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Love

Dianna Love is the New York Times best-selling author of the Slye Temp novels, the Belador series and the Bad Agency series with Sherrilyn Kenyon as well as several other novels and series. I discovered her by accident a few years back, and it was one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made. I’ve been a huge fan of her work from the first sentence of hers that I read.

I was overjoyed when she agreed to do an interview for me, but when she sent me signed copies of several of her books, and said she wanted to do a giveaway on my blog, I was ecstatic. Dianna is one of the kindest, most open and giving person I’ve met in a long time, and her assistant, Cassondra Murray, whom I’ve also become acquainted with, is just as great.

For today, Dianna will be around to interact with her readers, answer questions, and let them get to know her a little. Just leave a comment. Also, those who leave comments today (February 14th, 2013) will be put into a drawing and three people will win one of three possible prizes. Dianna will give away a copy of LAST CHANCE TO RUN, JUSTIFIABLE, and  TIME TRAP (one book to each of three winners who comment.) She will also include a Keeper Kase with each one.

Before we get to the interview, here is a synopsis of each of the novels she will be giving away.

TIME TRAP:

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Her memory is blank.  Her future’s in question.  Her power is dangerous.

Waking up in an unknown world, Rayen learns only that she’s seventeen and is hunted by a sentient beast.  Terrified that she may never learn  who she really is or find her way back to her home, she’s captured in a  land that is at times familiar even if the people and the structures  seem alien.  When local law enforcement delivers her to a private  school, she’s labeled as a Native American runaway, and Rayen discovers a secret with deadly repercussions.  Forced into an unlikely alliance  with a computer savvy street punk and a gifted oddball girl to save  their world – and the future – Rayen finds the key to an identity that  no person would want.

JUSTIFIABLE:

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Children are missing, adults are  being murdered and a city is on the brink of exploding.  The key to  saving lives is a secret whispered in confession.

Once a beloved, award-winning investigative journalist, Riley Walker  now anchors for a television station rated the worst in Philadelphia.  That’s how it works when a top newsman makes an epic mistake in front of the whole world. The busier Riley stays, the less he thinks about the  one decision that will haunt him forever.  His vow?  Never get involved again.  That works until a killer uses Riley’s past against him, and targets a  child the world has forgotten. Riley is the only one who can save him,  but when Riley digs deep for the truth, he uncovers evidence fingering a powerful player no one will believe is guilty. Dangerous politics pit  Riley against a serial killer, and threaten all he’s fought to regain

To save the life of a child and stop a killer on a savage murder  spree, Riley must fight an enemy far greater than the tide of public  anger rolling against him. He’ll have to face his own demons, and the  horror of the child who died because the last time…Riley was wrong.

and LAST CHANCE TO RUN:

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To an undercover agent, she’s a Person of Interest. He’s interested.

Escaping the compound of a deadly international felon–with a fortune in rare, stolen coins hidden on her body–elite athlete Angel Farentino has to make the most important run of her life. Literally. With her father in prison, where he belongs, and a prior undeserved conviction hanging over her head, she has nowhere to turn and no one to trust. Definitely not law enforcement who railroaded her through a judicial nightmare. One step ahead of lethal men and dogs on her trail, she runs into the arms of a dark stranger willing to help her if she’d let him. But that would only get the sexy pilot killed. Between figuring out who’s sabotaging his undercover work for the DEA and trying to save his baby sister from herself, Zane Jackson has enough on his plate. The last thing he needs is to get entangled with a woman who’s treading on the wrong side of the law. But when the long-legged distraction races into the middle of his operation and stows away on his plane, a primal need to protect forces Zane to risk everything, starting with his heart.
Just leave a comment and be eligible to win!
And now, for Dianna’s interview. Thank you, Dianna, for the wonderful interview, and thank you, Cassondra, for your kindness and hard work.
Dianna Love Blogs with Jared Anderson Feb 14th 2013
Q: I’ve read that you never intended to be a published author, that one day you just wrote down a story that had been playing in your mind. What made you decide to write this story down?
*** I spent many years working alone way up in the air painting large murals.  I never liked listening to the radio (before Sirius FM) so I’d make up stories in my head to keep myself entertained during work days that lasted twelve to fifteen hours.  Then I stopped climbing so much and thought I’d write down the one that had been coming back to me over and over.

