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October's FEATURED AUTHOR: Stephanie Draven's Q&A!

October 13, 2010
Today, we welcome back October's Featured Author, Stephanie Draven! Come see what she has to share with y'all in a Q&A!

FTC Disclosure: I am an affiliate at IndieBound, The Book Depository, and Amazon, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover(s) or the link(s) provided may result in monetary compensation.

The Interview:
drey: Hello Stephanie! Welcome to drey’s library, and thank you for taking the time to visit us this month. I’m excited to have you here as October’s Featured Author, and I’m honored to be participating in your Poisoned Kisses blog tour!

Let’s get started, shall we? A quick-n-dirty (ok, quick-n-clean works too!) Cliff-Notes on Stephanie Draven--tell us about yourself in 10 sentences or less.

Stephanie: I think fiction matters; that even sexy, escapist paranormal romps have something to teach us about the world or about ourselves. I try to write about stuff that matters to me, and I’m just as interested in the journey of the heroine as I am in the journey of the hero. Harlequin Nocturne has embraced my dark and angsty voice, giving me my very own Mythica series, in which I get to reimagine ancient Greek mythology in a modern context. My debut paranormal novel is POISONED KISSES which is in bookstores everywhere this month and I couldn’t be happier about the good reviews its getting.

History is a passion for me, and I’m particularly interested in Cleopatra and the Augustan Age. As Stephanie Dray, I also write historical fiction for Berkley Books, and my debut historical, LILY OF THE NILE: A novel of Cleopatra’s Daughter, which will release January 2011. (Note that Dray is my last name, so I feel particularly welcome here!)

drey: Poisoned Kisses is good! My review will be coming up soon! :) And you're welcome here anytime! *grin*

When did you know you wanted to be an author? What were you doing? Was it a gradual realization, or a “big bang” event?

Stephanie: I was always a storyteller; unfortunately, back in kindergarten, my imaginative fiction was also known as ‘telling lies.’ When I announced that I’d like to be a writer, my mother very sensibly warned me away from this career path as she believed it would be a recipe for lifelong poverty.

Instead, she encouraged me to go to law school, which I did. I graduated, I passed the bar with flying colors, I practiced law for about a day and a half, and then I realized I was experiencing a poverty of the soul. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to prove to mom that I can actually make money doing this writing thing that I love. The jury’s still out!

drey: Can you share your first sale experience with us?

Stephanie: It’s a very long story, which I’ve shared here in gory detail, but let it suffice to say that I had the stomach flu when my agent called me with my first sale. I was surprised and happy and overwhelmed, and I may have said something like, “I have to throw up.” My husband and I celebrated with shots of Pepto Bismol!

drey: I'm sorry to hear about the Pepto Bismol! I hope you re-celebrated once you felt better!!

Who and/or what inspires your writing? How do you get from idea to pages?

Stephanie: I’ve become a very craftsmanlike writer. I don’t sit about waiting for inspiration to strike. I figure out what audience I want to write for and what I want to say. Then I think about the kind of story that I can use to communicate. Then I start mapping out characters and scenes and a plotline. With romance, I always know what the ending has to be, and I find this enormously reassuring. With historical fiction or historical fantasy, it’s always a highwire act without a net. In either genre, however, I simply force myself to sit down every day and meet a writing goal.

As it happens, I’m pretty terrible at first drafts. But I’m a good editor, when I have the time to shape a story, so I try to write the first draft as quickly as I possibly can and then go back and fix it.

drey: What do you indulge in when not writing?

Stephanie: I don’t knit or sew or do anything crafty--I am a menace to society with a glue gun in my hand. So when it comes to hobbies, I like to train my cat Butterscotch to do tricks. So far, he sits up and begs, shakes paws, gives me a high five, and gives me eskimo kisses on command. Right now, we’re working on teaching him to jump through a hoop. (Seriously, I’m not kidding.)

I love to read and to watch mindless, or not so mindless television. I watch soap operas, like General Hospital. And I love historical mini-series like Rome, The Tudors, and The Pillars of the Earth (which was also a fantastic book.)

drey: You'll have to post videos of Butterscotch! :) And I loved The Pillars of the Earth (haven't read the books yet though).

Do you have a favorite accompaniment to chocolate?

Stephanie: Ice cream. But then, doesn’t that go with everything?

drey: Why yes, it definitely does. *grin*

Smackdown: Your two favorite characters face off in the ring. Who are they, which one wins, and why?

Stephanie: Oh, wow. It’s hard to pick just two. However, the first two that spring to mind are Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara and Wideacre’s Beatrice Lacey. Unfortunately, it’s no contest. Philippa Gregory’s anti-heroine makes Margaret Mitchell’s Southern Belle look like a milk-soft little kitten. Beatrice would eat Scarlett’s liver and feed the other half to Rhett Butler for desert.

drey: OMG, Beatrice would definitely win hands down. I'd forgotten about Philippa Gregory's Wideacre, it's been a long time since I read it.

