First of all we are so happy to welcome back to UTC Pamela Palmer, now for the release of the first book in her Vamp City series. A bit of romance with a touch of dark, it's a book you won't want to miss.
A Blood Seduction (which just came out May 29th), is a bit of a departure for me. Book one in the Vamp City series, it’s the first of a five book vampire romance. I’ve been wanting to do a bigger story for awhile, one that doesn’t require the entire romance to come together in a single book. One that gives the characters a lot of room to learn and grow. And one that gives me lots of space to explore. The Vamp City series is that story.
From the back cover:
Vampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city's magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal world...one who knows nothing of the power she wields.
Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see--and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her. What Arturo can't do is forget about her--any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission--his to save his people, hers to save herself. But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red. Welcome to Vamp City...
Where did you get the idea for the Vamp City series?
I’d been playing with the idea of a dark urban fantasy vampire otherworld for some time, but with both the Feral Warrior shapeshifter series and the Esri series for Nocturne, I didn’t have time to start a third. But with the Esri series completed, I decided the time was right to start exploring my vampire idea. I knew I wanted the otherworld accessible from our world (the vampires can come and go as they please…or could). So I played with ideas, at first thinking I’d set it in Florida, or some place different. Then I thought about Washington, D.C. (my go-to local). The moment I realized Vamp City would be Washington, V.C., I knew I had my place. I called my editor that morning to run it all by her and she loved the idea.
Feral Warriors is a popular series and book 7 & 8 are scheduled to be released. Did you expect it get this far?
I always hoped I’d have the chance to tell the bigger story that I envisioned for the Feral Warrior world. That story included the momentous events of book 6, Ecstasy Untamed, and the introduction of new characters. I know the stories and heroes of books 7, 8, and 9 (Fox/Kieran, Grizz, and Wulfe). Beyond that, I’m not sure. Vhyper still has to have his book, and the story has to reach its climactic conclusion. But I don’t know how many books it will take to get there. Maybe ten in all. Maybe more. We’ll have to wait and see.
Can you tell us a bit about your personal writing process? Do you create an outline or write by the seat of your pants? Depending on the books, how many drafts does it usually take?
I typically spend 2-3 months figuring out the story, the characters, the major turning points, etc. While this is definitely planning, I hesitate to call it plotting because when I’m finished, I still don’t really know what’s going to happen. I definitely don’t have anything close to an outline. It’s kind of the difference between starting a vacation trip with a day-by-day itinerary, sight-seeing tickets, hotel and dinner reservations, with detailed maps from place-to-place, and starting the trip with just a full tank of gas, a map of the U.S., and a plan to drive from Miami to Denver. My ‘plotting’ is like the latter. I know where I’m going when I start the book…kind of…but I really don’t know how I’m going to get there. The most important thing is to know my characters inside and out, to know who they are, what they need, what they think they want, their goals, their fears, their dreams, and their nightmares. Because once the characters come to life, they take the wheel. And while I might throw a few well-placed roadblocks in their way, how they handle the change of direction is always an interesting surprise.
As for how many drafts it takes, best case, five or six. I can generally write the first draft in 4-6 weeks once I know the characters and, roughly, the story. But my first drafts are always light on the description, the emotion, etc. They’re mostly just action and dialogue. Second draft is my fleshing-out draft, where I fix the things that went off-track as the book progressed and add in the rest of the description, internal thoughts, emotion, etc. If the book really came together right on the first try, this might be all I need before I send the book to my critique partners, but it usually takes an extra draft or two to get things right. After my critique partners read it and mark it up, I revise the book, then send it to my editor.
What three things do you require in order to write a novel?
My laptop, my music, and a glass of water or tea.
Do you listen to music as you write? If so, care to share your playlist?
My favorite writing music is Keiko Matsui’s new age jazz instrumentals. I have six or eight of her albums. I mix it up some with movie and game soundtracks like Halo-3, Inception, Twilight, and The Last Samurai. I can sometimes plot to the radio, but to write, I need instrumentals only. The music has become quite Pavlovian. When I turn it on, my mind immediately slides back into the book, so I’m careful never to listen to that music when I’m not writing. Not even to check my email or refill my water glass.
Say I'm looking to start my own paranormal romance series. What advice you would give an aspiring author like me?
Hmm…that’s a good question. A lot depends on where you are, if you’ve been writing for years or are a complete newbie, as I was when I first started. What I’ve come to believe over the years is that fiction writers are, at heart, storytellers. Anyone who has the stories to tell can be a writer if they’re willing to work hard enough at it because the ‘how’ can be learned. So if you’re first starting out as a writer, head straight for your public library and start checking out books on how-to-write and story structure. Some of the best, oddly enough, tend to be by screen writers. Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! is one of my favorites. Other must reads are Dwight V. Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer and Jack M. Bickham’s Scene and Structure. The one that opened the world of writing to me was Nancy Kress’s Beginnings, Middles, and Ends. There are all kinds of books on characters, description, dialogue, you name it.
The other thing to do, if you’re writing romance or any kind of story with romantic elements (even young adult) – go to the Romance Writers of America website and join. RWA has wonderful programs, classes, and information for unpublished writers, and amazing access to published authors and industry professionals (editors and agents) through their local chapter meetings, contests, and conferences.
Now, onto that paranormal romance series. When starting a new series, you have a lot of decisions to make: where it’s going to be set, whether it’s going to be a fixed number of books or open-ended, whether you want the external story to build from book to book (like the Feral Warriors series) or each book to be a stand-alone set in that world. You also have to decide whether you want to write a series of romances (like the Feral Warriors) or one romance with continuing characters (like Jeaniene Frost’s Cat and Bones books and my new Vamp City series). You also have to start making choices about the creatures and magic that populate your paranormal world. What classic lore do you want to keep? (My Vamp City vampires can’t survive direct sunlight.) What do you want to twist? (My vamps not only drink blood, but feed on emotions—some on pain, some on pleasure, some on fear.) Create the rules of your unique world, then stick to them.
UTC would like to get to know you a little more. We rarely learn details about the person who writes our favorite books. If you could write a fan letter to your favorite author, who would you address it to and what would you say in it?
One of the best things about being an author is that I’ve actually met most of my favorite authors and become close friends with a number of them. One author I’d die to meet is J.K. Rowling. That woman walks on water. If I were to write her a fan letter, I’d probably gush about her brilliance in creating such an incredibly vibrant, complex, and utterly mesmerizing world, and about the characters who leaped off the page even before they came to life in the theater.
What was the last silly or crazy thing you've done?
I rode a zip line over the alligator pit at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida. Not exactly crazy, since it was perfectly safe, but it was a ton of fun. It was part of a tree-top ropes course with multiple zip-lines that took more than two hours to complete. If you’re interested, here’s the website: http://www.treetoptrek.com/.
Finally, what's next for Pamela Palmer?
The seventh book in my Feral Warriors series, A Love Untamed, will be out the end of December. This one is Fox/Kieran’s and Melisande’s story as they search for Kara. I’ve just started working on Vamp City book 2, which is currently slated for a July 2013 release.
How exciting! We can't wait!
Ms. Palmer is giving away one her
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