Friday, July 2, 2010

Interview with Meagan Hatfield

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Meagan Hatfield. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Sure! Declan Black is one of the last dragon lords. The vampire horde, ruled by their evil queen is on the verge of winning their century’s long battle. Then an item is discovered that when wielded against his dragon kind it can enslave or destroy them, Declan risks going into the bowels of the hordes catacomb hell to retrieve it. However, when he finds an angel in the shape of his enemy’s daughter, will he be able to resist the fire of lust she kindles within him? Or will he risk everything to quench the burning desire?

SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Actually, I didn’t. Marketing changed the title after HQN acquired the book. I had originally titled it DRAGON FIRE. But I really like the SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE title though and think it fits the book nicely.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I had written a dark paranormal novella back in 2006 and fell in love with the world and characters I’d created. Not to mention, I wanted to write something I’d enjoy reading and I very much enjoy paranormal romance. So, I knew I wanted something dark, sexy, violent and yet something I hadn’t read yet – not to say that something wasn’t out there – just that I hadn’t read it yet. I mean, that’s the best part of being a writer…being able to think up the perfect book you would like to read and then tackle trying to write it. Of course, most writers are neurotic perfectionists (or at least I am) so the book they imagined never seems to get on the page just quite how they pictured it. But that is what critique partners and editors are for. *smiles*

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

The scene with Alexia and Declan in the dungeon – Chapter One I believe it is now – came to me first. So, I just sat down and wrote it. I’d written a novella featuring Declan’s parents back in 2006 and had this world and its beings percolating in my mind for a bit. So when that scene popped up, I wrote it first, asked questions later. It took a few tweaks and crazy turns to end up with the book that will be released today. But my editor is fabulous and really helped iron out many of the holes and details I was too close to see. I <3>

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

Sites? There are paranormal research sites!?! Argh! I didn’t know that. Guess I’d have to go with Google as mine then, since that’s what I use if the need arises. ;) As for books, I have a couple of paranormal books on dragons, vampires, Dracula and the occult, but I don’t really use them much at all. I’m the queen of making stuff up! Lol! I knew what I wanted the characters to do, what powers I wanted them to have as well as what weaknesses. So, I sort of just went for it!

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Right now, I’d have to say Tallon, the hero, Declan’s sister. For the longest time, I really struggled with writing heroines. Everyone always told me I had my heroes nailed down tight. But they would say my female characters needed work or weren’t fully fleshed out, what have you. So I spent an agonizing amount of time getting under their skin, going the route of a method actor almost, to really try and understand the female characters from the inside out so I could translate them better to the readers. Well, Alexia as a character truly touched me. However, Tallon has stuck with me.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

Characters always come first to me. It’s like they appear, start talking and I have to try and figure out where they are and what’s going on. I had written a story featuring Declan’s parents back in 2006, so I had a pretty good idea that the species would work well as both adversaries and lovers. Granted, for me it’s all about characters. It wasn’t so much that these two came from different races for me, but more an unfolding of how these two souls came together and stayed together. Love always finds a way. It’s the path that makes it interesting.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

The thing to remember with world building is to keep it simple. This is where it can get sticky. You don’t want to go overboard and make every element of your novel strange and overly detailed. This will only jar the reader, making it harder for them to suspend disbelief and continue reading. Instead, the goal should be to ensure the world you’ve created feels believable and comfortable.

One way to do this in your story is to keep certain thoughts, ideas or character behaviors within it familiar. For example, if you have a centaur warrior as your hero, give him an obsession for watching old movies, or peanut butter cookies. It will humanize him in the readers mind, making him more relatable. Harry Potter may be learning how to fly a broom or fight a fire-breathing dragon, but he’s doing these magical, crazy things in a school.

A normal, familiar setting we can all relate to. Ideally, you want even your most bizarre creatures to have some human characteristics otherwise you risk disinterest from the readers. Perhaps there are demons from the underworld in your story. Try having them addicted to things like chocolate, sex or air conditioning. Personally, I thought the aliens in ROSWELL were interesting because they put Tabasco sauce on everything. *smiles*

Now, the pitfall with this modus operandi is making the world you build too similar to our own. To avoid this, think of it like cooking. You don’t want to have so much seasoning in the dish that you can’t recognize the main ingredient. The same goes for world building. The idea is to pepper the book and/or your characters with common ideas, objects, behaviors, etc. Flavor is the objective and balance is key.

