I loved The Island of the Blue Dolphins, a story of a girl surviving on her own on an abandoned Pacific island. I also loved Marguerite Henry’s books King of the Wind and Come on Seabiscuit. I’m attracted to stories where characters overcome great adversity.
Who are your favorite authors? How did they influence your writing?
I have many. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were a big influence. I love the sensuous, Gothic feel, although my style is much sparer than hers. Robert Graves’ Claudius books and Mary Renault’s Alexander the Great novels are favorites of mine for their chatty, first-person narratives. I read Marian Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, over and over, for the strong female characters, but my favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Why did you decide to write?
As a child, I wanted to be a marine biologist or veterinarian. Later, I was bitten by the theater bug and became an actress. In college, one of my acting professors used to say I was destined to become a writer because I was so into theater literature and used to write humor pieces to entertain my friends. Eventually, I turned to writing plays and fiction. Blame it on Anne Rice. She killed off one of my favorite characters and made me want to write my own vampire world.
When do you find time to write?
I like to write in the morning before I go to work, but sometimes write in the evening. When I’m not busy promoting a new book, I write 2-4 hours a day.
What are the joys of writing for you?
Free therapy! You can work out your anxieties through your characters. I love writing speculative fiction for the world building. Research is fun for me. Creating characters is my favorite part of writing.
What are the obstacles of writing? How do you overcome them?
I love the creative process, when I’m inspired and really in the zone, but I’m not fond of the final revisions and editing. However, these are important, and I put my novels through a year of revisions and re-writes now. Having great critique partners eases the strain. Taking time to walk in the woods or spending time with my husband and son recharges my batteries when I’m stressing over things.
What is your favorite genre to read in? Write in? Why?
I love historical fiction and fantasy for reading, but I prefer to write fantasy, although I write a little sci fi and horror. I like immersing myself in another world.
How would you describe your writing style? How did you develop it?
Less is more. I write a lot of dialogue, and I’m not heavy on description. My stories are character driven. My background is in the theatre, and I’ve written plays. I’m used to dialogue and action telling the story. I draw a lot on my theatre training in writing. An actor learns how to flesh out characters from the skeleton the playwright has given. He or she learns about conflict and action. Fiction, like drama, depends on active characters making choices and the obstacles they confront and must overcome.
What was the inspiration for your book?
The entire Immortyl Revolution series is driven by the characters. Mia, heroine of books one, two and four, came to me in a dream, and I was compelled to write a story of the vampire experience from a female perspective. I became interested in biotechnology and thought up this race for immortality idea. Then Mia met Kurt, and he took the series into yet another direction, the revolution. This led him to India, where the Immortyl culture was born, and I needed a character to observe things from within the chief elder’s court there. Enter the irreverent Mr. Cedric MacKinnon, a former rent boy turned Immortyl courtesan and devotee of the Goddess Kali. Cedric’s struggle leads him to New York, where he meets Mia and sees in her the earthly manifestation of his Goddess.
What were the challenges of writing your story? The joys?
I wrote about how the events of 9-11 affect my characters. It was my favorite part and the most difficult. Writing about 9-11 was tough. I’d jotted down some thoughts and feelings I had that day, never intending them to come into play in a fantasy novel. We lived in Northern NJ, less than ten miles from Manhattan. I saw the smoke plume from my house and workplace. My husband worked in Times Square for Reuters. Everything about that day came back to me when I was writing the chapters about 9-11. I didn’t lose anyone that day. Everyone I knew who worked there either didn’t make it to work or got out safely. But like most people I know, I felt a mixture of sadness, fear and anger. In the book, I wanted to deal with the event itself with taste and sensitivity. I focused on the effect it has on my main characters and the difficulty it poses for a group that lives off the grid.
Do you do research for your writing? If so, how do you go about it (Internet, travel, etc.)?
I love doing research. I use books and the internet a lot. I wish I could travel to a lot of the places I research, but I try to get back to NYC once a year to refresh my memories of life there.
Tell us about your book.
Mia Disantini is the consort of Kurt Eisen, the Immortyl revolutionary leader. As such, she’s technically second in command, but she has a tendency to say unpopular things that rile up some of the “boys” among Kurt’s inner council. In Servant of the Goddess, she’s trying to open some businesses to make their “pack” self-supporting. One of these is a nightclub. But Mia isn’t content to sit on the sidelines; she’s a leader and realizes that, although Kurt has his strong points, he’s too diplomatic at times. She’s a woman of action.
