Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Mia. Tell us about your latest book, “Voracious.”
“Voracious” is the third book and latest installment in my paranormal suspense Adelheid series. The nature of the series lets each book stand alone, though you’ll enjoy certain aspects better if you’ve read the first two. (“Cameron’s Law” is the first book and “When Forever Died” is the second.) “Voracious” is a little bit of a departure from the format of the first two, however, in that I co-wrote it with my husband, it’s the first male narrator, and while there’s suspense and a mystery, it also has a big focus on the personal journey that D takes and how he changes.
So interesting that you co-wrote it with your husband. When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
Usually, the characters are. When they are unhappy with me about something, they do not make the writing easy. D from “Voracious,” for example, didn’t want to talk to me, so the first draft was rough. D as a character concept was originally my husband’s, so D refused to fully come to life until my husband had taken a pass over it. I have had other characters put writer’s blocks in my head until I fixed things. They really are controlling.
Oh, I agree with you. I’ve learned to give up control and simply follow along. How long have you been writing?
Roughly, about fourteen years. Several years were spent writing all those terrible stories that we write as teenagers, but a lot of the basic ideas that are in the Adelheid series now came from that time period.
Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I live in New England, which has a big influence in my writing. It’s why I set Adelheid in Connecticut. I have lived here for my entire life, and I love it here. I think my roots go as deep as the big white oaks in my backyard. Autumn is my favorite season, because the trees change color and look like they’ve been lit on fire, and this is some of the oldest history in the United States. I can trace my maternal line back to a soldier in the revolutionary army that we believe — as best we can determine from what we have — fought at Lexington & Concord.
My sister used to live in Maine and I remember thinking how gorgeous New England was when we visited. Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way?
Well, as a child-child, I read a lot of Roald Dahl. I started reading adult fiction at eleven, though, which is still young. I dove immediately into Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey and Robert Jordan. While my tastes have expanded considerably, I consider those the Big Four of my youth, and the ones who made me want to write and made me love fantasy in the first place.
I, too, began adult fiction early. I wonder if that’s a pattern among writers. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
Everywhere and in everything. A car parked on the side of a rural road once inspired a story idea. I never ended up writing the story, but that kind of things happens to me a lot.
I find myself doing the same thing, especially wrapping a mystery around something I see. What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?
I’ve had a few readers see things that I wasn’t sure I agreed with… *lol* But that’s bound to happen. I like to think that a major theme in my Adelheid series is making non-human characters… human. Taking vampires and werewolves and showing more of the human side and less of the “see all the epic powers we have” side, and the setting of my series is that they are now recognized as legal citizens in the United States. So a theme is their struggle for equality, and facing down the groups that hate them just for existing. I modeled the law — the Preternatural Rights Act of 2010 — after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I otherwise don’t purposely try to parallel with present day events, but it’s hard not to feel like I’m writing a little bit of a social commentary… just with vampires.
Oh, I like what you’re doing with this series. How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
Fiction, obviously, and a line from my biography tells the rest: “She writes a bit of everything genre fiction (horror, romance, mystery, fantasy and science fiction) and thinks it sounds like an odd joke: a unicorn, a space monster, and a pair of zombie lovers walk into a murder investigation…”
Great answer. Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
Oh, my, yes. My mother was always into reading, but she went back to college when I went to kindergarten. Since she could only go part time, the degrees (she double majored) took a while. Thus seeing my mom reading, writing, doing homework is a salient theme of my growing up. She even had one class that took place after I got home from school and her professor let her bring me. It was an English literature class. I still remember that professor fondly for that. I think it greatly influenced me later on.
No doubt. Did the classics have any effect on you in your formative years? (Shakespeare? Alice in Wonderland? Gulliver’s Travels?)
As previously mentioned, my mom was in school when I was little. She took a Shakespeare class when I was eight and liked to watch Kenneth Branagh’s “Henry V” — which I still adore — and I could quote much of the St Crispin’s Day speech before long, and still can. And I was home educated from fifth through twelfth grade, by my mother, so there was a big emphasis on a lot of reading. I read Dickens and a lot more Shakespeare through middle school. While some of it was beyond me, I know it influences me now. I read Dickens’ “Bleak House” and “Moby Dick” just for fun in the past couple of years. “Bleak House” is over nine hundred pages, but Dickens’ humor and prodding social commentary is just wonderful.
Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
I’m a fan. I have an ancient Sony that I now use for beta reading and recently purchased Kindle that I’m still trying to figure out. Don’t get me wrong, I will never forego paper books entirely. I love walking into bookstores and holding a book in my hand, but I save that for special books these days. (Or major publishers, since I think they overcharge for ebooks.) As I am self-published myself, I’m a big supporter of the indie author and have found some great ebooks that way. Digital publishing has made books more affordable, and it’s the green alternative — less paper used.
Like you, I love the feel of a book in my hand but cannot imagine life without my Kindle. However, I refuse to purchase an ebook for more than or the same price as a paperback or hardback. What’s your attitude toward the standard advice: write what you know?
Unless you’re writing something that you want to be an authority on, I’d say ignore it. I write about vampires and werewolves. I’ve researched the lore surrounding the supernatural, but we can’t say I “know” it. No one can. So I’d say ignore that advice and write what you want, but if it’s something that really exists — like police procedure for me — research, and talk to people who know, and do the best you can. Otherwise, write good stories. That’s what’s the most important.
Another great answer, Mia. Really enjoyed the interview!
For more information about Mia and her works: http://www.miadarien.com