Carol Oates is one of my favorite people. We’ve never met (though I hope to remedy this when in Ireland in a few weeks), and sometimes we go months without contact, but when we do get a chat, she’s always friendly, engaging, and fun. That’s why I love sharing her work with anyone who follows my books, too. Well, she also writes exciting Young Adult and New Adult books with some similar themes, so I figure if you like my stuff, you’ll like hers, too.
Carol has a new book coming out very soon, so I asked her to come back and let us know what she’s been up to. She agreed to answer some questions about her latest book and everything that has come before. Enjoy!
You have several books available right now. What’s the latest release? Can you tell us a little about it?
My latest is Something Wicked. It’s a New Adult supernatural and draws on a number of elements to twist a vampire story into something I hope readers will find unique. Something Wicked spans 1869 to modern day, and follows Henry Clayton, a young medical student, who is attacked by a vampire and abandoned on the streets of Dublin. His search for a cure drives him to London and the brink of madness in the time of Jack the Ripper. Back in Dublin after more than a century, Dougal, an immortal highlander and Henry’s friend, learns of a plot by a vampire cult to awaken the first vampire. Reluctant to get involved at first, Henry is drawn into the mystery when he meets a young American woman who seems to have a role to play in the cult’s plan.
Do you share any traits or characteristics with the main character?
Not at all, unless you count both being Irish, and I suppose we both are a little hot tempered. Henry is a dark character. He flips flops between self-hatred of what he is and a sort of reluctant acceptance. He lies to himself all the time about his motivations, whereas I’m an open book. He never learned how to move on. That’s not me at all. I hate giving up on anything thing. However, once I do, I’m over it.
What’s the hardest thing about writing in the fantasy genre?
Keeping my imagination in check. For instance, this book has vampires, witches, druids, my own spin on Celtic folklore, and a sin-eater. World building to include everyone can be hard at times, but it’s worth it to read the finished story.
Describe your process from start to published. Do you have any writing rituals? Do you self-edit or work with an editor?
Something Wicked was a failed NaNoWriMo project in 2010. I’m not one of those writers who can turn out a story in six months. I wish I was. It can take years for me to go from idea to complete manuscript, but I also usually have several in different stages at the same time.
I start with an idea, research, and make notes. The research tends to continue as new things come up during writing but the bulk is done at the beginning. I write everything longhand in notebooks, so the typed up version is a second draft and usually unrecognizable from my scribbled version. I then write another couple of drafts.
Sometimes at this point, I might set the story aside to percolate while I work on something else or rewrite it entirely. Eventually it will go to trusted pre-readers who will always have a lot to say on the story and my writing. I am not a good writer. I was in a remedial English class in school and a critique of a much earlier work suggested I get myself a copy of English for foreign speakers, despite English being my first language. I have to work very hard for anything to be even a readable standard.
After I apply feedback, I will go through the manuscript again. Then, a last run through following along with a text to speech program.
After all that, I have to submit the story and hope it will be picked up for publication.
Something Wicked required a re-write, then intensive editing, copy-editing, and proof reading. In other words, if my book is good, it’s because an entire team of people worked solidly for almost a year to make it good. In the meantime, I turn in acknowledgements, dedication, and a cover form with any input I might have for the cover artist. At this point, I begin working with a marketing associate on ways we can promote together to get the book noticed.
The last stage of the process is reading and approving galleys (which I’m doing at the moment), a cover reveal and publication. Publishing is hard work and long hours, but at the end of it, the idea has become something tangible and out there in the world.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
A couple of things. While writing Something Wicked, my notes contained Dougal’s backstory from the time he was a wee lad in the Scottish Highlands to when he left after he was turned. I loved writing Dougal and kept writing him because he kept talking to me when Something Wicked was done. I don’t know if or when I’ll ever make it public.
I’m a good way into the third and final Shades book, Atlantis Rising. I also have a few other things I’m tinkering with.
What was the last book you read?
I’m almost done with Jessamine by Shani Struthers. It’s a wonderful story, with a slightly ghostly feel to it. Shani’s prose is simply dreamlike and she has a wonderful way of submerging the reader into the location of the story with her words. This one should be on everyone’s ‘to read’ list.
What song would be on the soundtrack if your book were a movie?