 Q: What was the story about?

*** It was about a woman on the run who was carrying a fortune in rare coins that someone else stole.  She has to stay away from the law until she can prove she’s innocent, but she stows away on the charter airplane of a man working undercover for law enforcement.  The story was published as a short romantic suspense, but  I’ve recently gotten back the rights to that book, rewritten it as a romantic thriller and put it out under a new title..but more about that later.

Q: What was your journey to publication like?

**** I was fortunate in that I sold the first book I wrote, but anyone who’s been in this business for any length of time knows that’s not ever “all the story.” Right after I sold, my first senior editor was moved out of that position and the new one who came in was entirely different to work with and we never could make a connection.  I eventually realized I was writing books that were too big for what that house published, so I switched gears and went in another direction toward romantic thrillers.  At that same time, I was also working on an urban fantasy series that I kept pitching, but was constantly  told was too unusual.   Fast forward six years and the urban fantasy genre had done some growing.  The Belador series sold at that point.  Regardless of what genre I’m writing at any particular moment, there is always a suspense/thriller element.

Q: Can you describe your usual writing process?

*** There are plotters and pantsers (seat-of-the-pants writers), but I call myself a hybrid.  I’m always telling writers to find “their own  process” and go with it.  All that matters, in my opinion, is producing a great story.  I’m a type-A person, so I prefer to plot out complex threads.  I generally start with brainstorming an idea then I write a couple chapters to get a feel for the characters, and then I start plotting.  If know I won’t write myself into a corner, that allows me the freedom to be as creative as I want when I’m laying down pages.

Q: How do you know when an idea is a good one?

*** I’ve never been asked that and love this question!   When I hit on an idea for several major surprises in a story, or something that will make a story very different, I get really pumped.  That’s the moment that I can’t wait to begin telling the new story.  I have to be entertained first if I’m going to write it. If it becomes slow or dull anywhere I stop and back up to where I was last excited about it, figure out where something isn’t working, fix it and move ahead.  I’m like a kid who is not easily entertained, which I think is a good thing because if I can write something that holds me, then I feel good about it holding the ultimate audience–the readers.

Q: Have you ever written a book that you were dissatisfied with, and why were you dissatisfied?

***When I was first writing I tried my hand at writing a character who was a beta male and found out quickly that I sucked at that, so I tossed that book.  I enjoy the high action of black ops type characters and thrive on putting characters into difficult physical and emotional situations, then figuring out how to get them out of the jams I’ve thrown them into.

Q: Have you ever read a book you wished you’d written, if so, what book, and why?

***I’ve read a lot of books that I’ve admired, but haven’t wished I’d written them so much as wished I’d thought of the clever idea that inspired the story.  Like the plots that Tom Clancy and James Rollins have written or the plot for The Sixth Sense or the Bourne series…or that last A-Team movie.

Q: Aside from writing, you enjoy fishing and riding motorcycles. These are very different activities. What is it about each of them that turns your crank?

***I was obviously a tomboy growing up.  I fished from the time I could hold anything in my hands and rode motocross bikes in my teens.  I still love to fish, especially light tackle, because it’s quiet and exciting at the same time.  With saltwater fishing, you never know what might bite.  I’m riding a BMW motorcycle these days and screaming along the highway is almost like flying on the ground.  I forget about everything when I fish and ride my bike. Those are two great ways to give my brain some down time, even though I do plot stories while I ride.  Then there’s writing, which is something I practically breathe.  I need to be creative and I love puzzles, which is what a complex thriller is to me.  I must have a challenge at all times.  It’s just part of my makeup.  Writing is one of the most difficult and wonderful challenges I’ve ever come across and hope to be doing it until my last day on earth.

Q: Which of your characters do you feel is the most dynamic and life-like?

