Author Interview: Scarlet Darkwood

Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview series at The Writing Life. Yes, it’s Thursday. I’m two days late. Have you ever felt quite sure you’ve done something that you haven’t done at all? Well, I have that sheepish feeling today. I thought I’d sent my next guest, the lovely Scarlet Darkwood, the interview questions, but I hadn’t. So we are back on track today!

Please do check back next Tuesday for the next fabulous author interview.

Novelist Scarlet Darkwood always prefers avant garde themes for her stories that take the reader on unusual adventures, exploring the darker parts of the human psyche, and sometimes she takes a happy-go-lucky romp on the brighter sides of life.

Writing in several genres unleashes Scarlet’s imagination, so she never grows bored. From a young age, she enjoyed writing and keeping diaries, but didn’t start creating novels until 2012. She’s a Southern girl who lives in Tennessee and enjoys the beauty of the mountains. She lives in Nashville with her spouse and two rambunctious kitties.

Welcome, Scarlet.

What is the genre of “Words We Never Speak”?

The genre for my latest release is supernatural romance. It also fits into ghost and occult.

scarlet-darkwood-book

Please describe what the story/book is about.

My book is a ghost story with a “gotcha.” It’s about love and forgiveness when hurtful things are said, but this takes place much later in the character’s life. People should always consider the power of their words. The spoken word becomes truth, if you’re not careful. The story is also about a connection to one’s past and wanting to hold on to those special elements.  

How did you come up with the title?

I borrowed the snippet from my spouse. Whenever I get angry at something and open my mouth, he tells me, “Oh, those words we never speak never have to be forgiven.” I use that line in the story!

Great line! Scarlet, what inspired you to write “Words We Never Speak”?

This book was inspired by a dream I had of an old classmate who died after high school. In real life, he and I were never friends, let alone dated in high school. So the work, though grounded in lots of personal truth, is fiction.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Being able to write in bursts when the ideas come. I don’t have these ideas flowing like milk and honey like some authors do. I struggle with getting a handle on my story and filling in the guts of it. Sometimes my skeleton is pretty sparse at the beginning, but in the end, it has all come together. 

Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?

Kit Millinger resembles me in that she loves old houses and antiques, and that though she appreciates religion and some of the force or intent behind it, she doesn’t get caught up in the trappings of dogma or ceremony. Unlike Kit, I personally enjoy the ancient spiritual teachings that seem to give me a broader understanding of spiritual laws and principles.

What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Really grabbing the story by the horns and focusing in such a way that it gets down faster and more efficient. The other challenging aspect for me is being a little fearful of painting myself in a corner. It forces me to keep plotlines simple, and that can be a huge hindrance. What makes a good story sometimes is the intricacies and details that come together in the storytelling. I risk keeping things too predictable and status quo. Though several readers have mentioned in reviews of my books that they didn’t see “such and such” coming. So maybe I don’t do too badly!

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?

I read “The Widow’s Game,” by Maddie Holliday Von Stark. I had seen a particular post of hers one day back in the summer, and I decided to read the story. I found the writing descriptive, the word choices titillating at times, and the interwoven stories intriguing. There was excitement and chapters that dug into emotion and experience.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve enjoyed Madeleine Roux’s Asylum Series, and I like books by Liz Curtis Higgs: Bad Girls Of The Bible, Mad Mary, and I also purchased, It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba—also by Higgs. I didn’t realize I’d liked her that much until you asked your question! I’ve enjoyed some of Anne Rice’s books: The Mayfair Witches (I’m getting through the second book), and her Sleeping Beauty Trilogy. I have some of Stephen King’s books, but I’ve only read Salem’s Lot (Cell and Pet Sematary are on the shelf).

What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?

I’m not sure I can pick any particular authors who have influenced me. I look to different ones to learn how a particular genre is handled, or how certain subject material is presented. Then what I do is inject my own take and go from there.

Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?

I have a European ergonomic chair in my living room. When I’m not working, I’m sitting in that chair and on the computer. 

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I took about two years of ballroom dance, and did some showcases and competitions. Hint: Unfortunately, I look nothing like a ballroom dancer. 

Has the writing process uncovered surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?

As far as surprises, go, I learned that certain genres have readers who are super picky, and certain ways you write things or the way you present the material can be an immediate turn-off. For publishing, I’ve learned that unless I’m the publisher, I’m not interested in pitching my work to agents or other publishing houses. I like total control over what I do. I might enter the occasional anthology, but it has to feel right.

scarlet-darkwood-book

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

I hope readers will have been entertained, most of all. I also hope some of the themes or subject matter covered allow readers to focus on those aspects or experiences in relation to themselves.

Looking back, Scarlet, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?

