Today I am lucky enough to be joined by author, Alayna Williams, whose latest release, Rogue Oracle, I recently reviewed.
Hi Alayna and welcome. Thank you for joining me today!
Thank you so much for having me! I'm thrilled to get the chance to chat with you and your readers.
1) To start, perhaps you’d like to tell us all a little bit about yourself and your writing? How did you get into writing and what was your first big break?
I never really thought I'd realize my dream of seeing my books in print. I've always been scribbling, ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon. But my background is in criminology and library science - day jobs ruled the majority of my time. Writing was more of a creative outlet than a full-time occupation for me - and still is.
My first big break was selling EMBERS and SPARKS to Pocket Books under my other name, Laura Bickle. I'm still pinching myself.
One of the things that really helped put me on the road to publication is participating in National Novel Writing Month. Before embracing the NaNoWriMo method, I used to take years to finish a book. But I've come to learn to be able to work with compressed timelines, to strike while the original inspiration is still hot.
2) Your two books, Dark Oracle and Rogue Oracle, both feature tarot-reading heroine, Tara Sheridan. Are you interested in Tarot yourself or where did this idea come from?
I've been puttering with Tarot cards since I was a teenager. I've never read them professionally - usually just for myself.
Tarot cards are a lot of fun to use as writing prompts. With the Oracle books, whenever I got stuck on a character or plot point, I picked a card at random. Each card has its own strengths and weaknesses, a story all its own. The Tarot really has a lot to recommend it as a writing device - the Major Arcana depicts the Fool's journey into the World, which is really very similar the Hero's Journey.
I'd always wanted to write about an investigator who used Tarot cards to solve crimes. Tara Sheridan, my heroine, was inspired by the Queen of Swords card. She's depicted as a woman seated on a throne decorated with winged creatures. Her cloak is decorated in clouds, mirroring the storm clouds on the horizon She holds a sword in her had, uplifted, almost as if she's cut herself with it. She's the queen of the domain of air, over the intellect and powers of the mind. Her expression is touched by sadness.
3) These stories seem to blend urban fantasy with the thriller/crime solving genre. How would you describe the genre you write in and how much are you influenced by your own work and studies in your writing?
I think that my work creeps into several different genres - UF and mystery, with a good dollop of sci-fi. Since my background is in criminology, I add crime procedural details to an investigation. But I also like playing with balancing magic and science. One of the things that I love about writing is that there's a lot of room to push boundaries.
4) Do you have any plans to bring these characters back in another book in the future?
I hope so. I'd love to follow Tara and Harry as they work more weird cases - there's enough strange science and dark magic to go around for many, many stories.
5) Which authors have been most influential in your life and how do you think they have affected your own writing style and plot/character choices?
I first fell in love with fantasy when I read Robin McKinley's HERO AND THE CROWN as a teenager. It was the first novel I'd read in which the heroine suited up in her own armor and slew her own dragons. I was hooked ever since.
I had a hard time relating to fantasy before then - it seemed as if all the protagonists were men, and the women were relegated to secondary roles. The Lady of the Lake, for example, was very interesting - but we see very little of her in Arthurian legend.
6) What are you working on at present? Do you have any other new releases lined up?
I've got a couple of fun projects in the hopper at the moment. No news yet - but you'll be the first to know!
7) Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
More info about my books is here: www.salamanderstales.com. I'm also on Twitter (http://twitter.com/laura_bickle) and Blogger (http://delphisdaughters.blogspot.com/).
8) Anything else you’d like to share with us?
My best advice to writers is to try National Novel Writing Month - it really kick-started my writing and gave me momentum. More info is here: www.nanowrimo.org
Thanks so much for having me today!