Friday, October 16, 2009

Shadowfae ~ Erica Hayes

Please welcome my special guest today, urban fantasy author Erica Hayes, whose debut book Shadowfae hit the shelves this week! Erica is another Aussie author and I met up with her at the New Zealand conference earlier this year. OK Erica, over to you!

Re: InterviewBio stuff: I write full time, which is the perfect job for me, because (apart from the fact that dreaming about hot paranormal guys for a living rocks!) we move around a lot and it’s portable. Once, I had ‘real jobs’, and they weren’t much fun. I was an editorial assistant (yeah baby) and a telephone fundraiser (you know that person that rings while you’re trying to have dinner and trips your guilt about starving African children? Yeah. That was me). Once, I was even in the air force, which didn’t turn out well :)

Now, I write erotic urban fantasy... Hmmm. Ever get the feeling you’ve been travelling in the wrong direction? But I had the opportunity to give up ‘real work’ a couple of years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

Can you tell us a little about your book?

Why, certainly :) SHADOWFAE is released on October 13 from St Martin’s Press, and it’s a sexy urban fantasy/romance. Here’s the blurb:

Imagine a secret world veiled in fairy glamour and brimming with unearthly delights. A city swarming with half-mad fairies, where thieving spriggans rob you blind, beautiful banshees mesmerize you with their song, and big green trolls bust heads at nightclubs. And once you’re in, there’s no escape…

Enslaved by a demon lord, Jade is forced to spend her nights seducing vampire gangsters and shapeshifting thugs. After two hundred years as a succubus, she burns for freedom and longs to escape her brutal life as a trophy girl for hell’s minions. Then she meets Rajah, an incubus who touches her heart and intoxicates her senses. Rajah shares the same bleak fate as she, and yearns just as desperately for freedom. But the only way for Jade to break her bonds is to betray Rajah—and doom the only man she’s ever loved to a lifetime in hell.

Fun, huh? Go watch the trailer!

Or watch it here!~

And there’s an excerpt on my site:

I was hooked the second I discovered there were half mad fairies and demon lords! How did the idea for the plot come about?

Well, I knew I wanted to write about a succubus — a demon who seduces men and sucks out their souls! yum yum! — so I got all the novels I could find about succubi to make sure I wasn’t covering the same old ground.

And you know what? All the succubi I read about, I figured they had it too easy. They’re demons, with magical powers, so they can shapeshift into whatever sexy form they like. Seduce whoever they want without effort, and then just switch it off and walk away when they’re done. No angst, no consequences.

So I thought: what if the succubus wasn’t a demon, but a human forced into hell’s servitude? What if she couldn’t shapeshift, but had to use foul demon magic she couldn’t properly control to seduce her victims? What if the demon’s power over her meant she couldn’t refuse, no matter how grotesque the victim? And once she’s (ahem) swallowed the guy’s soul, then what?

So my heroine, Jade, was born. She’s a human in thrall to a demon for a thousand years, and she’s sick of being forced to have sex with men she doesn’t want. She’s looking for a way out, an end to her thousand years of misery, and she discovers an ancient ritual that just might break her demon thrall and let her die. And then, she meets a guy she does want — a sexy 400-year-old incubus named Rajah — and sparks fly. Oh boy, do they fly :) Only he’s seeking his freedom too, and there’s only enough ritual for one...

I love sale stories (ok I am just nosy!!) so can you tell us about your road to publication - and your call story?

I did all the usual things: wrote manuscripts, queried agents, got rejected, tried again. My SHADOWFAE query got rejected I think fourteen times before the lady who’s now my agent picked it up. And then the manuscript got rejected by four or five editors before it sold, for being either too romancy, or not romancy enough, depending on the imprint. SHADOWFAE was my fourth completed manuscript, and the third I sent out queries for, but really it was the first one I seriously put out there with any idea of what the genre was or what the market was like. It’s a learning process, and sadly it means that a lot of first manuscripts will never get looked at, just because it takes us writers a while to figure out what’s required.

