Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 53 (February 2010)
- Welcome to the February 2010 issue of my newsletter, "News from the Crypt," and please visit Carter's Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled "Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe." For my recommendations of "must read" classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the Vampires:
Fictionwise.com sells quite a few of my e-books as well as my short stories from various anthologies, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Sword and Sorceress" series.
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog: http://www.aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/
The March issue of ROMANTIC TIMES will include a mini-interview with me in connection with the 4-star(!) review of my Ellora's Cave story "Sweeter Than Wine." For space reasons they have to run edited versions of the answers (which I haven't seen). In case you're curious, here's my complete answer to the question about whether I believe in ghosts and how I handle writing about ghost sex:
"I've never seen a ghost and don't actively believe in them. As a believer in the afterlife, though, I wouldn't be totally surprised to learn they exist. If so, I would imagine a ghost's existence to be a form of purgatory, a transitional state to atone for the transgressions of life; that's what I think Jacob Marley is doing in 'A Christmas Carol.' I use that assumption in 'Sweeter Than Wine.' The main difficulty in writing about ghost sex is formulating consistent rules about when and how a spirit can affect the material world. I postulate that a ghost can become partially corporeal by drawing energy from a living person, in the case of 'Sweeter Than Wine' through ingesting a few drops of blood. As long as the hero can periodically draw a tiny amount of blood from the heroine, he can manifest corporeally. I assume, however, that a ghost, being not quite physical, would be more eroticallyversatilethan a living man. In another Ellora's Cave story, 'Heart Diamond,' I make the hero's union with the heroine permanent by providing him with a body to possess, thus giving him a second chance at life."
This month I'm interviewing paranormal romance author Rebecca York.
Interview with Rebecca York:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
I always wanted to be a writer. Or I always made up stories, which I acted out with my dolls. But I thought I couldn't BE a writer because I'm dyslexic. I had a lot of trouble learning to read, and spelling was always difficult for me. But after my kids were born, I was a stay-at-home mom looking for a part-time job. The local community college had a seminar for women who wanted to figure out what career to go into. I kept coming out high in writing interest. And I also found out there that if you wanted a part-time job, you had to go out and look for oneor make one for yourself. So I asked one of the local papers if they wanted an article about the seminar. They bought it from me, then more articles, and I started selling to local papers on a regular basis. From there I gradually changed my focus to fiction while also writing cookbooks. Sounds like I never quite decided what I wanted to be when I grew up.
2. What genres do you write in?
As a kid, I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and adventure. So the first novel I wrote, THE INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS, was a kids' science fiction story about a boy who meets an alien space traveler in the woods across from his house. (My house, actually!) In the early 80's, when romance fiction was surging, a friend asked me if I wanted to write one. Since I'd never read any, she brought me shopping bags full of Harlequin Presents. I found out that these books were all about the romance subplots that I'd always loved in the books I read. I began writing romance, but after a few years, I started slipping in suspense, SF and fantasy elements. After a while I was writing romantic suspense, then RS with strong paranormal elements. I love getting to work with that tantalizing combination.
3. Do you outline, "wing it," or something in between?
I'm always more secure when I know where my book is going. I believe that it's easier to fix a 15-20 page outline than a 300 page book. How do you know if a scene advances your plot if you don't know the plot? With THE INVASION OF THE BLUE LIGHTS, I didn't start writing the text until I proved to myself that I could outline a quarter of the book.
4. Please tell us about the origins and development of your werewolf
series. And what inspired you to add dragon shapeshifters?
When I was fifteen, I read DARKER THAN YOU THINK by Jack Williamson. I loved the story. In fact, Williamson made me want to BE a werewolf. Much later I read THE WOLF'S HOUR by Robert McCammon. Both of those books made me want to write my own werewolf story, but I kept thinking, "Who would buy that from me?" Still, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I came up with the idea of a werewolf detective who uses his wolf senses to solve crimes. That book became KILLING MOON. I didn't know I was writing a series, but Berkley wanted more werewolf books, so I gave them EDGE OF THE MOON (where the hero's the police detective from KILLING MOON). Then I came up with more ideas.
