When I start my post telling you how amazing the beach and palm trees are, you'll know I've made it as a successful writer...for now, bear with me as I tell you that we're stuck in a perpetual deep freeze with the windchill hanging around -38. Sigh...
Here's something that should stir things up for you. Please welcome charissa Dufour, and her novel Sucked Away, from the Just Plain Sucks vampire series. (Wait 'till you read about the books.)
Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?
My journey to become a writer began in 8th grade, when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and pulled from school to recover. During this time, I was left alone for hours on end and it was then that I discovered new friends within the pages of books. I also learned the blessing of creating my own friends by writing down the stories that plagued my lonely mind—as demented as that sounds. Therefore at the ripe age of fourteen, I wrote my first novel. It sucked! But I kept going and now I am finalizing my first indie novel, with sequels to come, and two other series along with a fiction based blog. I never imagined that first horrible novel about a man who crash landed on his long lost home world would turn into a lifelong passion.
I now live in Chicago, IL with my amazing husband and two rambunctious kittens, Groot and Rocket.
Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
I guess you could say I write full time considering I don’t have a “day job,” nor do I have kids. Still, I try not to spend all day in front of the computer. I try to spend my mornings working on chores around the house and the afternoons writing.
Could you tell us a little about your novel?
My latest release is Sucked Away: Book 2 of the Series that Just Plain Sucks.
It is the continuing story of Ashley Hawn, a woman living the dream: working at a grocery store by day and writing sexy vampire novels by night. It’s the perfect life until her out-of-her-league boyfriend reveals that he’s a real-life vampire and turns her. Her life goes downhill from there as she realizes that life as a vampire just plain sucks. OK, I had to laugh, this was not what I would have expected from a vampire novel, I love it!
Would you take us on a brief tour of your novel and the world you’ve created?
I have two different series available, both in vastly different worlds. My vampire series is set in Olympia, Washington, the town I grew up in. I tried to keep my stories accurate to the city and culture. A reader could take a tour of Olympia based on my books. This is a point we have in common...accuracy is very important for me.
The other series is a medieval fantasy set in a fictitious world. The story takes place on a peninsula, divided from the mainland by a large body of water. The only connection between the two countries is a narrow stretch of land riddled with natural hindrances, such as quick sand, poisonous animals, and the like. Originally the peninsula was a quilt-work of many different nations, with their own vibrant cultures. Over the last decade, one king, Wolfric, conquered all but one. Dothan stand alone in the fight against Wolfric. Like the mainland, Dothan is protected through natural barriers including mountains and a wide, deep river. But will these barriers be enough to keep the power-hungry king at bay? This sounds interesting, and I see that in one instance you strive for accuracy, and here you can allow your creativity free reign.
Where does the inspiration for you main character and story come from?
I originally got my idea for Sucked In sitting with my husband on our porch, talking about the Twilight craze. One of us said “what would happen if Stephanie Meyer got turned and discovered her stories were total crap?” By the end of the night we had a loose plot for the book. I confess it took years getting the book to where it is. No shame there, many authors take years to allow their stories to mature.
What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
Sucked In is just a story. Nothing more. Each reader can find their own message, or just enjoy it for what it is. The Dothan Chronicles, on the other hand, is a story of true, unconditional love. It’s hard to go home, thinking you’re dirty and corrupted. Is there anything greater than the love of a mother saying, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you. I will always love you.”
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
Originally I just went with the flow. The result was many, many, many rewrites. With each new book my outlining improves. My outline begins with just the main turning points and a few key scenes that I know will happen—in other words I outline everything I know will happen before I begin writing. Once I start writing, I often stop my writing and bulk up the next couple chapters of my outline as I go. Sometimes my characters surprise me, and the outline needs revising or adding.
How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?
