Friday, October 30, 2009

Questions for Authors





The stories in MBVR2 were all dramatically different despite the common theme of vampire romance. Some were darker in nature, while others were almost sweet. Each author approaches the vampire in unique ways. Here are some questions for the authors:

1. How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a full length novel?

2. Do you find the process easier or more difficult?

3. How do you develop relationships in such a short span of time?

4. What about the vampire interests you?

5. What myths and legends do you incorporate into your stories? Does that change per book or do you usually keep the same lore for each story?

23 comments:

Deborah Cooke said...

Hi Anna -

Thanks for the invitation to participate in the chat!

I use anthologies as opportunities to explore new ideas, ideas that might not have the "stuff" for a full length book. I also play with short stories, experimenting in different genres or subgenres.

That's clear here - I've never written a vampire romance before, but this idea had been nagging at me. I wanted to try it out. The story came quickly and easily, leaving me with a lot of questions about Micah and his coven - I'd love to write more about them!

That may or may not happen, but it was fun to twist the motif of a predator a bit.

Deborah

Jeanne Stein said...

Hi all-- Jeanne Stein here. the author of the Ghost of Leadville. I'll give the questions a shot.

1. How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a full length novel?

It is much harder. At least for me. I tend to think in longer story lines. You have to include everything you would in a book, beginning, middle and end, but condense it from 85000 words to 6000. This is the fourth short I’ve written and it hasn’t gotten easier. I have great respect for short story writers.


2. Do you find the process easier or more difficult?

See question one!

3. How do you develop relationships in such a short span of time?

The plot for my story, Ghost of Leadville, revolved around a relationship between Doc Holliday and the vampire who ran the bar he actually visited (and where he shot Billy Allen) in Leadville. It made it easier for me to develop the story once I’d determined that.

4. What about the vampire interests you?

While other monsters emphasize what is mortal in us, vampires emphasize the eternal. The vampire has always been with us. In every civilization, there is a myth about the undead. He is always portrayed as seductive, no matter the devastation he may leave in his path. The combination of a character both romantic and horrific is, and will always be, fascinating.


5. What myths and legends do you incorporate into your stories? Does that change per book or do you usually keep the same lore for each story?

The main focus in my novels is my protagonist’s determination to hold on to her humanity. She was turned by force and by accident. She has connections to a human family, a business partner. At the same time, she must deal with the vampire side of her nature. She needs human blood to survive. She finds herself battling monsters, both mortal and immortal. Keeping a grip on what is important in her life and protecting those she loves, both mortal and immortal, is the challenge.

I find in my short stories, as in my novels I tend to be sympathetic with the creatures I write about. They may do bad things, but they do them for good reasons!

Hope you enjoy the story, thanks for inviting me to participate.

Jeanne Stein

Anna Dougherty said...

Deborah- Thanks for coming by!

Coven of Mercy was one of the short stories that really had me thinking. It was a moving story and I thought the idea was original and unique. And I would definitely read more about Micah and his coven. I actually used Coven for a discussion question- I think it posts on Saturday.

The anthology format seems tricky, especially with a common thread like vampires. The stories can be told in so many different voices but you want the book as a whole to mesh. MBVR2 did a good job with arranging the flow for readers. Never too much of one type in a row.

What is the process for getting involved in a project like this? Do they approach you or do you ask to be included?

Anna Dougherty said...

Jeanne- Thanks for tackling the questions! Leadville was a great story that I thought dealt with many different aspects of vampire lore. As you mentioned, Rose has connections to deal with. At the beginning of the story Rose is dealing with moving on...again. She ends up in a place that she has an emotional attachment to. She recounts her dealings with Doc and how she felt about him. Rose was not the stereotypical female vamp character. Female vamps are usually written as the badass fighter or the cold manipulator- Rose seemed almost human in her thoughts.

Leadville was the perfect short story for a vampire- a reflection in a very long life.

Jaye Wells said...

Hey, Everyone! Thanks for having us here today. I'm Jaye Wells and I wrote the story "Vampsploitation."

1. How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a full length novel?
Obviously length and plotting are very different. It's fun though because anthologies allow us to tell mini-stories for characters we're developing over a series. It's challenging to make sure the short fits in the cannon of the world and adds to it. I've also written stand-alone shorts, but I always want to expand them into novels.


