Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Author Interview: Zoe Winters Part 1

Today, I am honored to welcome independent author and self-publishing guru Zoe Winters to Werewolf Kibble. With electronic books growing in popularity at an exponential rate, Zoe stands at the front of a wave of talented self-published authors who are breaking into the game that has belonged almost exclusively to the big publishing houses.

Her first novella, Kept, has become a mainstay in the top ten gothic romance titles on’s bestsellers list. The follow up, Claimed, is receiving rave reviews and quickly climbing up the list as well. The third novella in the trilogy, Mated, releases today. Recently I had the opportunity to conduct the following interview with Zoe via chat. We had so much fun that I had to divide the interview into two parts. Here is part one.

MTM: Zoe, thanks for taking the time for this interview. Since Mated is novella three of the Blood Lust trilogy, what characters from the first two stories are appearing in this one?

ZW: Jane, a side character from Claimed, is the heroine and Charlee and Dayne and Greta all make brief cameos. Anthony "sort of" does but he's "off camera."

MTM: When we last saw Jane in Claimed, she was in the arms of fledgling vampire, Paul. What happens between the end of that story and Mated?

ZW: Charlee and Anthony get immediately wrapped up in the politics of running the coven. Paul being a fledge still can't really contribute in any meaningful way so he's sort of pushed to the fringes. He's got this irrational hatred toward Charlee or "that human Anthony's with" because it's changed the dynamic of his friendship with Anthony. He's figured out Jane can take more pain than your average human, and so he's been taking his anger out on her. So basically Jane is in an abusive situation, which is exactly where she was before Gregory rescued her.

MTM: Did her experience with Gregory the vegetarian vampire change her in any way or is she still desperately seeking a vampire who will turn her?

ZW: She just wants to survive. And becoming a vampire is the only way she knows to get them to leave her alone. She needs something that will take her out of this victim space, but given her peculiar situation of being able to sense vampires and having some of that blood in her veins, she's somewhat perpetually trapped.

MTM: Tell me a little bit about the main players and what we will see in Mated.

ZW: Jane ends up with Cole, the alpha of the werewolf pack because of a gambling debt her abusive vampire... I hesitate to say 'boyfriend'... has accrued. Cole takes Jane in lieu of ten grand

MTM: I'm sure Jane appreciates being bartered for a marker.

ZW: LOL. Oh she's freaked the hell out. But personally I think what Paul was going to do otherwise was worse. He was planning on passing her around to the other vamps to raise funds. Classy guy, huh?

MTM: Wow. I agree. Boyfriend isn't the right word unless she is used to dating ogres.

ZW: LOL Unfortunately "ogres" are all she's ever really known due to her particular gift. She's really more his pet. And not in a positive cutesy way. But she can't help it. She can see/sense vampires because she has their blood in her veins. They pretty much make it their mission in life to punish her for that. She's wanted to be turned in order to be safe, but they won’t turn her. They've basically enslaved her instead.

MTM: No mind tricks for her then?

ZW: Nope. They can't thrall her, another reason they hate her. They could just kill her, but vamps like playing with their food too much. They're more amused by the prospects of keeping her alive. So she's basically been passed from sadistic psycho to sadistic psycho except for the brief reprieve when Gregory was protecting her.

MTM: My favorite character of the series so far is the vampire, Anthony. He is about as far from the typical “tortured vampire with a heart of gold” as it gets.

ZW: Thank you! I don't care for sparkly vampires. Vampires are supposed to be bad. Is it wrong that I LOVE when Anthony says all nonchalant-like, "Well, she's mine now"?

MTM: I did catch that and it was cool! He strikes me as being along the lines of badass Spike from the second season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Is that a fair comparison?

ZW: Oooh! yeah I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. He is definitely in the same category as season two Spike. He's very morally gray. As becomes clear in later books, sometimes he'll be hero-like sometimes villain-like.

MTM: The men of your universe seem to fall into those gray areas a lot. Are there any "goody two shoes" guys floating around in there?

