When did you find out that you wanted to be a writer?
I think it started when I was around 10 or 11. I had been reading novels on my own for a few years, falling in love with a diversity of authors and genres: L. M. Montgomery, Stephen King, Robin McKinley, Gordon Korman, Laura Ingalls Wilder, to name a few. I enjoyed writing short stories as assignments in school, trying to scare or gross out my friends. After reading Korman, who had gotten his first YA fiction published as a teenager, I determined that I could do the same: write and publish my own book by the time I was 13. It didn’t happen, but I kept trying. Doing a mandatory career self-study when I was 12 (an hour of reading questions and filling in those little bubbles with a No. 2 pencil) also helped to affirm that this would be one of my life-goals. More than 20 years after that first deadline, I’m finally, actually, happily, there!
Where did you find the inspiration for Wind and Shadow?
It was sometime between moving back up to northeastern Ontario, and the birth of our second child. Coming back to one of the regions I loved as a child, living relatively close to my favourite towns, Haileybury and Cobalt, reminded me of an incident back then when an old abandoned mine under Cobalt had collapsed and left a massive hole in the street, right downtown. It prompted a thorough investigation and survey of all the abandoned mines threading underneath the town and around it, and for the brief interval between the collapse and the fix, it was a tourist attraction as the world’s largest pothole! So, twenty-odd years after that event, I kept thinking: what if there was more to it than that? What if the collapse wasn’t (just) due to water seepage in an old mine? What if there was some kind of creature down there, like a vampire? If so, how did it get down there? What is the history? Who was affected by it? I began writing notes on the idea after my daughter was born, slowly building the story. It’s taken me over five years, but I’m happy that that original idea has turned into a trilogy, with the first book coming out in April of next year.
Can you tell us more about your book?
Wind and Shadow follows the novella, “Mist and Midnight”, which was published as part of the Midnight Thirsts anthology in 2011 by Melange Books. It takes place today, in the 20‘teens, in the fictional town of Talbot, Ontario. (Talbot is based on Cobalt, Ontario.) I view the novella as a prequel, partly because it developed during a period of writers’ block I was having with W&S: M&M reveals how artist and witch Charlotte Fanning traps the vampire in his prison of the abandoned mine, but in W&S, he escapes and trouble quickly ensues for the new protagonist, Rayvin Woods (also a witch). Charlotte will return with her husband, Pike Mahonen (the hot co-star of M&M) in Book Two of the Talbot Trilogy: Blood and Fire.
I also need to tell you that part of my impetus for writing this trilogy is as a reaction to Twilight. I’m a big fan of the Twilight Saga, both books and films, but at the same time, I can pick it apart and talk about problems I see in it. So as Wind and Shadow developed, I began to see it as my answer to Stephenie Meyers. A kind of argument, if you will.
Did you have to do some research for your book? Like on legends or myths about vampires?
I’m very well-read as it is, and I remember a great deal of what I read, so I drew on my background knowledge of both vampirism (past and present mythologies). I used my experience of living in the region, and my experience as a practicing witch and Wiccan -- I wanted the world in my books to be as authentic as possible. Pagan readers will likely recognize some of the ritual elements I include, and some of the spells I did have to research (not having had direct experience with banishing vampires myself).
Why did you choose to write a Paranormal Romance story?
Fascination, of course! Ghosts, witches, vampires, aliens, Bigfoot, Wendigo, Jersey Devil, Loch Ness -- all of it attracts and intrigues me. I really think there are more things in this world that we do not know about than those we do, and I think there is a connection between fictional exploration and factual discovery: someone has to dream up or be inspired by the fantastic before scientists uncover the truth in their studies.
I’m also a big fan of romance. I enjoy a scorching bodice-ripper, I love reading well-considered details, and following the evolution of a relationship between two people. I read some articles and attended some lectures on the place of romance novels in Western society, when I was in university, and that experience led me to see them in an entirely different light. I enjoy romances of most genres, from the light (no sex) to erotic.