2. Do you find the process easier or more difficult?
Time investment is definitely easier with a short. There's a finish line in sight when you start one. You have to be economical with words and plot very carefully. I probably prefer novels just because there's more room to develop characters, but shorts are fun too.

3. How do you develop relationships in such a short span of time?
It helps to use characters people might already know from your series. But you can't always count on that. I was lucky Trisha didn't demand that the urban fantasy authors (like me) create traditional romances. I think it would be really challenging to show a fully developed relationship in a short story. But in general, when you're trying to establish any sort of relationship in a story, you have to show it through action instead of characters just talking about how they're feeling.

4. What about the vampire interests you?
When I boil it down, vampires interest me because they are powerful metaphors for the darker side of human nature, as well as our desire to cheat death.


5. What myths and legends do you incorporate into your stories? Does that change per book or do you usually keep the same lore for each story?

The vampire world building in my Sabina Kane series combines elements from The Bible with Jewish folklore about Lilith. I also add a few dashes of European vampire lore and Sumerian myths. Since it's a series, everything remains constant.

Thanks! I hope everyone has a spooky Halloween!

Jeanne Stein said...

Anne said: Leadville was the perfect short story for a vampire- a reflection in a very long life.

Thanks, Anne--I thought that theme fit perfectly!

Jeanne

Anna Dougherty said...

Jaye- Thanks for taking the time to stop by and answer questions for us! I used Vampsploitation in a discussion question for tomorrow. I really liked the story- so much that I have to find all the other titles:) The urban fantasy setting has all the dark elements that appeal to me as a reader and despite the tie to your other books, I never felt like I was missing anything.

Deborah Cooke said...

Hi everyone -

I'm really enjoying this discussion.

Anna, I don't envy anthology editors. They need to somehow pull together a bunch of very different work into something that looks like a coherent whole. It's not a job I'd want!

Thanks, too, for your kind words about Coven of Mercy. Maybe you can see why it was a story that just wouldn't let me go until I wrote it down.

As for your question, the short stories that I've written over the years (I've done a number of novellas as Claire Delacroix) have been opportunities presented to me. The editor calls and asks if I'm interested.

Sometimes I am, sometimes not - often schedule is the big variable. Like Jeanne and Jaye, I'm much more comfortable with the longer format of a book, so shorts take me a disproportionately long time. (I write and cut - and cut and cut and cut!) I have heard of authors putting together thematic anthologies themselves then presenting the whole to a publisher - given that the shorter format can be challenging for me, I've never been one of those authors.

I like the short work though, and I like to play. Generally, if there's an invitation and any chance I can squeeze it in (who needs sleep?) I'm in. The other factor is that as a reader, I LOVE anthologies. I buy them often, in order to find new authors to read in booklength. So, I think anthos are good marketing opportunities for authors.

I just have to get better at writing shorts quickly!

Deborah

Carole Nelson Douglas said...

Hi, I'm a multi-genre author. While I've written fantasy/sf, romance, mystery, mainstream and historicals as well as contemporaries, I now write urban fantasy. I was somewhat reluctant to tackle vampire romance. The terrific editor assured me she wanted something different, so I'd describe "Butterfly Kiss" as "vampire love story built around a who-dun-it and why."

Thanks for inviting me to address these interesting issues.

1. How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a full length novel?

I tend to write long short stories (as I tend to write series rather than stand-alones) and this story turned into novella length, 9,000 words, as has happened before. ( I okayed that with the editor.) I like “theme” assignments because they move me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to come up with something fresh.

I wanted to try a real "mash up." I imported my contemporary mystery series Las Vegas feline PI, Midnight Louie, who narrates his own chapters and is a fantasy "construct," into Delilah Street's much darker 2013 Vegas of werewolf mobs and rogue supernaturals.

What a fun challenge to combine characters from the same-but-different worlds with trying to save a dying vampire who refused to take another's blood and life to save himself. The plot had to be a mini-novel to cover all this territory. Like a mystery, I had to introduce the vampire’s milieu and a circle of suspects, and create a solution that depended on finding out who really was the vampire’s one true love.


2. Do you find the process easier, or more difficult?

Just different. I like writing short stories because of the challenge of presenting a lot in a limited space.


3. How do you develop relationships in such a short span of time?

Midnight Louie as a narrator moves things along: he’s a noir dude and student of human nature who wastes no time in calling things as he sees them. The title refers to a new vulnerability this “case” reveals in Delilah Street’s guarded personality in a very dark world.