Cedric MacKinnon has run away from the chief elder’s court, where he was an adept of the ancient arts, a scared courtesan in service to the Goddess, Kali. When Mia first sees him, taking on a gang of Immortyl bullies, he makes a profound impression. He’s just turned twenty, is extraordinarily beautiful and hell-bent on revenge against his former master, Raj. Cedric becomes Mia’s driver and bodyguard. They have some humorous clashes. Cedric adores playing David Bowie very loud in the car, and Mia abhors rock music. Cedric is a randy lad, who will sleep with anyone he fancies, female or male, and he’s made it clear to her that he’s ready, willing and able to employ the erotic arts he learned in India to satisfy her every whim. With Kurt immersed in Immortyl politics, she finds it hard to resist—ahem– (chuckle) Cedric’s abundant charms.
However, Cedric is the anointed servant of Kali and he insists the Goddess’ power resides in Mia and that Mia is destined to lead, kick some major butt and avenge the wrongs the Immortyl masters have done in the Goddess’ name. They develop a unique relationship, but it would be a spoiler if I tell the nature of it.
I will say, however, they do kick some major butt together.
What did you learn about yourself from writing this book?
Sometimes you have to step back from writing and deal with life. I had to move from my former home and get my son graduated from high school during the time I was putting this one through critique and rewriting. It took me longer than I wanted.
What advice do you have for other writers?
To thine ownself be true–write what is in your heart, with passion. Learn all you can about the craft and find good, honest, but supportive critique partners. Write and read every day.
What do you wish someone had told you about writing that you learned the hard way?
Don’t be afraid to show your work to others. I found this less painful and more instructive than I thought I would. I learned so much in the three years since I sold my first novel. My critique groups are tough, but fair. Any criticism is offered in the spirit of improving the writer’s craft.
What is your next project?
I’m writing a fantasy set in an eighteenth century technology. I’d call it picaresque in tone. The world is somewhat inspired by the geography of New Zealand and Maori mythology.
What are you reading now?
The Song of the Lioness fantasy series by Tamora Pierce.
Anything else you’d like your readers to know?
I’m kicking off my blog tour today, and I’m actually signing at Roundabout Books in Troy, OH. I’ll be at Confluence in Pittsburgh, PA in July and Context in Columbus, OH in September, but there are lots more events to come. Please follow me on Twitter, Facebook or at my blog for details of upcoming events and giveaways.
Cedric also has a Twitter and Facebook page of his own. He loves to chat and flirt with readers.
Every commenter who leaves a contact email at this blog will receive a link and free coupon code for an Epub and Mobi Pocket ebook bundle of my new trio of short stories, Annals of the Immortyls.
Blog Blitz Day grand prize: By going to my blog today, following and leaving a comment and email there, you’ll be entered in my gift basket drawing to win a signed paperback copy of Servant of the Goddess, a Cara Mia t-shirt, posters, a pen, a key chain and other vampire-themed goodies.
Servant of the Goddess
Book Four of the Immortyl Revolution
From the ashes of the first battle of the Immortyl Revolution, vampires Mia Disantini and Kurt Eisen set out to build a new Immortyl society.
Trouble arrives in the person of Cedric MacKinnon, a runaway adept of the ancient arts, who brings tidings of upheaval at the chief elder’s court that threatens everything Mia and Kurt have accomplished.
Mia finds it hard to resist when Cedric pledges his service and tempts her with the legendary skills he learned as an Immortyl courtesan. Facing opposition from both within and out, Mia begins to doubt Kurt is up to the task of leading their followers to his vision of an Immortyl Utopia.
Torn between her loyalty to Kurt and Cedric’s insistence that she is the earthly manifestation of the Goddess Durga and destined to lead, Mia confronts the greatest challenge of her life.
For excerpts of the Immortyl Revolution Series, character profiles, and the Immortyl Lexicon visit www.deniseverricowriter.webs.com
For insider information on the series visit www.ImmortylRevolution.blogspot.com
About the Author:
Denise Verrico is a New Jersey native who grew up in Pennsylvania. She is the author of the Immortyl Revolution urban fantasy series published by L&L Dreamspell. Denise was chosen as a presenter at Ohioana Book Fair in 2011 and 2012, and her books are part of the collection at the State Library of Ohio.
Currently, she’s a member of Broad Universe and two writing groups. She attended Point Park College in Pittsburgh, where she majored in theatre arts, and was a member of The Oberon Theatre Ensemble in NYC with whom she acted, directed and wrote plays. Denise is a roller coaster fanatic and lives in Ohio with her husband, son and flock of six spoiled parrots.