Thank you Ms. Holzner I so happy you are joining my Authors Month in April Event!
Thank you so much for inviting me, Melissa!
I'm honored to be a part of your Author Month.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in central New York state with my husband, where we both write from home. I began my career as an English professor, specializing in medieval English lit, but after a few years I left academia. Now my day job is writing nonfiction (mostly how-to and reference books) combined with a little freelance editing. My first novel, a mystery called Peace, Love, and Murder, was published by a small press in 2009. But my heart was in urban fantasy, a genre I couldn't read enough of, and the first book in my Deadtown series came out at the end of 2009.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've always been a reader, for nearly as long as I could hold a book and turn its pages. I loved written stories, and it wasn't long before I tried telling them, myself. I wrote throughout my childhood, high school, and my college years. When I went to graduate school to earn a PhD, I switched my focus to academic writing. Years went by. But fiction began to call to me again, and I decided to try writing it in earnest.
What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?
How long novels take to move through the publication process. When I write a nonfiction book, it goes pretty quickly—a matter of months—from proposal to printed book. In fiction publishing, things move much more slowly. It's common for a year or longer to pass between the time a manuscript is accepted and the time it appears on shelves in bookstores. For example, I received the offer for Deadtown in July 2008, and that book was published in December 2009.
How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
For plotting, I like to start with a loose outline that hits the main plot points (inciting incident, turning points, midpoint, climax). This gives me something to write toward—in other words, it breaks the huge project of "a novel" into a series of shorter goals. But it's also loose enough that I can change it as I go along. So when a character does something that surprises me and sends the story in a new direction, I can easily accommodate that.
For characters, I start with a basic sketch (name, occupation, physical characteristics, a little bit about background) and then put the character into a scene. I come to understand my characters by seeing them in action. It doesn't really feel like I "create" characters, though; it feels more like they step forward from some murky part of my subconscious and say, "Watch me!"
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good writing lets the reader share in the characters' experiences and emotions as though the reader is actually there. When you look up from a book and it takes you a minute to remember where you are, that's good writing. It's what author John Gardner called "the fictional dream."
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here's what will be on the back cover of Bloodstone (book #3 in the series):
They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders — but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…
Boston’s diverse South End is known for its architecture and great restaurants, not its body count. So when mutilated human corpses begin turning up in the area, the entire city takes notice. The killer—dubbed the South End Reaper—uses a curved blade for his grisly work. And even though there’s no real evidence pointing to a paranormal culprit, the deaths are straining the already-tense relations between Boston’s human and inhuman residents.
As the bodies pile up, Vicky, her formidable aunt Mab, and her werewolf boyfriend Kane investigate, only to find that the creature behind the carnage is after something much more than blood…
In Boston’s paranormal ghetto, shapeshifter Vicky Vaughn kills other people’s personal demons, battles Hellions, & tries to get a life.
This book was different. A world with hilarious and believable vampires, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters in an almost refugee camp. How did you come up with a story that was such a original of a world with so many different “monsters“?
I asked myself how society might respond if it suddenly discovered that paranormal creatures were real. And I wanted the context of this discovery to be an event that was sudden and indisputable, like the zombie plague in Deadtown's backstory. As I played out different scenarios in my imagination, it seemed to me that these things were likely to happen:
- People would be relieved when their loved ones survived a plague that initially appeared to be fatal. But relief would turn to horror when they saw how monstrous the survivors had become.
- The humans' instinct would be to protect themselves from the "monsters." But they couldn't just go in and shoot 'em up, because (a) paranormals, who were immune to the virus, had come forward to help during the plague and (b) the zombies, who were friends, family, and loved ones, weren't a threat like in horror films.
- The quarantine zone established during the plague would be a handy way to keep paranormals contained.
Those thoughts combined to create Boston's Deadtown.
These two books, Deadtown and Hellforged, were a great read. Which will leave the reader aching for the next book. how long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?
Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed them! :) The third book in the series, Bloodstone, will be released on September 27. It took me about 5-6 months to write. I can't say I had full-blown writer's block along the way, although I did get stuck in a couple of spots. For me, that's usually a sign that I'm trying to force my characters to do something that they wouldn't actually do. When that happens, I usually need to step back and reconsider where the plot is going.
Will we be seeing a following book to this stories?
Yes, as I mentioned above, Bloodstone is the third book, the sequel to Hellforged. I've got a fourth book under contract (no title yet), and I'm starting to write that now. It will be out next year. I'd love to keep the story going for a few more books after that, as well!
I just love the men in books. Kane character I am absolutely in love with. How did you come up with the character Kane?
It takes a lot to faze Kane, but you just made him blush. Just thought I should tell you that. :)
With Kane, I wanted to try something a little different from what I'd seen in other werewolves. In his human form, he's very sophisticated in his tastes and completely committed to human ideals, especially social justice. He's a high-profile, activist lawyer campaigning for paranormal rights. I thought that would be an interesting combination with his more feral side, which he keeps a tight leash on when he's in his human form. Vicky has never seen him as a werewolf (yet) because by law werewolves must spend the three days of the full moon at a secure werewolf "retreat." As their relationship develops, she'll learn more about his animal side.
I don't know! That's such a hard question for me. Maybe Richard Gere twenty years ago (around the time of Pretty Woman)? Or Dmitri Hvorostovsky, but he's an opera singer, not an actor. I can't quite imagine Kane singing all his lines—but if he did, he'd definitely be a baritone like Hvorotovsky. :)
Was there anything you found particularly challenging when writing these two books?
The hardest part is always to keep going when I'm in the middle of a book. It's easy to get discouraged then, because it feels like I'll never reach the end. That's why the outline I mentioned above is so helpful. When I'm 150 pages in and have 150 to go, I don't have to think about making it all the way to the ending quite yet—I just have to get to the next point on the outline.
I loved the heroine on these covers. What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished books?
When my editor emailed me an image of the first cover, her subject line read, "Prepare to be wowed!" That pretty much sums it up. :)
Please visit Author Nancy Holzner at:
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|A signed copy of Hellforged|
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