*** Right now, I would say Evalle Kincaid, who is the key player in the Belador urban fantasy series.  She is so flawed and so loyal and so determined that it’s easy to cheer for her.  She fights for everything she gets and is shunned by many, yet she’s got a heart of gold and makes the hard choices even when she’s the one with the most to lose.

Q: If you could meet one of your own characters in the flesh, who would you choose to meet and what would you say to him or her?

***I would like to meet Angelina Farentino and thank her for inspiring me to become an author. She is the female protagonist in my first suspense story—the one I mentioned earlier.  I first wrote the story as a full-length romantic suspense, but cut the book down to a shorter novel to fit the publisher’s criteria.  I got the rights back last year, and I’ve just revised the story back to a larger, high-concept romantic thriller.  The new book is LAST CHANCE TO RUN, and was released in December as the prequel to my new Slye Temp romantic thriller series.  Angel and I have come a long way together.

Q: Have you ever based a character off someone you didn’t like and done bad things to them?

***No. I like creating really deadly villains and having the freedom to make them pay without feeling any hesitation or remorse.

Q: What is it like being a New York Times bestselling author?

*** I feel very fortunate to have books on the NYT and USA Today bestseller lists.  I’m humbled and thrilled to have reached this point in my career, and thank every person who has ever read one of my books.  I spend a lot of time on the road talking to readers and writers in an effort to give back for what so many have given to me.

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Q: You have collaborated with Sherrilyn Kenyon on several works. What do you most love about working with her?

***Laughing.  We met when my first book was out and we started touring together for her books over the next year.  It was during one of those trips when we’d just returned at two in the morning from a signing that we were talking to wind down and the subject of the BAD Agency series came up. I started brainstorming an idea for the series, because I love to brainstorm.  Sherrilyn liked it and suggested we co-write.  My answer?  Well, my mama drowned the dumb kids. 🙂

Q: What is the best thing about collaborating with another author?

***Those moments of discovery where someone comes up with a great element that you didn’t think of or the other person has a suggestion that takes the story in a direction that really jacks up the tension.

Q: What is the most challenging thing about collaborating with another author?

***I’ve spoken to a lot of writers and tell them to be careful about collaborating just because they are “good friends.”  If anything, that’s dangerous to the friendship.  The one thing I said to Sherri was that our friendship meant more to me than a contract and she agreed.  If the first book had created problems for us, there would not have been a second, but we’ve just released number six.  So the most challenging things are being secure enough to allow each other to edit at will, and trusting each other to do the right thing by the book.  When we started, we made a deal on one important thing – no sacred cows.  It didn’t matter who wrote which words – everything was up for revising or editing.

Q: What advice would you give to two writers who were contemplating a collaborative novel?

***I sort of answered that in the previous question, but I would add that it’s important to get documentation in place for the terms of the collaboration and what would happen if one of the two dies.  Make sure to go to literary or entertainment attorneys familiar with the business.

Q: What do you consider the highlight of your career as a novelist?

***Hitting the New York Times over and over again never gets old, but the first time I was asked to be the keynote for a large reader event was quite amazing.  I’ve given other keynotes since then, but it’s that first one when you’re so flattered to be asked and amazed when you walk in to a packed room.

Q: Which part of the writing process is hardest for you?

***I love to brainstorm and work out the puzzles of each plot, and I enjoy writing the scenes.  I write pretty clean so revising isn’t usually that big of a deal.  All that said, I get so caught up in the action and emotion in the first draft that it’s not until the second run through, or the polish, that I focus more closely on the physical descriptions and setting.  I know what they look like and I can see every detail as though it was a movie running through my head, but I have to work at remembering to include those things.

Q: What are you working on now?

*** I’m writing on my new Slye Temp series.   A blown CIA operation in the UK destroyed an elite mercenary black ops unit two years ago. Surviving members disappeared to heal their wounds, and have now resurfaced as part of Slye Temp, an agency contracting security work with corporate America.  At least, that’s what goes on above ground.  LAST CHANCE TO RUN was the prequel, and the other three books will be released this year.  NOWHERE SAFE  will be out this month—February 25th.

