Yay, Colleen is here! Colleen Gleason is the author of 'The Gardella Vampire Chronicles'. She was kind enough to answer my burning questions about authorhood and you can ask her your own questions in the comments. I'll be choosing one lucky commenter to win a copy of 'The Rest Falls Away'.
1. How did you get started? Were you an avid reader as a child? How
long did it take you to get published? What was the story behind you
getting published?I’ve been writing since I was very young, and always had stories going on in my head. I wrote a version of Gilligan’s Island starring me and my 6th grade classmates, and a story about my high school girlfriends and me meeting our favorite rock band, and so on. But I got serious about the time I got out of college and finished my first novel—about three years after I graduated.
I have always been an avid reader; and still am today, although I don’t have as much time to read for pleasure—but I still do, or I’d go insane, since I don’t watch much TV. Plus as a full-time writer, I can consider any books I read as research—at least on some level.
Anyway, to answer your question—it took about fifteen years of writing before I got published. But there were times during those fifteen years that I tabled the writing in order to have babies, raise them, get my graduate degree, and also try to have a career in sales and marketing. I wrote eight books, and none of them sold; then I wrote The Gardella Legacy, which became The Rest Falls Away, and it sold immediately to the first editor my agent sent it to.
2. Why did you choose to write paranormals? Were you a Buffy fan? What
is it about vampires that appeals to you?About three years ago, I became aware that paranormals were an emerging “hot market” in romance and genre fiction, but I don’t really like vampires and haven’t read very many vampire books (including Anne Rice or Dracula!). So I knew I couldn’t ever really write about them.
However, a friend of mine loaned me his Season One of Buffy on DVD and I got completely hooked…and since the vampires were pretty much the bad guys (with few exception), I felt able to relate so much more easily to Buffy and her world.
Then as I realized that Buffy was only one in a long line of vampire slayers, I got to thinking what it would have been like for her predecessors…ones who lived in much more restrictive time periods. And thus the idea of a Buffy-type character living in the time of Jane Austen’s manners and propriety was born.
3. When you are writing a novel, where do you look to for inspiration?
Is it movies, other books, magazines, people on the street, your own
imagination?I’d say it’s pretty much my own imagination that drives my books…once I have the characters in place, things sort of evolve because of who they are and what kind of situations I can put them in that would really challenge them and rock their world…in a not-so-good way.
I do pay attention to the Hero’s Journey elements when I write and structure my books, however. These are common events/stages that are common in movies, books, legends, and other stories—and have been in many cultures all over the world for centuries.
Since these elements are found everywhere from Star Wars to Harry Potter to The Wizard of Oz and elsewhere, they really become part of a reader’s expectation and it makes sense to pay attention to them.
For example, most “heroes” (ie, protagonists) have a Call to Action, which is the moment their lives change. And then they also meet a “Mentor” (eg, Obi-Wan), and they have tests and meet up with Allies (eg, the Scarecrow)…and so on. (There’s an article on my Web site about this very thing for people who are interested in more detailed information.)
These elements help to drive my imagination and plot when I’m working on a book.
4. When you're thinking of your hero do you have a picture of a male
model or movie star to inspire you, or maybe a randomer from the
Sometimes I do, although, alas! I haven’t found anyone who looks enough like Sebastian Vioget to do the trick. To me, he sort of looks like Matthew McConaughey, but taller and not as scruffy as Matthew is looking now.
Max Pesaro looks like a young Christopher Plummer, or possibly Clive Own (sigh).
Philip de Lacey, the Marquess of Rockley, reminds me of Colin Firth in Pride & Prejudice, although he has dark hair and eyes like Steve Coogan.
So I guess the answer is, yes, I usually have a person in mind who looks sort of like the male characters—but often that’s after I’ve already started to write about him. That is, I don’t find a picture and then turn him into a character; I create the character and then think about who he might look like.
I do make collages for my books, so it does help if I have a photo to include that looks like the characters!
5. How much of you is present in your heroines?Well, some of her internal thought and the way she approaches things is probably right from me—my logic and my perspective.
However, I certainly wouldn’t be brave enough, strong enough, or capable enough to stake vampires! (Well, if I had a vis bulla I might, I guess.) I don’t look like her at all, and of course some of the things she does aren’t me…but I’d say there is a fair amount of my perspective built into her character. It’s hard to write convincingly about her if I don’t at least share some of her opinions and thoughts.
6. What is your daily routine as a writer? Are you a full-time writer?
Do you write a little bit each day? Or do you go into crazy mode, not
leaving the computer for days on end to get a book finished?I am fortunate enough to be a full-time writer. It’s a life-long dream come true, and I continue to pinch myself every day that I have the best job in the world.
I try to write a bit each day, usually in the afternoon and/or evening. I’ve always written at night—that was how I got books finished when I was working a day job and raising kids: I’d do it after they went to bed, from 9-11 each night, sometimes longer if the mood struck.
When I get near the end of the book, things move along more quickly, and that’s when I sort of get attached to the keyboard and hate to leave it for, say, the last twenty to thirty pages. During that time, the husband and kids are left to fend for themselves as far as dinner, laundry, housework, etc. They’re glad I only have to write three books a year, or they’d probably get tired of it!
7. Your books are historical paranormals. Do you do a lot of research
into the time period you're writing in before you start?I’m fairly familiar with the time period because I’ve read so many books set in that time period over the years—both fiction and non-fiction, so I don’t have to do a lot of research as far as the historical aspects, in general.
However, I do research particular things for each book. For example, in the book I just finished writing, which is the third in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, and will be released in February 2008, I had to do a lot of research on Rome in 1821: what it was like, what was going on with the historical monuments, and what it was like during Carnival, etc.
In the next Gardella book, I’ll be researching a particular aspect of London, and also some information about Jack the Ripper.
8. What can we expect from you in the future? Will you continue
writing vampire historicals?The second Gardella book comes out in June, and is titled Rises the Night, and the third, The Bleeding Dusk, will be released in February 2008. The fourth will come out in late 2008, and I’d like to write a fifth book about Victoria Gardella Grantworth.
After the last Victoria book, I’d like to write more stories about different characters in the world of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles.
9. And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Especially those writing in this genre. How should they go about
getting a novel published?The best way to get a novel published is to first, well, write it! Write the whole thing, because it’s well nigh impossible to sell a novel that hasn’t been written if you’ve never been published before.
So, write the book. Then, research which editors and/or agents are interested in the kind of book you’ve written, find out what they like to see from a prospective author, and send it to them.
While you’re waiting to hear from them—and it will be months, possibly a year—write another book. Don’t just sit there and wait, because it’s nearly as unlikely that you’ll sell a first book as it is that you’ll sell a book that’s unwritten.
After you finish the second book, send that one out.
And then write another one.
And then send it out. And so on. Keep doing this until: you give up, or you get published.
That’s it! That’s the way to do it. Research your market, join writers groups, go to conferences—but above all, write the book and send it out.
And thanks for having me, Maria! I’m so delighted to be on your blog!