Re-editing the book and making some additional changes created work that makes me feel more confident. Working with some marketers and other authors has helped get the book out a little more. I simply think putting out more work might help everything catch fire a little better. It’s a tough market, and everyone is told to do the same: write, write, write.

What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

Paying money for advertising hasn’t worked. Social media is extremely time-consuming, and if it works, it’s slow going. Also, thinking that there would be huge author support in a publishing house—not so. Authors won’t support or share for various personal reasons. So it’s really back to you as the author to find your own way.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

Learn to self-publish, because you’ll never be at the mercy of another. Having control over your work is a good feeling. If you want to write, read some books on the craft of writing or take some online courses. An author needs to understand why certain elements need to be included in a story or excluded. They need to have a good handle on each story they write, and they need to learn the whys and wherefores of everything they write.

Please share your website and social media links.

Newsletter: http://ow.ly/HUyz303E5Oh

Blog: www.scarletdarkwood.com

Follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/scarletdarkwoodauthor

Follow her on Google+ at: http://ow.ly/VvZ82

Follow her on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ScarletDarkwood

Where can we find your book?

http://www.amazon.com/Words-Never-Speak-Scarlet-Darkwood-ebook/dp/B01GH7SJ4S

What’s next for you, Scarlet?

I’m off to try a different genre, and I’m opening myself up very slowly to helping publish other authors. 

Thank you for chatting with The Writing Life, Scarlet. I wish you the best with your books and publishing adventures! 

ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:

ellie

Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, which garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is a writer, artist, and photographer, who is never without a pen and a notebook, and her passport and camera are always at the ready. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

Eleanor’s book, A DECENT WOMAN: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK

new-book-cover-a-decent-woman-june-2016

Please visit Eleanor at her author website: HTTP://WWW.ELEANORPARKERSAPIA.COM

The Writing Life: Interview with Anna Belfrage

Welcome to The Writing Life. Today I am thrilled to welcome the talented and lovely Anna Belfrage, author of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, a series of eight novels, many of which have received well-deserved awards from the Historical Novel Society, six BRAG Medallions, and a RONE Honorable Mention.

Anna-B-höguppl-300x206Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing.

Presently, Anna is hard at work with The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power.

When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she’ll be visiting in the 17th century, more specifically with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him.

Anna Belfrage series of books image

Welcome, Anna.

What is your book’s genre/category?

I’m fast approaching the publication of my tenth book, but the nine I have out there all have in common that they belong under the Historical fiction umbrella. I would add that there is a considerable amount of love – not so much “classic” romance, as my protagonists quickly conclude they’re meant for each other and therefore present a unified front to their future adventures.

Please describe what your books are about.

My first eight books are all part of The Graham Saga, which is the story of two people who should never have met, seeing as she was born three hundred years after him. A heady mixture of action, adventure, history, passion and time-slip, The Graham Saga is set in the 17th century, both in Scotland and the American Colonies.

Anna Belfrage book coverMy most recent release, In the Shadow of the Storm, is the first in a new four-book series and set in the 14th century. It tells the story of Adam de Guirande and his wife, Kit. She was coerced into marrying him, he has no idea she isn’t who he thought he was marrying, and things between them become a bit dicey. Until Adam’s lord, Roger Mortimer, rebels against the king, dragging Adam with him. Domestic quarrels become immaterial in the larger perspective…Adam is a man of honour and integrity, torn apart between his loyalties to his beloved lord, his king, and his wife.

How did you come up with the title?

For my latest book, I just had this image of a knight riding towards a brewing storm. In general, I spend a lot of time choosing my titles – also, when writing a series, the titles must sort of go together, and as I have most of the series written before I consider publication this gives me time to play around with titles.

It’s a great cover. What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by the tumultuous end to Edward II’s reign – and the role his wife, Isabella, played in it, together with her lover, Roger Mortimer. The real-life story is an impressive mix of passion, intrigue and political maneouvering.

What is your favorite part of writing?

The first rewrite. I generally get a first draft down in a month or so, and then I start the truly fun part, which is adding flesh to the bones, if you will. Not that the first draft is all that bare to begin with – the first rewrite will generally slash like 30% of the words and add 15% – but it is during the rewrite that the story acquires colour and smells.

I’m still stuck on the one month for a first draft! That’s incredible. What is the most challenging aspect of writing?

The editing. I use professional editors for a final edit, but before I turn anything over to them, I have done numerous edits. I still find it very difficult to slash scenes I love just because they are “unnecessary”. Sometimes, I indulge myself and leave them in, but mostly out they go and I spend some time feeling a bit depressed.

