Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interrogate the Author: Starring Marcia Colette

Author: Marcia Colette
Novels: Halfbreed, Unstable Environment (Amazon link + Review)
Extra: Blog

Marcia, I am so excited to have you here on my virtual chair. I have known you for some time and finally I got the chance to take a peek inside the writer Marcia, so thank you once again for agreeing in this little interview of mine.

Harry: As we all know, to end up published you must have started somewhere. So how and when did your writing path begin?

Marcia: I started eight years ago after I moved to Boston and fell in love with Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Once I finished devouring her books and a few others, I was heartbroken that I couldn't find anything else like that. So, I decided to write my own.

H: What was the first piece of fiction you wrote about? When did you accomplish it and what was the genre?

M: Oh, man! I wrote this horrible 250,000 word dark fantasy (pre-urban fantasy) about a woman hunt for the person who killed her werewolf husband. I can't remember how long it took me to write it, but I remember I didn't want it to end, hence the monstrous length.

H: It says in your author’s bio that the first manuscript you completed was 250,000 words. It’s quite the number? What did you have to share in this volume?

M: LOL! See the previous answer. I will say there was a part two that was 190K words, I think. I call both of those my on-the-job training for writing basic grammar.
H: So what inspired you to write paranormal romance?

M: Well…I thought if I was going to belong to Romance Writers of America, I should at least try to write one. Of course, it had to be paranormal because that was all I knew. Anyway, I wrote one and Unstable Environment was the result. And to think I wasn't going to pursue publication for it. It was just an experiment to see if I could write romance.
H: And why did you choose cheetahs for your shapeshifters in “Unstable Environment”?

M: I've always liked big cats. My favorites are cheetahs, snow leopards, and panthers. So far, I haven't seen anything with cheetahs in it, so that big cat won over the others. Werewolves were also an option, but I had already done them in an e-book.

H: Were they hard to research and how much did you initially use and what was fiction?

M: There's a lot of information about cheetahs out there, so it isn't that difficult to research them. However, choosing what to use versus what not to use was the hard part because I wanted to make them as real as possible. For instance, female cheetahs raise their young either with other females or alone. Who wants a deadbeat dad for a werecheetah hero? So I used my artistic license and said that werecheetahs are part human, too, thus making my hero a responsible cat.

H: I am a bit clueless here. Is “Unstable Environment” a standalone novel or a first installment in a series?
M: It's the first book in my werecheetah series, though right now I only have plot outlines for two more books. Also, those books will be written so that you read the series out of order and not get lost.

H: Either way, I am just dying to know even if “Unstable Environment” is a solo project, will or would have Sinclair get bitten herself?
M: Mmmmm, you ask the tough questions.  I have no plans in the works for Sinclair to be bitten. Her role as a human in a werecheetah clan puts her in such a unique position that the conflict alone makes me salivate. Mwahahahahahaha.
H: How did the idea for UE come around in your head?

M: It took some time because I wanted some serious baggage with my characters and I wanted it to weigh thousands of pounds, almost unbearable to carry. It had to be something serious enough that it would radically change lives forever while keeping the story interesting. Kids have an interesting way of doing that. So, I wanted one that wouldn't just influence two people's lives, but everyone around her with the couple being the focal point. The rest of the pieces sort of came together after that.

H: To take a peek in the future, can you secretly share what your writing schedule will consist of?

M: Revisions, revisions, and more revisions. Right now, the biggest project on my plate is THE HIVE, the sequel to Unstable Environment. When that's done, I'll be polishing up three urban fantasies, which will either be standalone novels or separate series. The prequel to my e-book is polished well within an inch of it's life, so that will also be out and about, too.

H: Also taking another sneak peak in the past, we can see you have another shapeshifter novel “Half Breed”. Can you say something about that one?

M: Can I? Oh yeah! This was the final version (I had gone through too may to count) of that that 250K monstrosity. Both are completely different. I absolutely adore this book because the main character, Alexa, is part werewolf and part human. Sort of like the werewolf version of a dhampir. When her bounty-hunting group calls ex-sniper Alexa back into service for their next mission, her loyalties are tested when they go after members of her husband's wolf pack.

H: You really do enjoy shapeshifters. What do you think will be interesting to be done in the field and which animals would you like to see as a form?

M: I'd LOVE to see a mermaid who kicks some serious ass. Take MaryJanice Davidson's Fred the mermaid and mix it up with the dark side of ass-kicking like Jeaniene Frost's Cat Crawfield. Also, I'd like to see something where a character does more than just talks to ghosts. I'm mean physically turning into one at will and walking on the limbo side. That's sort of shapeshifting, right?

H: So now let’s get a tad serious. Do you think that with the number of paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels increasing every year, the market will saturate fast? I ask this because there are already several categories of clichés established.

M: Most definitely! When publishers see that something is selling, they tend to buy as much of it as they can, which leads to too much of a good thing. It pays to think well outside the box in this business, even if it sounds like a lunatic idea that you think nobody will buy. At least you're likely to stand out among the masses.

H: Speaking of clichés, what do you think are the most wide spread clichés in those genres and what are your pet peeves, when reading such novels? And on the opposite side, what is your favorite scenario?

M: You're going to get me in trouble.  But truthfully, no more protagonists who are private eyes, detectives, secret agents, or part of a supernatural investigative/government unit. I won't read it unless it comes highly recommended (i.e. L.A. Banks). I don't care if a secondary character is any of the above, but not the primary characters. Also, I'm not a fan of love triangles unless the story is exceptional. I've never been that lucky in my love life, nor do I know of anyone who has. So, to me, it's not realistic. Everyone else's mileage may vary.

Notice I said nothing about vampires and werewolves being old news. To me, they're not. While the world building is important, I'd prefer to see them in a different situation. For example, what would happen if a vampire has to serve in Iraq? Suppose a werewolf CEO contributed to the downfall of a major bank on Wall Street, only to learn that he's the small pawn in chaos demon's bigger picture?

As you can see, my favorite scenarios are those where real life crosses into the supernatural world.
H: If the market does saturate and you find yourself with a literary niche, do you have a backup genre you want to write in?

M: Horror. I know it's been a "dead" market since the 1980's, but I love writers like John Saul, Bentley Little, and Alexandra Sokoloff. Sci-fi is another option. Preferably horror sci-fi, of course. 

H: Here comes the last question in the bunch. What kind of writing advice can you give to aspiring writers apart from writing and reading constantly, which is the most commonly used advice?

M: ROFLMAO! You're not the only one who gets tired of hearing that. Those of us who've been here a while have that one down pat.

Don't let the disappointment of rejection drive you nuts to the point that you begin to resent writing. I’m not implying the overly advised "don't give up" either. Instead, look into other options like e-pubs where they're more likely to give a newbie a chance. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean you can slack off on plotting, characterization, and pacing. Your readers will know. Though an e-pub may not be your primary goal, if you're good enough to land a contract, it's one hell of a confidence booster. There's nothing that says you can't get your name out there while still banging on NY's doors.


CaroleMcDonnell said...

great interview. -C

Edie said...

Terrific interview! Marcia, I learned a few things about you. :)

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