Tell us a little about your book, Kristen.
Debauchery: Victoria’s Burning is Book 4 in my new series with Muse It Up Publishing, Fate and Fangs: Tales from the Vampire Family. We began with a bit of vamp romance in August with Love: Ann and the Viking, had some pain for the family’s enemy Lilith in Book 2 Punishment, and then spent last month getting Colonial with Victoria’s mother in Struggle: Elizabeth in America. Now we’re having some of the rampant vampire twistedness for Thanksgiving before finishing off 2011 with Lust at Christmas. Go fig.
Wow, you’ve been busy. What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Actually, this is an older excised part from my 2008 novel The Vampire Family, now on Kindle from Eternal Press. The first person account approach just didn’t fit with the rest of the novel’s framework, but I was always pleased with the work that went into the piece. It’s decadent and inappropriate, which is at least in my mind, exactly what being a vampire is all about. I was very into Civil War era material at the time, and I wondered what kind of wicked things might go on as part of the Confederate fall and Reconstruction mess. Vampires, Victoria in particular, are first and foremost opportunist predators. Victoria knows how to use human weakness to her advantage. She thrives on it!
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
In theory, I’m a full-time writer as I have no other real world job anymore, but being a homemaker is a full-time job as well – and we don’t have kids yet either! So in effect, responsibilities still reduce my writing to more part-time hours with freedom to binge and whirlwind when deadline warrants it. I have cork boards and dry erase boards and calendars, reminders, alarms, post it notes, notepads, and pens every frickin’ where- initially to my parents’ chagrin and now to my husband’s annoyance. I have to write down and keep track of everything and keep the daylight hours for the usual errands and household duties, then I generally write overnight. Nowadays finding the time to write or do any writerly business isn’t really a problem, it’s balancing the creative role with the increasing infringement of marketing and social, wow, I want to say social responsibilities! The key for me is to set aside certain days or hours of the week for business aspects. They are important, but you have to remember that the bread and butter is in keeping writing, getting more books written, and having more things to publish. That speaks more volumes than anything!
I completely understand the post-it note dependence. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Hmm, I’ve been asked this type of question a lot, and I think you simply largely know it or feel it or you don’t. For me as a kid, I just started telling stories that eventually got so big they needed to be written down. I know life, school, family, work, can all put off one’s real dreams of writing, but that is only a delay I feel. If you have the inspiration and soul of a storyteller, you know it, and it is always there. Sure, one can technically become an author and have books published, but I think some people just have it in their bones to write. I was 10 or 11 when I had big dreams of literary grandeur, but I wouldn’t say I’m to all that glory just yet. It’s an ongoing, literary blossoming in form and function. Even once you’ve come to the conclusion that you are indeed a writer, that doesn’t mean the growth or experience and attainment should cease. In fact, it should grow tenfold.
Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I much prefer the speculative angles, horror, fantasy, little bit of science fiction – though I must say I don’t have the knack for mystery. Truly, I’ll try any genre or form of writing at least once – I think it is good to stretch yourself and bend towards different formats and learn new approaches to take to your preferred arena. But even if I try a straight fiction, I always end up back in the realm of fear and bizzarity. I like the freedom of fanciful rules and the speculation of fear. I like to play on and examine all the demented things that you couldn’t really do in real life. Go all crazy in the safety of fiction and learn something about the dark depths of the soul!
What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
I am often distracted by other things, so I find it critical to remain in the writing state of mind even if I have to be away from the manuscript. When it is time to do the laundry, I have to ask myself, Would this character ever do the laundry? Victoria certainly would not. Which character would rather throw something away then just wash an item? So and so would never wear this! In the kitchen, what would a character eat? Are these types of food available in your world? Who hates the smell of fish but loves the smell of rosemary? Being in the real world and getting these pieces of senses and personal touches help me itch to return to the writing and keep my subconscious in tuned to the tale at hand. It’s totally crazy, but if you feel brave enough to say these things aloud, then there’s even more of a rush to get back to the paper. Suddenly a character is saying I would never wear that, or don’t feed that to me and then you have dialogue and conversation to get down. For me its tough not to get real world distracted, but being able to bring the planes into each other helps keep the connection magical. If you’re taking the kids to school, noticing people in the grocery store, go through life in the writer’s mindset and it can turn what would be a hindrance into an asset!