Where did you find the inspiration for the name of your main character: Rayvin?
It has to do a little with being Pagan. I’m a practicing witch, and Wiccan, so I like names that have earthy connotations. There’s a lovely lady in Sudbury whose name is Raven, and she happens also to be Wiccan. But I wanted the name to be as unique as the character, so I looked at spelling changes. Rayvin just seemed to fit. I liked it because it contrasts with her physical appearance: she is petite and has long, luxuriously curling red hair (image transplanted from one of my cousins, who still has beautiful red hair I envy and covet). In contrast, Charlotte, the protagonist from “Mist and Midnight”, has long dark hair. When the two heroines finally meet in Blood and Fire, I think their initial impressions will be that they have each other’s names -- that Charlotte should be named after the colour of her hair, and Rayvin should have a name that makes one think of petite and delicate (Charlotte is tall and curvy). These women are opposites in many ways, but they are also connected by many things, and I think their working relationship is going to be stormy.
If you were a villain from Disney, which one it would be and why?
Ursula, the sea-witch. She’s awesome. She’s sexy. She’s not bone-thin stick insect, she’s got curves out the yang and she’s proud of them. She knows how to move. I love and envy her eight extra arms -- I could certainly use them, some days -- and her knowledge. She’s evil, but gloriously so. Fantastic singing voice.
If you could be any character from your book, which one it would be and why (female, male, animal!)
I would be Samantha, Rayvin’s cat. She’s Rayvin’s instinct, for the most part. She knows who to trust, and where to go for help. Plus, her life is much less complicated than Rayvin and her hero’s (Grant Michaels), and I would like fewer complications in my life sometimes.
Did you choose the book cover, or did you have some options for the design?
The book cover is still in the works. I have the form, I’ve just started looking at it and considering how it should be. I’m not sure what I favour yet, in terms of images, but I am open to suggestions!
Which actor would you choose to play the role of your hero should Wind and Shadow ever be turned into a movie?
I’d love to see Ksenia Solo, from Showcase’s series “Lost Girl”, as Rayvin, though she’d likely have to plump up a little like Renee Zellweger did for “Bridget Jones’s Diary” -- Rayvin isn’t as think as Ksenia is for her character Kenzie. Anna Silk, who plays the lead in “Lost Girl”, would be fantastic as Rayvin’s bestie and former foster-sister, Andrea Renaud. The hero, Grant Michaels, would be best played by Victor Webster (Carlos Fonnegra on “Continuum”).
Would you prefer living in a world without books, but you're able to write whatever you want just for yourself or living in a world with books, but you can't write?
I would prefer a world with books if I could not write. Books are escape from the mundane, communication of the fantastic, sketches of worlds that could be. I would never want to live in a world without books.
Cat or Dog
Cat, but I’m allergic so I have to stick with my beloved Skittles (part Huskie, part Lab, part Shepherd, all suck)
Dark, Brown or White Chocolate
Dark chocolate with caramel, nuts, whipped cream, mint, strawberries...drooling now!
City or Countryside
City. I don’t mind visiting the countryside, but having lived briefly outside of city limits, I prefer being in walking distance to stores, libraries, movie theatres, etc.
Smoothies or Milk shakes
Milkshakes leave a taste in my mouth, so I have to go with smoothies. Ten years ago, I would have said milkshake, though -- especially the green McShake at St. Patrick’s Day!
Pyjama or Jeans
Jeans are comfy and all-purpose. I live in my jeans, wearing them out until they aren’t even suitable for rags. I have difficulty finding pyjamas to fit me (they are incredibly expensive for women of my height), but jeans, for some reason, are less of a problem.
Witch or Fae
Oooo, witch all the way, baby! I do a mean cackle and I love moonlit rituals in my backyard...
Highlands or South America
Highlands. My roots are Scottish Highlanders (both sheep herders and mercenaries) and German mountain people (who left their homes as mercenaries and settled in Scotland). I’ve always been pulled to the Celtic world, though I’ve not yet had the pleasure of visiting my ancestral homes.