A mystery writer needs to introduce a lot of minor “suspect” characters in quick strokes before the plot shows who’s really “major”as victim or villain. It was fun doing this with paranormal suspects and a vampire who lives by functioning as sex partner/therapist to a circle of very different willing women/suspects.

4. What about the vampire interests you?

The father of all modern vampire variations was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The late Victorian setting inadvertently illustrated the deep link between a woman’s surrender to sexuality and a human’s surrender to death. The continuing fascination with vampires has a lot to do with the double standard modern women still face in being sexual. The vampire/seducer/killer will always be powerful archetype for women. “To die” was a Renaissance euphemism for orgasm.


5. What myths and legends do you incorporate into your stories? Does that change per book or do you usually keep the same lore for each story?

Delilah Street’s world is one where gradually emerging supernaturals are going “mainstream” in both bad and good ways. Society has always had predators and prey, so these paranormal individuals and clans have choices of which way to go. One way to go is as a “daylight” vampire who’s adapting to being “out” by sipping on a regular circle of women “blood donors” who risk nothing, fulfilling the delightful seduction role without loss of life. But in “Butterfly Kiss,” human jealousy and attempted murder ironically threaten the vampire’s life.

When I wanted Delilah to encounter some really greedy, wicked vampires, I went to the only ancient civilization that did NOT have a vampire mythology, the ancient Egyptians. I used research to give them a really nasty one vampiric history, twisting the mythology to “prove” my premise. Reinventing a whole new, vast, monstrous civilization is so much fun.

Anna Dougherty said...

Thanks for dropping in to chat! I have to say that this was the first story that I've read that had an animal narrator. What a hoot! It did take some getting used to but I thought Louie's thought process was a fascinating thing.

The daylight vampire thing was cool and I liked how you explained it all. Despite using characters that have their own books I didn't feel lost in the slightest.

Egyptians didn't have a vamp mythology? Huh. I didn't know that. As a writer I imagine that using that civilization as a platform would be like having the entire playground to yourself. Cool.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

Hi--thanks for inviting us to your book club!

When I was contacted to write a story for MBVR2, for some reason, I decided to try a lighthearted approach, maybe because there are many dark vamp books out there (and I write some darker paranormals myself; e.g., the Immortals series).

My story isn't connected with any of my series; it was just an idea that came to me, and I thought it would work well in a short story.

1. How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a full length novel?

With a short story or novella the trick is to keep the premise and worldbuilding simple and at the same time, write a complete and satisfying story, with beginning, middle, and end. It's a big challenge, but I enjoy it.

2. Do you find the process easier or more difficult?

About the same. They both have their difficulties. However, it takes me only a week or so to write a short story, novel a bit longer. :-)

3. How do you develop relationships in such a short span of time?

If I'm doing a short romance, I prefer for the couple to already know each other. It's more believable to me than two people falling instantly in love and marrying in 5000 words (although some authors can do this very well). If the relationship is already there, so is the tension. The story is the two people working out problems that already exist.

4. What about the vampire interests you?

I have always loved vampires. I'm a big Buffy and Charlaine Harris/True Blood fan. Heck, I was a Dark Shadows fan back in the day!

I think vampire romance works because you have an uber-strong, immortal creature who can seemingly do anything, yet at the same time, he's so vulnerable. The good and evil inside him (or her) is always at war, which can make for a riveting story.

5. What myths and legends do you incorporate into your stories? Does that change per book or do you usually keep the same lore for each story?

I base my mythology on well-known lore, and then twist it with my own ideas. I've written several series now, and the lore is a little bit different in each--the Immortals world is different from my Dragon world, which is different from the Pride Mates world (upcoming in Feb.) I did a vampire short story in the Just One Sip anthology (Katie Macalister was the lead author), and my vampire lore there was different from what I used in MBVR2. My mind spins out different ideas, and I'm happy to have the chance to play with them.

Devon Monk said...

Hello All. Devon Monk here, author of SKEIN OF SUNLIGHT.

1. How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a full length novel?

I cut my teeth writing short stories and one of the first I ever had published was just over 250 words (they call that "flash fiction now-a-days) So for me, 6,000 is a long short story! I love working in both novel and short story form. Both are challenging and a lot of fun. Novels give me more room to explore language, world building and complex conflict, but a good short story--where every word does triple-duty--can make it feel like it is actually a compact novel. It's like magic. :)

2. Do you find the process easier or more difficult?

It's like cake and cookies. Both delicious. Different recipes.

