1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.
It always hovers between 5 and 8, with an occasional spike. I think all writers are a little bit warped—we have to be, living in our heads so much. Not to mention the studies that show artists—and writers in particular—as being more prone to mental illnesses. Highs and lows are part of living, and unless the condition is bad enough to warrant medication, I prefer to experience all aspects of this ‘life’ thang. It doesn’t make sense to me to go through life medicated into what someone else thinks of as normal if I’m high functioning without the pills. I know I’m a little bit OC, as well as mildly bipolar and am lucky that I can control it without drugs, and that’s the route I choose to go. Some people can’t, and they need to do what works for them. I’m also terribly Type A, ambitious, and driven in my work—I don’t consider these aspects negatives most of the time, they just make me the obsessed (and loveable ~grins~) little fruitcake that I am.
2. Have you ever used the tarot to help write your books? As in, to help plot?
Nope. Tried it. Didn’t work. My cards told me to quit bothering them for something I should be doing myself. Seriously, they spanked me a good one.
3. Do you think Witchling’s voice different from your other books? It’s a shift from cozy mystery to urban fantasy, after all.
Oh, my voice changes with every main character book. It’s not just genre that does it, it’s the main character. I think my style is inherent within everything I write, but the character voices change drastically. And of course, in this new series, I can let loose and go places that the cozy genre forbids. That’s exciting, although I will say that working within such a tight framework (i.e.: the cozy genre) has forced me to really learn how to develop strong characterization and mood. When you can’t go over the top, you have to build reader interest in other ways. I’ve never been content with writing superficial work. I want my characters and story to stand out—regardless of what genre I’m writing.
4. You’ve been through some pretty dark times in your life. Is it reflected in what you write? And was writing an escape from them?
My past will always be reflected in how I write, though I think that’s why I stay away from stark realistic fiction. When you’re writing a book, you live in the world that you’ve created 24/7, for months at a time. While I like having more leeway than cozies provide, I also choose to avoid certain subjects that bring up painful memories better left in the dark recesses of my mind.
I wanted to be a writer from the time I was three years old, a year or so before the problems in my childhood started. So my love for writing wasn’t born out of a need for escape, but it certainly provided a shelter when things got bad. So did my love for reading. The books and writing became a haven as time went on, a nice perk.
5. On your blog you mentioned you enjoy writing sex scenes. Now I really can’t wait for Witchling. But to get back to the point, I do have quite a few writer friends who find it difficult, and they aren’t prudes by any means. Any suggestions?
IMO, sex scenes need to be necessary to the book be effective. I don’t know if I could write erotica (as opposed to erotic scenes within a book) because—for myself—I need a lot of story to back up the sex and I’m realizing just how much I love to plot. When I’m actually writing, it’s like I have this filmstrip running in my head. My subconscious narrates what needs to happen and with my conscious mind, I record it on paper, and then I revise and edit and polish the story till it shines. My sex scenes tend to be shorter but intense—I can’t drag them out for pages at a time, but when they’re there, they need to be there and I don’t pull punches. I read the Joy of Writing Sex a few years ago and it did wonders in helping me think about the way sex scenes work. And then, writing a nonfiction sex magic book a few years ago helped wipe away lingering embarrassment (Sexual Ecstasy and the Divine).
I guess what advice I’d have to give is this: look at how your character approaches sex and go from there. Put yourself in her shoes. How do you think she’d react? How would she talk about sex to her best friend? Would she spill it all, or would she be more secretive? Is she a lights-on or a lights-off person?
Make certain to involve all the senses. I find it amazing how many aspiring writers overlook smell, taste, and hearing in favor of sight and touch. How does the hero smell? Like forest leaves? Old Spice? Sticky lemonade because he spilled his drink on his shirt and didn’t bother to change? If you kiss him, how do his lips taste? Does he smoke? The taste of ash will be there…did he just eat chocolate? And what are the background noises? Is the fan going? Are there birds chirping outside the window? Can you hear the quiet rise and fall of the old basset hound’s breathing while he sleeps by the end of the bed? Everything you write in a sex scene should go into creating the mood.
6. Has using the India Ink pseudonym helped the sales of the Bath & Body series? Do you hope that you can someday have a cover that says “Yasmine Galenorn writing as India Ink”?
I have no idea whether it’s had any impact on sales. In my opinion it can’t help because most of my readers seem to read just about everything I write, as far as the fiction. I didn’t want to use a pen name but since both the Chintz ‘n China series and the Bath and Body series are in the same imprint, the marketing department insisted. I agreed on the stipulation that I choose the pen name and that I can splash it all over my site and inside the books, that I’m actually the one writing the series. So you’ll find my name inside on the acknowledgements. I would never write a book if I couldn’t put my real name somewhere in it/on it. Call it ego if you like, but I am proud of all of my work and hate the thought of ‘hiding.’
And yes, I would prefer that all my books have my real name on them—so yes, I would like to see them reprinted someday with “Yasmine Galenorn writing as India Ink” on the covers.
7. If you could write just one book a year, do you think that book will be better than one you write with 6 month deadline?
No, I have the natural ability to write prolifically. I would be bored to tears with just one book a year. I would, however, LOVE to have a six months deadline! I wrote three books last year and that was pushing it. I’m on almost the same schedule this year. But my writing is getting tighter with each book, so I’m not worried that my quality suffers—I just want more time in my life for other things.