May 31, 2008
I think I've mentioned that one of the neatest things about becoming a published author has been meeting some of the authors who have been on my favorites shelf for years. Michelle Rowen is one of them. I about fell over when she agreed to blurb my book and I'm excited as heck to have her stop by today.
Michelle has a fabulous new release, Lady & The Vamp, the third in her Immortality Bites series - full of wicked humor, non-stop action and sizzling romance. So while she's here, I took the opportunity to ask her about Lady & The Vamp, and lots of other things too.
Tell us about your latest book, Lady & The Vamp.
Lady & the Vamp is the third book in my five-book Immortality Bites vampire series that started with Bitten & Smitten and Fanged & Fabulous. This time, instead of my vampire fledgling Sarah Dearly's point of view, it's Quinn's story - he's the vampire-hunter-turned-vampire who was part of a love triangle in the first two books. It's a fun romp of a novel as my hero and heroine search for treasure across Arizona and Nevada and fall in love, even though it's the last thing either of them wants.
What inspired you to write Quinn's book?
Fate. I hadn't planned to spin Quinn off. In fact, I had considered having the love triangle be a regular feature of all of the books in the series, but my characters are oddly strong-willed. My heroine in the other books (Sarah) made her choice of what man she wanted, and that was that. I received reader mail that wondered if Quinn was going to get his own book. I hadn't thought about that, in fact I'd planned to spin off another character from Fanged & Fabulous, but he turned out to be a bad guy who met the wrong end of a stake so that didn't work out too well. My editor also suggested a book from Quinn's POV, and that pretty much sealed the deal. His story arrived, almost fully fleshed-out, in my head shortly after. Plus, his perfect heroine had also appeared in Fanged & Fabulous, so the characters were already set and raring to go.
Why are Janie and Quinn the perfect couple?
I'm a big fan of a love/hate relationship. At least in books. Such strong emotions lend themselves to nicely conflicted scenes. I liked the fact that they knew each other in the past - Quinn was a "vampire hunter" friend of Janie's big brother and she had a wicked, unrequited crush on him. Now that she's a harder-edged mercenary who wouldn't blink at taking down a vamp, she has a great deal of inner conflict when that vamp just happens to be her former crush. Quinn on the other hand, thought he was in love with Sarah, so the last thing he's looking for is a woman to complicate his already complicated life - especially one with a ton of baggage and questionable morals. To me, their flaws and hang-ups are what made them interesting to write, and their relationship fun to explore. And it was. It was one of the funnest (?) books I've written to date. I loved writing Quinn and Janie. In fact, they're going to show up again in the last book in my series that I'm writing right now.
What's a typical writing day like?
Lately my writing days have been like this. I get up at about nine o'clock and go on the Internet. Do the business-side of things: blog, read blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo! Groups, e-mail, etc. Then I have breakfast. I will typically watch either The View or Tyra Banks at 11:00. At noon, my writing begins (probably). I will re-read about ten pages back of what I've written. I keep a parallel journal with all of my books where I figure things out. I like a "road map" before I begin. I let the characters do and say what they want, but they are given stage directions and specific places to be. I'll write for a bit and then feel an overwhelming need to nap. I'll nap. Then I'll wake up and kick myself because napping is just a form of procrastination. I'll then watch Ellen or Oprah and get back into it until dinner. Then I'll take another break. Then I'll write some more. I do my writing on a laptop on my couch so couch potato behavior is easy to achieve. In a day like the above I will have written between 0 and 25 pages. Obviously I need to get a little more structure to my work day going on. I quit my day job in January and my days are a bit too fluid as I figure out how to be my own boss. Therefore, I usually close the laptop at about midnight. It's a work in progress. Wow, that was a long, rambling answer. Sorry you asked? ;-)
What are the benefits of writing a series versus a stand alone book like Angel With Attitude?
I'll tell you the benefits and the drawbacks. The benefits of writing a series is that your characters are already set. You know them, so it saves a ton of pre-writing and figuring out character motivation. It's great if you have a longer story to tell. In the case of Immortality Bites, it's essentially Sarah's story. How a regular gal deals with becoming a vampire and how it affects every aspect of her life. I didn't feel that I could deal with that, the drama, the romance, the growth, in only one book. Between the first book and the last, she will be the same person, but there is a nice arc to her character. At least, I'd like to think so. ;-) With a stand alone you only have a small space to work with. You can only tell one core story. However, this is also fun because it keeps things fresh, especially for a writer. New characters, new goals, new ideas - all wrapped up in one book with a nice tidy ending.
Your novels are funny, witty, clever and sexy. Where do you get your ideas?
Thank you, Angie. The check is in the mail. ;-) My ideas come from everywhere, but that's kind of a cop out answer, isn't it? I guess I could say that ideas come from a big melting pot in my brain. Everything I watch: movies, television, stage plays; everything I read: magazines, newspaper articles, books; everything I experience: travel, friends, history, aspirations, obsessions; gets dumped into the melting pot and blend together. Then it could be a simple trigger - a word or a phrase, or a "what if?" - and the melting pot will bubble over with a new idea. It's a bit like magic. Most ideas, however, don't have the legs to go the distance. It usually takes a few ideas put together to be enough for a book.
What kind of research do you do?
As little as possible. :-) But, alas, there has to be some. For Lady & the Vamp, my main problem was the fact it was set in a State that I'd only been to on a bus on my way to the Grand Canyon. I sent away to the Arizona travel people for brochures and maps. I researched sites on the internet. I bookmarked everything I thought might be useful and tried to get a sense of what it was like there. I don't go into a great deal of detail, but a little bit here and there helps to set the stage. (In the end, I did have a former Arizonian read it to make sure I hadn't screwed anything up). I will usually write the book first and pinpoint what needs more detail. In Bitten & Smitten, my first book that I was a total research-nerd on (I don't do that anymore, heh), even though it was set in Toronto, which is close to where I live, I actually went down to the city with a camera. I walked across the Bloor Street Viaduct, I ate dinner at the top of the CN Tower restaurant, I wandered around the PATH. All the settings I used in the book. Now, admittedly, I try to make fictional places up. It's easier, possibly lazier, but I try to add a bit of genuine setting where I can.
What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
The best advice I ever received was from the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She said that it's okay to write a "shitty first draft" (her words). I get a bit stuck in my writing when I feel like it has to be perfect. But it doesn't. Get it down on the page. Get to the end of the book, and then take the time to polish things up. If you're focused on perfection on each page as you go, you'll never finish! So that helped a lot. It's a bit hard to remember from time to time, but it's definitely helpful.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Other than having the finished novel in-hand, the most rewarding thing is when a reader writes to me and says that my books worked for her on a number of levels and she's told everyone she knows to go out and buy a copy. It's humbling and quite an honor when something that essentially spilled out of my imagination can make somebody happy enough that they want more.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm writing the final book in my Immortality Bites series, Devils & Diamonds. I've also accepted a contract to write a Harlequin Blaze novel. It's a line that I've always enjoyed reading, and I think suits my voice very well. My previous books have been very "sweet" so this will be a chance to try my hand at "sexy." So, lock up your sons, people! Rowen's cranking it up!
I also have a book out in August under the pen name Michelle Maddox. It's a futuristic, action romance with Dorchester Publishing's SHOMI line. It's much darker and edgier than my lighthearted Michelle Rowen titles. It's good to let my multiple personalities come out to play from time to time, don't you think?
How can readers find out more about you and your books?