I’m very excited about a new venture into Young Adult fiction written for ages 14+.  I just released TIME TRAP, book one in the Red Moon series, under the pseudonym Micah Caida (co-authored with Mary Buckham).  It’s an epic sci-fi/fantasy adventure that will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games.  Early readers from age 12 to age 50, both male and female, have said “it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before.”

I also just released my first mainstream thriller, which was a collaboration with former NBC anchor Wes Sarginson.  JUSTIFIABLE is Book One of the Riley Walker novels, which blend Wes’s experience in investigative journalism, and Dianna’s experience writing thrillers.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the readers out there!  I hope every one of you finds your perfect hero or heroine.

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The writing life, for the most part, is not glamorous, but every so often, something really fantastic happens, and it reminds me of the reasons I wanted to do this. I’ve made a commitment to chronicle these things as a way of keeping myself from taking it for granted. I call these my “Rockstar Moments” because they make me feel like a rockstar! My most recent Rockstar moment came a few days ago.

Recently, I’ve been assisting my friend and fellow horror author, Tamara Thorne, in proof-reading some of her earlier books which are currently being converted into eBook format. Tamara does all the hard stuff – I just double check for typos that the scanning sometimes produces. I’ve been a Tamara Thorne fan since the ’90s, so really, it’s just an excuse for me to read really good books. Anyway, the latest Tamara Thorne book that’s been successfully converted into eBook format is Eternity.

Until I started proofing it, I’d never read Eternity, so this one was especially fun. I’ve read (and in several cases re-read) Bad Things, Haunted, Moonfall, and The Sorority Series (Eve, Merilynn, and Samantha) but there were still a few out there that I hadn’t had the chance to get.

I plowed through Eternity, trying very hard not to demand the chapters from Tamara faster than she could restore and send them. Whereas most great stories have their climactic end, Eternity felt to me like one big, wonderfully on-going peak that just kept getting higher and higher. Seriously. This book has it all: serial killers, famous missing persons, horror, shrewd humor, murder mystery, a dash of sci-fi, and even a bit of romance. What’s not to love?

So the fact that I genuinely love this book only makes my recent Rockstar Moment that much sweeter. After the conversions were finished, Tamara sent me the file to look over, and this is what I saw:

This is probably one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me. I couldn’t be more honored.

Thank you, Tamara, for your very kind gesture. Words fail.

Eternity is now available in eBook at: http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-ebook/dp/B00AA3WWW6/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353445662&sr=1-7&keywords=Eternity. It will be re-released in paperback next year.

Also, be sure to check out Tamara’s Little Blog of Horrors at: http://tamarathorne.wordpress.com/


Hello, and happy Halloween!

Today was the last day to participate in the “Name That Serial Killer” contest that my co-author, Mimi A. Williams and I hosted for a chance to win a signed copy of Beautiful Monster. I’m thrilled by the amount of people who participated and surprised by how well everyone did! There is a definite winner which we will announce on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/beautifuldamnation?ref=hl) within the next few days, but with so many people doing such a great job, we’ve decided to give out some books to the runners-up as well. Thank you to everyone who participated. You guys rock.

The proof copy of my dear friend Patricia Scanlan’s upcoming novel, With All My Love, arrived in the mail last weekend. Patricia mailed me the book several months before its official release as a token of appreciation, and I couldn’t be more flattered or more honored by the gesture. I haven’t had a chance to get into it yet, but I’m stoked about being the first person in the United States to read it, so I can’t put it off much longer! With All My Love will be released on Mother’s Day (March in Ireland, May in the U.S.) and along with it, I’ll be posting an interview I did with her several months back. As soon as I get the go-ahead, I’ll also post some pictures of the book.

The past weeks have been busy with critiquing, reviewing, and proof reading that I’ve been doing for a few of my writer friends, and I’m making good headway on the project formerly known as The White Room. I finished chapter ten last week and am still hopeful I can have it finished by (or shortly after) the end of 2012. I’d hoped the re-writes wouldn’t be too heavy, but in truth, I’m re-writing the entire book, so it’s going to be a few more months before it’s ready to be submitted.

