Friday, August 15, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview with Deborah Cooke




Bestselling author Deborah Cooke is a knitter and that's plain to see in
her wonderfully constructed novels whose characters jump off the page. Judges (as well as readers) have taken note and awarded her the Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence and Greater Detroit RWA Booksellers’ Best Awards as well as a Romance Reviews Today Award. She’s also been a finalist/nominee for Romantic Times Awards (including a Career Achievement Award), the HOLT Medallion, Publisher’s Weekly Quill Award, the Windy City RWA Choice Award, a Affaire de Coeur Award, the Write Touch, National Readers’ Choice Awards, and several FF&P PRISMs.

I never expected to meet Claire Delacroix in the flesh on my first trip to the New Jersey Chapter's Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. But there she was next to my friend Virginia Kantra, and I got to meet her! Isn't it fabulous how women and writers can come together in a crisis like those imposed by travel delays and hotel booking errors? To say the least I was floating on air and super thrilled when I also got her latest book as a favor.

Then one day I was cruising the aisle of Barnes and Noble and a man leapt out at me. Not literally of course. But the moment I saw Quinn from KISS OF FATE, I knew I had to have that book! Of course, I’d never heard of the author but decided to give the book a shot because it was right up my alley (and no, not just because of the eye candy). Of course that eye candy also had me asking for a postcard on Deborah’s blog. When she said yes, I was super ecstatic. When I decided to check her out a little more to ask her about doing a Star Light Interview you’ll never guess what I found out…or as readers, maybe you will. I discovered Deborah Cooke was Claire Delacroix and Claire Cross. Imagine that! So as they say the rest is history! (And yes, Quinn was as yummy as I thought he’d be!!)

Why did you decide to foray into paranormal romance instead of sticking to historicals?

Well, the funny thing is that I often included fantasy (or paranormal) elements in my historicals. People seem to forget that part! ENCHANTED is a medieval romance with a shapeshifter hero who was cursed to become a wolf; A MAGICIAN’S QUEST is a medieval romance with a shapeshifter hero who became a panther; THE SORCERESS is a medieval romance with a heroine who has precognitive dreams. I wrote time travels in the late 90’s under the name Claire Cross (ONCE UPON A KISS; THE LAST HIGHLANDER; LOVE POTION #9; THE MOONSTONE) and often included woo woo elements in subplots of other books. “The Jewels of Kinfairlie” trilogy, for example, has a secondary character named Darg, who is a spriggan (a kind of fairy) who only one of the siblings can see.

What is new about this series is the balance – the fantasy elements in the world of the Pyr are much more dominant than the fantasy elements in those previous books. We enter the world of the Pyr, instead of having it be a detail, and that’s a lot of fun for me.





How do you think
writing award-winning historicals has enriched your paranormals?

Having written a lot of romances makes it easy to balance internal and external conflicts, to pace the book well, to balance dialogue and ensure that sexual tension increases – all of those are basic skills that all writers hone over time, but I do think that having written historicals does help with worldbuilding.

One of the things imperative to a good historical is a strong sense of time and place. I think that historical writers learn a lot more about worldbuilding and about putting the reader into a specific location than is always necessary in contemporaries. That’s because we have a shared experience of contemporary settings, I can say “corporate office foyer” to you or “fast food court” and we each will conjure similar mental images of what that space looks like, smells like, feels like. That works for some extent with medieval settings like “dungeon” because of our shared experiences of movies, but might not work for “street in Paris”. The medieval experience of an urban street is much more pungent than ours and that’s fun to share with readers. There are also the details of social history – as an historical writer, I’m used to thinking of the logistics of, for example, providing a wedding feast. How do you feed 300 people more or less simultaneously, with one firesplace and no refrigerator and no transportation of foodstuffs over distance? What do you feed them, if you’re in Scotland? Or if you’re in Italy? How does it differ?

All of that translates into a habit of thinking about the facts of the world and how they mesh together, as well as making those details vivid to readers, without slowing the pace of the book.


What brainstorm led you to the concept of the Pyr and their origins? Are they or their mythos built upon real places or people?

I’ve always had a fascination with dragons, and it seems ideal to me that a shapeshifter hero should become a dragon. Dragons are gorgeous, powerful, and there are a lot of really great stories about them. Since one of my favourite things is blending the stories in my fictional world with stories from our own world, I literally have a treasure hoard at my fingertips here. I like taking concepts and twisting them a bit – What kind of hoard would a modern dragon have? How would he secure his lair? What would make a dragon vulnerable? What would be his most precious treasure of all? - Answering those kind of questions is a lot of fun.

There are a number of differing traditions about dragons, which is interesting too. In the east, they are the guardians of the four elements, so I played with that, giving each of the Pyr an innate affinity with one element. It just seemed natural to me that part of the power of the firestorm would be bringing four elements into union – one element that came naturally to the Pyr and one element that came naturally to his mate, then one each that they had to work for a bit. I love the idea of love healing, and of a romantic union being more than the sum of the parts, so both Pyr and mate grow into stronger people over the course of each book.

Will your Dragonfire series include novels about all of the Pyr/Slayers or a few key figures?

The first three books feature (in order) Quinn, Donovan and Erik, and each book steps a little further into the world of the Pyr. There will be three more - NAL and I have agreed upon Dragonfire #4 - #6 (titles and publication dates TBD). I know who those heroes are, but I’m not telling just yet! Beyond that, I do have a plan, but will share it with you as it’s contracted.


If you could have a firestorm with any Pyr, who would the lucky dragon be?