Great tip! How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Victoria, I’m very pleased to say is nothing like me! I think she may look like me so readers might assume she is the character I relate to most, but far from it. I’d say I’m much more like her mother in Book 3 Struggle. Victoria is very rude, careless, thinks that her delight in vampirism makes her superior to everyone else. It would but for her misuse of people and power. She’s selfish, needy, totally demented and she’s getting worse for the next full length sequel in progress! I kind of hate Victoria as a person, but man, that makes her very exciting to read and write about! Good fiction, but wouldn’t ever want to meet her for real – and honestly, I think that’s how literary vampires should be. Deadly at worst, cross the street when you seem them at best. I don’t know where this teen glow attraction for vamps comes from. I enjoy fictional evil, and I think it says more when it’s left on the page or has you thinking about the consequences and light versus dark in the real world. I do, however, think the ladies will love James in the next Fate and Fangs Tale, Lust. He’s a little depressing, actually, melancholy in his long vampirism, and losing the one thing of value to him. Sniff!
What kind of research did you do for this story?
As this is a Confederate Civil War historical, I did do my checking on locations and signs of the time. I love the fashions of the era and had to make sure my vocabulary was correct. My biggest concern was accents in the manuscript. You don’t want to write entirely in an accent – all the punctuation and slang and such can be more distracting than flavorful. You begin with a few chosen words and carry the tone throughout. My main focus was using the fallout or fallen grace to accentuate the opulence and decadence of the time – and then askewly step it up for Victoria. Book 5 Lust was also fun to research, as it takes place in the 1950s and has a great musical vibe too it.
What about your book makes it stand out?
I like that Debauchery is a somewhat flawed and disturbing book thanks to its unlikable lead Victoria. The things she says – the things she does! Victoria has no societal censor whatsoever. It’s disturbing to read – like a car wreck that you can’t look away from. Fortunately, she might get a bit of a lesson on her callousness in Debauchery. The vampire excess has to catch up with her sometime, right?
Do you have a marketing plan?
Obviously, unfortunately, social media is huge for an author today. We all do it, however, and sometimes it can feel like you’re spitting in the internet wind. Just lists and lists of funny pictures and screen names – and I’ve heard from other debuting authors how it is the online social aspects that seem the most daunting. I much prefer contests, giveaways, chats, and virtual touring. Sometimes I end up explaining what my book isn’t- ie glitter for tweens – rather than what it actually is, which is a strange reverse marketing! Rather than even use the work marketing, I just would much rather network and get to know other readers and others of genre fiction. Doing your research in your area, touring at sites that match your audience. I suppose that’s the secret, finding your reader demographic and giving them what they want! I get to do that at book festivals, conferences, and seminars, and that is dynamite. To me, the best type of marketing is being able to tell readers about your book one on one.
Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Research and reading is an early key. In particular with vampires, study up on the old myths and legends and find a unique angle to base your tale. When I started writing vamps ten years ago, I did so because there was nothing beyond Anne Rice to read. Now the market is flooded with them. Make your story stand out! Secondly, don’t be discouraged if a publisher rejects or says ‘thanks but no thanks’ because of the vamp overflow. There are enough publishing venues and options in the business now to have your story told and readers reading it. Be prepared, don’t get discouraged, and keep writing! I suppose those are important in any genre, but in the speculative arena that packs or ebbs and flows so much, being ready and thick-skinned with a variety of material is critical.
Do you have any new works in progress you’d like to share with us?
More vampires as always, and a bunch of horror short stories that I never seem quite pleased with or don’t finish. Editing with erotica EPer Leigh Wood was scary!
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Where can’t you find us these days? Looks to the darkest depths of the web and bask in the moonlight with us from the relative safety of your laptop!
In Professor Welshire’s fourth Fate and Fangs chronicle, Victoria uses the fallout from the American Civil War to her advantage-or so the beautiful but deadly blockade-runner hopes. After all her using, abusing, and feedings, Victoria’s slaves finally take matters into their own hands, forcing Antonio’s daughter to face her own mortality.
I felt an immense, seething, scathing pain above my left eye. Blood screamed over my vision and I tasted my own flavor as it trickled into my mouth. Yes, blood didn’t show on my black gown, but that wasn’t the point. I backed away and covered my face. I dare admit it, but I must confess I think I was stunned, even shocked. As I stumbled backward to the steps, the heathens moved forward. I think they chanted at me, me! At first they slinked together, in time with their black friends. Then they screamed and charged forth. I moved so slow! In the confusion, I couldn’t even levitate, and I tripped again on the damn hoop. I slipped and tumbled end over end down the staircase. Everything hurt as I bumped each and every friggin’ step. I felt trapped, suffocating as my petticoats wrapped around my head. I skidded and rolled down the treads and smacked flat on the landing.
Thank you so much, Kristen, for taking the time to stop by my blog today! I’m glad for the opportunity to get to know you better. And I can’t wait to read this book!