All right, folks. I am so happy to welcome Grace Draven to my little blog home. This is the lady who, along with a couple of other talented women, really made me sit up and pay attention to the self-publishing field. Ms. Draven is an incredibly talented writer of fantasy romance. She imbues her worlds with vibrant color, life, and intrigue. Her characters nearly come off the page and slap you in the face with their awesomeness. Make sure to check out her books (the cover images all lead to their pages on Amazon).
RLM: What first drew you to become a writer? And, how old were you when you decided this was what you wanted to do for a living?
GD: I started writing as a stress reliever. I worked a lot of hours at a high pressure job, had two very small children and another on the way. Writing was good therapy and kept my blood pressure down. smile emoticon While I’ve been writing pro since 2005, I didn’t decide to do it for a living until this year.
RLM: You’ve often said on Facebook that you consider yourself a slow and sporadic writer. Why do you think that is? Life? Just the way you work?
GD: A combination of life and work process. I’ve really tried to adopt the “hands on keyboard, butt in chair” as an everyday thing, but sometimes the words just don’t happen. There’s a philosophy that just by writing anything, they’ll come along. That’s never worked for me.
RLM: Because you write in a blend of genres and create such real-feeling characters/worlds, I’d love to know what one element, in your opinion, differentiates good fantasy writing from bad fantasy writing. The same with romance writing.
GD: I think bad writing, no matter the genre, happens when the writer forgets to keep his characters “real.” I think you can put in the craziest world building you can imagine and people will go for it as long as the characters within the story feel like someone they know, they’ve met, or they could meet.
RLM: If someone completely unfamiliar with your work asked you which of your books they should read first, which would you suggest? Why that one?
GD: Probably RADIANCE. It’s a middle-of-the-road book in terms of length, sexuality, and trope content.
RLM: Describe your publishing journey. What led you to make some of the choices you did (specifically to self-publish)?
GD: I started out writing fanfiction for fun in 2003 and entered a contest in 2005 for a publishing contract with a small digital-first publisher. It was a great experience with them. Very professionally run outfit, and they still have rights to several of my titles, even though I can request rights back if I wish. While I enjoyed working with them, I chose to self publish for the level of control I have over the product. The greater royalty percentage is nice too, but nothing beats the flexibility and control you have when you act as both publisher and author.
RLM: Your novella “Sunday’s Child” is one of your few forays into urban fantasy. Do you think you’ll ever write a full-length novel set in our world (with magic and strange creatures, of course)?
GD: Yes. I have one tale that is tangentially mentioned in “Sunday’s Child.” I started work on it years ago but set it aside for other projects. I’d like to get to it in 2017 if at all possible.
RLM: The romance genre is riddled with tortured heroes. You also feature tortured heroes in your books (Silhara in Master of Crows, Ballard in Entreat Me) and yet, your heroes – at least in my mind – really stand apart from and transcend that rather tired trope. What do you think it is about your leading men that differentiates them from the usual romance hero?
GD: I LOVE tortured heroes. That’s a tough question. Maybe an acceptance of their circumstances and the drive to make the best of them? I try not to have them dwell too much on the bad stuff. Navel-gazing isn’t attractive on anybody, much less someone you’re trying to portray as hero material. Silhara’s past just makes him more determined to not only survive but to succeed. Ballard’s motivation is the love of a parent for a child. He went into his circumstances with his eyes wide open and accepted they were going to suck mightily. But he had purpose and so does Silhara, so I think that’s what keeps them from bemoaning their fates.
RLM: Entreat Me just won RTR’s Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 award. Congratulations, by the way! Tell me how you think that honor might affect your career. What do you think of literary awards in general?
GD: Thanks! I’m not sure. It’s an awesome win, and it got me dinner out a few times, but I’m not sure how that translates into a career-building item. I think it would definitely be a help if I were trying to pursue traditional publishing. As a reader, my buying habits aren’t swayed one way or the other by literary awards, but as an author, I think it’s pretty cool.
RLM: I know you go to RT Book Lover’s Convention. What other conferences/conventions do you like to attend? What do you think authors have to gain from attending conferences/conventions?
GD: RT is the first convention I’ve attended in years. RWA was my last one back in 2008(?). Depending on which conference it is, I think an author benefits from being able to network with other industry professionals (RWA) and interact more directly with readers (RT). And hanging out at the bar to socialize and talk about books is just my idea of the best entertainment.
RLM: The Brush of Black Wings is due out sometime this summer (crosses fingers). What can we expect from you after that?
GD: I jump right into a gaslight fantasy romance titled Gaslight Hades. I’m teaming up with Elizabeth Hunter again this year to put out a duology. We’re calling the duology Beneath a Waning Moon. Hope to have that out mid-autumn.