Whichever one I’m writing right now! I have a bad habit of falling in love with my heroes, and the one currently under my fingertips (!) is always my current fave. So, right now, it’s Dragonfire #4’s hero. (And you thought you could get me to give it away.) He’s dark and tormented, but honorable deep down inside, which is just so sexy. Yum.

What elemental power of the Pyr would you choose? How would you use your ability?

I’d love to be able to breathe fire, as well as to command it to do my will. I visited an artisan blacksmith to research Quinn’s occupation and it fascinated me. I really like how Quinn can use fire not only to heal, but to create art, so he finds creative power in what could be perceived as destructive. That tension between destruction and creation is interesting – of course, I’d use my power over fire to save the world and help the Pyr!


I’m sure you signed a slew of KISS OF FIRE and KISS OF FURY at Nationals in San Francisco, but where else can lucky readers/writers meet you?

I do have a signing coming up at Bakka-Phoenix Books in Toronto in October. You can find details about my schedule on my Claire Cross website, on the Where’s Claire page (http://www.clairecross.com/where.html) or watch for announcements on my blog, Alive & Knitting (http://www.delacroix.net/blog)

_____________________
One lucky winner will also win a signed copy of the latest novel in the Dragonfire series, KISS OF FURY! So ask those burning questions or show Deborah/Claire how much you love her books!







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16 comments:

Pamk said...

I picked of Kiss of Fury the other and am starting on Chapter 4. I am loving this book. Donovan is so the sexy bad boy who thinks he'll never settle but I have feeling that Alex is going to rock his world. She already keeps him on his toes in just the first 3 chapters lol.

Deborah said...

LOL pamk. And you're right - Alex does rock Donovan's world.

It's good for him, don't you think?!

d

Judi said...

I have Kiss Of Fire in my TBR pile and reading this interview is definitely going to move it up in the "have to read it ASAP" category.

I'm really intrigued to read about the world you've created around the PYR and their mates! And hot men involved in a great romance is always fun to read about.

Thanks for sharing Deborah. :)

Beth Caudill said...

Hey Deborah

Looking forward to reading more of the Pyr. I think if I had an elemental power, I'd like air. I loved the character Storm from Marvel's X-Men. Controlling wind and rain would be cool. Although, I will admit Fire is cool too. Then I'd never be cold during the winter.


Can't wait to read Erik's story when it comes out.

Deborah said...

Hi judi - I hope you like Quinn's book when you get to it.

And hi beth - should I tell you that Erik's book is my favourite so far? (Probably only because book #4 isn't done yet!) I'm interested in the idea of commanding the element of air, too, and am looking forward to writing Niall's book. It'll be fun to see what tricks he has up his sleeve.

Raonaid said...

Mm, you and Allyson James gave me a new love for dragon-shifter romances. I've always loved dragons (being born in the year of the fire dragon) this of course gained my attention.

Hehe, I seen Quinn's book, even passed up a book I intended to buy because it sounded soo good. And I absolutely gobbled it.

I just could not wait for Donovan's book. I liked him from the previous one.

So when I was in Pittsburg visiting a friend (from another author group) and the zoo, my friend and I were browsing through Borders (she was giving the clerks heck for not having a big promotion for Acheron) and I seen Donovan's book. I didn't care "how much" money we had left, I was getting THAT BOOK!

Hehe, I was even showing it to my friend saying "You have to read her. If you like dragons, humor and such, this is the book for you."

Even today, with another friend, I had showed her the book. It's most DEFINITELY getting finished tonight.

Is Rafferty gonna get a book? Or should I continue reading Kiss of Fury before asking questions?

Savanna Kougar said...

Nothing like playing with fire! Amd dragoms are powerful and magnificent. That would be such a fun writing project!
Congrats on all your tremendous success!

Jennifer A. Ray said...

I have always been fascinated by dragons, so to find stories that have shape shifting dragons that are also very sexy humanoid males? Oh my... I can't resist.

I'll admit to being a sucker for romances with dragons, but the Dragonfire series is really well done. Even if I didn't have a penchant for these fantastic creatures I would enjoy these stories, especially the romantic aspects of them.

I would highly recommend Dragonfire to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance.

(Pssstt... I already have both of the books, so I am not entering the contest. I just had to post cause I love the stories so much! :-) )

Deborah said...

Oh, Jennifer, you're so sweet! Thanks!

Thanks for the kudos, savannah.

And raonaid, you won't find the answer about Rafferty in KISS OF FURY. (So keep reading!) NAL and I are agreed to do three more Dragonfire books, that's six in all, and I will admit that book #6 is Rafferty's book. (You'll have to wait to find out the other two heroes.) So, Raffery gets his firestorm, just not quite the way he wants it.

I think it's only fair that the firestorms shake these powerful dudes up a bit!

d

Lynda K. Scott said...

Oh man@ I didn't know you were Claire Delacroix too! I've loved your books for a long, long time! Thanks so much for being here!

Deborah said...

Thanks Lynda!

d

Skylar Masey said...

And the winner is...Lynda!
Congrats I'll be contacting you for your particulars :0)

Raonaid said...

Yes! Deborah you just made my day mentioning thus! There'd be a total of six books! Awesome!

Deborah said...

Well, raonaid, there might be more than six. I'd LOVE to do 13 - that's my plan - but right now, 6 are contracted.

Everything in its time. :-)

d

Deborah said...

Thanks everyone for your questions - and congrats to Lynda. Special thanks to Skylar for inviting me in the first place - it was fun!

d

Skylar Masey said...

You're so welcome Deborah! I had a ball myself :0)

Of course, I had to rush right out to get KISS OF FURY today. I will be looking forward to FALLEN, since the storyline is right up my alley!

Keep up the great writing and I hope we'll bump into each other again at conference :0)