Name (Pseudonym): Diogeneia
Age: Over 40
Where are you from: Cleveland, OH, USA, Planet Earth
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc Oh, I see… hit me with the easy questions first and then lob the tough ones later… Well, let’s see… I have a Mother and a Father, but that’s all I care to admit to just now. I am reserved about my personal life. It’s fairly common knowledge, though, that I have completed some formal education in writing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Well, let’s see. I finished the first draft of version two of a story I have been formally developing since 2007. It’s being devoured by my Beta Readers right now. They have until the end of the year to finish chewing on it. In the meantime, I am working on the related website with my design team.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in the 7th grade, around the time I fell in love with classical and medieval literature. I was writing competitively for contests and grants by the 8th grade. I always placed, but didn’t start actually winning until 11th grade. I wrote and wrote all through high school and university. Then I graduated and foolishly gave it up in favor of a “real job.” I did a lot of writing in my “real jobs,” but nothing much that would qualify as creative. Then in 2005 I began having a very vivid repetitive and evolving dream that would stay with me after I woke. I began writing it down, and eventually, those notes became a premise, then a concept, and I realized I had to do something with it all. In 2007, I wrote the first (very bad) draft of the original story/dream. At that time, it has been almost 15 years since I wrote a creative story and I had lost a lot of the “mechanics” of that sort of writing. So, I spent another 7 years re-learning them, writing other things, filling in and researching my story world, and building my creative network. I’m in no rush…I want to understand the mechanics of good writing, but also writing success.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I am somewhere between a planner (outliner) and a pantser (off-the-cuff writer). I rarely start writing without a plan…but I rarely stick to the original plan. It takes me a while to find the voice for a story because the voice isn’t mine—it’s the main character’s. It took me a while to realize that. When I let the MC speak, the writing process goes smoothly; when I try to impose “my voice,” I struggle and that struggle is evident in my draft. So, I guess you can say that my style is mutable.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Oh dear, the title was torture. This book was originally called “Blood Ties.” I abandoned that because it was the title of a TV show. It was then “Blood Bonds,” which I still like, but so did a half dozen other writers who beat me to it. So then I changed it to “Bonds of Blood,” which I never liked. I finally settled on “Memories in Blood” because it was the main characters’ memories of past events and feelings that truly drew them back together after a decade of separation.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s a message in my novel that I grasp, but I think every reader should determine for her/himself what they get out of the story. If I did my job, there is one there to be found, but I wouldn’t impose my moral will on my readers.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Oh I don’t know. It’s a fantasy (dark fantasy), but much of it takes place in Honolulu, HI—one of my favorite places in the world. Beyond that, the relationships are emotionally realistic. The character personalities or issues are based on things I’ve felt or empathized through other people…issues I’ve seen people deal with like the death of a parent and the sense of fault or responsibility for others…the selfish need to possess another person…love, lust, or rejection…all realistic, in my opinion.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes, a bit, as I explained, but beyond that, the story is from a dream, not a fictional re-telling of anything that happened to me or anyone I know.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life?
If I gave you a list, your readers would be bored out of their minds! Ha-ha I have a weird passion for religious and cultural mythology, including fairy tales, Graeco-Roman, Celtic, Norse, African, Shinto, etc. etc. I love it all. Give me the Iliad and the Odyssey any day! I am also fond of classic writers like Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Kafka, Poe… Then of course, there is Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. From modern writers I have probably been most influenced by Roger Zelazny, Asimov, L’Engle, Stephen R. Donaldson, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling…see? Now you’ve got me going. Better shut up now. Ha-ha
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’ve had several mentors. Some don’t know they were mentors…others should because I bother them enough. Ha-ha They include Bob Bello, Candace Bowen, and Kate Weiland. I also hang on the words of Larry Brooks and John Truby.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Book 5 in the Harry Potter series, Story Physics by Larry Brooks, and assorted writing blogs. I have so many things in my queue that I will be reading when I am dead.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I love Candace Bowen’s Knight Series. I don’t generally read romances, but those are great. Beyond that, I love Toni Morrison. She has a grasp of the English language that I envy.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Well, Memories in Blood is with Beta Readers, and that is part of a series/collection of related stories. I am continuing to evolve that story world and outline some of the other stories.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I am grateful to the young man in my dream who told me the initial story. It was kind of him to slip out of the cosmos to talk to me for so many nights.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I know, I obviously didn’t as a young person, but my ability to write and think creatively has benefited by non-creative career greatly. Now, as long as I keep learning and evolving as a writer, I can see me supporting my family as a novelist.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Considering that I haven’t let this baby leave the house yet, I’m sure I will be changing things… ha-ha
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I read “The Raven” by Poe in the 7th grade and wanted to create something just as epic. I immediately started writing my own poetry.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a small tidbit, but it’s subject to change… ha-ha. See my Facebook fan page or my website for more samples of my writing or more information on this project.