I'm always looking for new ways to make the series fresh. We'd traveled to China, where I saw a lot of dragons, and I got interested in them, so began planning to add a dragon-shifter character to the series. Ramsey Gallagher gets his own book in August. Right now, the title's DAY OF THE DRAGON.
5. What's out now?
My current book is POWERHOUSE, part of a Harlequin Intrigue continuity series. It's about an unscrupulous doctor who's using people with a certain genetic heritage to create psychic powers. My hero, Matt Whitlow, was part of the experiment. Now a desperate Shelley Young, his former lover, has come to him to ask for help finding the son he never knew they had. Trevor's been kidnapped, and Shelley's sure Matt is the only one who can help her find the boy. I've got another Intrigue, GUARDING GRACE, out in July. It's about a woman who witnesses a murder and the cover-up. And it turns out the only person who can save her from the bad guys trying to capture her is the murdered man's brother.
6. What are you working on now?
I'm just back from a research trip to Cumberland, Maryland, where I've set my next Intrigue (January 2011). It's one of my 43 Light Street series books, and it's about a man who wants revenge on some of the people in town, so he's constructed a "funhouse" where he can make them try to escape, then kill them. Right, I've got a sick mind! But my hero and heroine are going to figure out what he's up to and who he is. I'm also working on a proposal for a new series, but I don't want to talk too much about it yet.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Develop your writing muscle. The more you write, the easier it will be to sit down and do it. Don't give up. You can't sell unless you're producing work and sending it out. Write what you love. Don't try to produce a book just because the topic is hot.
8. What's your website URL? Do you have a blog?
I love Twitter. You can find me there at rebeccayork43 (for my 43 Light Street series).
Rebecca York (aka Ruth Glick) ** http://www.rebeccayork.com
DRAGON MOON, Berkley Sensation, 10/09
POWERHOUSE, Harlequin Intrigue, 2/10
GUARDING GRACE, Harlequin Intrigue, 7/10
Instead of an excerpt this month, I'm including an interview with me that was done by horror author Rick Reed with his "Silly Questions" theme. He wasn't able to use my interview on his blog after all, so he gave me permission to post it.
Check out his website at: www.rickrreed.com
Also, one of my books will be spotlighted on his blog on Wednesday, February 3. See it at:
Here are my replies to Rick's Silly Questions:
1. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
C. S. Lewis as guest, with a cheese platter. (He had very plain tastes in food.)
2. Who do you think you are?
The Ugly Duckling.
3. What's your problem?
I can't write fast enough.
4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Depends. Would you use it for universal health care and world peace?
5. Where you at?
Suspended between fantasy and mundanity somewhere in Maryland. (I don't mind being in touch with reality as long as I don't have to live there.)
6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
7. What's your favorite brand of cereal?
8. When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
Eeyore. ("Good morning, Eeyore" -- "If it is a good morning. Which I doubt.")
9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
Mamma always claimed I didn't know my HEAD from a hole in the ground. I guess that means I don't know which way is up.
Some Books I've Been Reading:
BRAN HAMBRIC: THE FARFIELD CURSE, by Kaleb Nation. A boy living with unsympathetic foster parents discovers that his mother was murdered and he's a mage. This novel doesn't read like a pastiche of the Harry Potter series, though. It has a lighter tone, even zanier than the early chapters of the first Harry Potter installment. BRAN HAMBRIC does get darker as it goes along, yet without losing the madcap aspects, a hard trick to pull off. Rather than a version of our world where wizards hide in secret enclaves, Kaleb Nation's novel is set in an imaginary world where magic exists openly. The town of Dunce, however, fanatically forbids mages, gnomes, "et cetera" within its borders. One of the most fanatical haters of such creatures, banker Sewey Wilomas, has become the unwilling foster father of Bran, who mysteriously appeared at the age of six in a locked bank vault, with nothing to identify him except a scrap of paper bearing his name and birth date. He has no memory of his life before that moment. Bran's condition is less grim than Harry's existence with the Dursleys. While Bran's foster family doesn't show any love for him, they don't abuse him, and he has a close friend in Rose, the family's poor relation who shares the household chores with him. The present-day action begins with Sewey and Bran on the roof chasing a supposed burglar (or, according to Sewey, maybe a gnome). The intruder turns out to be a strange creature trying to capture Bran. He gradually learns about his mother's death and the danger facing him. Unlike Harry's mother, Bran's was far from a hero of the magical realm. The story contains plenty of action, suspense, and plot twists as he learns the full truth and confronts the villain, who had been thought dead. The motif of an evil mage's soul hidden away to make him immune to death forms another parallel to Harry's saga. But the tone and the details of the plot are still different enough to make BRAN HAMBRIC worth reading on its own terms.
MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY'S SWORD OF AVALON, by Diana L. Paxson. Since Bradley's death, Paxson, one of her collaborators, has taken over the Avalon series. Of the new books, all prequels to MISTS OF AVALON, I like SWORD OF AVALON best. Anderle, the Lady of Avalon, rescues the infant prince Mikantor from an enemy raid and hides him with foster parents to conceal his survival. After many perils, during which he becomes the apprentice and friend of a master smith, Mikantor grows up to unite the tribes of Briton as a proto-Arthur. He wields a sword forged through the power of the Goddess from meteor iron. Anderle, Mikantor, and Anderle's daughter, who falls in love with him, are all sympathetic characters. The story includes magic, visions from divine beings, glimpses of the faery folk, and a climax that blends triumph with tragedy. This novel holds my interest more than others in the series because it has a direct connection to the Arthurian mythosthe creation of the sword later known as Excalibur. What I really want from Paxson, though, is an immediate sequel to MISTS OF AVALON. The epilogue to that novel showed us Morgaine's ultimate fate, but how did the rest of Arthur's contemporaries fare after the fall of Camelot?
THE LOST, by J. D. Robb, et al. I bought this four-author anthology to get the Eve Dallas novella by J. D. Robb. This book comprises four quite different stories, only the last two being romances. "Missing in Death," by Robb, begins with a passenger on a ferry who goes into the ladies' room and vanishes for an hour, with no memory of the passage of time. Blood (not hers) is splattered all over the room. Since intriguing mystery features the usual repartee between Eve and her partner Peabody as well as a few appearances by Eve's rakish husband, Roarke, of course I enjoyed it. The only flaw I see is that a futuristic gadget invented (or refined) by the villain is integral to the crime's solution, so there's no way the reader could figure it out. My favorite piece in the book, "The Dog Days of Laurie Summer," by Patricia Gaffney, features a woman in a coma who wakes up as a stray dog. When her grieving husband and son adopt the dog, Laurie sees this miracle as her one chance to get back into her own body and return to life. Heart-wrenching and also funny in spots, with Laurie's struggle to hang onto her human mind and make her husband understand her while trying to resist her body's canine instincts. The other two stories are a paranormal romance, "Lost in Paradise," by Mary Blayney, in which a pure-hearted heroine redeems a man cursed with immortality and trapped on his tropical island; and "Legacy," a contemporary romance by Ruth Ryan Langan, whose heroine flies to Ireland to meet a wealthy man who may or may not be her long-lost grandfather and falls in love with his foster son.
FOUR FREEDOMS, by John Crowley. This historical novel by a bestselling fantasy author has no speculative fiction content, but that fact doesn't detract from its value. Set during World War II, it focuses on the home front, specifically on the lives of men and women working at an aircraft factory in Oklahoma. The central protagonist, Prosper Olander, walks with braces and crutches as a side effect of childhood surgery for a spinal deformity. Crowley's depiction of medical science in the 1940s and the lives of disabled people in that era is fascinating. In one scene that sticks vividly in my mind, a well-meaning teacher uses Prosper as an object lesson for the class in how "poor posture" causes spinal curvature. As a talented graphic artist, Prosper finds his place in the newspaper office of the self-contained village that houses and serves the factory workers. We also see how differently (in many ways better) working women were treated during the war than in the 1950s, when they were strongly encouraged to stay home. Several women also have significant viewpoint sections and back stories in the novel. Most of the story, in fact, consists of flashbacks showing how the characters got to this point, with Prosper's early life taking up the most space. It's a quiet book; the war brings momentous changes to the lives of the characters, but nothing cataclysmic or action-packed. I like that about the novel. If you're interested in the 1940s and World War II, don't miss this obviously exhaustively researched book.
Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:
Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to, has a newsletter for fans:
For more information, visit:
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Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com
Mundania Press: www.mundania.com
You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...
"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter