Q: What genre do the books (Winter Fade, Firefly Kiss, Snowflake Promise, Becomings, Glowstar) fall under?
A: They’re Urban Fantasy / Paranormal. Maybe what is sometimes termed “Dark Urban Fantasy” for the four books of the Winter Fade series, while Glowstar is more firmly rooted as a Paranormal Romance.
Q: Like Twilight or True Blood?
A: Not exactly. Twilight is aimed primarily at a young-adult (teen) audience, with experiences that are relatable to teens. True Blood (based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries books by Charlaine Harris) at least in the HBO telling (the books don’t get as explicit for the sex), has a more “mature” adult theme. All of these are entertaining and have big followings.
The Winter Fade series of books falls more in-between. They’re more akin to authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, maybe Jim Butcher (haven’t read him yet, but I’ve been told his books have some of those elements). These are books with strong female main and supporting characters. They do not shy away from action. But there are always a number of underlying themes that thread their way through each of the books and stories.
Q: Where did the main character’s name derive?
A: I played a video game back in the 1990s called Baldur’s Gate that featured a mage/thief secondary character named Imoen. Although she was a popular choice for many people, I actually didn’t care as much for her character compared with some others. However, I loved the name. It obviously bears some similarity to some of the Tolkien-created names (Arwen, etc.) as well as a tonal similarity to the Welsh name Bronwen. It’s pronounced EM-OH-EN – just like one would pronounce the three letters (M, O, N) with an accented first syllable like most Germanic/English names of two or three syllables. Imagine saying CHRIStopher with the accent on the first syllable. So IMoen.
As far as the origin of the name goes, it’s supposed to have been created by Bioware (which made the game) although there are a few obituary records that reflect the name (but may be an erroneous OCR-rendition of a name like Imogen and simply missed the “g.”). It became popular for some mothers to name their daughter either Imoen or a variant like Imowyn for at least several years after the game and its sequels came out. There are a number of birth announcements for babies using the name. Names cannot be copyrighted, although characters certainly can. But the Imoen Aileen Doyle character of the Winter Fade books bears no relationship to the mage/thief “daughter of Baal” from Baldur’s Gate. It’s simply a very pretty name I’ve always liked quite a lot, and apparently some parents have felt the same way when naming their child.
Q: Describe Winter Fade (the first book) in your own words – separate from the description on Amazon.
A: Winter Fade is a character-driven story involving a young woman (early twenties) named Imoen Doyle who becomes a succubus – a more sensual variety of vampire – but sensual in the way she feeds or enjoys any number of things and not necessarily from a sexual standpoint. Sensual is “of the senses” and hers are definitely enhanced. For instance, her best friend, another succubus, takes her shopping for clothes and buys them “at a discount” by enrapturing salespeople at the checkout counter. There is humor scattered throughout Imoen’s story, just as there are moments of great fear and danger, introspection and longing, and searching for what defines who she is. Also, action. Again, with the themes and strong female characters as well as some action during crisis moments, these books probably can be aligned with those of Kelley Armstrong who utilizes similar aspects in most of her storylines. But it’s a similarity akin to saying Stephen King and Clive Barker both write horror. Kelley Armstrong has a very well-defined style. I have mine. And no one would ever mistake one for the other.
Q: What would you say defines your style of storytelling?
A: I’ve always admired Stephen King and his willingness to bring to life a number of well-defined characters in most of his works. Winter Fade has about eight main characters other than Imoen whose lives are shaped by their unique approaches and points of view. Four of these characters’ backgrounds are explored the the story collection Becomings: Winter Fade Stories Volume 1 – Isabel, Darya, and Katharine and Jake.
Imoen’s character also undergoes considerable growth throughout the book as well as the series. Who she meets, and the challenges and crises she faces – all of these leave their mark upon her. She isn’t a passive participant. She has to learn to deal with the variety of other vampires she has come into contact with, to learn from some of them and choose how she applies what she discovers.
And, of course, there is action.
Q: How much action?
A: It isn’t overboard. There is more than in some of Kelley Armstrong’s books. Although her werewolf books fall probably closer to the mark (Bitten, Stolen, Broken, Frostbitten). There’s action about every several chapters for much of the book, and it gets heavier toward the end as the climax draws near. I’ve been told by a number of people that I write action scenes very well. I’ll have to let each reader judge that themselves. I simply try to do what I can to make the action scenes exciting, very visual, and believable – as well as not gratuitous. This is again where my books fall closer to Kelley Armstrong and some others. Because I have read a few authors in the genre whose stories can have fairly graphic depictions – violence, sex, and so on. Mine don’t shy away from violence. But they don’t revel in it. There’s a sort of line and it’s hard to really define. That’s why I mention some other works that I think are at least similar enough in some aspects to use as a reference point.
Q: How would you describe Firefly Kiss (the second book)?
A: Firefly Kiss was the story I originally envisioned. Or at least, the feeling and mood that I imagined for this character. But I wrote Winter Fade first, because I was curious what brought Imoen to this point where she begins the story of Firefly Kiss. She’s lonely and despite having established friends with many of the other vampires, she’s aware of the isolation of her new life. So she has adjusted (after all of the events portrayed in the first book) but still has challenges ahead. This is really like anyone. Her character is age 23 when she begins the first book, and the second book takes place eighteen months later. People in their early twenties are what I would really call “young adults” – even when that nomenclature has been applied to describe teens. The twenties are a time of change and shaping – where we’re not quite sure where we’re going but we have the drive and the persistence to face an array of unexpected challenges and try to overcome them, or at least not be beaten by them.
So Imoen is lonely, and there is a particularly poignant scene in the third chapter that shows just how lonely she’s become. She also has some residual issues to deal with that relate to events that happened in the first book. But her life has a way of dropping unexpected surprises upon her, and she isn’t one to shy away from meeting them – or seeking them out. But as with the first book, she will definitely be changed by her experiences by the time the last page of the story has been turned.
Firefly Kiss is a love story – but one with action elements just as the other books have. It has similar amounts of action as Winter Fade. And there are quite a number of surprises throughout the story. A few new characters are introduced as well, along with some returning from the first book.
Q: What about Snowflake Promise (the third book)?
A: I was actually unsure about writing a third book to the series. But I had an idea or two in mind and as they developed I had a good sense of what I could do with them. Snowflake Promise takes place a year after the events at the end of the previous book. Imoen is at a new stage of her life, but still looking to resolve some things and move forward a little further.
This book is styled a little differently, because it has mystery elements for much of the book. It also takes place over a shorter period of time for certain reasons, and many of the chapters lead directly into the next with only a change in character as part of the story moves toward a climax. It involves almost as much action as the other two books, but still a satisfying amount. I’m pretty certain that anyone who enjoyed the first two books will also find the third book quite a fun read. It shares the same kind of mix of seriousness, danger, playfulness, and character growth.
Q: What about Becomings: Winter Fade Stories?
A: I would have loved to have covered the backgrounds for several of the characters in Winter Fade when many of them were introduced. But character histories work well in only a few books, I think – Anne Rice’s character histories for Armand and Marius from The Vampire Lestat come to mind. Those were brilliantly done, and worked well within the story. But the Winter Fade books aren’t styled in such a way, and exploring character histories in any kind of detail would simply have diverted from the momentum of the storyline.
Still, I wanted to bring more to these characters because I knew their backgrounds. When you create characters and want to breathe life into them, you have to know them very well – what events shaped them and where their motivations lie. If you don’t have these things, your characters can too easily become simply pieces you move around, rather than living entities that exist within a storyline.
Anyone familiar with the books will recognize the characters as they appear in the stories, although what happens during these stories shapes them into the people they became by the time Imoen met them in the Winter Fade books set in current times.
Q: What makes the stories in Becomings different than those of the other books?
A: For one, they’re all historical-based. Isabel takes place in 1924 Los Angeles, during the flapper era. Darya is set during the battle of Stalingrad and some years beyond, as we follow Darya’s character. Katharine is in 1863 Chicago, during the Civil War.
The stories are also styled individually – reflecting the time period and place and character who they depict. Isabel very much reflects the fey spirit essence of her character. Yet she has a very unusual background that I think readers will enjoy discovering more of. Darya is Russian by birth, and her story reflects a common theme of many Russian stories – where enduring has to be accepted through quiet determination and relentless persistence. This story also holds some surprises for any reader who wants to know more about how Darya became the person she did. Katharine reveals both Katharine and Jake – how they met, and under what circumstances.
All three stories bring to life the era in which they appear. I spend time researching for anything I write. And I use just enough brushstrokes to define the picture, but not be heavyhanded. My writing style tends to be very visual for those who like to see what stories I’m describing.
Q: How does Glowstar compare to the Winter Fade series?
A: Glowstar is a little different. It’s a Paranormal Romance – although I suppose it could be called Dark Urban Fantasy because it has serious themes. I wanted to explore some characters in a different setting than the more familiar ones (vampires, werewolves) and I didn’t want to mine the various mythologies either – because I think at this point all the mythologies have been well-mined, no matter how obscure. I thought I’d make up my own creatures, who in this case are the Gatherers – both Light Gatherers and Dark Gatherers. There is also a Touchstone named Alannah who becomes the central focus of the story.
The story is a more lyrical style of writing. It’s probably most similar in that regard to the Isabel story from Becomings: Winter Fade Stores Volume 1. It employs some fairytale elements woven into it, and has a very visual style that brings the setting to life in a nice way. Or at least I think so.
Q: What’s next?
A: I’m working on another more action-oriented dark urban fantasy. I hope to have it out this year.