Vampires can smell anything. Or rather, everything. The bud of a leaf or new branch on a tree produces a scent. The activities of unseen animals and insects fill the air with scents. And humans especially were a flourish of scents—colorful smells that emanated from their mouths, under their arms and between their legs. Smells they tried to mask or eliminate from detection were alive in his nostrils. They were a part of his landscape, a part he could discern and sort through with just a bit of attention.
It took only a slight focus for Rubius to pick out Cassandra’s scent when he arrived at the Fujimoto building. It was still familiar, a unique mix of human things…the subtle perfumes of her soaps and shampoo, the residue of cooked food and laundry detergent…and now she also smelled of new things, enticing feminine things that were only beginning to bloom that youthful summer. It all triggered more moonlit memories and that intriguing, nagging curiosity that drove him to find her and know her again.
He had expected the logical and competitive little girl he had known to be the gifted archer that she was now, but nothing had prepared him for the woman who walked away from him this afternoon. They were no longer children and she was beautiful. A fiery challenge. His reveal in the dojo hadn’t gone as planned, but the prospect of an affair with her still enticed him in ways others hadn’t.
He stood at the entrance of the quiet garden where he knew Cassandra now lingered, debating his best course of action as he watched the moonlight shimmer in a nearby fountain. The challenge took on new dimensions with the blood bond they created on that last day. It let them both feel the emotions of the other, a unique empathy that was strengthened by proximity or enflamed by intense emotion. Of course, the first thing he had felt from her was shock and the second was anger. He wasn’t about to leave things with her like that.
He followed Cassandra’s essence to the interior of the garden, where he paused, stalking her like a pathetic Cyrano de Bergerac, still waiting for the right words—the right moment. He growled to himself and took a step forward. And another. The memory of her that summer urged him on the path.
A song he had taught her that summer drifted into his thoughts. He took another step and turned toward the cobbled path that led in her direction and then he heard it. The song! Her voice drifted to him in the night.
“The wolves howl under the moon, while the dark ones dance at night, entangled arms and lovely charms, we join their sharp embrace, so we do we do we do…,” she sang.
“…And then we dance again,” he intoned in reply.
Cassandra swung around. “Rubius!” she hissed. The decorative lamps that illuminated the garden path suggested that she wore the moonlight instead of the white silk robe she fumbled with in his presence.
He bowed to hide an unexpected grin that crept upon his face at the sight of her.
“You can’t just sneak up on a girl like some kind of pervert from a horror movie!” she said.
“You’re the one outside in your underclothes,” he said. The soft curve of her calves tensed, ready to fight or defend, but she did not raise her fists. Instead, she continued to clutch the flimsy bedclothes. “There are probably dozens of Vampires stalking you from that club you apparently sing at. Any one of them could come looking for you.”
“And yet, here you are,” she said, rolling her eyes at him.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
All kinds of things have been challenging along the way… getting past my own ego was a challenge when I got back to it in 2007. I had won all kinds of awards for my writing in my college years—but in the 15 years that passed by, I forgot so much and my source of motivation changed. It was humbling to realize I had to re-learn how to tell a story.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I am really enjoying JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books. I know I am late to the game (as I said…long reading queue!), but I really love how much work she put into her story world and character backgrounds and how that creative effort resulted in such rich descriptions that were both detailed and interesting. I am still working out the translation from my background work to my story, but I’ll get there.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I hope so… ha-ha
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover designer is likely going to be done by my web designer, Noir Studios and/or by the wonderful composer who wrote the original music for my website, Vampafu. He’s also a visual artist.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding the time. I work 45-50 hours a week at a day job, have my own freelance service, volunteer, have a family, and struggle with a health issue that robs me of energy. Some days, I can barely devote 10 minutes to my project—but I do make an effort every single day to do something related to my project. Some days it’s only re-reading a chapter of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, other days its writing or editing a scene. I don’t make excuses…I just do whatever I can, whenever I can. Sometimes that means I sneak in some editing during a meeting at work… ha-ha.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned how to learn about writing again. Let me explain what that means.
This is actually my third attempt to write a novel in this series. I finished two books previous to this, but they simply weren’t good enough, so I filed them away indefinitely. It wasn’t just that I was struggling with what part of the story I wanted to tell; I was struggling with my craft. I had to re-learn how to write fiction.
