It’s a good question, and the answer varies depending on which character and story I want to talk about. I’ve had stories/plots come to me in a fever haze (the short story “The Devil’s Dozen” is one such time), characters slowly introduce themselves to me, they can be people I’ve met (those are usually victims of some sort of paranormal attack), or they can just appear in my head like I’m mental and start talking to me about their life, which is what happened with Danny Mancini from my Paranormal Detectives Series. I had the plot, but not the character. All I knew was he’d be Italian and a detective. And then Danny came to me and told me about his career and disgrace, succeeded by joining Angelica Cross on her paranormal law enforcement crusade.
2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel.
I can’t write without music. I have to have something in my ears to drown out the real world and center me in mine. I try to hit between 1,000 and 2,000 words a day, but sometimes that doesn’t happen depending on various factors not including my depression and that there are days where my imaginary friends won’t talk to me. I am a pantser, not a plotter. I tried plotting my current WIP and it went horribly haywire. I am a que sera sera type: I just see what kind of mess my characters get into and report on it. I don’t have many other quirks, really. I write when and where I can, for as long as I can.
Some I have to consciously develop, but most seem to reveal themselves to me in time. Danny was a fun character, because I had to force him out of his stubborn, xenophobic ways and he didn’t want to. I think I was his shrink for a while, there! With characters like my MC Angelica Cross, I don’t develop her. She is who she is and I can’t make a dent in that. There are scenes where I feel I made progress with her only to have her regress and make me want to slap my laptop in frustration. Other, more minor, characters I do try to mold to fit into the fictional world. They all have a place, even if they only say one line.
4. What are you reading now?
I am re-reading The Saga of Larten Crepsley by Darren Shan and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. Despite not writing it, I love upper YA paranormal. Shan in particular was a huge inspiration when I was a child and teen. He was one of the three authors who shaped my style and subject matter.
5. Why do you write and what drives you?
I write because I have to. It’s kind of like how Superman has this compulsion to save the world, I have a compulsion to create worlds. When I don’t write my depression gets worse, and I feel like general shit. I have always loved books and reading and this has been my dream since I was eight years old. I write because I love it, because I want to, and because it’s my calling in life.
Author wise: Stephen King, JK Rowling, Darren Shan, Zac Brewer, Ellen Schreiber, and Terri Garey. In everyday life that would be my mom. She raised me on her own by choice, struggled, slipped, and got back up again. She never let me fail.
7. What inspires you?
Everything. Despite my characters being vampires and witches, they are very realistic, as are there worlds. I am inspired by a lot I see on the news (as my upcoming book Never Again will attest to when it is released on December 5th), by history, and by really the most random things, even music.
8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write?
Yes. Hate, bigotry, and stereotypes. Danny is the paranormal world’s version of a racist in a way, except he’s fine with all skin tones in a human, but it’s vampires he has a prejudice against. Much of his character in my first PDS book, Stake-Out, mimics what you’d see from a racist who claims they aren’t racist. And the series shows how he grows out of that and starts to be a decent human being. Being a working-class Goth, bisexual, tattooed, pierced Catholic, I have been the recipient of a lot of hate all my life. And I see so much of it now in our current political climate. So breaking stereotypes and squashing all forms of hate will always be a constant theme in my books, be they horror or erotica or somewhere in between.
None. I don’t wish to write someone else’s story, I want to write my own.
10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do?
That has happened to me in the past, actually. Twice. The first time I had no idea someone else had a similar book to Stake-Out and I freaked out, worried that people would think I was a copycat. Thankfully, no one has. (I hadn’t even heard of these books until I had signed my publishing contract.) Recently it was when I started writing Never Again, which is a spin-off of my Paranormal Detectives Series and will take place from the Ottoman Empire, through WWII, and till modern day, and realized my publisher (Vamptasy) was releasing two paranormal books taking place during WWII. I immediately wrote my publisher who assured me I was fine and different from the other two books, along with offering me another contract for the book. I firmly believe that everything has been done before, but every author has the power to take an old theme done over dozens of times and make them their own.