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.
My current level of insanity is pretty high — not quite in the “lunatic asylum red zone” but a fairly toxic orange — let’s say an eight. The reason? Two projects conflicting: a) a novel in progress, which I’ve only just started and b) the promotion of Season of the Witch. It is like having to choose between two demanding lovers! Starting a novel from scratch is always tough: you’re not comfortable with your characters yet and you’re struggling with plot lines that are still wobbly. Promotion is hard work too. Blogging, writing articles, networking, online interviews: all of this can be tremendously time consuming…if fun!
2. You’ve lived in London, South Africa and elsewhere. It’s clearly something that has flavored your work, in terms of setting especially. Is there any place that you’ve not been where you’d like to set a story?
Easter Island! Although I’m a little hesitant about the gazillion hour plane trip that would take me there…
3. Your aia started your interest in mysticism. You’ve mentioned that you insisted on following some of her superstitions as a child in your bio page. Are there any that have stuck with you through the years?
Fortunately for my husband I do not insist any more on raising my bed on bricks the way my aia did (to be out of reach of the tokkelosh — a malevolent little man with a big head and short legs) but she has sharpened my awareness of things that can’t always be easily explained: synchronisities, coincidences, those small ripples that hint at something hiding behind the dusty curtain. She believed that magic lurked in the shadow of the mundane. This is a very African way of looking at the world. In Africa magic permeates every aspect of every day life — it is not a thing apart. This belief is reflected in my books. Even though I write about topics, which can seem fey and far-fetched, I make sure to embed them firmly within a modern day, realistic framework. One moment my characters will be plodding along unsuspectingly and the next they will find themselves caught up in a world that is luminous and imaginative.
4. Surely that interest must be deeply entrenched by now; all your books thus far are paranormals. Do you think it’s the thrill of the unknown, perhaps even the impossible, that attracts us to explore the paranormal?
I think we all need a little bit of fantasy on our bread. Our lives are rushed and filled with routine and we long for something that will inspire us with awe and wonder. Paranormal stories are usually sensual, resonant stories, filled with dark images tinged with apocalyptic fire. For some reason these stories touch something deep within us.
5. One of your future goals is coming face to face with a ghost. Do you think you’ll scream like a girl when it happens?
Wouldn’t it be nice if I found myself able to communicate intelligibly and intelligently with my ghostly visitor? But probably not! Although I tend to lose my voice when I’m in shock so I’ll most likely end up gasping like a fish out of water.
6. Windwalker had a…rather controversial ending, especially for one that had ‘romance’ on the spine. The RWA definition of romance includes a happy ever after, and not every reader considers Windwalker’s ending a true happy ever after. Do you think that a romance needs to have a happy ever after?
Controversial is putting it mildly. Many readers loved the book but yes, I picked up a lot of flak from a sizeable group of romance readers who felt betrayed by Windwalker‘s ending. I suppose it depends on your definition of romance. For me, “romance” equals “love story” and some of the most enduring love stories do not have happy endings. Look at Gone with the Wind, Wuthering Heights, even Memoirs of a Geisha. Maybe it is true that the romance imprimatur on the spine confused readers who were expecting a more traditional read. I admit that my books are not conventional. I try to keep the story lines unexpected. After all, what’s the fun in doing what every other writer does? And even the setting I used in Windwalker, Namibia, drew criticism — although I think after Brad and Angelina’s adventure, Namibia may not seem quite as odd a backdrop for a love story any more.
As for Season of the Witch: I have a new publisher and the book will not be marketed as pure romance, although it does have a strong romance angle: my hero falls in love with a voice in a diary – how romantic is that? On the other hand, the voice might belong to a killer… I suppose my books are hybrids, which make them difficult to peg: a dash of romance, a scoop of mystery, a seasoning of mysticism and a dollop of the paranormal make for an unpredictable brew. My characters tend not to walk hand-in-hand into the sunset, but I like to think they do other things that are pretty interesting…
7. “Enter the World of a Witch. Play the memory game. http://www.seasonofthewitch.com”. What gave you the idea for the game? And did you have fun designing it?
In Season of the Witch my two witches are building a memory palace filled with fantastical objects that are both bizarre and beautiful. When I wrote the descriptions of the palace, the idea came to me that if these scenes could be translated into visual imagery, that they would make a great backdrop for a game.
I have to admit that I underestimated how tough it is to write a game — I’ve never done it before — but yes, it was great fun. Fortunately, I have a very talented brother who is a highly imaginative website designer and he was able to take care of all the technical wizardry for me. I hope readers will enjoy playing the game: I’ve made it quite challenging. If they manage to get to the end, they could even win a prize!