All of that said, I don’t use maps (unless it’s of a real city I’ve never been to) or elaborate drawings or charts. I DO have a series binder that I keep everything I might have to remember in. But that is just for organizational purposes, not creativity. ;)

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Everybody who has the passion and drive to pick up the pen and write - published or not - inspires me on a day to day basis. When it comes to my favorite writers, wow - I have so many auto-buy authors: Angela Knight, Gena Showalter, Lori Devoti, Ann Voss Peterson, Eden Bradley, Kresley Cole, Shari Anton… Now, finding the time to read all of them is another story.

My to-be-read bookshelves are overflowing (yes, I said bookshelves, not stacks or piles.) I also have many great books by great new-to-me authors I can’t wait to discover. I won’t even tell you who some of these new-to-me authors are, it’s embarrassing! I catch flack from friends all the time for being so behind.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Well, I can’t really tell yet, since the book isn’t out (or just will be by the time this interview is up.) But I can say that social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have really been an awesome way to connect me to readers and fans.

What do we have to look forward next?

I have a dark paranormal romance novella, DRAGON WARRIOR coming out July 1st from Harlequin Nocturne Bites. It’s a prequel of sorts and takes place in the days leading up to the events in SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE. It tells the story of Kestrel Grey, dragon warrior and captain of the legionnaires and the dragon’s resident healer, Sparrow “Doc” Rose.

Thanks, Meagan!

Thank you for having me here today! If you’d like more information about me, my books, fun extras, excerpts, contests, links, promo items, signed bookplates or if you would like to join my newsletter or street team, check out my website – www.meaganhatfield.com
Also, please feel free to email me at meagan@meaganhatfield.com and let me know what you think of Declan and Alexia or any of my characters. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

To celebrate her book release, Meagan is offering a free book of SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio: An only child, Meagan read voraciously and always had a passion for the written word. She even wrote a young adult romance novel in high school. However her main passion had always been for dance. She left California for Colorado to pursue a degree in the arts instead. Little did she know she wouldn't like the frigid winters found living at the foot of the Rockies. Or that she'd one day decide the dancing (and the weather) was much better in LA. After a few years at CSU, she moved back to the warm California sun.

Currently, Meagan lives back in the cold (don't ask her why) near Madison, Wisconsin with her two kids and beloved Himalayan cat. She still loves to dance. In fact, Meagan’s a certified Zumba Instructor who can be found shakin' it with the other gym rats all week long.

Check out author’s website at: http://www.meaganhatfield.com
Buy it: HQN borders powells barnes&noble amazon books-a-million bookdepository chapters indiebound target

8 comments:

Kim Watters said...

Good morning Meagan. Thanks for joining us here today. We hope you enjoy your chocolate. I'm so glad to see I'm not the only neurotic one around here and I do fin it interesting that the finished product never does resemble the synopsis in the end. (For me anyway). Have a great time today.

Meagan Hatfield said...

Hi, Kim! Thank you guys for having me over here today. :)

Hmm, I'm not so much into sweets or chocolate, but I will take a glass of wine! (Hey, it's Friday, right? *smiles*)

And wait, I thought all writers were neurotic? Don't tell me there are some sane ones walking around. lol!

LKap said...

Megan -
I can't wait to read these books!!! It's so exciting to see them finally come to fruition and be on the shelves.
I love that you don't chart, map or otherwise plot to death - you let the muse fly.
So excited for you.

joder said...

I love the paranormal genre and vamps in particular. What draws you to writing about the dark side and how have you set your vamps apart from others?

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Estella said...

I enjoyed the interview.
Looking forward to reading your books!

Meagan Hatfield said...

Aww, thanks, Laurie! :) And I actually do plot, complete with a storyboard and everything. But I like to start off organically and not over think things to death. IMHO, once you start needing maps and dictionaries in your romance novel, you might want to consider stepping off the plot wheel. lol!

Joder - thanks for stopping by and for the great question! You know, I never really thought I wrote dark until someone told me I did. I just write where the characters and the story take me. (See, it's my characters who are the sadistically dark ones. Not me. *wink*)

Thanks, Estella! I hope you enjoy it!

Diana (Book of Secrets) said...

Meagan, my to-be-read bookshelves are overflowing too! It's insane how many books I have that I just don't have time to read. Authors are writing too many tempting stories!

I love Griffon's character; I picture him as looking like Russell Crowe. I hope we get his story somewhere down the line!

Diana @ Book of Secrets

catslady said...

I've been hearing about your books - all good things. They sound exciting!