3. How do you develop relationships in such a short span of time?

Go for the emotional core of each character. What do they most want and long for, and who or what is in the way of that? In a short story, the answer to that question will lie between the characters themselves and the decisions and actions they make on the way to realizing or failing in achieving their desires.

4. What about the vampire interests you?

Tall, dark and perfect? Plus he'll never leave cracker crumbs in the bed sheets? What's not to love? Or, for a more writerly answer: I love the dark fairytale archetype of the powerful, unattainable male/female who lives in a world so like ours, yet so different and alluring. In many ways, the vampire is both the prince and the beast in one body, ruling over time, life, and death with a passion we mere mortals can only hope to experience.


5. What myths and legends do you incorporate into your stories? Does that change per book or do you usually keep the same lore for each story?

This is my first vampire fiction, and I think it follows fairly traditional lines. However, if these characters were ever set in a novel, I can already see which lores I would gently take apart, and then gleefully put back together in a different form.

Thank you so much for the invite! Happy reading!

--Devon

Anna Dougherty said...

Jennifer- The Scotsman and the Vamp was set in such a great time period. Usually when you have a Scotsman you end up in medieval times so I enjoyed the change. Ross and Claire were great characters. Claire was so wonderfully independent and Ross tried so hard to accept all of society's changing ways. He was an alpha male that wasn't all bossy and demanding. I really liked this story and it was very different from your normal vampires.

Patti O'Shea said...

Sorry that I'm late. Evil Day Job, but the weekend is finally here! :-)

BTW, Blogger ate my first response, so this is my second attempt to answer. This time I'll copy before trying to post just in case.

1. With a short story, the plot has to be kept simpler and there really isn't room to deal with the characters having heavy emotional baggage. I love to torture my h/h, so this is kind of a drawback for me. :-)

In Blood Feud, Seere and Isobel found the bad guy pretty easily. When I write a full book, nothing comes easy for my h/h. And usually one (or sometimes both) have some issues to deal with. With this story, both are relatively well adjusted. :-)

2. It's both easier and more difficult. The short length means that the story has to be kept relatively simple and without subplots. On the one hand, this makes it easier because it's much simpler to keep track of everything going on and it's more straightforward, but this is also what makes it more difficult for me. I am used to telling more involved stories with characters who have things they need to deal with in order to get their happy ending.

3. Because of the short length, I knew I wanted my h/h to have a past together. Seere and Isobel were separated by circumstance rather than by anything they did or chose to do, so once the circumstances changed, they were able to have that future together.

4. My favorite part about vampires in movies and books is their charisma. There's just something seductive and compelling about vampires. From Frank Langella's version of Dracula to Angel on television, there's just something about them. :-)

5. Blood Feud is my first vampire story and the world ending up being more elaborate than I expected. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a lot of that in such a short space, not and do Seere and Isobel justice. But I enjoyed this world enough that I'm thinking about setting a couple more stories here. The rules would remain the same then as they're setup in this story, but different characters have different views of their world.

Patti

Carole Nelson Douglas said...

ANNA: I have to say that this was the first story that I've read that had an animal narrator. What a hoot! It did take some getting used to but I thought Louie's thought process was a fascinating thing.

Thanks for your reaction, Anna!

Louie's "voice" is a combo of Damon Runyon of "Guys and Dolls" fame, generic gumshoe, and Mrs. Malaprop.

He "writes" in present tense and does not use contractions, as Damon Runyon's Depression-era Broadway characters did. They were "genteel" con men, bag ladies, showgirls, gamblers . . . just what you'd find in Vegas today, especially now that's it's broke!

So his narration is a unique blend, but addictive, they tell me. :)) I've had readers and even reviewers suggest that Louie "write" the entire mystery novel, but his (mostly) alphabetically titled series will have 27 entries and even Louie thinks that would be too much Louie.

I only put him in as solo narrator for short stories. He'd be a new experience for this readership, but is definitely a fantasy/paranormal character, in his way.

Angie Fox said...

Hi all - Thanks for the invite to drop by!

1. How does writing a short story for an anthology differ from writing a full length novel?
When I was trying to describe it to my husband, I told him it was like cooking Thanksgiving dinner for one - all of the elements and thought of a novel have to be there, only on a much smaller scale.

