It’s been a while since we had an author interview so I thought it was high time for it to have a comeback! To start us off on the right foot, I bring you British Paranormal Romance author Lindsay J. Pryor–you may not know her name yet but you soon will. Her debut novel, Blood Shadows, was published by Bookouture in November and it’s just the sort of dark, intense vampire novel I’ve been looking for.
Your first book, Blood Shadows, was launched a few weeks ago. How does it feel to know that it’s out there? Have you received any fan mail yet?
It’s an immense feeling. I’ve been writing paranormal romance for twenty-one years and sixteen of those were spent working on the Blackthorn series in the background, so it was an emotional moment the first time I held Blood Shadows in my hands. I’m loving finally being able to get the story out there.
I have been lucky enough to get fan mail, yes. I was very fortunate to already have fans when the book launched – those who knew of me from HQN Mills and Boon’s New Voices competition. I’ve been fortunate that they stuck with me for a year (in some cases two) and cheered me on all the way. I’ve received some amazing fan mail this past month – some funny and some really touching. I’m astounded by people’s honesty and fascinated by what they take away from a story. I had one email that thanked me for writing the books. I was really overcome by that one.
How many books are planned for the Blackthorn series? Have you already finished writing the next books in the series?
There is no specific number as yet but there are definitely more than the three I’m currently signed for. I have notebooks full of characters and plotlines and I am in the process of making sense of all those developments and pulling the series together. Blood Roses, book two in the series, was already written when Bookouture got in touch so I’m in the final stages of editing that – that’ll be released in Spring 2013. The outline for book three is underway, the characters already established. I’ll be planning book four while I write book three to ensure the series continues to meld together and all the necessary threads of what’s to come are included. Bookouture and I have also discussed the possibility of some short stories so they might make an appearance at some point.
If you could decide, which actors would you choose to play Kane and Caitlin?
I always find this question tough because I don’t have anyone in mind when I write characters. If you check out my Pinterest boards, there are examples of who I think could pull it off.
Based on characteristics I’ve seen in various roles, I’d say Elisha Cuthbert (House of Wax), Eliza Dushku or Kirsten Dunst for Caitlin. Kane is particularly tricky. Because of the eyes, I think Wentworth Miller could work. I also think Jensen Ackles could play him when he’s in really bad-guy mode. I think the best match would be Henry Cavill. I’ve never seen him in action and only discovered him on Pinterest, so I’ll have to see if I think the same when I see him move and speak!
What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you have a special place that you feel is most conducive to writing?
If I’m writing a first draft, doing tricky revisions or plotting, I work through scenes the night before in bed, playing them like a film reel in my head over and over again until everything feels right or I fall asleep. I wake about half-seven and make notes while everything is fresh in my head. I then get a feel for when I’m ready to start writing. I write for long stints – anything up to four hours at a time. My books are fast-paced, so I tend to write the same way. I don’t stop until it feels right to stop, so normal routine, including meal times, is out the window when I’m in full writing mode. I go to bed still working through scenes or plotting the next lot. Now I’ve said that, it sounds intense but that’s how I’ve always worked.
Revisions can be slightly more relaxed as I find it easier to take breaks. I set myself a number of chapters or a type of scene depending on my mood. Some days it’s easier to revise plot developing scenes, other days to get into the emotional heads of my characters, other days to revise sexy scenes.
As for a special place that’s conducive, I write at home – more about that in a moment! I rarely write outside my four walls. The glazing over can be a health hazard and the speaking lines of dialogue out loud can startle unsuspecting company.
Do you belong to a writers’ group?
I’ve never belonged to a writer’s group. The first time I’d ever talked to another writer was during New Voices 2010, which was an interactive competition. I’ve never interacted so much with other writers as I have this past year, when I finally took the leap into social media after New Voices 2011 closed. I didn’t know what an amazing network of support there is out there.
When you write, do you outline or do you write by the seat of your pants and see where the story takes you?
I never used to outline and I learned my lesson – nearly eight years on one book (not from the Blackthorn series). I now always outline character development, key points of conflict, and space out pivotal moments in relation to both. I like to know the direction a book is heading but I’m not too prescriptive because I find that hampers a character’s natural development. There’s always an element of spontaneity in what I write and I thrive on the unexpected that comes with that. I want to be part of the adventure too.
Which books are on your must-read list and what’s so special about them?
This is going to sound like an obscure choice, but I think Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life is inspired. It encompasses so much in such a simplistic yet honest portrayal of the writing process. I was bought it years ago and have read it time and time again.
I can’t recommend any ‘how-to’ books because I rarely read them. If I get too analytical about how I write, I get more self-critical and then my confidence takes a nose-dive.
In terms of fiction, that’s such a personal choice. I have a real passion for the classics. Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray and, of course, Dracula are masterpieces. I also adore Shakespeare – no one writes dialogue like he did. But then I think there is a lot to be learned from the page-turning quality of James Patterson when it comes to pace. Roald Dahl was the master of twists in the tale and books like Switch Bitch and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar are fantastic examples of how to do it right. I adore Tolkien for his world-building and Stephen King for characterization.
One of my favorite vampire novels is The Hunger by Whitley Strieber. I’m also a huge fan of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and the Vampire Lestat. Aside from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which vampire fiction has inspired you? Are there any vampire novels you would say are absolute must-reads for fans?
Ah, you have many of my favourites there! I can’t say any vampire fiction inspired me because I started writing vampire romance at the age of seventeen before I’d read any (couldn’t find any back then). Subsequently, I portrayed vampires in a way that felt natural to me rather than being influenced by others. My style was already embedded before I discovered some fantastic work. Bram Stoker and Anne Rice are the must-read geniuses of vampire literature, from there I’d say it’s down to personal taste. I think one of the most appealing features of vampire romance is there is huge scope out there – it’s just about finding what appeals to you.
Every writer needs a place where they feel comfortable writing. Could you describe where you like to write?
I love to write snuggled up in bed either with my notebook or my laptop, depending on what stage of writing I’m at. Most of the time, though, I’m at my desk – which is an equally great place to work. I have a study in the corner of the house that overlooks a wood. I find it a very therapeutic place to write and it also means I get to stare out of the window whilst working through scenes. It’s a visually busy room – my desk is an array of notebooks, discarded paper, pens, pencils and half-used candles; I have various images I find inspiring or just like looking at dotted around the room and a whiteboard above my desk full of scribbles of writing-related dates to remember. It’s a mess, but it’s my mess. It basically looks the same as my bedroom did when I was a teenager.
What was the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? What was the best?
The best advice I ever read, rather than being given, was to write what you want to read. That’s how I started out and it only went wrong for me when I tried writing for other people.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve personally been given was from my editor. I’d had a crisis of confidence that my books wouldn’t appeal to a romance audience because they’re too dark. She basically told me to embrace my voice, whereas another editor had previously told me to tone it down. I guess the latter was the worst advice because I tried to change my voice to suit a line. It’s not a criticism of them – they were giving excellent advice for what they wanted but bad advice for the stories as I wanted them. That’s why it’s so important to find the right publisher for you. I’m very fortunate that I did.
Many thanks to Lindsay for the interview! For more information about Lindsay and the Blackthorn series, head over to her website. And don’t forget to check out an excerpt of the first book in the series, Blood Shadows, and its official trailer.