Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi everyone! My name is Aurrora St. James and I write paranormal romance. I’m 42, though I have no idea how that happened. I swear I was 35 five minutes ago.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m from sunny, hot, buggy Florida. My hubby and I just moved back to Florida last year and we love it. Our house is on 2 acres of jungle and the wildlife we see is amazing. Except for the bugs. They aren’t amazing. At all.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have the best job in the world. I do what I love and spend the rest of the time caring for my hubby and four-footers. I love old movies and I’m a prolific reader of romance, which is why I love to write it. I enjoy traveling and spending time with my family, playing board games, and hosting the occasional murder mystery dinner party. (What’s better than playing dress up and eating good food?)
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My last book, Stefan of Caeli, was nominated for the Rone Award. My next book, Nikolai of Semar, will be out by the end of the year. I’m really looking forward to the release of Nikolai, because it brings everything together with the first two books – Gavril of Aquina and Stefan of Caeli. Readers will start to see the big picture of what is going on with the magic of Jaduria, and some hints of what is to come in future books.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing my first stories around age eight when I spent weeks in the summers with my cousins. I was reading a lot of Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books during that time, so my first story was about a couple kids who find a mysterious, abandoned house with jeweled furniture.
Every summer after that, my cousins and I came up with different stories. As we grew older, they focused more and more on romance, featuring whatever band we liked at the time. I must have written half a dozen stories about Duran Duran. LOL It gave us something to do with our time and allowed us to bond over the things we loved. Those are treasured memories.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t consider myself a writer until I was 28 or 29. Before that, I’d struggled with a bunch of small jobs and just didn’t find anything that fit. I started writing fanfic at night to escape the drudgery and found that I loved it more than anything else. I took a couple writing courses and realized that I finally found what I wanted to do.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A picture by Luis Royo. I don’t know the name of it, but it’s a sexy drawing of a woman and a slave by a waterfall. That image spawned an entire story in my mind, and I wrote my first book, which I called The Crystal Princess. I never published it, because it was a practice book. But once I completed it, I knew that I could become an author, and that set me down the road to publication.
The first book I published was called Set in Stone. That particular book was based off of a one sentence writing challenge submitted to me by a friend. The single sentence spawned an entire story about a man who was cursed to be a gargoyle.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The book is about a man cursed to be stone during the daylight. But he refuses to believe that his entire existence is set in stone and seeks to end his curse.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I do have a specific writing style. I think all authors do. Whether it is how they prepare to write to the types of characters or genres they choose. I am always challenged at the start of the writing process because I plot a lot and try to know everything about my characters that I can. I usually can see several of the scenes in my mind right away. The challenge is in putting together a believable plot that is spawned by the characters and their growth and not my idea of what would be cool.
The first draft is also a struggle as the characters really find their way. I don’t hold them to my plot but use it as a guideline for where the story is going. The real joy in writing is allowing the characters to grow and explore on the page.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Only a small percentage is based on real life. There may be certain aspects of personality or events in life, but I never base a single character solely on a person I know.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have traveled to craft certain aspects of a book. I intend to travel to Scotland next year or so and plan to write some books based on my travels there. I think there is nothing like personal experience to bring a setting to life. It’s easier to describe the smell of a place if you’ve been there to smell it, right?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For my first three books, my poker buddy designed them. That may sound funny, but he is a graphic artist when not taking my money playing cards. I am in the process of choosing another artist for the next books and maybe redesigning the others.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Always. For Gavril of Aquina, it was not to judge by appearances and that love can conquer all. For Stefan of Caeli, the message was to believe in yourself and your dreams and goals, no matter what others say. With Nikolai of Semar, it’s that the past is what makes you who you are. That’s not something to be afraid of, but to embrace.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Wow. How much space do you have for this answer? LOL There are two recent authors I’ve just discovered that I love. The first is Anna Hackett and her Galactic Gladiator series. I just love the gladiators in space. Fantastic stories. Then Mia Marlowe’s Order of the M.U.S.E. trilogy. These are paranormal regencies which are superb.
I have three current favorite authors. I can’t decide which is my ultimate favorite though. They are Donna Grant (paranormal romance), Dianne Duvall (paranormal romance), and Grace Draven (fantasy romance). Donna Grant’s Reapers are wonderful. Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardians and the Gifted Ones are both funny and intense, and Grace Draven’s fantasy novels are so wonderfully crafted that I just love them.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Romantic Suspense Author Cherry Adair. Hands down, she is the most supportive author I’ve ever met. In addition to taking some of her master classes, it was her Write the Damn Book challenge that really lit a fire under me to complete my first book, The Crystal Princess. Her boot to the butt gave me the motivation to make my dreams a reality.
