Friday, August 26, 2011

Interview with Deborah Cooke

In September I'm excited to announce that B& Fiction General Discussion will feature
 the first in Deborah Cooke's wonderful series about the PYR, a dragon shape shifting species dedicated to protecting the earth and her wonders, including the humans who share it with them.
It's fantasy, it's romance, it's suspense and it's adventure. Please join us and have fun and meet and chat with the incredible author of the series.

Here's the interview with Deborah Cooke

It is my great pleasure to introduce to the General Fiction one of my all time favorite authors and a good friend Deborah Cooke.
Deborah started her writing career in 1992 with the sale of Romance of the Rose written under her pseudonym Claire Delecroix where she’s published many medieval romances often with just a touch of fantasy, she also has an urban fantasy romance series written as Claire Delacroix it’s a post apocalyptic trilogy starring Fallen Angels and it’s dynamite. She is also published under another pseudonym Claire Cross writing contemporary and time travel, some of which are available as re-released e-books. Her Dragon Shape Shifter series which we’re reading the first Kiss of Fire debuted in February of 2008 and the fire just keeps getting hotter. Deborah is the author who not only introduced me to but made me fall in love with the genre of paranormal and paranormal romance mostly because of the way she entranced me with her historical romances.
So with no further ado let’s get this interview going.

DH - Deb first of all thank you so much for being with us this month on the General Fiction board, I’m excited to introduce the members to you and this novel.

DC - Well, thanks for inviting me, Deb! I’m really looking forward to this month.

DH -You started out writing historical romance and yes some of them had a touch of woo woo in them but what made you decide to write a series starring dragon shape shifters.

DC -I’m not sure whether authors really decide to write series, or whether books decide to be written and choose a writer to the do the dirty work. I’ve always loved dragons and actually proposed medieval romances with dragon shifter heroes a number of times earlier in my career. The paranormal romance market was virtually non-existent then, so my editors either thought a/ the idea was weird; or b/ the idea wasn’t marketable; or c/ both. (I suspect most of them would have gone with c.) In 2005 when I wanted to do something different, I saw that paranormal romance was really popular. There seemed to be plenty of vampires in the sub-genre already, so it seemed to me that it might be time for something different. Several editors still went for a, b or c, but there were two editors who loved the idea. One bought it for publication, and I’ve been writing dragon shape shifter heroes ever since. It’s a lot of fun, especially choreographing the dragon fights.

DH -During the time you were writing the dragon books you also published your Fallen trilogy, tell us where the idea came for that.

DC -No. I’ve no idea where the idea came from. Lilia invaded my imagination (see? There’s a character who wanted her story written.) and was so interesting that I had to write her story to find out what it was. I knew she was going into a restricted area in a post-nuclear setting, breaking the law without concern. I knew that her husband had died accidentally, but she believed he’d been murdered. And she said that setting the record straight was the least that she owed him. What kind of marriage had they had? Lilia had my attention right from the start, and she did take me on a wild ride. The editor who acquired FALLEN loved the book so much that she wanted it to be part of a trilogy, so I worked out a way to do that. They were challenging books to write because of the worldbuilding and the pacing - more typical of thrillers than romances - but I had a great time writing that series. And the covers are gorgeous, too!

DH -I see many of your older romances have been re-released in digital format, tell us how did that come about and why change the covers.

DC -A publishing contract is a temporary assignment of the rights inherent in copyright - like that of reproducing and selling the work - from the author to the publisher. There’s always a clause in the contract which specifies how and when those rights will revert to the author. Generally that happens when the work isn’t being kept in print or actively being sold, which happens with older titles. In the last ten years, a lot of backlist rights have reverted to authors, and that’s been true for me, too. I’ve been re-releasing a lot of those titles myself, because I hear from readers all the time who are looking for specific titles. I tend to write books in linked trilogies and I know how irritating it is to only be able to find one of the books. So, this technology is a great way to make works available easily to readers.

The contract with the cover artist is entirely separate, so those rights never belong to the author. The book needs to have a new cover in order to go out into the world again. This is kind of fun as it’s an opportunity to try something different.
Of course, there are works that have not reverted, and now that many publishers are launching digital programs of their own, I doubt that we’ll see the same number of reverting titles as has been the case. My Bride Quest titles, at least the first three, are still available in print and digital, and Harlequin has started to re-release some of my historicals to which they still hold the rights. You’ll be able to recognize the digital books generated by publishers, because the cover art will be the same as the print edition since the house owns those rights, too.

