I am a little off of my normal schedule this week, (I blame it on the holiday weekend), but will do my best to be back on track by next week. 🙂
I am excited to have Karen Victoria Smith, author of the awesome new urban fantasy novel Dark Dealings, visiting me today.
SMN: Hi, Karen! Thanks so much for stopping by!! Congrats on the publication of your first book, Dark Dealings!! I was lucky enough to be an early reader of Dark Dealings. While I usually lean toward contemporary romance and suspense novels rather than more paranormal stories, I absolutely loved this book! It actually inspired me to try more books outside of my comfort zone. How did you come up with the idea?
KVS: Thank you, Susi. Dark Dealings has been a long time coming. How did I come up with the idea? It was the collision of my past, my interests and a voice in my head. I worked on Wall Street for over a decade and met, as you might imagine, more than a few interesting characters. Couple that with being raised to respect my Irish heritage and a rather unhealthy interest (according to some) in the supernatural and the seeds were planted. I have done a lot of reading over the years in the shapeshifter and vampire myths. Did you know that almost every ancient culture has some version of both?
Then one night as I sat on my back patio, a voice whispered in my head. Her name was Micaela and she kept getting louder until I grabbed a notebook and starting writing down her background and the beginnings of her story.
SMN: Did you ever find a character taking on a life of its own, acting outside of what you had planned for them?
KVS: I spend a lot of time upfront with my principal characters, so I pretty much know what to expect. They definitely take on a life of their own and sometimes I argue with them about things they may be holding back from me. It’s when they fess up that I feel like they take on a new richness. Some of the things I know about my characters, for example Liam, have not yet been revealed to the reader, but will be. What amazes me is when characters start badgering me for more page time. I have some minor characters that got so loud I had to give them their own novel. But more on that later.
SMN: What was the most difficult scene or section to write? Why?
KVS: Probably the opening scene. It wasn’t my original opening, but on the advice of my writing mentor, I developed the scene which became the new opening. There is so much that the first pages need to do that I kept re-writing it down to the last minute. First pages need to grab the reader, tell them what to expect and make them want to keep reading. I know I’ve read novels, correction not read novels, because I couldn’t get through the first chapter or two.
SMN: Given all of the international settings, Dark Dealings must have required a significant amount of research. How long did it take you to do the research behind this book? Have you visited any (or all) of the locations featured in the book?
KVS: I have visited some of the locations and the rest I have researched thanks to Google Earth with a heavy dose of fictionalization. I hope to visit every place I write about, especially if it is a tax-deductible business expense.
SMN: What drew you to writing Urban Fantasy? What interests you most about the genre?
KVS: I have been a big fan of the paranormal since I was a teenager. I read and watched everything, including the original Dark Shadows series. Barnabas Collins became the model for many of the vampires we read and watch today. Urban fantasy evolved out of that genre. The best part of urban fantasy is the ability to push lots of envelopes. I like that female characters can step up and kick ass, that tough is sexy and that each book doesn’t require a happily ever after. I like that there is an openness about diversity and sexuality. It allows you to play with all kinds of themes and issues in the guise of a good story. The what-ifs are almost endless.
SMN: What direction to take to publication (traditional, self-published or somewhere in the middle) is a huge decision for writers to make in the new publishing environment. You originally planned to pursue the traditional route to publication. What made you decide to change directions?
KVS: I was part way down the road to traditional publishing, with an agent and several small press houses interested. For various reasons, I parted company with my agent. This was a time-consuming process, but the silver-lining was that I had time to watch the rapid changes in the indie publishing world, the collapse of Borders, and the issues that have risen in the large publishers. I feel at this time that I am hesitant to make a long-term commitment to the traditional model. Indie-publishing allows me to remain flexible in responding to future changes.
SMN: I love hearing about where authors work. Some prefer absolute solitude and silence, while others are most productive in the hustle and bustle of a busy café. What’s your ideal writing environment?
KVS: When I am in pure writing mode, I have learned that I need a quiet place. Sometimes I will play music in the background, particularly if it helps me get into the right frame of mind. Am fortunate that I have a spare guest room/office that I can retreat to and close the door. If I am editing, I can sit almost anywhere. I guess it’s a left brain/right brain thing.
SMN: Micaela’s seems to have a bit of a stubborn streak, especially in her struggle to maintain a normal life, free from her paranormal gift. She is torn between where she sees her life and what those around her want her to do. I enjoyed watching her try to balance the two. You also have to find a happy medium, balancing writing, family, and a day job. Any tip on how you find balance?
KVS: Well we write what we know. I have a stubborn streak and balance is always an issue for me. I have learned that there are times when I just need to go for a walk or a run, or hit the gym. The pure physical activity allows a certain detachment from the “issues”. It helps with balance and managing stress. That’s one reason Micaela starts as a runner and takes on more intense training as the demands in her life increase.
SMN: What are you working on now?
KVS: I am editing a paraquel, Ogham Court, that takes three characters and the Salmon Run Inn from Dark Dealings and tells that story. It has more of a romantic element than Dark Dealings, but still has a heavy dose of thriller and edge. Amazing how pushy some characters can be. Of course, Nora and Devlin also think that eventually their story ties back into Micaela’s. We shall see who wins that argument.
SMN: Where can people find out more about you and your works?
KVS: They can visit my blog Storyteller’s Grove where I talk about books I’ve read, themes and issues that fascinate me and meet guest bloggers who talk about the craft and business or writing and publishing. There, they can find links to excerpts from Dark Dealings and an early draft of Chapter 1 of Ogham Court. Of course, they can also find links there on how to purchase Dark Dealings from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.
Thanks Susi for letting me visit with you. It has been an interesting journey so far with more adventures to come. I’m sure.
Thank you, Karen! It was great having you stop by!
Do you have questions for that I missed? Any comments on this awesome new book? Let us know below! 🙂
Karen Victoria Smith grew up with an Irish grandmother who tried to teach her the old ways and watched horror movies with her in the dark. KV lives in New Jersey with her family who patiently allow her to believe that in a 24-hour world the monsters are real.
Visit her at Storyteller’s Grove , where you can read excerpts of her novel, Dark Dealings.
Be sure to check out the rest of Karen’s stops on her blog tour! 🙂