But I like to focus more on what I *didn’t* do. I didn’t meet an agent or an editor at a conference and knock her socks off with my ‘elevator pitch’, whatever that is. I didn’t know any bestselling authors from whom to get a glowing referral to their agent. I didn’t learn some secret magic formula to write my query letter so it’d immediately get noticed. I didn’t final in the Golden Heart — hell, I didn’t even get it together to enter the Golden Heart, and in each of the RWAmerica contests I did enter this MS, it totally bombed.

I’d heard all these myths about what you need to do to get published, folks, and they ain’t true :) though they do work for some people. I got there because I kept writing while I waited, and because I didn’t give up. And those are the only reasons.

As for call stories, mine’s kinda subdued. I was home alone, and I woke up to two emails from my agent in Florida, who’d been patiently waiting for me to get out of bed. The first one’s subject said ‘Offer! Yay!!!’. The second one said ‘Wake up, already!’ :)

I think I stared at it, and giggled. I’m still giggling, really :)

LOL on the giggling! It's actually great to hear authors do sign with fab agents through the slush pile querying process. So onto the nuts and bolts. Do you write every day? Do you give yourself daily/weekly goals?

Definitely. My deadlines are currently six months apart, so at the pace I write, I wouldn’t get the books finished if I didn’t do a little every day. I aim for 2,000 words a day, or 10,000 a week, which means I get the occasional day off if I’ve been good :)

Great plan! Panster or plotter?

Plotter. Plotter, plotter, plotter. Obsessive, perfectionist, figure-every-last-detail-out-before-I-begin plotter. I can’t operate any other way. I need to know exactly where each character in each scene is going, or I just waffle and end up cutting it out later. For me, plotting saves time in the end. That doesn’t mean I don’t get creative as I go :) but my stories tend to turn out pretty much as I planned them.

What keeps you motivated when the writing gets tough?

Deadlines? Sheer stubbornness? :) No, really, I think part of it is stubbornness — ‘I’m not going to let this problem beat me’. But adaptability also helps. There’s always a solution to every story problem, even if it means that your characters aren’t exactly who you wanted them to be, or don’t do the things you imagined they’d do in the beginning. You have to be prepared to change your mind. When I get stuck on a scene, I try to go back to first principles: who is this character? What is she trying to achieve *right at this moment*? Does she achieve it? What needs to have changed for her before the scene is over?

And, of course, I love spending time with my characters. Even when I’m in the deepest, darkest, most depressing ‘this-book-sucks-and-I’ll-never-write-anything-good-again’ hole, they always lure me back :)

Is there any advice or light bulb moment you'd like to share about getting/being published?

Don’t stop writing. Ever. Publishers don’t buy a single book -- they buy an author, and they want you to keep producing, the same but different. This is what they mean by an author’s ‘brand’ -- a string of books that are the same, but different. Start thinking about series arcs, connected characters such as brothers or families or clans, plots that can tie in with future books. The editor loved your original idea, or they wouldn’t have bought it. So feed off that idea, expand it, play with it, and capitalise on that editorial enthusiasm as much as you can.

Fantastic advice, Erica. Do you have critique partners (CPs)? If so can you tell us how you met up and your process?

I’m in a group of five, a subset of Canberra Romance Writers, which is an RWA group. I just turned up there and they adopted me. Eighteen months later, they’re sorry, but it’s too late to get rid of me now :)

We bounce initial story ideas about — I still remember ringing up my friend AJ and demanding to know whether she thought I could get away with a fairy serial killer for a hero — and swap manuscripts, or large chunks thereof. We’re kind of harsh with each other, I guess :) but we’re all at that stage of development as writers where we need to know what doesn’t work, not how great everyone thinks it is. I think that’s the most important thing in a crit group — you all have to want the same thing out of it.

The answer was yes, by the way. To the fairy serial killer, that is. That book’s called SHADOWGLASS, and it’s coming out in March next year :) in fantasy you can do anything! And yes, it’s got a happy ending!

Re: InterviewThis gorgeous hunk of man is Bollywood actor Dino Morea, and he looks a lot like Jade’s hero, Rajah, from my book. Not quite sure what he’s doing with the bike and the gas pump, but who cares?

