ANNOUNCEMENT: The winner of Sally’s giveaway of a copy of A CHRISTMAS MOON is CARMEN FALCONE. Congratulations, Carmen!
I’m happy to welcome Sally Quilford here as my guest this Christmas – she’s here to tell us something about her new paranormal novel CHRISTMAS MOON. I love that name, don’t you? And unlike other Christmas books, CHRISTMAS MOON won’t be off season even when Christmas is over because good paranormal is good paranormal whatever the time of year. I’ve been a huge fan of Sally’s work for a while now and I happen to know she does paranormal rather well – lots of delicious chills. So I had plenty of questions to ask her, which she obligingly and generously answered. Here’s the interview.
- Sally, you usually write a Christmas novel. Why did you choose to do a paranormal this time?
I was just about to say that I don’t usually write a Christmas novel. Then I remembered I’ve written three now! The truth is I avoid seasonal if I can, because if I can’t place it one year, I have to hang onto it for another year. Writing seasonal work is fraught with other dangers too. Given the vagaries of publishing, a Christmas story needs to be subbed in around July. Whoever feels like writing a Christmas story when it’s sunny outside? Though living in India, I guess you have that all year around, Maria! I chose a paranormal this time because I had always wanted to write a werewolf story. And I had only ever written short paranormal short stories so writing a longer novel was a real challenge.
- Well, your COLLECTOR OF HEARTS was paranormal. Or maybe semi paranormal. There were ghosts in that. It gave me the chills, all that fog, yet it was so exciting I couldn’t leave it. What inspired you to write this story?
As I said, I’d always wanted to write a longer paranormal story, and I’m fascinated by werewolves rather than vampires. It’s the duality of werewolfism (Is that a word? It is now!) that interests me. The idea that someone can be perfectly normal then have this other side to them. Then an editor asked me if I would set it at Christmas. I had the vague idea of setting it in Victorian times, and then I looked up when there was a full moon around the late 1900s. I actually found there was a full moon on Christmas Day in 1901. It was almost as if it was meant to be. From then on the idea of forgiveness and redemption at Christmas-time played a big part in the story. I’ve tried not to be overtly religious, as I don’t want to put non-believers off reading it, but to be honest I don’t think it’s possible to have werewolves, vampires and shapeshifters without accepting that there’s a higher power somewhere out there; at least in the world in which the story takes place. Evie’s father is a vicar so she can’t get away from it. It’s also set at Christmas, so it would have been impossible to ignore the significance of that time of year. As most of the original mythologies around werewolves were to do with religious fears of the ‘other’, I felt that the miracle of Christmas did have a part to play in the story. But I also left it open as to what exactly was going on for those who prefer not to be beaten around the head with religion. So I hope non-believers can suspend their disbelief for a while and just enjoy the story for what it is.
I also wanted to get away from the idea of werewolves and vampires as being these sexy creatures whose only purpose in life seems to be to give the heroine great sex. I wanted to get back to the darkness of it all, and focus on the fears that gave rise to such creatures. That’s not to say that my werewolves and vampires aren’t very sexy indeed. But I show them more as being ‘unnatural’ in Evie’s world, even if they are very appealing.
- Did you enjoy writing this story? It’s not your first paranormal I know. Is writing a paranormal different from other genres?
I did enjoy writing it very much. I just let my imagination run wild and that was huge fun. It is my first full length paranormal, as I said before. I know A Collector of Heartsis vaguely paranormal, but it’s grounded very much in the real world. Apart from a slightly fairy tale ending, nearly all the events have a rational explanation. And A Thirteenth Passenger, though having some paranormal leanings gives a scientific explanation to the proceedings.
Writing paranormal is very different. You have to give your world clear rules and you have to stick to those rules. That gave me some real headaches when I was writing, and whilst I had the ending in mind, I wasn’t sure how I was going to bring it about. Then I had Raphael give a small speech to Evie about the power of the mind, and that set the tone for the rest of the book. I’m not saying anymore as I don’t want to give any spoilers!
- What is your preferred genre of writing normally?
As you know, Maria, I love writing romantic intrigue. I’m a big fan of Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, and they very much inspire my fictional world. But paranormal novels are intrigue of sorts. There is generally a mystery to solve. Ghosts usually haunt because they have something left to do in the world, and the characters have to learn what that is to set the ghosts free. Often it involves finding a murderer. In A Christmas Moon, the mystery is that Evie Price’s brother has been missing for years. This sends her off on an exciting journey with a very mysterious but enigmatic man.
