Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Today I have romance author Lex Valentine, who I met through Katie MacAlister's forum, today being interviewed by me. She contacted me about reviewing a couple of her novels if possible as well as to schedule an author interview and author guest blog. I'll be reviewing the first three books in her Tales of the Darkworld series, Shifting Winds, Hot Water and Fire Season so keep coming back for the reviews. Lex will also be coming back this Thursday, July 30 for her author guest blog about her new release, Fire Season, so come back to find out more about the book and the series. Now onto the interview:
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Phoebe Jordan: When did you know that writing romance was going to be the thing that you would do with your life? Which author inspired you to start writing romance? Lex ValentineLex Valentine: I’ve always written, from the time I could string words together. I love words! I don’t think I’ve ever consciously chosen to be a romance writer. It’s just the genre (and sub-genres) that I love. Inspiration came from a lot of places. There are classics I love with an element of romance to them like the Gift of the Magi. And I love Lord Byron’s work. The man was incredibly passionate. When I got into romances, it was the regencies that drew me, starting with Georgette Heyer. The Corinthian is still one of my favorite books of all time. Phoebe: Did you know what type of romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you? Lex: I just write what comes to life in my head. I’ve been reading vampires since I was seventeen years old when my sister Jeannette gave me Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice for my 17th birthday. I moved from that to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s St Germain vampires and many others. More than twenty years ago I started developing the world that has become the Darkworld. Back then it was called the Dark Realms. I still have those original computer documents. Now, I write in multiple sub-genres: paranormal, erotica, contemporary, M/M, urban fantasy… Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you? Lex: The first thing I ever wrote was poetry. Later, I moved into short stories. Mostly, horse and horse racing related little bits. I was a huge Black Stallion fan! I loved Alec and the Black. My first full length novel was written in my 20’s—long hand! Note By Note was a contemporary romance about a rock star. It has been lost since then. In fact, I don’t have any of the early stuff I wrote. The earliest stuff that I actually still have would be the Dark Realm stuff that I started writing before my daughter was born in 1989. Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research? Lex: Since the Darkworld is my world, research isn’t really needed. I tend to write what I know. It’s easier that way. Occasionally, I need to know something about guns (for an urban fantasy) and I ask my DH who is very knowledgeable about them or I Google it. Mostly, if I need to know something, I Google it. I’m pretty quick when it comes to that sort of stuff. And I don’t center my books around things so much. They are all more about people. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your first two novels, Shifting Winds and Hot Water, which is the first and second book in your Tales of the Darkworld Series? Shifting Winds by Lex ValentineLex: I’d seen an open call at Pink Petal Books for dragon shifters. Since I write dragons at the serial story The Bar, and since I’d already been making some notes for the Darkworld, I decided I’d give the call a shot. I already knew Mary, the publisher, because she offered to help me with a short story I was trying to submit, Silver Lining. I delved into my notes for the Darkworld and started reading through them, found a part where I’d made a note about a cemetery owned by vampires and BOOM! The idea of a vampires who’d been burned at love who meets up with black dragon who’s always had a secret crush on her began to form in my head. Once Shifting Winds was done, I realized that Elysia’s brother Colin was a very interesting character. The idea to throw him together with Declan’s sister was born. It’s just grown from there mostly because of the three best friends—Sean Antaeus, Marius Granville, and Alfred Stone—and their machinations. Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your Tales of the Darkworld Series and how many books did you plan to write when you started the series and do you plan to write any after Fire Season, your upcoming release? Lex: Tales started out with me playing off different ideas about secondary characters as I wrote Shifting Winds and moved almost immediately into Hot Water. I got the idea that it was a trilogy, each title having something to do with an element. By the time Hot Water was done, I knew I had six books in my head. When I started writing Fire Season, I realized that this is a 10 book series that ends with the head of the Antaeus family, Sean. Phoebe: How do you come up with each of your characters for your novels? How do you choose their names out of so many names out there? Lex: They pop into my head. Seriously. Some are names I’ve stolen from my Bar characters or variations on those names. But even with my Bar story characters, most of the names have just popped into my head or I’ve seen them listed or used somewhere and liked it. Colin from my novel, Hot Water, got his name because I love Colin Bridgerton in the Bridgerton Family series by Julia Quinn’s called, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your first two novels, Shifting Winds and Hot Water? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your first two novels, Shifting Winds and Hot Water? Lex: I think my favorite character has to be Corey Green, Colin’s assistant. Corey is based on a real person that I know, my friend Gooster, whose real name is Corey. Gooster is pithy and amusing just like Corey in my book. I had so much fun writing Corey’s lines and in my head I could hear Gooster saying them! I think I identify with Eden Antaeus a bit more than the other characters in the first two books. I don’t really fit in with my family either. I’m the odd man out because I’m so responsible. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite character that you really enjoyed writing about in your upcoming release, Fire Season? Did you have a character that you felt you could really relate to in your upcoming release, Fire Season? Lex: In Fire Season, I would have to say that I truly enjoyed showing Declan Antaeus’ back story, before he got together with Elysia. I think it gives him another layer that the reader wasn’t exposed to in Shifting Winds. The character I identified most within my current release, Fire Season, was again a secondary character, not one of the main ones. Garret’s boss Emily really grew as a character in my head as I wrote Fire Season. I started thinking about the reasons for her icy demeanor and the pain she eventually shows. Her story and Vahid’s—Ride the Lightning—was born out of how much I identified with Emily during the writing of Fire Season. Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels? Lex: I start with the plot. It’s like a road map in my head. I know how I want it to start and I know how I want it to end. Between the two I come up with “mile markers”, scenes and things that I know I want to have happen. Once those are in place, I let the characters talk to me as I write. Phoebe: Which do you like best, writing a series or writing stand alone novels? How is writing each different for you? Lex: With a series, I know I’ll see those characters again. With a stand alone, I’m usually just glad to be done. LOL I don’t feel like I have a preference, but I do tend to get caught up in series so I suppose they are my weakness. I tend to really concentrate with a stand alone. With a series book, when I’m writing, other ideas and characters for the next few books start popping up in my head. Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long? Hot Water by Lex ValentineLex: I decided in August of 2008 that I would try to get published. Jennifer Leeland had been bugging me on my blog for months about trying. So I took this short story I had from a contest and reworked it and subbed it. It was rejected and I was a little tweaked when I discovered the editor didn’t even know one of the words I used in the story. It’s tough to feel as if you got a fair shot when you have proof that your vocabulary outstrips that of the person deciding on your work. Right after that I saw the dragon call and wrote Shifting Winds. On Oct. 30, the day before my birthday, I was offered a contract for Shifting Winds. So I suppose you could say it was a relatively easy process for me. My second sub got a contract! YAY! Later on, the first sub—Silver Lining—got a contract too from a different pub. LOL. Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels? Lex: I don’t get writer’s block but I get tired. I work a lot of hours in my EDJ (evil day job—not that it’s really evil. It’s not) and I have a lot of other things I do besides write. So sometimes, I just get wiped out and I’m too tired to write for days on end. What gets my juices flowing again are the ladies from Word Wars. We write in a Yahoo conference with someone timing us. When time is up were exchange a paragraph or two and heap praise on each other and do it all over again until hours have gone by and we’ve written 10K. Phoebe: What is your biggest reader pet peeve, if you have any? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.) Lex: I hate poor grammar and usage. If you don’t know what the word means, don’t use it! I hate run on sentences. I hate it when I buy a book only to find that the best edited part was the blurb and except I saw on the loops. I hate buying and reading books that haven’t been edited well and show that the writer still has a long way to go to learn their craft. Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclamation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.), if you have any? Lex: I like seeing the characters come alive. And I like THE END. LOL I have a whole lot of things I do wrong. I write fast and I drop words. I also tell more than show which is evidenced by how many instances of WAS you’ll find in the story. And last but not least, I wonder a lot too. I have to change out the word “wonder” way too much when I go through my first draft. Phoebe: What is the one writing tool can you not live without? Lex: A computer. I have a desktop that I built myself and an Acer Aspire One netbook. I’d be lost without them. Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane? Lex: Who said I’m sane? Muahahaha! Seriously, it’s a tough thing. When I’m holed up too much, I get tired and Rott gets pissy. He tells me he can never measure up to all the heroes in the romance books. That’s when I know he needs some attention and I need to walk away from the computer for awhile. Mostly, I try to schedule things. Tuesday nights I do my horse racing sims. I do Word Wars on the weekends. The more I schedule, the better off I am. Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing? Do you have any hobbies? Lex: I’ve been playing a horse racing sim game online for over six years now. I love the game! I read a lot too. And I like to watch CNN and nap while watching TVG and NASCAR or Indy cars. Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Lex: Do your homework before you start subbing your work. Check out the publishers. Check out EREC. Don’t submit your work to a publisher that doesn’t edit well or one with problems that have been talked about across the groups. Those pubs with problems paying out royalties, the ones who’ve been held up as having major editing issues, the ones that have been pointed out as possibly the next to close it’s doors, the ones that pay on net or hold your rights for longer than 3-7 years…all of those things aren’t in the favor of an author. You should know what’s going on in this business before you submit your manuscript. Know who and what you’re submitting your hard work to—a publisher who is reputable, ethical and who cares or one that just wants to make money and doesn’t even see you except as a vehicle it can exploit on the way to making that money. Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? Fire Season by Lex ValentineLex: I’ve been lucky in that my friends are multi-published authors who gave me the info I needed to get started. And besides that, I’ve worked with a media consultant for years so I already knew the value of media and branding. I wish all authors knew that they need to have their web presence set up in advance to show publishers that they are serious. Have your domain name and get your site built. The chintzier and cheaper you look (i.e. freewebs and other free sites with crappy URLs) the more that a publisher may think you’re not serious or that you don’t know the value of the internet. Amateurish looking website templates and graphics—cutesy stuff that doesn’t look professional—all on a free website, subdomained URL make an author look completely amateurish. Invest in your career. You can put up a website on your own domain for less than $30. And if you want to be a published author—you should. Besides, it’s a tax write off. LOL. Phoebe: Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)? Lex: Paranormals are my favorite but I read anything that catches my eye or is by a favorite author. I love Katie McAlister, Erin McCarthy, J.R. Ward, and anything by my pals Dee Carney (Morgan Sierra), L. Shannon, Eliza Gayle, Moira Reed, Mary Winter, Z.A. Maxfield, Ethan Day, Jason Edding, Bonnie Rose Leigh…really, I love so many authors. Phoebe: What are you reading now? And what do you plan to read after that? Lex: I’m reading P.A. Brown’s The Geography of Murder. I’d seen her posting excerpts from her WIP, the sequel, on a Yahoo group and was intrigued by Alexander Spider. So I had to buy it! After this, I’ll probably pick up something a little more lighthearted and short. Not sure what yet. I’ll have to go browsing at ARe (All Romance eBooks). Either that or it’s time to re-read L. Shannon’s Zeven Ways to Kill Your Lover. I’m insanely fond of that book and Shannon’s writing.