Ha! No, I sure don't care (especially since it shows off his biceps so perfectly!)

How to catch up with Erica:
Re: Interview


Mel Teshco said...

Hi Erica and Christina!!
You had some fantastic advice Erica - though I'm not too fussed on the plotting thing (g)
I love the sound of book 2 (am about to order book 1) and can't wait to read them both!
Oh, and btw - that hero is HOT!! (scorching, blistering HOT). And I really don't care what he's doing with the bike and pump either lol!

Kylie Griffin said...

Hey Erica (again!):-) . You once worked with the airforce? Doing what and for how long? Not your everyday occupation.
You learn something new with every interview, eh? (Great interview technique, Christina!)
And we can all happily enjoy more of those sorts of pictures posted at the end of the interview - where do you find them??? Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Erica and Christina,
Great interview,
Love your attitude to writing, Erica,with the sheer stubborness and plotting to save time in the end.My kind of writing!
Book sounds fantastic!
And as to the gorgeous role model for your hero- the very sexy Dino- my questions are - what bike? what gas pump?

Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts said...

Great interview Erica. You are indeed the Queen of Plotting! For us rabid fans, how many Shadow... books do you think there will be? I have to know so I can pace myself ;)
Dino is indeed hot, but I still read Shadowfae and think of Raj as the cute guy from that Indian Peugeot car ad.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Hey Erica and Christina - great fun interview!

I think sheer stubbornness is a great trait in a writer....and perseverance. Well done Erica. And I remember Melissa Jeglinski saying at the conference that it comes down at times to being 'the right book at the right time'. Yay for your book finding a home. Love the 'get up already' email from your agent.

Cari Quinn said...

Great interview! Erica, I'm a huge UF fan and will definitely put yours on my list. Can't wait to read it!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Erica and Christina,
Great interview. Love hearing about fellow Aussie writers, doing well. What an iamgination you have Erica, love the idea of fairies that is a different slant on things. Best of luck. Ooh and that sexy man on the front cover. Can I have him please?


Helen Hardt said...

Erica, Shadowfae sounds fantastic! I'm experimenting with erotic UF right now. Loved the interview, Christina!

Suzanne Brandyn Author said...

Hi Erica and Christina,
Love the pics Erica, and the excerpt.

Yes, not giving up is the key, and to keep writing while subs are out there.

Airforce: Now that is a story of it's own. Is it on your blog or website. If it is I haven't seen it. Must go for another look. :)

All the best,


Erica Hayes said...

Thanks everyone for dropping by, and thanks to Christina for having me on her blog :D

Mmm, Dino. He certainly is eye-catching, isn't he? Sorry, but I saw him first :)

Air force. Yeah. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was learning to be a navigator -- sitting in the back of a plane telling the pilot where to go, heh heh -- but I never made it. Too much of a scatterbrain! And a troublemaker, at least they thought so :)

Re: the guy from the Peugeot ad. He's very tasty, and laid back with a sense of humour as well. He'll do ;)

Re: series length. I'm contracted for four books so far, but if I get my way there'll be a few more than that. The story does have an ending, eventually...

Today, I'm polishing off the last few pages of the first draft of book 3, SHADOWSONG. it's about a banshee who loses her magical voice. Yay! Boy, will I be glad when this one is done...

Sharon Archer said...

Stunning trailer, Erica, and the world you've written sounds amazing, intriguing... and scary! I'll look forward to some shivers!

You've given some fabulous advice about the importance of persistence when working towards something! Congratulations on reaching your goal!

Thanks for having Erica to visit, Christina.


Tez Miller said...

Kirsty - you better show us a still form the Indian Peugeot ad ;-)

Erica Hayes said...

The Indian Peugeot ad:

I think it's the attitude that sells me on this guy :) He and his pals cruisin' for chicks at the end cracks me up every time...

Tez Miller said...

So true - them cruising is a hoot! :-)

Kaye Manro said...

Catching up with blogs... Wonderful post and such great advice for writers too. Good luck Erica!