The good news is, I’m finding ways of being more efficient. I’ve learned that if I do my writing in the mornings, the critiquing and proofing for other folks in the evenings, and spend a few hours working on Saturday, I can take Sundays off…which is becoming more important to me as I get busier and busier. Also, I have officially employed a research assistant who is currently investigating blood types and vampire lore…and taking a lot off my shoulders!

Busy as it’s been, I love it. This is what I’ve always wanted, and I’m happy to say that all the hard work of writing (and it is hard work!) is well worth it.

I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween. I plan to hole up in bed with The Haunting of Hill House!  

On a final Halloween-related note, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune in California did an interview with my good friend Tamara Thorne. It’s always interesting to get a look at the minds behind the stories. Check out Tamara’s interview at: http://www.sgvtribune.com/living/ci_21877136/celebrated-horror-novelist-tamara-thorne-finds-inspiration-close


When I contacted Patricia Scanlan a few moths ago, inviting her to do an interview on my blog, I didn’t necessarily expect a response. Authors are very busy people, especially number one bestselling authors like her! As it turned out, Patricia not only agreed to do an interview, but she turned out to be one of coolest authors I’ve met. We’ve kept in touch via e-mail for several months now, and every time I get an e-mail from her, I get a little giddy.

My wife and I discovered the books of Patricia Scanlan several years ago. After finishing Francesca’s Party, my wife told me I absolutely had to read it. I am a lover of all genres, but I tend to lean more toward thriller/suspense, and even horror. Still, I figured if it was that good, I better give it a shot.

I couldn’t put it down. After finishing it, I immediately went and purchased several more of her books and devoured them just as quickly. We recommended these books to everyone we knew, and my sister-in-law soon became a big fan as well.

After talking more about it, Patricia and I decided to hold off on posting her interview until the release of her upcoming novel, With All My Love, which is on or around Mother’s Day. In Ireland, where Patricia lives, Mother’s Day falls in March. Here in the U.S., it’s in May…so either way, it will be several months before I post the interview.

The thing I’m most excited about, however, the real “Rockstar Moment” is that after she and I got to know each other better, she asked me how I would like to be the first person in the United States to read With All My Love. She told me she had talked to her agent and they decided they’d like to send me a proof copy of the novel before its actual release. I was stoked! I eagerly gave her the information she needed so she could send it to me.

Patricia sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago, letting me know it would soon be on its way. This is, by far, one of the most incredible things to happen to me since I’ve begun meeting authors and traveling the writing circle. To receive a proof copy of one of your favorite author’s novels is an honor of the highest kind and I’m thrilled to be the recipient of such an awesome gesture.

It’s things like these that have inspired me to write these blogs, which I have dubbed “Rockstar Moments,” because that’s what it makes me feel like. Since beginning this journey, I’ve repeatedly been struck by the kindness and sense of camaraderie from the other writers I’ve met, and to have Patricia Scanlan among my friends is inexplicable. It’s just plain…rad.

I recommend all of Patricia’s books to anyone who loves a good story. Her novels have  a way of touching the human heart, moving the spirit, and making the readers feel at home in a way few authors are able to do. She’s written dozens of novels, and all of them have been number one best sellers. Her novel, With All My Love will be available Mother’s Day, 2013.

In closing, thank you Patricia Scanlan, for your great books, your wonderful gesture, and your friendship. I can’t wait to read With All My Love!


Of the many totally awesome benefits to getting your book published, probably nothing is as cool as getting letters from your readers, and in the short time since Beautiful Monster has been published, I’ve discovered there are three basic types of mail that readers will send an author: fan mail, hate mail, and just plain-strange-mail.

Each of these types of mail are important to the author who is interested in knowing his or her audience and/or learning more about his or her own strengths and weaknesses as a writer. It’s always great to get mail from readers, however, you have to be careful not to get too caught up in anyone’s take on your work. There’s something to be said about writing for one’s self.