Each week I use a website called Hootsuite that schedules tweets, facebook posts, and google+ posts. I then use teams of other authors, each one helping all to market further. Being part of a group helps on many levels. CIR is the best of them all for authors, both and old, with or without experience, because they share their experience, knowledge, wisdom and silliness. (This concludes our `word from our sponsor`, now back to your regular programming...)
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Everyone tells me to write what you know. I say write what you want to read. If you’re not passionate about it, it will show in your writing. I write stories I want to read, and as I result I love writing them. The other little snippet of advice I have for aspiring writers is that this is hard work. It requires pushing through, even when you don’t feel “inspired.” You may rewrite something, but it’s import to push yourself to write every day. One day I am going to collect all of this advice and lump it together in a "So you want to be an author" book.
Could you tell us what you’re working on now?
I am currently working on Lost, book 2 in the Dothan Chronicles. I am so excited for this book. The main characters go through some rather devastating trials, and their growth is astounding.
Barely surviving the resurrection of the warlock Sedgrave, Ashley has healed in body, if not in mind. As she slowly tries to piece together her mind, sorting past from present and friend from foe, the time of her joining- a ritual designed to bind her to her seethe-comes upon her. Before the ritual can be completed in full, it is interrupted by a ragged pack of werewolves seeking asylum and protection.
Meanwhile, a storm is brewing in the mystical world with Ashley at its center, and before she knows it, her calm existence is once more Sucked Away.
I was looking out my window, at nothing in particular, and didn't notice the giant statue until I had climbed out of the car.
Its sheer size would capture you if nothing else, but its contents grabbed you and took a bite out of your imagination. It was a giant troll, one hand reaching out toward you, the other grasping a Volkswagen Bug, and I mean a real VW Bug.
I stood by the car, not really interested in approaching it, though even from this distance I could see footprints all over the statue where tourists had climbed it. Before I was turned into a vampire I would have loved to climb all over the fake troll, but now that I questioned its reality, I wasn't that interested in such activities.
I couldn't tell why, but the statue reminded me of a giant, cold monster. Though, as a vampire I never felt the mundane cold of a Washington winter, I suddenly began to shiver. My body was a step ahead of my brain; I began to remember the monster picking me up and freezing my skin and then dropping me. I nearly toppled over as my body remembered the sensation of falling a great distance and landing on something that crunched under my weight.
“You coming?” Periphetes asked from a few feet ahead of me, cutting into my memory.
Simply because I didn't want to tell him what was bothering me, I followed him to the very edge of the enormous troll statue.
“Is it real?” I asked.
Had I asked a human this they would have bound me in a strait jacket, but Periphetes knew what I was talking about. He was a fae, after all—unfathomably old and bound to a deeper magic than what made me a vampire.
He chuckled deep in his throat, shaking his head.
“I don't think so. After all, Seattle isn't that old; it was formed in the mid-19th century, around the time humans started building with iron and my people began to lose their power. It would have taken a very, very strong fae to capture a troll like this and keep him here this long.” Periphetes stopped talking for a few minutes to let me admire it, but a moment later he leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Besides, I'm pretty sure it was sculpted by some local artists in 1990, or there abouts.”
I glared up at him. He was teasing me and loving every minute of it. To show him my annoyance at being teased, I elbowed him in the gut. This also got him to take a step away. Other than Josh, being near people made me jumpy.
“Want to climb on it?” he asked after a moment of silence.
I was just beginning to shake my head when I spotted movement near the encased car. “Umm... Periphetes...” I pointed at the car, unsure what I had seen.
“What?” he asked, looking in the direction I was pointing, but unsurprisingly the car remained perfectly still, just as it had for nearly twenty-five years.
“Nothing. Let's just go.”
Periphetes frowned down at me, but graciously offered me his arm in an old-fashioned gesture and began to lead me away. I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see a giant creature, much like the statue, burst forward and begin to charge down the street toward us. Evidently Periphetes noticed the small earthquakes that accompanied the monster's feet or maybe he noticed my gasp, but he turned and pushed me toward the car. The giant, vaguely man-shaped thing slowed his tread as he swung down with his clawed, three-fingered hand to scoop up Periphetes.
