WM had the opportunity to interview author Joleene Naylor, author of the Amaranthine vampire series. She describes the series as “glitterless” vampires. When she isn’t writing, Joleene designs book covers and is an amateur photographer.
Word Museum (WM): Thanks for chatting with us today, Joleene. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into writing in the first place?
Joleene Naylor (JN): Thanks for having me! My mother is a writer and poet, so writing always seemed normal to me, though I quit doing it for a few years. I got back into it so I could play with the “cool kids” in a Harry Potter Role Playing group. Jorick, the hero of the Amaranthine series, is actually based loosely on a side character – vampire ex-boyfriend of my main character – that I wrote in that RP group.
WM: What are some of your other interests? What do you do when you aren’t writing?
JN: Besides marketing my writing, I make book covers for other authors, illustrate a weekly web comic – The Terrible Turtle Conspiracy – and fancy myself an amateur photographer. And I’m supposed to be working on house renovations. When I’m not doing that, my ideas of fun include petting fuzzy cats, watching anime, or wandering around somewhere with my husband and taking a billion photos of the same thing from slightly different angles.
WM: Favorite season of the year and favorite thing about that season?
JN: Autumn wins, hands down. I love the temperatures, the gray cloudy days, the bright colors of the leaves, the misty rain, but most of all the damp, woodsy, dead leaf smell. It speaks of mysteries and hidden places.
WM: You call your vampire series “glitter-less”, which I thought was really clever. Tell us a little bit about your series…
JN: Thanks! When I wrote the first book, Shades of Gray, in 2005 I’d read a bunch of books where plain Jane human meets a vampire, instantly believes in vampires (despite being a reasonable human being), falls in love in a minute, and becomes a kick-butt killer in five pages. Those stories annoyed me because it’s unrealistic. Sure, vampires are out there, but I’ve tried to add some realism into the world. Katelina meets Jorick and runs away with him (so to speak), but there are consequences: she loses her job, she loses her apartment, her mother reports her as a missing person, and when she goes to the hospital after a vampire attack the staff call the police.
While there is some romance, Amaranthine vampires aren’t tame romantic heroes – and none of them are going to high school. Even the nicest of the group is still a blood drinker and a killer. When life lasts forever, it becomes cheap.
JN: At the website readers can download wallpaper, print bookmarks, vote in polls, cruise through the character gallery (complete with artwork and bios), check out my author blog, and find the links for all the books and freebies. And yes, there are a lot of those. The Vampire Morsels collection features seventeen shorts about background characters. Heart of the Raven Mini-Prologue Collection sets the stage book five, Heart of the Raven. Tales from Island is a supplement to the sixth novel Children of Shadows and tells the stories of the characters while they’re on a tropical island vacation. And I’m currently working on theTales of the Executioners series. Right now it has stories available individually. Unfortunately most of the freebies aren’t on Amazon (because I want them to stay free!), but you can get the kindle versions from Smashwords.
WM: You mentioned that you also design book covers for others. What is your favorite thing about that type of work? Do you create your own covers?
JN: I think the best part is the authors I get to meet. I’ve made some good friends through book covers.
Yep! I do my own. They originally featured hand drawn characters, but I changed in 2012 to the current style. Since some of the fans liked the hand drawn covers better, I still make those for the Collector’s Editions of the paperbacks.
WM: How long does it take you to write one of the Amaranthine books from start to finish on average?
JN: If I were to knuckle down and just write – no DIYing in between, or book covers, or any of the rest of it – I could probably do it in six months including all the round of editing. But since that happy dream world eludes me, it’s usually about a year between books.
WM: What are you working on right now? What other projects do you have in the works?
JN: I have Patrick, a prequel, re-written and ready to edit. I have plans for more of the Tales of the Executioners stories, and there is a Jorick novel in planning stages, but at the moment I am doing to final touches on Masque of the Vampire, release date April 1st. When that’s done, I need to figure out Goddess of Night, the ninth and potentially final book in the series. And I need to get back to work on novels I’m writing with co-authors before they tar and feather me.
WM: What is the best advice you’ve ever received (writing or otherwise)?
JN: Use the delete key. As writers we sometimes think every word we pour out is gold, but it’s not. I find that if I delete at least 10,000 words from my final manuscript it’s much smoother. I can’t count the number of books I’ve read that would have been amazing if the author had deleted 12% of the useless fluff. Instead they were just “okay”.
WM: Do you have any favorite shows or books about vampires that you find smart and inspiring for your own work?
JN: Like many vampire lovers in my generation, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire was inspirational. Laurell K. Hamilton’s early books in the Anita Blake series were as well. In a roundabout way, a lot of the movies/shows/books I’d term bad also inspired me because they showed me what not to do: like making one dimensional characters, for instance.
WM: Anything you’d like to add?
JN: Thanks so much for having me, and for such awesome questions! Interested readers can get the first book in the series, Shades of Gray, free from all ebook retailers, or they can dip their toes into the free short stories first. Links to all of them can be found on my website at http://JoleeneNaylor.com.
Thank you for the interview, Joleene. WM wishes you the best of luck with your series.