I believe that anyone who writes a novel and gives it to the world has already got nerves of steel. Putting your work out there leaves you vulnerable, it makes you raw, and it is absolutely terrifying…but when you start getting feedback from readers, the good, the bad, and the ugly, that’s when things get real interesting. That being said, here are the types of mail you can expect to receive from your readers once your manuscript is published…based on my experience…

The first and best kind of mail is, of course, fan mail. This is the stuff that reminds you of why you wanted to do this in the first place. The writer’s of fan mail are always very excited about your characters and the world you’ve created. Many of these guys even share insights into your story and your characters that make you see your novel from an entirely new perspective. The writer’s of fan mail are your most important readers. These guys like you. They support you and they want more from you. Be very nice to these folks.

Another form of mail you’re likely to receive is the kind no one likes to get: hate mail. Before assuming that this kind of mail is limited only to writers of sex, violence and sensitive social subjects, be warned that receiving hate mail is almost inevitable. I know writers of the most delightfully sweet children’s books who have received their fair share. Realize that in a time when people are looking for reasons to be offended, there are no safe books to be written. The writer’s of hate mail like to tell you that you have no business writing. Sometimes, it’s your writing style that has set their vicious pens a-scribble. Other times, it’s the content. Too much sex, too much violence…not enough sex, not enough violence…these are all just a few of the triggers that get hate mailers in a dither of wrath. It’s best not to respond at all to these guys as any correspondence from you is only likely perpetuate the hate and increase the chances of them telling their friends and families what a prick you are…on top of being a lousy writer. That being said, don’t forget that even the hate mailers are important, though. As Oscar Wilde said, “there is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.”

Finally, of the three kinds of mail, the just-plain-strange mail is far and beyond the most interesting. These folks like to confess deep things to you. I suppose they figure that (if you’re a horror writer) you somehow understand their darkest, secret fancies. (These folks also tend to get the idea that your characters are real people with whom they would get along famously with, but that is neither here nor there.) There is not, in most cases, anything wrong with getting these kinds of letters. These guys are reading your books, and that makes them cool as hell. That being said, there have, however, been a few letters that have given me pause, and I would caution readers against revealing too much to a stranger, even one who seems to let his freak flag fly. There are just some things that need to be kept under the toupee.

And that is, as far as I can tell, the three types of letters that readers like to send to authors. As I said, all letters from readers are important, and the fact that I’m getting any letters at all is wonderful. I am still in the beginning of all this, but for what it’s worth, this is what I’m learning: don’t let the fan mail go to your head, don’t let the hate mail go to your heart, and… well, as for the just-plain-strange mail, I’m still not sure what to do with that…


After putting my first manuscript, The White Room, in a dark corner and leaving it there for the past half a year or so, I have reluctantly unearthed it with serious intentions to re-vamp. As I’m looking it over, I realize how much work it needs before I’m willing to let my publisher come within five feet of it.  For the most part these re-writes should be somewhat simple, easy fixes, but there are a few things that I am really having a hard time with. The thing troubling me most right now is the prologue. The reason it’s so problematic is that I’ve chosen to write it in third person. I’ve made this decision because I feel I need to introduce the concept of the story before beginning the adventures of my protagonist…and he can’t be present in the scene.

I don’t know when, or even if, I ever made the conscious decision to write in the first person, but that’s what I’ve always done. We live our lives first person, so I guess writing from that same perspective just made sense to me. Regarding the books I read, I have no especial preference as to which method is used. If it’s a good story, it’s a good story and I don’t really care who’s telling it, but I didn’t think that in my own writing, shifting my person was going to be this difficult. It has taken me seven days to write six very mediocre pages.

The first problem I’m having is an inability to find my voice. When I write from a protagonist’s point of view, I am becoming the character. I know how he sees the world and how he responds to it. I know the things that fascinate him, and the things that he wouldn’t give a second thought to; I simply get into his state of mind and let him tell his story…but in third person, who am I? This may sound ridiculous, but I’m serious. Who is narrating this story? It can’t really be me, can it?

