Guest Blog by Valerie Douglas
So, I asked Pavarti what I should guest-blog about. She said, “Write about your books and how awesome you are.” I’m so not sure about the awesome part. *wry grin* What I do is work hard. Yeah, I know, there are some people who don’t consider writing exactly hard, but there you go. Oh, it’s awesome, too, no doubt about it. There’s such a glory about it, about seeing and hearing the story unfold around me, about being caught up in the wonder of the people that inhabit that magical place inside my head.
I often say that I can’t remember a time I wasn’t ‘writing’, whether some people would call it that or not. Let’s just say I always had a vivid fantasy life, peopled with creatures both real and fantastic. My ‘stories’ are an indelible part of my childhood. They preserved my sanity during the rough times growing up, and gave me solace during the days when I was lonely or lost. A geek before it was fashionable, we also lived a long way from town, so books, TV and my imagination were my companions. In daydreams my friends stood beside me, entertained me, and kept me company.
The first time I tried to put them down on paper – besides a brief foray at age eight – was at thirteen, and then again at seventeen, but I didn’t have the least idea what to do with them. The first time I submitted a story it was to Marion Zimmer Bradley for one of her anthologies in my twenties. It was rejected because it was ‘too dark’. Now it would seem tame, but that story would eventually become part of The Coming Storm, and might yet morph into another novella in that universe.
Before The Coming Storm came a fantasy ‘ghost’ story, among others. Hollywood made a movie very similar to it just before I was about to submit, and so I put it away.
What came next was Storm.
That story just poured out of me in one massive ecstatic flow. That’s how I write, mostly. It’s like watching a movie, with only the faintest idea of the ending. I’d written the trial scene, and suddenly I was driven to write the rest of the book. How had they gotten there, to that point? In one 72 hour stream of consciousness I lost myself in a world of Elves, Men and Dwarves that owed only a little to Tolkien. The story of how circumstance drives us, forces us to make choices that are necessary – if painful – just poured out of me. I staggered to bed, slept, got up and dove straight back into the second draft. Even as I wrote it, I was beginning to see the shape of the sequel, although I’d had no intention when I began of writing one. As inevitable as the ending of The Coming Storm was, I hadn’t seen the sequel until that moment.
At that time, I still had a day job…but the story drove me. I wrote the basic draft of A Convocation of Kings on the flight to my next assignment (said assignment would later become part of an entirely different novel, a thriller/romance called Lucky Charm).
The next book, though, was a complete departure. To be honest, I still don’t know what triggered it, I just needed to tell that story.
No one told me you’re not supposed to write in the first person, but that’s how The Last Resort came out, in one great cathartic rush. If you ever want to know me as a person, read The Last Resort…just don’t expect an easy read. It’s an edgy, complicated mystery based on real events.
Most of my books come about in the strangest ways. Song of the Fairy Queen was inspired by a statue of a winged female figure called Descending Night that I saw at Hearst Castle in California. I’d intended to write an entirely different story – an urban fantasy – but that’s not the story that needed to be told.
I wrote The Millersburg Quartet in a sort of homage to the various romance novel writers whose writing got me through my divorce, and to write about non-standard heroines who were a bit more like me and the women I knew. The geeks.
In fact, all of my heroines aren’t exactly the standard. Ailith of The Coming Storm is both a Queen and a warrior, but she chooses to follow Elon of Aerilann. Nike from Nike’s Wings certainly isn’t. Scarred physically, damaged emotionally, she’s the assassin’s assassin – neither Lara Croft nor any of the other kick-ass heroines – but she’s not a tough guy in a female body either. Even my romances feature strong capable women who aren’t necessarily the prettiest, but have character and histories. I had to laugh at one critical review for Song of the Fairy Queen – she objected to Kyriay being pretty (she’s a Fairy, c’mon!), and Morgan’s ‘rock-hard’ abs. Well, I never actually used that term in the book, but since he is a warrior, and a swordsman, being fit was a given. Although all of my heroes are relatively fit – really, who wants to daydream about a slob with a beer belly? – only the ones who are supposed to be muscular really are. Drew from The Last Resort is an attorney (based on someone who was actually lean and fit) and hardly Mr. America, but he is a stand-up guy. When things get tough, he’s there. And that’s not necessarily a quality all of my heroes share, Jack in Director’s Cut struggles with it. It’s that struggle that makes him interesting.
One thing you’ll have noticed is that I don’t follow the path of many others – staying in one genre. I’m a pretty eclectic reader, and a pretty eclectic writer. I write stories I hope will interest readers in the same way I’ve been interested in stories across a wide range of genres. That’s not going to change. *grins* First I have a few sequels and a prequel to get out of the way. Oh, and that horror story I’ve been playing with.
I did say I wasn’t going to change, right?
Bio – Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and a genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. A fan of authors from almost every genre from Isaac Asimov to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, she writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!
Cherry’s Jubilee – A Top Pick from Night Owl Romance -
Special Delivery and Demon’s Kiss