This weeks interview is with the talented Author Claire Delacroix/Deborah Cooke.
Claire/Deborah: I'm a writer! I sold my first book in 1992 to Harlequin Historicals - it was a medieval romance called The Romance of the Rose and was published in 1993 under my pseudonym, Claire Delacroix. Since then, I've written and published over 50 books in many sub genres, including contemporary romance, time travel romance, fantasy romance, paranormal romance, urban fantasy romance, paranormal YA, romantic suspense and fantasy with romantic elements. I've written under three names - Claire Delacroix, Claire Cross and as myself, Deborah Cooke - and right now write historical romances as Claire and paranormal romances as Deborah. When I'm not writing or editing, I'm in the garden (usually weeding), knitting or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. I live in Canada with my family.
Me: Tell us about your new book?
Claire/Deborah: Well, Deborah's newest book is Serpent's Kiss, a paranormal romance and 10th in my Dragonfire series featuring dragon shape shifter heroes. This is Thorolf's book and I had a lot of fun writing it - my dragon shifters are called the Pyr and they tend to be an honorable and loyal bunch. Thorolf is the bad boy of the Pyr, and I knew he had to find the right woman to set him straight. Chandra isn't just a woman: she's a goddess determined to see the Pyr succeed in their battle against the evil dragon shifters called the Slayers. I enjoyed how these two interacted with each other - neither is very gentle, and they both had some changes to make
Claire's current book will be published in August. The Frost Maiden's Kiss is the third medieval romance in my True Love Brides series, and it's Malcolm's book. This series picks up the story from my Jewels of Kinfairlie series, giving more of the siblings from Kinfairlie their happily-ever-afters. In this series, the Fae are making trouble at Kinfairlie and the sister estate of Ravensmuir, which means the books have some paranormal and fantasy elements too. Malcolm is the younger son of Kinfairlie who inherited Ravensmuir because his uncle didn't have any children. Unfortunately, he inherits Ravensmuir when it tumbles to ruins (which is how his uncle dies) and its treasury is empty. When the ravens leave, he takes that as a sign that he's not fit to be laird, so goes off to seek his fortune as a mercenary. The Frost Maiden's Kiss begins with his return 8 years later, when he's rich but burdened by what he has done. He does one honourable thing to try to set the balance right, and believes he'll have to pay for it with his life - but then he meets Catriona, who is much more convinced that choices can change your life. I liked this pair a lot, and enjoyed tying up a number of loose ends at Ravensmuir too.
Claire and Deborah <g> also have a collaboration available now - Beguiled is a collection of short stories and novellas I've written under both names, most of which include romance and fantasy elements. It was very satisfying to pull this collection together, not only because some of the works aren't currently available but because I just liked having them all in one volume. (Plus there are illuminated caps in the print edition, which just thrills me to bits!)
Me: When you write, does your real life spill over into your book at any time?
Claire/Deborah: It's not as linear as your question sounds - I mean, if a friend of mine gets sick, the heroine's friend in the book that I'm writing won't get sick the next day that I'm back at my desk. I do think though that there's a gathering of experience that does go into any book. When I have a heroine whose friend becomes ill, just for example, I'll remember how I felt when that happened to a friend of mine. That memory and experience can inform how the heroine reacts in my book. So, there can be a connection of a kind, but it's not that cut and dried. Generally, I think that it's important for writers to experience a great deal of real life in order to make their characterizations and their characters' choices compelling. There's a saying that most writers do their best work after they're 40. I'm not really sure what was originally meant by that, but I take it as meaning that you need 40 years of living to understand people enough to write well about them.
Me: Do you think about a book of yours, being made into a movie, or not when writing?
Claire/Deborah: I "see" my books like movies when I'm writing them. I can envision the shot, how it will be framed, where the scene will begin and where it will end, just as if I was watching a movie. Beyond that, of course, I'd love to have any (or all!) of my books made into movies, but it hasn't happened yet. (Fingers crossed.)
Me: When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
Claire/Deborah: I'm pretty compulsive about names. I try to choose names that not only evoke the nature of that character, but also reflect his or her age (different names are popular in different eras). In the medieval era, names are all about identity - where a person is from, what language they speak, etc. etc. - so it's important to get each one right.
Me: What made you want to write and also what made you want to write the genre you are writing?
Claire/Deborah: I always wrote and I always wanted to be a writer whose work was published. It seemed to me that making up stories would be the best job in the world - and it still does! When I started to write for publication, I thought I was writing romance because my books always included a love story. That's what turned my attention to the romance genre, although I soon learned that only some of my stories were romances in terms of genre. The power of love is a very potent force, though, and one that interests me, so that's why I continue to write romance. I do tend to sneak in some other elements, though, so some of my books (like my urban fantasy series, the (Prometheus Project) are hybrid-genre.
Me: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Claire/Deborah: When I sold my first book, there wasn't nearly as much information available to new authors about the business of publishing, and authors weren't as chatty about their experience as is now the case. I didn't really have a mentor in terms of the business of publishing when I wanted one most, so I've tried to pay it forward and be a mentor myself. I was the writer in residence at the Toronto Public Library in 2009, the first time they hosted a residency focused on the romance genre, and I won the RWA PRO Mentor of the Year in 2012. Those achievements both made me very proud.
In terms of craft, every author whose work I've ever read has been a mentor. One of the hazards of becoming a writer is that it's easy to lose the joy of reading - like a magician who goes to another magicians' show on his day off, we're always looking for the mirrors and the wires, to see how it's done. When a writer can sweep me away so that I become so lost in the story that I forget to watch what he or she is doing, that's a magical thing. I'll usually go back then and re-read the book a couple of times to figure out what the author did when. Lately, it's mostly been suspense books that have done that to me.
Me: Do you have any tips for our readers that might dream of writing?
Read, read and read some more. The most useful tool a writer can have is a sense of how stories can be and how they should be. The best way to develop that sense is by reading a great deal. It's also important to read in a variety of genres, even those you like less than your usual picks, in order to see what else is possible and keep your storytelling fresh and innovative.
Claire/Deborah: I blog most days on my Blog Website and you can find out all about my books there.
Plus you can find me on Ravelry, too.
Also, I'm participating in two different book launch parties in August and would love to have you come out to chat. The one on August 5 is Terry Spear's launch party for her new paranormal romance - so she'll talk wolf shifters and I'll talk dragon shifters. (Who will win??)
The one on August 26 is to celebrate the publication of The Frost Maiden's Kiss and is my very first launch party ever. I think it's going to be so much fun - please join us.