Tell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?
Keeper Chronicles: Awakening is the first in a series that introduces the world of the Keepers, whose duty it is to protect the world from demons, and main characters Rebekah and Gabe. While Rebekah is dealing with her father’s death, she gets thrust into a world of secrets and monsters. Gabe just wants to keep her safe, but that doesn’t turn out to be very easy as the prime suspect in his investigation into the demon responsible for killing his ex’s father is her new boyfriend. He has to find the truth before it destroys them both.
What drove you to write this particular book?
I wanted to write this book for a few reasons, but the one that really sticks out first is my father. When I began working on this, he had heart surgery. For a while, we didn’t know if he was going to make it. In many ways, writing about Rebekah and how she dealt with her father’s death has helped me come to terms with my own feelings about my father’s illness.
Mythology has also been an interest of mine for a long time. I love reading all the variations of the different gods and goddesses that have sprung up in different urban fantasies, but the monsters got mostly left behind. I wanted to give a purpose and name to some of the nastier critters of Greek and Roman mythology, so I asked myself: what if they had been real? What background could I invent for them? Who would have hunted them? Why did they disappear from the world? The demonic orders in the book seemed to flow naturally from there. It was almost like I was peeling back the layers of story and myth surrounding creatures who had once flourished.
Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?
This is my first foray into urban fantasy, but I’ve written both horror and fantasy before. My first published book was a dystopian zombie story featuring a dark futuristic society where we’ve learned to live forever using nanocell technology. I also write more traditional fantasy where I invented my own world with politics, monsters, races, and magic. Because of this background, urban fantasy seemed natural. It’s a combination of two genres I already had experience with. The idea of these monsters and demons lurking beneath the smooth veneer of modern society is intriguing. There’s so much possibility for creativity with urban fantasy realm that I really wanted to explore this genre more.
Who are your greatest writing influences?
There are so many great writers. I grew up on horror first, reading mostly Dean Koontz and Stephen King. After that, I began delving into the wonders of fantasy with C. S. Friedman who’s continued to be a source of inspiration for me. Her writings are evocative, taking dark characters and making them sympathetic. We all long for the darkness, at least a little, and her writing brings that out. The dark isn’t so dark nor is the light so light. Instead, people are revealed with all their motives and complexities. Other female writers like Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood have influenced my writing. I love the way they see time as a liquid instead of a solid. Their stories don’t start at the beginning and move to the end, but instead flow seamlessly between past and present in a way that feels more in sync with experience.
Tell us a little about the first story you ever wrote. What do you think of it now?
While I wrote different things in high school, I don’t really think of my first story as happening until I took a creative writing class at community college. The premise of the story was that the protagonist was a waitress (remarkable coincidence: so was I) who came home to find her boyfriend cheating on her. In a fit of anger, she kills him and the girl he was cheating with. The fun doesn’t end there. The girl goes on a road trip killing spree that ends in her committing suicide in a hotel room. The final line (which I have yet to live down) was “and the last domino fell dripping blood.” Terrible, I know. My best friend got a kick out of the story. Looking back, I know that I only wrote it with the goal of grossing out my creative writing class. It was a blast, and a part of me still likes to get a rise out of my audience. I’m just glad the story will never, ever be found. Ever.
What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?
I keep a strict writing regimen, making sure to write every day even if it’s just a little. Most days, I’ll come home from work and start writing almost immediately, often before cooking dinner or doing anything else. Some mornings when I work late, I’ll also try to get up an hour early to write. I think the secret is getting into a habit. Once you’ve established a regime for a few weeks, it starts feeling wrong when you don’t write. Of course, taking a day off every once in a while is also important for keeping sane!
Staying focused is another thing entirely. Television is such a distraction. When I’m writing, I have to turn it off and put my phone somewhere I can’t reach it. That helps take away the temptation to check Facebook or Twitter or send a text.
Any final words of advice for those looking to publish?
Perseverance is the key to success. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from going for your dreams.