- Do you have a daily word target (might be a good chance to promote 100k words in 100 days here)?
I’m not a writer who thinks you have to write every single day to be considered a real writer, so I don’t have a specific daily target that I feel I *must* write. I only write when I have something to write. However, when I do write, I can achieve quite a lot in a short time (being a touch typist helps). My aim, when I sit down and have a story to tell, is to write one 3000 word chapter a day. It doesn’t always reach that amount, but that’s the aim. Then once I start the story I have to keep going daily till I finish it, otherwise I lose interest very quickly. However, I do think it’s a good idea to get into the habit of writing regularly, if not exactly daily, hence me setting up the challenge to write 100k in 100 days. It starts on 1st January 2013 and ends on 10th April 2013. Details are on my blog here: http://quillersplace.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/100k-in-100-days-2013/ and there’s a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/125279004297437/
The first time I did this challenge, in 2012, there were about me and a dozen of my mates. Since I announced the challenge for 2013 nearly 300 people have pledged to take part. It’s not as magnificent as NaNoWriMo and I don’t have access to the same type of widgets and word counters. It’s just a simple pledge to write at least 1000 words a day for 100 days. And you can spread those words any way you wish (though the blog post does tell you what you can’t include).
- How many books did you write this past year?
I wrote three 50k novellas, and one at around 32k. Believe it or not that’s not high for me. I’m usually a bit more prolific but I’ve had other writing related things to do this year, including three online workshops. Two of the 50k novellas, Our Day Will Come and Bonfire Memories have been sold and published already, and the 32k novella (under my other pen name Elise Hart) has also been published in eBook. I’m awaiting a decision on the third 50k novella, which I wrote for NaNoWriMo. But I also completed my saga, The Steps of the Priory, and put the finishing touches to The Thirteenth Passenger and A Christmas Moon. I don’t want to admit how many novels I started but didn’t finish…
- What are your writing targets for the coming year?
Obviously I’d like to get through 100k in 100 days, especially as it was my idea. So I feel I should show willing. I have a western to complete. A real western that is, not a western romance. So that will be the first thing on my list. My hope next year is to write at least 6 novellas. That’s one every two months. I know I can write one in a month, so it’s doable, but it depends what else is happening in my life and whether I can have six viable ideas. Not all of the novellas will be 50k. The western will be 45k and I hope to interest Robert Hale in that for their Black Horse imprint.I’ve got this mad idea that I’d like to fill in the ‘missing decades’ in my Midchester Memories series. I’ve done five novels set there now. One, The Ghost of Christmas Past, is set in the 1800s, but the rest are from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and the present (Our Day Will Come, True Love Ways, Bonfire Memories and Mistletoe Mystery).
I’m not so bothered about filling up the 1800s, as I feel that if you’ve read one Victorian style murder mystery, you’ve read them all. But every decade from 1900 to the Millennium had its own particular feel and preoccupations as Britain moved towards the modern world so I’d like to somehow reflect that in the stories. I did a count up and it means writing another 6 or 7 books. So I doubt I’ll get them all done in 2013 but I may well get a couple of them done amongst other projects. I haven’t done a paranormal Midchester story, so maybe that’ll be the first on the list!
SALLY HAS VERY KINDLY AGREED TO GIVE AWAY ONE COPY OF ‘A CHRISTMAS MOON’ TO ONE LUCKY COMMENTER.
Find Sally on the web:
A CHRISTMAS MOON
It is nearing Christmas, 1901, and Evie Price knows that her family will never move on until her brother Phelan is found. He left home with the wolf men, leaving her mother and father grief stricken and Evie’s life on hold. Evie engages the services of Professor Raphael, a man labelled a charlatan. When Raphael tries to leave her behind, she disguises herself as a young man and takes her pistol and six silver bullets, travelling into deeper and darker territory. With Raphael, she faces dangers and peoples she never knew existed.
Raphael has his own secrets, and, having saved her life twice, is determined Evie will not get into any more danger. But the curse of an old witch is too strong to resist. Raphael and Evie are inextricably drawn together, travelling towards a moonlight meeting that could bring an end to everything, including their growing love for each other.
BUY LINKS: http://www.bookstrand.com/a-christmas-moon
NB: A CHRISTMAS MOON will be available on Amazon early in the new year.