Here’s the English version of an interview that the lovely Kris Alice conducted with me for her http://www.loveletter-magazin.de”>German Romance Magazine:
Where do you live, are you a full-time author?
I live on an old farm in the American Midwest, just on the outskirts of two tiny towns that used to play host to presidents and gangsters. It is a beautiful time of year in this part of the country—the vegetable garden is just beginning to bear the beginnings of tomatoes and peppers, and the fruit trees are budding (at the moment, with peaches and pears). Unexpected thunderstorms are quite common (there is one overhead at the moment), but I love that, too.
And yes! I’m a full-time author. I used to practice law, but writing books for a living is so much better.
Can you remember the first romance novel you�ve read?
My favorite books have always had a romantic streak to them, but I would say that my first actual honest-to-God romance novel must have been Christine Feehan’s Dark Prince. That started it all. I had never realized that fantasy could be combined with romance in such a wonderful way until I read her book. No going back after that. I started looking for all the paranormal romance I could get my hands on.
Who are your all-time favourite romance authors?
Oh, hard one—and I know I’m going to forget someone! As far as romance goes, I would say Christine Feehan, Suzanne Brockmann, Penelope Williamson, LaVyrle Spencer, Laura Kinsale, Karen Marie Moning, Sara Donati (though she’s more of a historical writer, her Into the Wilderness series is one of the most romantic I’ve ever read)…
Did you ever write a fan letter to an author?
Yes, to Elizabeth Haydon, the author of an epic fantasy series that begins with the truly excellent “Rhapsody.” She sent me a signed bookplate, which was something I have always appreciated. It’s interesting, though—before I was published, if I truly enjoyed a book I almost never wrote to thank the author. I was much too shy and afraid of bothering them. That, however, has changed. I now appreciate that there is no such thing as an author who is bothered by getting a letter from a reader!
Do you remember your first fan mail � which book was it for, what affect had it on you?
Yes, because I still have it! I save all my fan mail. That particular note was for Tiger Eye, and the woman who wrote it was just so lovely and kind. Receiving it was both very humbling and terribly exciting, because it meant that for all my hard work, at least one person had read my story and enjoyed it. That’s all you can really ask for as a writer, because there are no guarantees of success or longevity—but if you can take one person away for even a limited amount of time—take him or her to another world—you’ve done it. That’s your success.
Do you read outside your genre?
All the time. I think it’s important for writers to read everything and anything, although I find myself concentrating on fantasy and science fiction, as well as non-fiction history books and science journals.
Would it be right to call you a fangirl? What shows/movies and comics does your fangirl-heart beat for?
I love that. Yes, I am a fan, and as of now, my little heart beats wildly for the X-Men, and for the characters on Stargate, Firefly, and the X-Files. I love my television, my comic books, my heroes and heroines. I live for archetypes, stories told that are larger than life. It feeds a part of me.
You�ve written X-Men fan-fiction and even created a website to go with it. So was writing a X-Men novel a dream come true? How scary was it to take on those characters “for real”?
Writing my X-Men novel was absolutely a dream come true. It was something that I had always imagined being allowed to do, and when the opportunity arose I jumped for it so fast I almost hurt myself. But was it scary? A little. Not in the beginning, but as I wrote it did hit me—the enormity of the playground I was wandering in—and I seized up for a time. Not long, though. Writing the book was just too much fun.
How much have your fan-fiction stories influenced your romance novels? Do you still write fan-fitcion? Have you ever received fan-fiction stories based on your romance novels?
My fan-fiction stories don’t influence my romance novels at all. Or if they do, it’s unconscious. I would say, however, that fan-fiction was an outlet for me during my college and early law school years, and I believe quite strongly that my writing improved because of it. I don’t write fan-fiction anymore, though. In fact, I believe almost two years passed between my last fan-fiction story and the time I began writing Tiger Eye.
Is Wolverine your favorite X-Men? What is it about him that you like?
Wolverine is definitely my favorite X-Man. The reasons are varied, though it comes down to the fact that he is, quite simply, the most honorable person in the Marvel Universe. He might be a killer, he might have a terrible temper, he might be foul and short and, occasionally, morally challenged—but he lives by his own code of honor, his own sense of right and wrong, and nothing shakes him from that. Absolutely nothing. He stands by his beliefs—and his friends—and that is why I never cease to be fascinated with him.
Who would make your top 10 list of fictional heroes?
Literature and Myth:
Blazing intelligence, a highly defined sense of right and wrong, and an ability to survive with integrity intact, no matter the circumstances. Character counts. Ethics matter. Brains and courage are key. That is what I find at the core of all these fictional heroes (or at least, a mixture, somewhat diluted, in about half of them)—and what I admire most and look for in the people around me. I don’t care who you are or what you do or how you look—if you have all those things, if you live your life with integrity, that is beauty. That is heroism.
Love seems to have more power in your books and the characters know how to use it. Not to kill, but to save the person they love!
Thank you. That is a theme that means a lot to me, because I feel as though in this life, in this world, the only people who can be counted on are the ones who love you. And exploring how love changes individuals—the lengths to which people will go to protect the ones they love—are what I think form the best part of writing romance novels, and reading them.
If your books were to be adapted for a TV-series or the big screen, who would you want as director? Joss Whedon?
Oh, if only! Joss Whedon would be fantastic, as would Bryan Singer, Peter Jackson, or Richard Donner.
I find it interesting that in your books the characters “create” their own family. The family they belong to is not something they are born into. How do you relate to it? Personal experience?
Not by personal experience, no. I am fortunate to have two wonderful parents who are very supportive and kind. I have always, however, had a deep and abiding fascination and appreciation for stories in which people—strangers—find themselves bound together through bonds of friendship and love. Bonds created that are stronger than blood, or family, because they are made in the moment, and require leaps of faith and trust. It’s a big bad world, and it’s easy to find yourself with people who do not have your best interests at heart, or who are fickle or selfish. But when you do find yourself with that one friend—or group of friends—who can be counted on to watch your back, that’s the same thing as magic.
In Miri you�ve created an Asian heroine. Not unheard of, but unusual. Why do you decide to include ethnic characters? Because the stories/settings dictate it or because it allows you to draw on your personal background?
Well, the world is a very ethnically diverse place, and I think it would be naive of me to write books that don’t reflect that. On the other hand, I do not create characters of a certain race simply to fill a quota. When I wrote The Red Heart of Jade, I did not tell myself that it must have an Asian heroine, simply because Asians must be represented—but rather, when I met Miri inside my head, she was always Chinese. Not because I wanted her to be, but because that’s how she was born into the story.
Tell us about your exotic settings, how much of those have you visited and where else will you take your characters and readers?
There is nothing more enjoyable to me than writing a story set in a foreign locale. I’ve visited many of my settings, especially the ones in Asia, where I have spent quite a bit of time over the past ten years. The climatic scene of The Red Heart of Jade takes place in a mountainous region inside China—a World Heritage Site called Jiuzhaigou— that is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life. Truly breathtaking in every way imaginable. If magic exists in the world, it’s there.
But in future stories I’ll be taking readers to Scotland, Indonesia, Canada, and back to America. Maybe underwater, too.
I found part of your Soundtrack for The Red Heart of Jade:
Crazy (Tony Kanal Remix) – Alanis Morissette
The lyrics to this song are so very Dean and Miri—and if I had to choose one song to represent the book, this would be it.
Kiss From A Rose – Seal
A Sorta Fairytale – Tori Amos
Waiting In Vain – Annie Lennox
Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper & Sarah McLachlan
Take On Me – A-ha
Extreme Ways – Moby
Can you relate the songs to the book? (Doesn�t have to be long at all!)
The rest of these songs I listened to more for the feelings they evoked than the actual lyrics. The Red Heart of Jade is about love and sacrifice, and as I wrote and listened to the above songs, I found that the music brought out a certain melancholy—and occasional desperation—that perfectly fit the mood of the story. But I love to listen to music as I write—in fact, it’s essential to me. Rock, Classical, Blues, Country—everything creates a mood, a rhythm, almost a wave that carries me as I really get into the meat of a novel. Right now I am writing Eye of Heaven, and my soundtrack consists of old love songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Richard Marx, Kenny Rogers, Christopher Cross, Billy Joel…