2. Do you find the process easier or more difficult?
It was harder for me to write short. I took a break from writing A Tale of Two Demon Slayers in order to write Love Bites (my story in MBV2). It was a fun little excursion, but it definitely took longer than I'd planned.

3. How do you develop relationships in such a short span of time?
I was tempted to write a story where the hero and heroine are re-connecting, or re-discovering a past love. That's always a good technique. Yet I figured a lot of writers would do that and I also wanted to explore the dis-advantages of a long life, namely a society that doesn't always allow certain vampires to change as individuals. So I made the love story a vital part of that change and drew emotion from it.

4. What about the vampire interests you?
I've always liked to wonder what impact eternal life has on a society - is there social change when the power structure is old and fixed? How are one's career choices affected? What about daily life? Are your parents still going to be over-protective when you're 800 years old?

5. What myths and legends do you incorporate into your stories?
Does that change per book or do you usually keep the same lore for each story?
I like to base my stories in mythological or folklore "fact" and then extrapolate from there. Every "world" I create has its own set of rules.

Anna Dougherty said...

Patti- I would love it if you wrote more about this world! When I was done with this story I immediately jumped on the internet to check for other books.

Anna Dougherty said...

Devon- The story was so ironic because if Maddie hadn't asked Archer make her forget she might not have gotten cancer. Her reasons for doing so make total sense but I wonder if she chooses to make new memories because she hopes to be turned into a vampire or because she realizes that Archer is her one love? I'm glad she chooses Archer because she seemed rather timid and lonely before.

Anna Dougherty said...

Carole- When I was reading Louie I was totally hearing him as Archie from the Nero Wolfe. I wasn't to far off:)

Larissa Ione said...

Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for the invite to chat! Sorry I'm late -- Halloween definitely grabbed a lot of my time (it's also my anniversary...very poor planning on our part! LOL)

Anyway, to answer the questions:

1. Writing a short story, for me, doesn't differ too much from writing a novel. It still involves careful plotting, character development, etc. The thing that makes it different is that I've got less space to bring the couple together, so it can get tricky.

2. In many ways, a novella is more difficult than a novel. There's a lot less room to develop the characters, so every word counts. On the other hand, with novels, I generally have multiple plots going on, all of which need to be woven together...and that can be a real challenge.

3. Developing a relationship in a short time is tricky. I like to use characters who already know each other to help speed along the process, though I haven't ALWAYS done that. In the Mammoth books, however, in which the word count is a fraction of even regular novellas, I really needed to use characters who knew each other!

4. I've been fascinated with vampires since the fifth grade, when I read Salem's Lot, by Stephen King. I just love the power, the danger, the banked sensuality...*shivers*

5. I tend to be a purist when it comes to vampires. I might shift things around a little, but I like to stick to the basics -- they're dead, they are killed by fire, wooden stakes, beheading, sunlight. They burn when touched by holy water or crucifixes. Sleeping in a coffin with soil from their homeland...well, I'm flexible on that. *g* I can be a little flexible on all of it depending on the story, but in my Demonica world, vampires pretty much stay true to legend.

Thanks again for having me! I'm loving the discussions!

Patti O'Shea said...

Thank you, Anna! This is my first vampire story, but Through a Crimson Veil has a hero and heroine who are half demon and half human. I also do have a couple more ideas for stories set in the Blood Feud world. It's just a matter of finding time to write them. :-)

Patti

Anna Dougherty said...

Larissa- Thanks for taking time to come by! Halloween and an anniversary? That's really cool and I'm a little jealous:) I tried so hard to get Flyboy (my hunky husband) to let us get married on Halloween and he was adamantly opposed to the idea. We had the whole Vegas wedding but he hated the idea of being married by a vampire. The only "rules" he had about the wedding were no black dresses, no jeans, and no Halloween. So we got married 2 weeks before Christmas.

Anyways... are you planning on including more about Kaden and Andrea in any future books? They have a tough road and I'd like to see how it all plays out. Is Kaden successful in his plans to infiltrate and betray the vamps? Does the Aegis eventually accept him and let him remain as a Guardian? Do they move? I really enjoyed this story and I love the Demonica series.

Larissa Ione said...

Thanks, Anna! Funny about your husband! *g*

As for Kaden and Andrea...they will appear in the fifth Demonica book, but it's a very minor role (at least, at this point.) But yes, you will be updated on their status! *g*