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?
My name is Libby Doyle, a pen name. I’m 53.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Philadelphia, PA, the sixth largest city in the U.S. I love my city. The people have a famous ornery streak tempered by a dry sense of humour. Philadelphians interact in a we’re-all-in-this-absurd-mess-together kind of way. The city is steeped in history as well. The U.S. Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were written here.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m married with no kids by choice. I do have a grown stepdaughter and a step-granddaughter. My husband and I love music and travel. We just celebrated our 10th anniversary. Yay!
By day I’m an attorney. This is a second career. For more than a decade before I went to law school I worked as a reporter. I liked it better than being an attorney. Of course, I love being a fiction writer most of all. If only it paid the bills!
A few interesting facts about me: I lived in Japan for three years, where I was teaching English as part of a program run by the Japanese government. I adore Japan. I also lived in China for a year, where I worked as a copy editor for China’s national English-language newspaper. Finally, I’m a first generation American. My parents emigrated to the U.S. from Newfoundland, Canada. Newfoundland used to be a part of the U.K. My parents were born British!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I released the second edition of The Passion Season, Book I of the Covalent Series, on September 25, 2018. If you like adventure, strong women, warriors, alien sex, violence, and beings who can manipulate the properties of matter and energy with their minds, this book is for you!
Book II in the series, The Pain Season, will be released on October 23, 2018.
In late November I plan to release The Vengeance Season, Book III of the Covalent Series. Book III concludes a major story arc. The series will go on, but it reboots after Book III.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I actually started writing a novel when I was 9 years old. A fantasy, I guess you could call it. I never finished. Over the years I occasionally wrote short stories. Frankly, writing fiction seemed like a pipe dream. I lacked confidence, despite some encouragement from creative writing teachers.
As a journalist I wrote every day, of course. Although it’s much different from fiction, it gave me good habits. I learned to vary my words and the length of my sentences so that my writing has a nice rhythm. Above all, I learned to communicate clearly.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’d say when I sold my first article, a profile of my karate instructor that I sold to the Philadelphia Tribune for $20.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Law school cured my confidence problem. Law school was brutally hard because I worked full time as a reporter and took classes at night. I figured if could get through that, I could write a novel. All the science fiction and fantasy I’ve ever read (and watched) went into my brain blender and out poured The Covalent Series. Let me tell you, it’s a real ripsnorter.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My male and female heroes meet in The Passion Season. Both of them have damaged hearts but find a powerful love. Hence the “passion.” The “season” refers to my male hero’s enemies. He is a superhuman warrior from another dimension. His sinister father sends demons to attack him on Earth. The demons can only access the Earth’s dimension through a rift in the fabric of existence that appears at the change of seasons – a solstice or an equinox – when the Earth tilts on its axis relative to the sun.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
In my novels, when a scene features the Covalent – the name of the alien race I have created for these books – their language is formal and poetic. When the scene switches to Earth and conversations between my female hero and male hero and their friends, the language is less formal, snappier, and peppered with curses and jokes. My female hero, Zan O’Gara, is a bit foul-mouthed. She served in the Army, you see. Then she became an FBI agent.
As for the laughs, I keep in mind a famous quote from Joss Whedon: “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”
The biggest challenge I have is to show and not tell. I’ve created a new alien society. There is a lot to explain so readers can understand the world and the story, but I can’t overdue the exposition. It’s a delicate balance.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Of course, any book featuring a superhuman warrior from another dimension is not going to be realistic, but some aspects are based on my life and the people I’ve known. I work hard to keep the characters’ emotions true to life. They’ve both suffered trauma. I draw from the things I’ve learned and my own life to inform their experiences.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
My books are partially set in Philadelphia. I travel around the city scoping out locations for scenes and taking photographs that help with my descriptions. The book is partially set in another dimension so that’s all imagination, with a little help from NASA’s catalogue of amazing space photos.
Here’s a fun fact. Zan, my female hero, is from the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, so the Hubby and I went there on vacation. I’m glad we did. What a place. So rugged and beautiful.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
José Del Nido, a Spanish artist, created the characters and the background. I add the titles, the back blurb and my logo. A collaboration!