I try hard not to imagine a movie. It’s like that fantasy thing I spoke about earlier, it’s very hard to keep in check. It starts out picking songs and end up with me wondering who I’ll be sitting next to the premiere. My imagination runs away. However… if there was a movie… Halestorm featured heavily on my playlist while writing. Innocence, Familiar taste of Poison, I’m Not An Angel. Dante’s Prayer by Loreena MeKennitt was also on there.
What does your typical day look like? When do you find time to write?
Typically, my day revolves around my son who is 19 and special needs and requires full-time care. I will try to get up before he does and check my emails, then get both of us dressed and have breakfast. I have to drop him off at his day service for a couple of hours. While he’s there I’d do shopping or house stuff, or any errands that need doing. Walk the dog (a new addition to the family). I might get a chance to write a little or check on social media. Then I pick up my son. The late afternoon and evening is often taken up with his plans or projects. On days he’s not in his service, we usually have trips or activities planned. I try to keep one day a week free, what we call a home day. I write around him, which is where the notebook comes in handy. I write on the train, or the bus, or if we are out anywhere I’m not driving. I take photographs everywhere we go to use for inspiration.
You have more than one series. Can you tell us about your other works?
The Shades books start out with Shades of Atlantis, then Shades of Avalon. They are about Guardians, a race of supernatural beings who once rules a utopian society on the island that became Ireland. Their battle and subsequent downfall became the inspiration for the fall of Atlantis. The books revolve around three main families, Wallace, Pryor, and Hamilton families. They live in the human world, hiding their true heritage. Their shared history and connection to the royal bloodline of the Guardians puts them all in the path of a corrupt Council that will stop at nothing to retain power. The second book introduced heroes of Camelot to the story. Each book is told by a different character and the third book is one of my current projects.
Ember is set in an alternative reality where angels are exiled from Heaven, those who wanted to live among humans and those who came to destroy those angels. When Candra Ember learns she is the only Nephilim in existence, she finds herself having to choose a side or be the cause of a second angelic war. The second book, Iridescent, sees a demon unleashed on earth who offers Candra a way to send the angels home. The story is complete as is, although there is potential to expand further as some point.
Can you share an excerpt of your latest release?
A scene from 21st century
Doug came from the back yard carrying an armload of thick chains. The aroma of smoke and lighter fluid permeated the air, blown in by the sharp breeze. He glanced down at his bounty and raised an eyebrow.
“Look what I found in your shed. Do I want to know what you were planning to do with these? Something fun I hope.”
“I picked them up while I was out the other night. I thought you might want to use them on me at some point.”
He chuckled. “Aye, you’re a fine looking man, Clay, but not my type.”
“In the event I lost control,” I clarified. “I don’t want to hurt Ari.”
He scowled, his lips pinching up in disapproval. The chains clanked against the quartz countertop of the island. “Well, at least it’s convenient. Will you please reconsider leaving now?”
He rolled his eyes.
I took a blood bag from the fridge and poured it into a large glass. “It’s hard to explain it. I can’t leave.”
“How long do we have before—” his eyes flickered upward “—wakes up?”
“He looks like he went a few rounds with a truck, so a while yet.”
Doug dragged his fingered through his hair. “I wish I didn’t have to ask…”
“It was Ari.”
He huffed out a breath. “What happened while I was gone?”
“Four of them came in as soon as daylight faded. I fought off three and the fourth got to Ari.”
Doug began to pace slowly and shook his head as though trying to work something out. He tilted his head sideways and an eyebrow arched into his ruffled fringe. “And she took care of him?”
I dipped my head once.
“I knew it wasn’t normal how she just took everything.” He rolled his hand toward himself, illustrating his point.
“I really don’t need an I told you so.”
Doug stopped across from me. “I wasn’t going to offer one.” He tapped the counter with his knuckle, his knowing green eyes piercing through me. “What else?”
I took a swig of blood, biding some time. “We talked and we kissed.”
He waited a moment while I finished the glass and rinsed it. However, I wasn’t inclined to share the details.
“Just a wee kiss, eh? Anyone ever tell you that you’ve a gift for bad timing and understatement, Henry Clayton?” A moment later he expression hardened. “I want this to be a good thing. I want to believe it’s real, but you have to admit the timing is all screwed up.
“You don’t have to tell me. When I kissed her, it was like the end of the world.”
He laughed. “Exactly how a good canoodle should be.”
Where can readers find you and your books?