Twenty years ago I abandoned creative writing in favor of “non” creative writing—the kind that pays bills fairly reliably. I have a degree in creative writing and understood the fundamentals, but I couldn’t seem to bring them together in a way that expressed the passion I felt for the story and its characters. I read dozens and dozens of writing advice books, read thousands of blog pages, and spoke with a lot of authors. In 2012, I stumbled upon the book “The Anatomy of Story” by the script doctor John Truby. It changed everything for me—not just because the man is a genius, but because his book showed me how much my ego was in the way. I thought I was too good a writer to go back and review the fundamentals. His book is easily a graduate level lesson in writing—I needed to back up. That’s when I started looking around for someone else and found Kate Weiland and Larry Brooks. Their books and blogs got me on my feet again and both of them are very friendly and responsive to their readers.
Anyway, I’m still not convinced that I’ve conquered every aspect of good writing, but I know I am light years closer than I was in 2007 when I re-started my creative journey.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, some very specific advice. First, leave your ego in a small cigar box that’s glued shut and buried in an unmarked grave in an abandoned graveyard—especially if you are published. Your ego will kill your ability to write well. It will kill your career. You know far less about writing than you think you do.
Second, I detest that trite writing “advice” you find in memes on social media…writers write…writers read… writers make schedules, have this or that routine… live on caffeine and booze. SOME writers do that—and good for them. Do you? Know thyself. Figure out what you need to do so that you hone your craft and continue to write.
Third and final, read books about writing STRUCTURE! I can’t tell you how many writers are out there that can craft a beautiful sentence, but can’t put an entire novel together to save their lives. These writers know all about “showing and not telling” and avoiding adverbs—but their stories are torture to read. Why? Structure. Good stories have structure and that structure follows logic—it’s psychological. Our subconscious looks for certain elements in stories as we read. Some advice writers call them milestones, timing points, plot points, structure points, steps, etc. It doesn’t matter—whether you are a story planner (e.g., an outliner) or a story “pantser” (multiple drafter), in order for your story to capture and stay with readers, it needs structure. K.M. Weiland, Larry Brooks, and John Truby can help with that. Look them up!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes…dear readers…leave a review, if that’s something you do, but if you wouldn’t mind, tell everyone you know to read my book! And if you have feelings or ideas about certain characters, feel free to share. If you have questions for the characters themselves, ask them. Every single one of them has a mind of his/her own!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I started reading when I was two, so not really. I remember reading The Hobbit when I was eight and thinking that I wished some wizard would send me on a journey, never mind the dragon! The dragon didn’t scare me—I thought he was misunderstood.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My son—he’s nine and such a clever kid. And music. I always write with a song in my head or in my ears. This book and series was inspired by music from Lacuna Coil, Tapping the Vein, Dope Stars, Inc. and close friend of mine, the pianist and composer known as Vampafu.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d love to meet George Gordon, Lord Byron. He was an English poet and a major figure in the Romantic Movement. I have a collection of things he’s written, including letters he wrote to and received from one of his lovers. That’s one man whose skin I’d like to get under, even today. What an intriguing mind! A lot of people today seem to lack imagination and passion, it’s so disappointing. One of the characters in my books is a combination of Byron and a good friend of mine.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“Space for Rent” Because if I do this writing thing correctly, I’ll be immortal.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I collect dragons, certain macabre artifacts, and magickal tools and books…and a few other things.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t have a lot of time in my day because of my job, family, and writing/writing activities (not that I am complaining!), so I tend to consider my television or movie watching as research. It works though, since I write in the genres I like to read and view. I’m behind on a lot of these, but I like shows like Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, Once Upon a Time, Dr. Who, etc. and any movie that’s based on fairy tales or mythology. I also enjoy anime. If I need a laugh, I’ll watch Big Bang Theory, though. I work with guys just like them at NASA!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I consider myself an adventurer when it comes to most things. I have a favorite food, but I won’t spend the calories if there is something else being offered that I’ve never tried. My favorite color tends to depend on my mood, but it tends to trend through green, pink, and black. My favorite music is any that triggers my imagination. I listened to a lot of goth and other things in the darker spectrum while writing this current book, but I’ve also been known to play bands like The Squirrel Nut Zippers or Handsome Boy Modeling School.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Little known fact about me, I “almost” sent to school for special effects. At one time in my life, I was very interested in animatronics and puppetry in movies. I used to draw a lot back then, but I’ve seemed to have lost that ability.
I didn’t end up in school for that because of a “clerical mix-up” at my high school. Even after two requests for my transcripts to be sent to Emerson College in Boston, they somehow never got there and the full-ride scholarship that I had been offered was withdrawn. At the time I was devastated, but everything happens for a reason. I LOVE to write, and so I went to a local state college (Cleveland State University) where they let me have a triple major and overload my courses all year round. Just call me Hermione Granger!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
The website for this current project is located at http://www.diogeneia.com