DH -Now tell us a little about your other passion, knitting, how did that come about
(If you check out Deborah’s Blog here you will see some of her creations which are fabulous.)

DC -I learned to knit when I was four. My hands were too small to hold the needles in any correct way, so we figured out a way for me to grip them and get on with it. I still knit slowly because I can’t unlearn that grip! Knitting has been a hobby that I’ve returned to repeatedly, because I just like it. I like the rhythm of it and the results from it. It also is very helpful for my writing - I don’t entirely understand it, but I solve plot problems when I knit. Ideas just pop into my head, and that is a magical thing (as well as a good reason to keep knitting.)

DH -I see you have a FaceBook page here, do you like the idea behind social media for getting the word out there about your writing.

DC -I have a second FB page, too, Deb, for my alter ego - it’s right here:
Social media are interesting and there are certainly some people who use them very effectively as marketing tools. I’m not sure I’m organized enough for that, but I do like the interaction with readers and fans. And Facebook has been a great way to connect with reviewers and reader sites, too. I have fun with it, but have to be careful to not spend hours and hours playing around instead of writing.

DH -Now let’s talk about your brand new YA series starting with Flying Blind, where did the idea come for a YA series and was it difficult writing YA after so many years of writing adult romance.

DC -FLYING BLIND is the first book of a trilogy called The Dragon Diaries, which developed organically out of my Dragonfire paranormal romance series. In the Dragonfire world, the dragon shape shifters are all guys, except that there’s one female dragon shifter at any given time. She’s called the Wyvern and has special - extra - powers. She’s also kind of a mystery to the other dragon shifters, not just because of her gender but also because she’s reclusive. So, in book #3 of Dragonfire - which was KISS OF FATE - the Wyvern died. And the child conceived in that book was a girl, who was named Zoë. The assumption was that she would be the new Wyvern - the question was when. The male shifters come into their powers at puberty, which made me think that Zoë’s coming of age story would make a great paranormal YA trilogy.
Once again, you can see that the story chose me, not the other way around!
Writing any book is a challenge and an adventure, and always entails learning something new about your process or your craft. Writing this series was no different in that regard. What was different about it from my romances was the arc of the story. A romance is the story of two people falling in love and deciding to be together for the duration. It begins as close to when they meet as possible, and ends after they make their commitment to each other. Ideally, both protagonists will have a character arc and their attainment of the HEA is possible because they have each nudged the other to move forward along that character arc. Ideally, we as readers see them become a team. The YA series, in contrast, is Zoë’s coming of age story. The arc of the story lies purely in Zoë’s character development and her journey from being a kid with aspirations to being the Wyvern. There are romantic elements, but they are subordinate to Zoë’s own character arc. So, you could think of it as flipping the balance around. I found these books more similar in structure to the four Coxwell books I wrote as Claire Cross - those were contemporary romances but some people labelled them as women’s fiction books because of the strong focus in each book on the heroine’s emotional journey.

DH -Do you see yourself continuing with the pseudonyms or will you be writing strictly under your own name from now on.

DC -There’s a question! You never really know. Sometimes authors choose pseudonyms and other times, publishers suggest that one might be a good idea. Sometimes author brands continue for the duration and sometimes they don’t. I really like writing the dragon books and hope to keep doing so. On the other hand, Claire is remarkably tenacious - I don’t see myself losing her anytime soon. And there are so many stories I want to write. Writing the stories and getting them published is really my focus.

You are a very busy woman, what do you like to do for fun
Besides writing and knitting?! My husband and I like to buy old houses and renovate them. Our current house is the oldest yet and the biggest adventure - she might finish us! - but it is interesting to figure out how the house was originally, how it was changed, why it might have been changed, then decide what would be the most sensitive yet practical way to have it be from this point forward. Yes, I actually enjoy stripping paint and revealing all the previous layers and colours - which is a good thing, because there’s lots of that to be done around here.

DH -Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.

DC -This is such a good question. I’m so tempted to lie and tell you something amazing. But probably the most surprising thing for most readers is that authors don’t live enormously glamorous lives. I meet people all the time who expect me to swan around in a negligee, carrying a small pink dog, ordering champagne for breakfast every day. In fact, I live much like all of you - with dishes and laundry and family and friends - except that I make stuff up for a living.
Which is surprising in its own way, don’t you think?

DH -Deb thank you so much for allowing me to interview you and especially in advance for participating in our forum.
Check out Deb’s websites Deborah Cooke, Claire Delacroix and Claire Cross and her blog, for a complete list of her titles visit her booklist.

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