ZW: Oh good lord no. I don’t find that sexy at ALL. I could never bring myself to let one of my heroines sleep with a pussy. I think Dayne was about as wimpy as they get, though Cole is a very gentle alpha but he scares the crap out of Jane at first cause the wolves have a worse rep than the vamps. But that's all political BS.

MTM: I think most people would agree that morally ambiguous characters are much more interesting. Personally, I prefer it when the leading lady has some badass in her as well.

ZW: I think my heroines have got some fire in there, though they also are in messed up situations and I HATE when females in fiction act totally unlike real females because it might look "weak." Well um, if he could crush you easily you're not going to be too brave until you know you're safe.

MTM: I like that about your females. They don't turn into Ripley from Aliens just because they are the protagonist.

ZW: There are different types of strength and I like to think my female characters are strong, intelligent, and sassy, but they aren't unrealistic. Even though Greta was stronger physically than Dayne, she wasn't kicking his ass all the time.

MTM: Dayne was very much about how others perceived him. He was widely regarded by the Therians as dangerous but it seemed as though he may have been much darker before Greta came along. Had his character mellowed some by the time of the events in Kept?

ZW: Well he was never really a badass, not to his reputation's degree anyway. He'd fallen in love with Jaden (Greta's adoptive mother) and she'd been a part of a plot to hurt him and get him out of the way. He went in thinking he was saving her and really he had to save himself, but all the werecats he killed in self defense gave him this reputation. So in order to protect himself from further betrayal, he just withdrew and let people believe it. Basically a lot of it is a protective wall because Jaden really hurt him, and here he thinks Greta is there to do the same thing.

MTM: After Blood Lust, will you revisit any of the same couples?

ZW: Actually yes. There will be future books where some of these characters will play pivotal roles in what happens, and one of them will be a romance between a previous couple as they go through a challenge their love has to grow stronger for. Right now I'm setting up a lot of the power structure, such as with Dayne and Anthony and Cole and Cain (he's an incubus you meet in Mated). A lot of these men because of their positions of power will play major parts in future books.

MTM: Can you tell me a little more about Cain? Does he protect Jane?

ZW: Cain is too much of a serial killer to be protecting anyone at the moment.

MTM: Sounds like my kind of guy. LOL

ZW: Haha. Well, Cain kills his food. He's evil. (Since there is reincarnation in my world and Cain knows that, he doesn't see it as "ending" someone, just inconveniencing them and sending them back to start.) Though he gets his own book later. He's also quite charming when he wants to be. And he's ultimately redeemable.

MTM: Redeemable? How so?

ZW: Actually, yes. When you find out Cain's history it will make a lot more sense. But let's face it... if you watched Buffy, Spike killed humans for freaking EVER before falling in love with Buffy. So did Angel. And yet we let them be heroes of their own stories. We don't stop to think about the fact that they are basically reformed serial killers.

MTM: Save The Cat!

ZW: Haha. What?

MTM: LOL. It’s a book by Blake Snyder. He suggests if you put a villain in a heroic situation, the reader can forgive all.

ZW: YES. LOL. It's much more interesting when you can make a reader have sympathy for the devil, but I have an unholy crush on Cain. It's so wrong. But he knows he's getting his own book

MTM: How many books do you currently have in your mind for this series?

ZW: At least 10, but 8 are semi-planned already. I'm creating a big world that I can play in endlessly. Because we aren't following every single character through every book, hopefully it will stay fresh way past the point a series usually starts to get blah blah.

MTM: That’s a great way to keep breathing life into it and avoid the dreaded Anita Blake syndrome.

ZW: Oh, we'll also have some books set in "the future" about 20 years from now when everybody knows about vampires and therians and such and everything is crazy. Then for the next book, we'll hop back to the present where people don't know. One of the heroines is going to be Charlee and Anthony's daughter.

MTM: Spoilers!

ZW: So, see? Anthony and Charlee have sex!


ZW: That wasn't TOO spoilery though. Just a little. I also like throwing out little easter eggs, so people following and paying attention catch them.

~Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Interview with Zoe on Friday. Claimed and Mated are both available now.
Connect with Zoe Winters here:

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