Friday 18 April 2014

Interview with a vampire.....writer

Today I have the pleasure of Joleene Naylor’s company.
    Joleene is the author of the very popular Amaranthine series, the adventures, or misadventures of vampires. This is the sixth in the series featuring, amongst others, Jorick and Katelina. She has just published her newest: Children Of Shadows, available, as all the others from Amazon:         Children Of Shadows

    And yet, despite all this prodigious writing she also manages to run a successful profession as a cover artist.
    After all these books are you still in charge or merely the person who types up the words and actions of your characters? Or what in, essence I’m trying to ask is: have they taken on their own lives and personalities?
Ha ha, oh yeah, they took over a long, long time ago. Oren started early – he was supposed to be the other “hottie” in the series to balance against Jorick’s dark brooding, but instead he turned into a gloomy, crabby guy (I admit that having your family wiped out can do that to a person, but come on!) and Verchiel… Verchiel wasn’t even supposed to be a character. He was just a nobody that Jorick was going to kill because I needed a fight scene. That’s why he has such crazy hair and such a ridiculous name. But he refused to die, and now he’s trying to take over the whole series.

Have you ever considered making fundamental changes to the characters and plot list? And if so, how do you think (you can tell me as they’re not listening) one or more would react?
I actually killed Torina, Oren’s sister and last remaining relative, in the first version of Ashes of Deceit, and Oren went a bit… erm… nuts would be a good word. He swore to kill Jorick and the next book would have had Jorick and Oren fighting as the main storyline, with Jorick forced to kill Oren at the end in a sort of suicide-by-cop kind of scenario, leaving Heart of the Raven to be the sixth book. I changed my mind after I looked through my list of characters past and present and found that I have a habit of *always* killing the women, so Torina got a reprieve, I ended up offing a more minor character (who happened to still be a woman – ha!), and Oren gets a chance at redemption and a new life with a female companion that he can’t seem to chase off, even by being gloomy. But, I’ve toyed with killing off almost every character at one point or another. Right now the big plot possibility is: Who is going to turn Katelina? I have gone through all of the characters and tried to map out how each one would go down, and some of them could be quite interesting.

What’s your favourite colour? No, sorry that was from another interview. Do you picture a finite number of novels in the series, or have other, completely tangential ideas occurred but which you’ve not had time yet to explore?
Red, actually. No, pink. Pink and Red, sometimes together – wait, other interview? Oh, in that case, I haven’t come up with a “conclusion” to the series, so to speak. There’s enough material to do at least four more books, just to wrap up the various things I’ve already done (including Lilith, Anya and Thomas, and some other characters I think people have forgotten about), and chances are I could go on from there. I’m imagining something like the Anita Blake series that’s never ending. Or pretty close, anyway. And if I do get tired of them I can always do spin offs with some of the other characters.

If the fickle world of readers taste changed so dramatically that you didn’t feel it worthy of continuing the Amaranthine series, what other genre would you choose?
Fantasy, probably, because I’m tired of research. Better to just make it all up and forget it. Seriously, though, my brother and I are half working on a fantasy novel that might see the light of day in a few years. We’re both procrastinators.

I like to consider myself a faintly good painter yet your covers are so much better than mine. How long does it take you to create your own, and was the style something that came naturally or did you think long and hard first?
I had the original covers – the drawn character on white – that came about after a long series of “playing around” – I picked white because I wanted it to stand out on a bookshelf. With the new style covers I sort of stumbled on it. When I was looking through stock photos to make the Special Editions I found a really cool highway image:  And I wanted to use it for Ties of Blood. But, stock sites have a lot of limitations on what you can do with their images once you buy them, and while that’s not ordinarily a problem for most authors, I wanted the freedom to make t-shirts or posters, or whatever with the images (which would require a new license) so I dismissed the idea. Months later when I finally decided to make the new covers I couldn’t remember *exactly* what that photo looked like, so I started playing around with some of my own cloud photos; layering them, adding deformed lightning, etc. etc. and came up with the current swirly background look. Steve Evans actually suggested adding the blood splatters to them.

If push came to shove and you were forced to decide, would you continue with your cover art or the writing? It’s a difficult question, I know but as this is just a hypothetical question you can be honest.
Right now, writing. I do enjoy the cover art but it gets taxing sometimes trying to figure out what people mean when they don’t really know themselves, and though there are lots of awesome clients, there are always those that make you want to bash your skull into pulp against a brick wall. I’ve actually discussed with hubby that after we buy a house and get settled I may permanently close shop to all new clients unless they’ve been directly referred. But, I haven’t decided for sure yet.

Time to get onto the sticky subject of sex. Many writer, myself included, in fact myself especially, absolutely hate writing sex scenes, or indeed anything to do with sex. So, do you grit your teeth and just get on with it (metaphorically speaking) or does it all just come easily, almost just another scene?
I used to be horrified writing them. I remember my first ever sex scene – it was for a writing group – It took me two hours, which I spent red faced and ready to faint. It was a page and almost nothing happened in it because I was too humiliated to get past describing a bit of “touching”. But it got such great comments from everyone that the next one came a little bit easier, and then a little easier, and then even easier, until I could dash them off without thinking about it. (We had a wild writing group ha ha!). I’m not as “in practice” as I used to be, and now they take me a bit longer, but it’s mostly searching for the right word and trying to think of something they didn’t do in the last couple of sex scenes (there are usually two per book) because who wants to read the same one over and over?

Even if the fickle world of reader’s likes did not change, do you have another series or novel you’d like to write but have not got around to yet?
I actually have a funny vampire novel I started years ago and then a dark, contemporary YA with paranormal undertones that, again, I started but never finished. I’d like to see those published, or at least finished, and I’d like to do something with the Patrick prequel. Though it is technically part of Amaranthine, it reads very different (Patrick has a very distinct voice and story style) and I don’t think most of the Amaranthine fans would like it. Maybe if I finished off the series, and washed my hands of it all, I could throw Patrick out at the last minute because the “I hate this!” reviews wouldn’t affect the future books anymore. There’s also a humorous vampire book I’m working on with fellow author Jonathan Harvey. Though that one just might make it. 

I'd like to thank Joleene for her time and urge you to check out the books. I'm a SF buff as most of my regular browsers will know, but I enjoyed them all.


  1. Good interview. I, too, have several drafts of things that need finishing.

    Hi, Roger!

  2. I think we all do. Except that I have several books - five to be exact, that I know will never be finished because they're all utter rubbish. I count them as my apprenticeship.

  3. Thanks so much for this, Roger! Sorry for being MIA on posting day!

  4. omg, you two are so funny together. Great interview. Had me laughing and smiling all through it. Jo, I happened to really like that 'female character' that you offed. Sniff, sniff. Nothing better happen to Torina or I won't know what to wear day by day.
    Excellent job - kudos to both of you!