Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Well of Ideas

Happy weekend, everyone! Please join me in welcoming the insanely talented Grace Draven to KF! She writes really cool, otherworldly, paranormal books that I will let her tell you all about. So, take it away Grace...

First up, many thanks to Gemma Halliday and the rest of the Killer Fiction gang for having me on board for a guest shot today. I’m Grace Draven and currently write for Amber Quill Press. All the juicy details about me and my double life as a spy can be found here:

I’ve been reading romance since I was twelve years old. Living in Madrid, Spain and lamenting the lack of American TV (especially cartoons and afternoon specials – you never outgrow Scooby Doo), I discovered a new and addictive entertainment in reading romance fiction when I picked up The Black Lyon by Jude Devereaux. I still have that book by the way. Thirty years later, it’s looking a little dog-eared but the glue has held up, and I still love the original cover art.

The love of reading romance turned into a love of writing it. These days I write mostly fantasy romance. The marriage of the two genres has always been something I’ve wanted to read and write. World building, sorcerers and magic, newly made cultures, etc. all mixed in with the hero/heroine romance dynamic—what’s not to like?

Oh, and I like to see hot men on the covers. Why yes, I am all about the eye candy. In fact, here’s some eye candy I had licensed from two talented artists for promotional stuff (bookmarks, etc) on my latest book, Master of Crows:

Nice, eh? ~Ahem~ Where was I? Oh yes…

I’ve had non-writer friends ask me where I get ideas for my books. To their surprise, I often say I get my ideas from them. Seriously, and forgive the cliché, but people are odd ducks in general. There’s a reason people-watching is a popular sport. We say things, do things and get ourselves involved in situations that are so bizarre that seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. It’s great fodder for a story, even a story that takes place on another world, in another culture and with different races.

I have a work in progress centering on a grimalkin (a cat who is a witch’s familiar) who is actually an elf lord doing time for an ancient crime. My heroine is a single mom with an autistic child. I’m a married mom with the most beautiful, seven-year old, fascinating, autistic son ever born (I can say this. I’m his mom). Some of the stuff he does and the behaviors he exhibits are strange and puzzling, but also endearing and sometimes funny. One day I’ll have to tell you the story of how I caught him sneaking into the bathroom to dip his fish sticks into the toilet. Yeah, I gagged too when I found out.

There’s also the time when I worked as a bookseller to put myself through college and sold a stack of books to a young guy who sauntered into the store wearing pajamas, pink fuzzy bunny slippers and Spock ears. He was one of our more normal patrons. Trust me; bookstores are not sedate, boring places to work.
My spouse will likely never forgive me for ruining potential sales at a gun show. He had a side business selling medieval replica swords and knives, so we purchased a booth space for the weekend, set up our stuff next to the family selling hand-crafted angels (you’d be amazed at what’s sold at a gun show). As I was there for company and support, I let him do the sales pitch and sat back to read the book I brought with me.

I’ll pause here to say that while I write fiction, I read an enormous amount of non-fiction—especially for research. Anyway, my choice of reading material that day, combined with what my spouse was trying to sell, probably didn’t entice the purchasers. Most browsers stopped by, checked out the swords, looked my way, raised some eyebrows and hurried away. It wasn’t until the show was nearly over for the day that my husband took a good look at the cover of the book I was reading with its bold title and large letters—THE HISTORY OF HUMAN SACRIFICE—and nearly had a coronary.

These are just some things I’ve personally witnessed, and they’re relatively mild. Stories from some of my wilder, take-no-prisoner friends have left me slack-jawed with astonishment or doubled over with laughter. Thing is, it’s all great material for a tale, and I’ve mined from these life experiences with gusto, incorporating them into stories, sometimes altering them to fit a world or time period but always keeping the spirit of the moment intact.
If I ever write a bookseller heroine, I have a wealth of knowledge from which to pull and funky instances to incorporate into the story. Kids provide endless ideas with their remarks, antics and often their unfiltered wisdom and honesty. Friends, neighbors, relatives—all are seas of inspiration.

So when someone asks me where I get my ideas? Dudes, that’s easy. Everywhere.

~Grace Draven


Refhater said...

Welcome to K.F. Grace.

Excellent post! I loved the gun show story. I've been to many a gun show and if there's ever a place to people watch it's there.

Caffey said...

Hi Grace. I just checked out MASTER OF CROWS and so must get! Sounds fab! I have read others of yours under the hotter lines too. I love the cover you have for that one (its different at the site) Did you get to use your own covers or have imput into the covers they put out? Thanks for the great pics. I love seeing them too! Then I get to read them!! Too, do you have a site? Thanks. SO good to chat with you!

Grace Draven said...

Refhater - Thanks! I'm glad to be here. And you're so right. I've seen some unusual stuff at gun shows, and it had nothing to do with the guns. :D

Caffey - Hi Caffey! How cool! Thanks for reading my stuff. As for the covers, I can give suggestions and ideas, but it's ultimately up to the publisher's cover artist as to what goes on the cover. While I don't mind the official cover, I wanted something with a little more bang for promotions, and I've been itching to commission and/or license something from these two artists.

I have a blog and a website in progress which I hope will go up at the end of this month. Until then, you can find me at my Live Journal at Stop by and visit. I'm always happy to welcome new visitors.

Philip O'Mara said...

Looking forward to reading it.
Read a great new romantic comedy following the fortunes of Paul Marriott, the Secretary of the Barnstorm Village Sunday soccer team, and coach of a school cricket team in Yorkshire, England. The story describes the remarkable camaraderie between the players and supporters of this little club and their desire to achieve success. Nonetheless, the team is known more for its antics off the field, rather than their performances on it.

During his time at the club he meets and becomes involved with Emma Potter, who is the sister of James Potter, a major player for their bitter rivals Moortown Inn. Thus, begins an entangled web of romance and conflict. He also begins working at Derry High School, a school with a poor reputation of academic success, where he becomes coach of the school cricket team. Here he develops an amazing relationship with the children and embarks on an epic journey.

Unknown said...

@Grace - The artwork you've commissioned is beutiful, and your book sounds interesting. Good luck.

@Philip O'Mara - It's rude to spam the comments of another author's post simply to pimp your own book. There's self-promotion, and then there's being raised in a barn.