Friday, May 28, 2010

Author Interview: Zoe Winters Part 2

Zoe Winters's 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, is now available and also racking up glowing endorsements from satisfied readers. 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. This is the second part.

Part Two

MTM: The Anthony character really develops from Kept to Claimed. He seemed to be just another evil vampire in Kept, but shows another side in Claimed. Did you have that planned for the character all along?

ZW: As soon as I finished with Kept, I got the idea for Charlee and Anthony's story. And Anthony IS an evil vampire. He's the same dude. He just loves Charlee. Love can make men into puppies.

MTM: Nuh uh! … Okay, yeah, that’s true.

ZW: You did it in Lucifera's Pet. Your werewolf was a total badass, but he loved Lucifera and showed her that softer side. But I hadn't planned for Anthony and Charlee as a couple from the very very beginning, not when I was writing Kept, because originally it wasn't going to be a series. It just sort of sprawled out that way. You can bet the side Anthony shows Charlee is not the side almost anyone else ever sees of him.

MTM: Do you find that makes the softer scenes carry even more weight?

ZW: I think so, yes. A reader also commented to me that she thought given the circumstances, that a sex scene would have weakened the romantic aspects. Sometimes it's hotter when a guy shows some restraint. I think that's part of what makes Anthony a likeable hero people can get behind even though he's so morally gray.

MTM: For an evil character such as Anthony, restraint is a surprising trait.

ZW: Well he's actually got a ton of self-control. He's restrained himself from biting Charlee for so long. It was the drugs that screwed his record up, lol. Combined with werecat blood.

MTM: Of course, but when it was revealed that he hadn't fed from her before even though he could have, that brought a level of complexity to the character for me.

ZW: He doesn't want her in this world. Doesn't want her to see the monster in him because he's afraid he'll lose the banter they have. She makes him feel like a person.

MTM: So, supernatural beings exist outside of "normal" society, but they still have their own problems and hang-ups?

ZW: Of course. Doesn't everyone? :P

MTM: Humanity within the monster ... are any of the characters in their world beyond redemption?

ZW: I'm really not sure. I think many "won't" change. I'm not sure that means they "can't." Actually Linus is kind of beyond redemption but that's a moot point. I can't really see Callie changing either. (villains in Claimed.)

MTM: On your writing in general, I would describe it as "all killer no filler." Have you always written that way or did that develop over your writing career?

ZW: Well Kept is the first thing I put out, so I feel weird calling anything before that a "career." Hell, I feel weird saying "career" now. I have quite a way to go for career, I think. Maybe in ten years I can call it a career. But, I've always tried to skip the boring parts. It was a revelation to me when I realized I didn't have to write super long fiction if I wrote better at a shorter length. I figure if I can't still be entertained by a section on the 50th reading, a reader doesn't need it the first time.

MTM: The novella concept worked really well for the Blood Lust stories. Will you continue that trend for future books in this series?

ZW: I think the future work will be shorter novels. The world is starting to expand out to the point where I need a little more space to work so to speak. But they won't be super long novels. We're talking probably around 65k words where Claimed and Mated are each around 35k. I "may" write some novellas in this series in the future, but if so they will probably be extra material and not the main story.

MTM: I asked this question in my blog and several readers got a kick out of it. Hollywood comes knocking on your door and wants to make a movie version of one or all of the Bloodlust stories. What is your dream cast and/or director for the big screen version?

ZW: LOL, man I have no idea, but dream director would probably be Joss Whedon. Though then again his vision would try to usurp my vision and then... yeah. I'm too much of a control freak. I don't see a movie being made, LOL. I know it's completely wrong. I know people dream about their book being made into a movie, but all I can think about is how they'd try to totally change everything so it was more like fanfic than what I wrote and then I'd be pissed and fans of the books wouldn't like it.

MTM: If Joss Whedon were at the helm, half of all your couples would end up pushing up daisies.

ZW: OH I KNOW. He'd break everybody up.

MTM: Hollywood doesn't have a great track record for novel adaptations.

ZW: No, they don't. Except for Rowling and that's only cause she was already famous. She had script approval. So it's a nice idea but unless I "really" needed the money, I can't see it. It pisses me off too much what Hollywood does to perfectly good stories. If they don’t like what's there they should make up their own story without using someone else's name.

MTM: Is there any argument for someone throwing himself or herself into the grind of traditional publishing today?

ZW: LOL, that's a big can of worms! If I say no, then a hundred trad pubbed authors will suddenly appear out of a purple mist to tell everyone exactly why I'm wrong :P But honestly, and I can only go on my personal beliefs here... but I truly believe digital publishing is the future. I believe being well-positioned now for when things really explode is the smart thing to do. A trad publisher will mismanage your e-rights and use agency pricing models and just generally make it impossible for you to get high sales rankings in E unless you're already famous. Already famous people are in an awesome position. Brand new people? Not so much. It's just… 7-10 years is a long damn time to be unable to control your digital rights not worth it to sit on the Titanic deck chairs just to hear the last songs played.

MTM: Great analogy.

ZW: Thanks.

MTM: I have never been a fan of the advice given by old school writers that you must wallpaper an entire room with rejection letters before you are "ready" to put your work out for the world to see. What advice can you give a new author on making sure their work is as good as it can be before they self-publish?

ZW: I agree that's pathologically masochistic. I think they need to get the most brutally honest critique partners and editors they can find to help them. Not friends and family. People who can write. Who understand the genre. Because you can't judge the quality of your own work. That's true even as an indie. There is always stuff I don't catch or don't see. So you HAVE to surround yourself with wise council. Those people will make or break you. If you don't take this vetting process seriously you're going to have your underwear on your head. I'm just saying.

MTM: Personally, I have a friend from Slovenia who pulled no punches on my manuscript, and I appreciate her for that. Is it sometimes difficult to find a brutally honest beta reader?

ZW: It can be. people don't want to hurt your feelings or get yelled at. And sometimes there are those who just want to rip you apart and cut you down. You have to find people who can be honest with you without being verbally abusive or making you otherwise feel like poop. Sometimes it's an intentional thing, and sometimes just a personality clash.
MTM: Cary Town sure feels like a real place. Those of us from the south can spot certain things that really bring it to life. I live a half mile from a Piggly Wiggly grocery store myself. Is the setting for your trilogy based on any town in particular?

ZW: Not Cary Town, no. Cary Town isn't in the south, though Anthony has been in the south. Which is why his Piggly Wiggly reference doesn't make sense to Paul. They aren't in the south and Paul doesn't know what a Piggly Wiggly is. Golatha Falls, the setting for Save My Soul, is an imaginary town in Georgia and parts of it are like an alternate universe version of my town. And the house from Save My Soul exists. Sometimes I walk past it and say, "There's where Luc and Anna live." LOL.

MTM: Thank you for letting me pick your brain. I’d love to do this again sometime down the road.

ZW: Thanks for having me! And sure. Sorry I talk so much that you had to break it into two interviews!

MTM: No worries! It will give me the chance to pretend that I interviewed you twice. ;)

~The novellas that make up Zoe's Blood Lust Trilogy, Kept, Claimed,and Mated,are all available on Amazon.
Connect with Zoe Winters here:

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