Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An Interview with Freya's Bower Author H.A. Fowler

It's Tuesday, which means that it's time for this week's installment of my interview series with fellow FB authors. I was supposed to chat with M.E. Ellis today, but due to a computer crash/purge, M.E. and I weren't able to get together the interview in time. But no fear, H.A. Fowler was able to step up to the plate and move her interview up one week.

So without any further ado, I present H.A. Fowler, author of SWORD OF REGRET!

Amanda: Tell us a bit about yourself.

H.A.: LOL! I'm so bad at these things. My name is Heather, I write paranormal romance and dark fantasy under the name H.A. Fowler. I'm single and live in upstate New York, right on the edge of the incredible Adirondack Park, only yards from Lake Champlain. I’m a full-time writer and student, working on my second degree. My first is in Psychology (earned many moons ago) and this one is in English Lit/Writing. I'm hoping to start working on my MFA in 2008, and my PhD after that. Popular fiction, especially vampires and romance, are my academic interests.

Besides thinking entirely too much about fictional characters -- mine and others' -- I also practice yoga and watch entirely too much television. Although, I've gotten rid of my cable, so I'm slowly trying to ween myself off the most evil time sucking device in a writer's universe!

My ultimate dream is to divide my time between writing and teaching writing.

Amanda: The Adirondacks are so beautiful. My grandfather and step-grandma had a place at Eagle Crag Lake, near Tupper Lake, for years. I loved it. Have you ever considered setting any of your stories there?

H.A.: I adore this area-- the incredible scenery, the easy pace, the low crime rate and cost of living. There's nowhere in the world like it.

I'm actually DYING to set stories here -- I think the area lends itself easily to all manner of romantic and creepy tales alike. I have several shapeshifter stories on the back burner set in the mountains, where wolves have been extinct for over a hundred years. Wouldn't it be cool to think there were weres living out there? You don't have to answer that.

Amanda: Actually, I think that would freak me out! So, how did you begin writing?

H.A.: I've written all my life. I took part in a program for gifted children when I was a kid in CT, but there weren't any programs like that when I got older. I used to write constantly until about puberty, when I discovered boys. *G* In college, and even later, when I got hooked on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," I started writing again. I produced reams and reams of fanfiction for the latter, and the feedback led me to think maybe I could do it professionally. I just started pursuing publication seriously in 2005, and I've had great success so far. Honestly? It's the only job I've ever loved and could picture myself doing for the rest of my life!

Amanda: How did you get interested in the vampire genre, and how do you do your research?

H.A.: Research? What research? *G*

The joy of working in dark fantasy is that it's mostly made up -- it's rare that I've had to do much research at all beyond the meanings of names, general descriptions of places/time periods, pop culture references, etc. For those, I use the Net.

As for vampires, well... I got addicted very young. I remember being 8 or 9 the year INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE came out, and sneaking into the back stacks of my public library to read it because I was told it was "too grown up" for me. I was a very rebellious child. I read it just to be ornery... then I read it again because I couldn't get enough. Not long after, Frank Langella's "Dracula" came to the movies and the short-lived television series "Dracula '83" came out on TV, beginning a long series of vampire-themed cinema in the 80's, all of which I devoured with a... sort of creepy intensity. It hasn't abated since. Buffy, Angel, and the explosion of the paranormal/vampire romance genre have been like 10 years in Heaven for me!

Even if the genre fades--as it inevitably will--I'll keep writing. There's always a market for good vamp and shapeshifter stories in dark fantasy, horror, and romance. I know myself and my friends all devour every word we can get our hands on, and that won't change just because it goes out of favor with the mainstream!

Amanda: Where do you get your inspiration?

H.A.: Everywhere and anywhere -- classics I read for school, songs I hear on the radio, movies, television, bits of conversation, news headlines. When I hear/see something interesting, I always wonder how that could be parleyed into a story.

Amanda: How did SWORD OF REGRET come about?

H.A.: I saw Faith's post about Freya's Bites on Romance Divas, and figured it was a great opportunity to get more of my work out there, without having to invest months in planning, plotting and writing a novel. The Bites contest offered a prompt, and I had to write within my genre. The credit for the central idea of the sword goes to Freya's.

Amanda: What draws you to working with small presses, like Freya's Bower?

H.A.: I mentioned earlier that I cut my writing teeth (so to speak) on fanfiction. Fanfic is written by fans for fans, and the only payment you receive is in feedback from readers. It's a very intimate community with a lot of direct communication between writers and readers. I enjoy that, be the feedback praise or critique.

Professional writing often happens in a vacuum -- feedback comes mostly from professional reviewers and editors, not from readers, and when you do get it from readers, it's filtered through the publisher or some other forum. I don't like the sensation that I'm no longer part of a community.

Luckily, with ebook publishing, that direct contact still exists. There are other reasons as well, including pay (I understand the reasons behind the low percentage received by print authors, but I'm still not comfortable with it), environmental concerns (we can't keep up the number of paperbacks we devour forever!), a more intimate and personal relationship between writer/editor/publisher, and far more writer input into all levels of book production and promotion.

That's not to say that I'm not pursuing print publication as well--the fact is, if I want to do this for a living, there's little choice in the matter. I have to get an agent and crank out at least two novels a year (or so I've heard from successful friends). But my heart really belongs to epublishing. I hope to always be involved in producing for and promoting this format!

Amanda: Who are your favorite authors?

H.A.: I've been asked this question a LOT lately, so my top 10 are right on the tip of my tongue: Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Diana Gabaldon, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Susan Sizemore, Chelsea Quinn-Yarbro, and of course, Anne Rice. It's become fashionable to trash her in recent years, but I'm sorry, as far as I'm concerned, anyone who writes about vampires or enjoys reading about them owes her a debt of gratitude and respect.

Amanda: What are you reading at the moment?

H.A.: I'll be starting Laura Anne Gilman's STAYING DEAD. I read voraciously -- a new book every couple of days or so when school isn't in session. Last night I read my fellow Freya's Bower author Shaunna Wolf's truly unique THE FORGE. I'm not much for scifi romance as a rule, but the premise and twist of this were so cool, it instantly became an ebook favorite. That it's hot AND plotty doesn't hurt. Of course, this summer has been awesome, chock full of new selections from my favorite authors.

The last two on my list are Janet Evanovich's 12 SHARP, and J.D. Robb's upcoming BORN IN DEATH. I loved Laurell's DANSE MACABRE, Jim's PROVEN GUILTY and Kim's A POCKETFULL OF CHARMS. I wasn't as crazy about Sherrilyn's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, but I'm hopeful the next book will be better.

Amanda: What are you working on next?

H.A.: I just sat down last night and wrote out my schedule for the rest of the summer -- it's PACKED! I'm working on a round of edits for THE VEIL for Cobblestone, along with an entry for their Runes Series due out next year tentatively titled CITY OF NIGHT. I've also got a few short stories going, two for submission to Ellora's Cavemen, another pair of Bites for Freya's, and hopefully a holiday story.

If you're interested in what's going on with me and my work, check out my homepage: http://www.hafowler.com -- I have a blog in most popular formats (MySpace, LiveJournal, and Blogger) and a Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hafowlers_worldsofromance.

Posted by Amanda Brice :: 7:55 AM :: 6 comments

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