Another issue is that I don’t know what details in the setting to focus on. This probably ties into not being able to find my voice. Since I don’t know who is telling the story, I’m not sure what to point out to the reader. The answer is obvious: point out what’s important…but my question to that is: important to who? Bob the gardener might care that the fern needs watering, but chances are slim that Rhoda the gold-hearted hooker is interested in ferns…which brings me to my next third person pitfall: point of view.

If I write third person limited, whose eyes do I decide to see the world through, and how can I show the readers anything that this character doesn’t see him or herself? If I write third person objective, I will convey my story with all the emotional zest of a tape recording, and finally, if I write third person omniscient, won’t I be head-hopping? Isn’t head-hopping a big no-no?

Writing this prologue has taught me that I need to expand my abilities. I don’t like being this confused and unsure of myself. I plan to get some books on point of view, as well as talk to some other writers I know who write in different styles than myself. I’m eager to get on with the rest of the story, which is written in the first person, but I don’t intend to simply avoid writing in third person just because I don’t have a firm grasp on it. I’ve been working at it, and am coming to more deeply appreciate all the different styles that are available to writers. As frustrating as it’s been, I guess sometimes you just need to learn to see things from a different point of view…


I discovered the books of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro just a few months ago, and have become a great fan of her work. I became acquainted with her through a friend of mine, and I was eager to get an interview with her. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is a kind, fascinating, and very talented writer. She’s been writing for 44 years, and has penned everything from science fiction, to horror, to westerns, to non-fiction. She is presently the author of 87 published novels, and I am honored to have her. I’ve been reading her Saint-Germaine vampire series, and I strongly recommend it to anyone. However, I’ve found one negative side effect to reading the books of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: she serves as a great reminder to me of how far I have to go to get as good as she is.

Visit Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at: http://www.chelseaquinnyarbro.net/

Q: You have written so many historical novels. How and why do you choose to write about the eras you do?

A:  In the case of the Saint-Germain novels, I originally set the stories — with the exception of Tempting Fate, which takes place after the historical man was dead — in places the real man had claimed to have been, and expanded from there.  Over the years I’ve developed a chronology for Saint-Germain, Roger, Olivia, Niklos, and Madelaine as well as some notes on what happens to others from his colorful past:  Rowena Saxon in Writ in Blood shows up again in Midnight Harvest, for example. In the case of other historical novels, which includes my two westerns, I chose times that interested me for their ripple effect on their time, or events that so appalled me that I  wanted to explore how they happened.

Q: Which are your favorite historical time eras and why?

A:  This one, because it’s where I live.

Q: You’ve been quoted as saying, “History is horror.” Can you elaborate on that?

A:  Not all history is horrifying, but a lot of it is. I call the Saint-Germain Cycle historical horror novels (and have from the first, meaning from Hotel Transylvania on; the sentimentalized “novel of forbidden love” was the publisher’s idea, which is why I cross it out in every copy I sign) because what people do to people tends to be more barbaric than anything a vampire could do.  Go ahead: compare, say, Stalin with one vampire, or a dozen of them.  Who is the more inhumane?

Q: Of the novels you’ve written, which ones were the most difficult to write, and how did you get through them?

A: Since I’m a character-driven writer, once the characters “come alive” the only way to shut them up is to finish the story; otherwise they linger.  I have two large portions-and-outlines that haven’t sold yet sitting in my head, and I would like to find them a home so they can retire from my thoughts.  It’s my general experience that stories drive themselves once the characters become “real”.  Any book worth its salt is difficult to write — that’s part of the deal.  Some are harder than others, but if they’re easy, the writer is cheating not only the reader, but him/herself as a story-teller.  For me, westerns are fun, but not easy.

Q: How important  do you think historical accuracy is when writing a novel set in a different time era?

A: It depends on the book.  In general I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, but I have done alternate history, like Ariosto, which I find challenging and engaging.

Q: How do you feel about narrative non-fiction?

A: It depends on how well it’s done, and unfortunately much of it is filled with sloppy writing.  When it’s done well, it’s quite intriguing.