3 comments:

  1. Hey baby, cool interview. I'd forgotten all about the vampires of St. Germain. I read those. Good books thanks for the reminder. Thanks for the shout out too. Right Back Atcha!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Those books were great, weren't they? And way before the paranormal genre got hot.

    Thanks for coming by, ZAM!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great interview! I'm like you, I get tire, and so far, no writer's block.

    -Tara

    ReplyDelete

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Phoebe Jordan
I'm a part-time aspiring romance novelist, book reviewer and blogger. I've always wanted to travel the world and learn everything I can about other countries. Learning the Italian language is one way of trying to make that dream come true. Traveling will help me with my writing because I'll be learning about the history of the U.S., Latin America, England, Italy, and Ireland, the countries I find so fascinating while reading the romance genre.
 
I read and review romance novels of almost every subgenre along with erotic romance, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy and young adult novels. You can find the reviews at my blogs, Talk About My Favorite Authors and Phoebe Jordan's Reviews. I’ve also started a live podcast show called TAMFA | Phoebe Jordan hosted on Blog Talk Radio. This show is dedicated to everything I love about romance and young adult novels. I love having romance and young adult authors live on my show to be interviewed and showcase their books.

I plan to write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, erotic romance, paranormal romance and young adult when I get my writing career started with help from Keta. I'm not sure what genre I'll write to begin with since I love to read so many different romance genres.
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