I know what you mean; it’s tough to cut scenes. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Where do I start? I read a lot of historical fiction, and Elizabeth Chadwick and Sharon K Penman are among my favorites. I enjoy Barbara Erskine and Diana Gabaldon, I’ve read a lot of Bernard Cornwell and am a big fan of Venezuelan hist fic writer Francisco Herrera Luque. I don’t think any of his books have been translated, which is unfortunate as not only is he meticulous in his research, but he also writes about larger-than-life people.

I don’t only read hist fict. I read a lot of romance (love Amanda Quick and Lucinda Brant) and quite some crime/thriller, where I have a tendency to while away hours in the company of Mr Reacher. Plus, I love fantasy – blame it on Tolkien, a very early love of mine.

Being an indie writer myself, a huge chunk of my reading is other indie authors. Not that I give them free passes: I have a restricted amount of time, and books that do not meet basic standard when it comes to editing and formatting are quickly discarded (whether indie or mainstream. Quite a few mainstream lack good editing…) and unless the story hooks me the first 50 pages, I set it aside. (Once again: happens just as much with mainstream as with indie). Great indie authors are Alison Morton, Helen Hollick, M J Logue, Derek Birks, Steve McKay and Matthew Harffy – all of whom have written series. I obviously like series…

What authors or person(s) have influenced you?

When it comes to my writing, my mother is undoubtedly one of the main influencers – not because she writes, but because she instilled a love of the written word in me from the age of one or thereabouts. She always read to me, and once I could read, she welcomed me to read whatever I wanted to read in her extensive library. Her tastes are eclectic, and so I found both Emmanuelle and Sartre on the shelves, although there was an overrepresentation of English writers – and particularly English poets.

Featured Image -- 3346

Do you have a favorite place to write?

At my desk in our country house. I turn my head, and I see a sloping meadow, beyond it the expanse of the lake. Now and then, an osprey soars upwards, I see kites and buzzards, swallows and swifts, and, in summer, a sea of blue lupines. Not bad.

Tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I know a lot about dogs – I think I recognize most breeds around, seeing as I’ve worked as ring secretary at various dog exhibitions.

What surprises or learning experiences did you have during the publishing process?

It’s much more work than I expected it to be. Okay, so I’m indie published, and I knew that would mean more work than going mainstream, but all the same, it takes a minor tribe to get a book out there – especially if you’re aiming for quality. The cover, the editing, the proof-reading, the type-setting – all of it a lot of work. And then, once it is out there, the true slog starts, namely PROMOTION. All authors have to do it, most authors find it difficult and resent it because it impinges on writing time. But it has to be done, and it requires a lot of creative effort.

Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?

I wrote the story I wanted to tell. Sounds simple, but is fundamental. As a writer, you must burn with passion for your Work in Progress. If you don’t, no one else will.

Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?

I’m biased here, seeing as I am a big advocate of doing things the indie way. But whether you opt for the traditional route or the indie route, there are no shortcuts: your book has to be edited and revised and edited and revised. And if you’re going indie, you need to invest in external services – editing and cover design must be done by professionals!

Website and blog?

My blog: https://annabelfrage.wordpress.com

My website: www.annabelfrage.com

Where can we find your books?

For my latest release: http://mybook.to/ISOTS

or, for The Graham Saga: http://myBook.to/TGS

What’s next for you?

More writing 🙂 Other than my present series, I am working on a ninth book in The Graham Saga, and then I have a trilogy more or less ready to go – this time contemporary with a paranormal touch.

Thank you for visiting The Writing Life, Anna! I enjoyed learning more about you and your wonderful books. I admit I’m trying to wrap my head around writing a draft of an historical novel in a month, so perhaps you’ll consider writing a blog post on your writing process? Whatever it is, it works like a charm! Thanks again and happy writing to you.

ellie

 

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s careers as an artist, counselor, alternative health practitioner, Spanish language family support worker and refugee case worker, continue to inspire her stories.

Eleanor’s debut novel, ‘A Decent Woman, set in turn of the nineteenth century Puerto Rico, was selected as 2015 July Book of the Month for Las Comadres & Friends National Latino Book Club. Eleanor is featured in the anthology, ‘Latina Authors and Their Muses’, edited by Mayra Calvani, and in the soon-to-be released anthology, Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society, edited by Allie Burke. Eleanor is a proud member of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, PEN America, The National Association of Professional Women, and the Historical Novel Society. She is a contributing writer at Organic Coffee, Haphazardly Literary Society. When not writing, Eleanor loves facilitating creativity groups, reads, and tells herself she is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

Eleanor adores her two adult children and currently lives in West Virginia, where she is happily writing her second novel, ‘The Lament of Sister Maria Inmaculada’.

http://www.amazon.com/Decent-Woman-Eleanor-Parker-Sapia-ebook/dp/B00TUP47W