Check José out at http://josedelnido.com
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Barakiel, my male hero, gains his superhuman strength and speed from the principle of Balance, the equilibrium of creation and destruction, order and entropy, love and hate. My message is that we all hold both light and darkness within us and we need both to be fully realized human beings. Or alien warriors as the case may be. Ha!
I also wrote Zan as a kick-ass female. Through the series, she saves Barakiel as often as he saves her. They need each other. He doesn’t claim her, own her, or make her his any more than she claims him, owns him, and makes him hers. They both have agency.
My main goal, though, is to entertain.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I recently discovered E.J. Frost. Her novel Snowburn is a lively adventure with great world-building, engaging characters and some hot, mutually respectful sex.
Christian A. Brown, the author of the Four Feasts Till Darkness series, is another of my recent finds. He writes sweeping epic fantasy and his prose is gorgeous.
My favourite writers are too numerous to mention. I’ll name two who I’ve recently read. Kameron Hurley, author of God’s War who writes totally badass women, and Dan Simmons, the brilliant author of the Hyperion Cantos, science fiction at its finest.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The Philadelphia Free Public Library. The head of fiction there, Dena Heilik, put my books on the shelves. She supports local authors by giving us space for our functions. She’s fabulous!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing used to be my career, and I do consider moving back into freelance journalism. I would love fiction writing to be my career, but it would be far in the future. I have only one book out. I’ve heard you need to have several published before you get traction as an indie author. Of course, with a day job, I’m quite slow. Let’s hope I live a long time!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Funny you should ask. I did change things! I pulled the first edition of The Passion Seasonand worked on it until it gleamed like sunshine. Not that I wasn’t proud of the book in its initial form. In fact, it won the 2016 Solo Medal in Fantasy from the New Apple Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing, but I learned a few things along the way. I applied them to this second edition of The Passion Season. Plus, it has a gorgeous new cover.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
The more you get to know your characters, the easier it is to write their story. Their voice becomes your own.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
For Barakiel, my male hero, Chris Hemsworth, hands down. He’s beautiful and he seems to have a fun personality.
For Zan, my female hero, I’ll go with Charlize Theron. I loved her in Mad Max: Fury Road. The fierceness she brought to Imperator Furiosa? That’s what I need in Zan.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Marketing will drive you insane if you let it. No one really knows what works in a saturated market, so restrict your efforts to the things you enjoy, or at least don’t hate. Your best bet is to concentrate on producing quality work. I would recommend traditional publishing if you can. If you self-publish, it’s best to have a few novels finished before you begin. If you’re going to spend money, spend it on editors and art, not marketing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’m grateful for their attention and support, and thrilled they enjoy my characters as much as I do. I had one reader tell me she was half in love with Barakiel. Mission accomplished!
For any potential readers, check me out. My books are a fun ride.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Christian A. Brown’s Feast of Dreams, Book II in the Four Feasts Till Darkness series.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes, a little book about a mouse trying to find a home, called Mouse Finds a House. I still have it! Good thing, too. It’s out of print, although there are others with the title. God how I loved that book when I was little. I carried it around.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My husband makes me laugh. The state of my country makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Queen Elizabeth I of England. She was badass. They tried to make her a figurehead and she wouldn’t have it.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Travel, hiking, and music. I’d have to call my fiction writing a hobby, too, because I have a day job.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Angel, the spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is one of my favourite shows of all time. I also love Games of Thrones and Better Call Saul.
Fiona: Favourite foods, colours, music?
I love all sorts of fancy pasta. Blue is my favouritecolour, followed closely by red. As for music, I love punk rock and Americana.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Be a better attorney, I imagine. Get my head completely in the game.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
On a high mountain overlooking the sea, with my husband.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She was her own woman, first and last.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Visit https://libbydoyle.com to read all about my characters, as well as excerpts from my books, my blog, and free short fiction! My website is a cornucopia of cool stuff.
Social Media Links
Amazon Author Page
Mailing List Sign-Up Form
Facebook Author Page
Buy Links for The Passion Season
Amazon US – http://bit.ly/CovalentI
Amazon Universal – http://mybook.to/CovalentOne
iBooks – http://bit.ly/CovalentOne
Kobo – http://bit.ly/KBCovalent
All other retailers – http://bit.ly/1Covalent
Thank you for this opportunity, Fiona!