Q: How many Saint-Germaine novels are there, and which are your favorites?

A:  There are 24 novels, including the one I just turned in, and 2 collections of shorter fiction.  My favorite book at any time is always my next one.  Collaborations are a bit different, but even they have charm for me.

Q: What do you hope readers come away with from reading your Saint-Germaine novels?

A: The satisfaction of money well-spent.  Anything beyond that is extra.

Q: What is the one thing you think most readers would be surprised to know about the Saint-Germaine novels?

A:  Probably that most of them were written in less than six months, some in less than four months.

Q: What do you think is the most fascinating or peculiar thing about life as a writer?

A:  Making sense of royalty reports.

Q: I’ve read that you have written over eighty novels, and that you release three to four books per year. How do you remain so prolific? And how many hours of writing do you do in the course of an average week?

A:  At present 87 books — novels, collections, non-fiction — and over 80 shorter works are listed on my bibliography; in my 44 years of professional writing, I’ve had five books completed canceled before publication, six completed novels that never sold — or haven’t sold yet — a couple of for-hire ventures that fell apart after my work had been done, and two books that vanished in a puff of smoke when the acquisitions editor left the acquiring publisher.  However my end of publication happens, it happens, I’m glad it does.  My average day goes like this:  up between 7 and 7:30, feed the cats, answer email and such, take a hot bath to get my arthritic joints moving (I’ve had arthritic knees since my 20s), then do writing until 12 or 1, when I stop for lunch, the main meal of my day.  Then I take an hour or so for chores such as shipping, shopping, watering the garden, and get back to work between 3 and 4, break at 5 for the news, come back to the machine either around 7 or 9, depending what’s on tv.  Toward the end of a book, I may go back to work at 10 or 11 and work until 1 or so, and then I get up an hour later than usual.  Sunday I visit friends in the South Bay, and I allow myself one half-day a week.  A couple times a year I have house-guests, and play tourist with my visitors.  I have lunch out a couple of times a month.  There are days when Crumpet, Butterscotch, and Ekaterina the Great, Empress of all the Russias demand more of my time than they usually do, but that’s pretty much it.

Q: Who are your own favorite writers and what are some of your favorite books?

A:  Shakespeare, all else is changeable.

Q: What are some things in a novel that bother you and will cause you to put it down?

A:  Poor grammar and syntax in narration will do it every time.  Dialogue can be a linguistic mess and that doesn’t bother me, but if I have to stop to parse a sentence or deal with a misused word, I am no longer “in” the story, and I quickly lose interest in it.  Obvious story lines and motivation based on stupidity can also turn me off.

Q: What are some things that make it impossible for you to put a book down?

A:  A friend wrote it, it’s not a genre I’m working in at the time and it’s well done, the characters are compelling, it has an unusual perspective or a narrative point-of-view that opens a lot of doors.  Style can also catch my attention. if the storytelling is solid.

Q: Do you outline your novels, or does the plot come to you as you write it?

A:  Yes, I outline, though I often wind up getting rerouted through the story line by the characters on my way to the end.  If the characters and the book isn’t mostly set in my mind, I can’t write it, but once the basic form is there, and the characters are established, I’m ready to go.

Q: Did you have any false illusions when you began life as a novelist, and if so, how have these evolving understandings changed your approach to your craft and the business of writing?

A: All illusions are false by definition.  When I began, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into.  Of course my understanding has been evolving, as has every writer’s:  publishing has been evolving, and at the moment more rapidly than in past decades, which certainly changed the business end of writing.  For one thing, advances are down sharply and print-runs are smaller.  Then there’s the whole matter of e-publishing, and who knows how that’s going to shake out.  At least for now, it is reviving the back-list so that mid-list writers like me are not compelled to live in garages or in spare rooms.  For now there is cause for encouragement, which is a nice change.

Q: What makes you laugh?

A: Mark Twain’s essay on “The Awful German Language” is sure to make me laugh.  My three cats.  The rest is timing and my state of mind.