Electronic readers are becoming more affordable and available. There's been quite a bit of discussion about their impact on paper books, the environment, people's reading & buying habits... What's your take?

Stephanie: Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but the explosion of e-readers tells me that people still value text-based entertainment. They want to read the written word and they want to do it in a way that is convenient for them. Publishers should find a way to take advantage of this, especially since e-reader owners tend to buy more books than they did before they bought the e-reader. I own a Nook and I love it. It’s almost unfortunate that I have so many paper books that are waiting to be read, because if its on the Nook, it gets read first.

drey: I know what you mean--I carry my Nook around with me, and anything there does get preferential treatment. Shhh, don't tell everyone!

On the publishing side—where do you think publishers and authors stand on the digital divide? Are they jumping across the great divide, or waiting ‘till someone builds a bridge? Name one thing you think could be improved in regards to eBooks.

Stephanie: I’m not sure I can say anything here that hasn’t been said better by people more knowledgeable than I am. All I’ve got is this: What publishers haven’t figured out is how to market ebooks. They spent a lot of time figuring out how to sell to booksellers; now they have to find a way to sell directly to the consumer and it’s a paradigm shift.

Some publishers have figured it out--I have to mention Samhain and Ellora’s Cave here because know what they’re doing. If traditional publishers can’t figure it out, then authors are going to have to do it on their own, and then they are going to wonder why they need a publisher.

drey: Tell us a little something about Poisoned Kisses.

Stephanie: Poisoned Kisses is about Kyra, a nymph of the underworld who is rebelling against her father Ares, the Greek God of War. She’s an impetuous seductress with daddy issues and a complex about abandonment, but she’s also a metaphor about the world. How the things that we love, when they become too wild, too messy, too difficult...we sometimes walk away. She needs a hero strong enough to stay and fight for her, a hero who is committed to helping in war-torn places in the world, and she finds that in Marco Kaisaris, a UN Peacekeeper-turned-arms dealer. Like all the books in my Mythica series, the premise of Poisoned Kisses is that war can turn men into monsters...quite literally. To that end, Marco is a war-forged hydra with poisoned blood. Kyra is his salvation or his destruction. Maybe both.

drey: What are you looking forward to next?

Stephanie: My historical novel with Berkley is coming out in January 2011, and I’m so excited about it I can hardly stand it. It’s vastly different in tone and tenor than Poisoned Kisses. I used the history surrounding the remarkable life of Cleopatra’s daughter and wove magic realism through it to explain many of the mysteries in Augustan Age Rome. The novel is on the literary side, but it’s also very emotional and came from a very deep place in me.

Bringing up the rear: the Proust-lite.
  1. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
    Warm cats, warm husband, warm blanket, a full belly, and rain outside.
  2. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    A lingering lonely loss of mind and bodily function. Two of my grandparents have suffered from Alzheimer's and dementia and it is unbearably sad.
  3. Who is/are your favorite hero/heroine(s) in fiction?
    Scarlett O’Hara and Beatrice Lacey were the two that came to mind earlier, so I think I’ll stick with them.
  4. Who is/are your favorite hero/heroine(s) in real life?
    The service men and women of our country. They risk their lives and serve at the mercy of our collective demand and I try to honor them in my fiction.
  5. What sound do you love?
    My husband’s deep baritone.
  6. What sound do you hate?
    Angry thrashing music--it infects my mood and can ruin day.
  7. The quality you admire most in a man?
  8. The quality you admire most in a woman?
  9. If not a writer, you would be a ... A teacher.
  10. What is your favorite swear word?
    I’m going to vote for the F-bomb because of its versatility. We use it in the harshest ways, we use it to offend, to express dismay, to show our surprise...and then we go on to use it for something quite beautiful, and human, and life affirming. It carries a lot of weight, that little word.
drey: Thank you so much for stopping by, Stephanie. I hope you enjoy your visit here this month.

Stephanie: Thank you so much for having me here. I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody, and this interview was thought-provoking!


Stephen Parrish said...

Great interview. I have to say, though, if I told my cat "Gimme five!" he'd toss me a yer-an-idiot look and saunter away.

Cheryl said...

That was a great interview. It's nice to get to know you better Stephanie! I never knew cats could do tricks like that, and I like the F-bomb too.

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview Stephanie! Can't wait for Lily of the Nile - I love that period of history and there are far too few fictional books about it. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Yay! Someone else has read Wideacre! Love it ;)

Cheryl & Stephen, here's Butterscotch doing tricks.

And thanks Kat!

Brandy B aka Brandlwyne said...

Hi Stephanie I love the book cover and it sounds great.


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