I really encourage any writer to check out her Master Classes. She believes in helping all writers and really wants each and every one of us to succeed.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I’m not really good at anything else. And I’m a terrible employee. I don’t like being told what to do. LOL Besides that, in the few times I contemplated walking away from writing, I knew I couldn’t do it. I LOVE to write. I love characters and stories and plots and romance. Even if I never published another book, I would continue to write. But not to worry, now that self-publishing is so easy, I’ll be writing and publishing for many years to come.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I might tone down Isabela’s mom a little. She was harsh. Really harsh. But other than that, I was pretty happy with it over all.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I always learn something while writing. With Stefan’s book, I practiced writing sequels (part of the scene and sequels written about by Dwight V. Swain in Techniques of the Selling Writer). This filled in the gap I was struggling with in writing and plotting. I also really plotted the book before I started writing, more than I’ve ever plotted before. It made writing faster because I knew where I was going.
In the book I’m writing now, Nikolai of Semar, I learned that when you don’t have the burning desire to write the story, it’s usually because something is wrong with the plot. Instead of shooting the hero in the leg to get him talking, I went back and completely reworked the plot. That opened up the stream and I was able to get excited about writing and getting words on the page.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Oh, that’s a great question! For Gavril of Aquina, I’d definitely choose Chris Hemsworth. He’s so delish. For Stefan of Caeli (or Nikolai of Semar because the heroes are twins), I’d have to choose either Karl Urban or Luke Evans. Both have that dark intensity that I associate with my heroes.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write every day or as often as you can to exercise that writing muscle. Also, read writing craft books like Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal Motivation and Conflict or Dwight V. Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Practice your craft, always improve, and discard what doesn’t work for you. And always, always, always use a professional editor. Writers new to their craft may not remember that you “can’t see the forest for the trees”. As authors, we are too close to our work to see small holes in a story, confusing items, or grammatical issues. We need a professional to point those things out to make our books the best they can possibly be. In my opinion, “good enough” can lose current and future readers. Take pride in your work!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
First and foremost, I want to say thanks. You make my job worth it. I wouldn’t be able to do what I love if it wasn’t for your encouragement and support. Without your kind words and sharing that you love my books. I will continue to work hard to provide you rich, entertaining love stories that sweep you away from the problems of daily life and remind you that love truly can conquer all.
Secondly, thanks for hanging in there with me. This last year has been a rough one personally as there were very abrupt changes in my life. My hubby went on disability very suddenly, was unable to return to work, and we had to sell our house and move across country. With the hours of care for him, all the work that went into packing, selling, moving, buying, and unpacking, there wasn’t much time for writing. But I’m back in the chair and working hard to get my next book out there. And if all goes according to my evil plan, I should be able to get at least 3 books out a year from here on out. Stay tuned!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Barbarian by Anna Hackett. It’s great.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I think it was The Monster at the End of This Book, featuring Grover. I love it still.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Ugh. I hate to cry. I avoid it as much as possible. Sad movies? Dramas? No thanks. If you ever see me watching something like Steel Magnolias, I’ve been invaded by body snatchers. Point me toward the explosions please. LOL
I do love to laugh. I enjoy comedies and dry British humor. Also, my critters and my family make me laugh almost every day. J
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to meet Joss Whedon. He’s my current writing hero. Or probably Stephen King. I don’t read his books, but he’s amazing. I’m so fortunate that I’ve been able to meet most of the people (presently living) that I’ve always wanted to. One of my all-time favorites? Jim Butcher. He’s the best.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Not at the moment. Eventually I will get back to playing piano and photography I think. I probably won’t go back to knitting. I’m proud of my 5-sided washcloth but I don’t think there’s a future in it for me… Oh wait! Baking. I enjoy baking.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love the current Marvel films and also some of the Hallmark Murder Mystery movies. We don’t have cable, so I’ve been watching a lot of old westerns lately. LOL Some of those cowboys are hot!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Ah, an easy one! My favorite color is red or garnet. I love hard rock and classic rock and a really great steak.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Curl up in a ball and pray to be abducted by aliens. All right, that’s a bit dramatic. But honestly, that future is a horror show and something I never want to think about.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“Seemed like a good idea at the time” or “I drink coffee for your protection”. Or if I happen to die rich – “the butler did it”.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Please check out my website at www.aurrorastjames.com. You can sign up for my newsletter and check out my books. I send out a newsletter, quarterly or when there are special updates, and always offer a contest in it.
If you enjoy my books and want to help promote them, sign up for my street team: Aurrora’s A-List. Members get special contests, snippets of my current works in progress, advance views of books covers (and sometimes the option to vote on which they like best), and even the option to beta read my brand new book before it’s published. All I ask in return is that members share the news about my new books when they come out. Sign up at http://www.aurrorastjames.com/street-team.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Aurrora-St.-James/e/B00E46VJD8/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1