like to read, play with the dogs, go to movies. I also go to the gym, do yoga and just took up kickboxing. Nothing really exciting or unusual!

Q: What’s next, what are you working on now?

A: I’ll be co-authoring a new steampunk novel with my husband for Solaris Books, Iron and Blood. It comes out in 2015, so we’re working on that. I’m also working on the fourth book in the Ascendant Kingdoms/Blaine McFadden series, also for 2015, and the next Deadly Curiosities book. And we bring out a new short story every month on ebook in either the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures of the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Plus I’ve committed to about eight different anthologies! Always lots to do!


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