To my astonishment, Periphetes let himself get caught; in fact he practically jumped into the thing's grasp. Instead of retreating to the car, as he probably expected me to do, I rushed forwards, determined to help or hinder as best I could. Before I could reach it, Periphetes had frozen the troll’s hand and started clamoring his way up the beast's thick arm. This confused the dumb thing. It waddled around, trying to follow Periphetes' quick movements with its one enormous eye.
I grabbed hold of one of its thick legs as it took small steps, and began climbing up. I used my vamp-strength to plunge my hands into the squishy flesh to create hand holds.
“What an incredible smell you've discovered,” I mumbled to myself. (Hey, I'm a Star Wars dork; Don't judge!)
It took me a few, tiring minutes to reach the cyclops' hip via this method. I discovered, rather intimately that the giant thing wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing. This encouraged me to speed up. As I began to drive my hands into its midsection, it suddenly took notice of me. To my surprise, it ignored Periphetes completely and snatched me up off its abdomen. With a lot more power than I had given it credit for, it chucked me down the street. I hit the pavement, leaving a dent in the street much like Superman does when he lands.
Before I could haul myself out of my own little crater, the Cyclops had turned its attention back to Periphetes, who had reached its shoulder. I nearly vomited when Periphetes thrust his hand into the Cyclops ear all the way up to the elbow.
The Cyclops swatted at him as it turned in circles, trying to see what was bothering its ear, but Periphetes was too well planted between his arm in its ear, and his feet tucked into the troll’s armpit. In a moment of complete stupidity, the beast began jabbing at its other ear, as though maybe he could dig in there and scratch the itch of Periphetes' violation.
I had no idea what Periphetes was planning, but I charged forward, despite what I was sure were a number of broken bones and bruised innards. It's easier to ignore pain when you're super-human and when you're thoroughly pissed off!
I thought I was done with this life for good. After all, my enemies had already destroyed me in every way, other than actually killing me. What more did they want? Well, whatever it was, they weren't going to get it without a fight.
I used the hand holds I had already made and scampered up the troll’s leg just as Periphetes' efforts began to take effect.
The enormous Cyclops' movements, which had been nominally fast and efficient, began to slow, as though it was drunk. I reached its chest and held my breath in the hopes of avoiding the worst of its foul breath. As I started to reach for its one, gigantic eye, I figured out what the winter fae was doing—he was freezing the Cyclops' brain with the hand still encased in its ear.
Well, I wasn't about to be outdone by the fae. I began jamming my hand into its eye socket. In one swift jab I knew it couldn't see anymore. Another punch and it began to topple to the ground. I jumped off before it hit the ground, rolling with my landing and gasping in agony. Yep, definitely broken bones.
Periphetes rode the Cyclops to the ground and extracted his arm from its ear. From where I lay, I gagged as the fae tried to wipe the greenish-brown wax off his arm onto the Cyclops' small tuft of hair. He was far from finished when the beast began to twitch and shake. Before I could even make it to my feet, Periphetes climbed onto its head and jumped into its eye socket—I mean that literally!
One minute he was standing on the Cyclops' cheek, the next he was knee deep in Cyclops brain.
Sucked In: http://www.amazon.com/Sucked-That-Just-Plain-Sucks-ebook/dp/B00O6FFWSA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1422476857&sr=8-2&keywords=charissa+dufour
Sucked Away: http://www.amazon.com/Sucked-Away-Book-Plain-Sucks-ebook/dp/B00SU75EOW/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1422476857&sr=8-4&keywords=charissa+dufour
Torn (Dothan Chronicles): http://www.amazon.com/Torn-Dothan-Chronicles-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00QXWYME4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422476857&sr=8-1&keywords=charissa+dufour