Tour Stop #1: Sassy Book Lovers Interview

I’ll re-post any interviews that happen along the way for my Dark Minds Book Tour, just in case you missed them. But you should really visit the site if you’d like the full experience.  =) They all have giveaways to offer, and some give their review of the book as well.

This interview courtesy of Sassy Book Lovers.  Enjoy!  I’m always quite the candid one. 😉

Q1. What or who inspired you to become a writer?

Early on, I was drawn to paranormal stories and dark twisty movies. My family is full of creative genius; I guess it was always in my blood and there wasn’t one single trigger to get me going on the thought. Although, Blood Life was inspired by a paper I wrote on vampires in junior college. The professor hated my topic and gave me a D, even though it was a great paper. So, I left her class after telling her off and went home to start writing the first draft. 😉

Q2. Who is your favourite Author & what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I have many favorite authors. I guess the author that truly inspired me to write about vampires was Anne Rice. Her intricate, romantic, and dark alluring worlds intrigued me. Her way with words really spoke to me and resembled mine (at least I thought so).

Q3. What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Letting it be finished. I couldn’t let it go. I kept revising and reediting it. That’s why it took me 15 years from start to finish. That won’t happen with the next book. The first born is always a little special.

Q4. Has the paranormal been something that has always interested you?

Always! Ever since I can remember; even as a little tiny girl.

Q5. What was your favourite chapter to write and why?

I’d say my favorite was the first sex scene between Roman and Alexandria. I am a very passionate person, so writing erotica like that came so naturally and exciting. I’ve toned it way down since the first draft, let me tell you… only because I felt what is there now is enough for that story. Had it been a straight erotica story, I would have left it as it was originally.

Q6. What was the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing your book?

That I can really tell a story from beginning to end! It was such a trip to piece it together, and this particular book, since it was written over the span of 15 years, has undertones that tell the story of my life and growth as a writer and a person. It’s pretty cool if you think about it.

Q7. Do you ever experience writers block?

Yes! Usually when I’m stressed out in my daily life. Stress really affects my writing.

Q8. What is the last book you read?

“Inside the Outside” by Martin Lastrapes. Excellent book!

Q9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?

My inner witch, Devendra. She’s the bomb. I love everything about her.

Q10. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Exercise. Watch movies. Have coffee/tea with good company. Watch live music. Read. Cuddle.

Q11. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The first thing I wanted to be was a nun (I went to catholic school). That quickly turned into a bus driver (WTF?) and then a veterinarian. Writer came next and stuck. =)

Q12. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

Me… Or Madeline Stowe. Or Sherilyn Fenn. Or Monica Bellucci.

Q13. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes, always remain true to yourself. Don’t write for others; write for you. And write with all your heart.

Q14. Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thanks for giving my debut a chance and for your amazing support! More to come, even stronger than the first, so stay tuned! =)

Some quick questions…

Q15. Light or Dark chocolate?

Dark

Q16. Sunrise or Sunset?

Sunset

Q17. Dogs or Cats?

Cats

Q18. Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Q19. Favorite Colour?

Purple

Q20. Favourite Disney movie?

Old Yeller

Book Review: INSIDE THE OUTSIDE by Martin Lastrapes

In addition to writing, I also love to read! They do go hand-in-hand, after all. And I just finished reading this fabulous debut horror novel by Martin Lastrapes about a teenage cannibal living the first 15 years of her life in a cult in the San Bernadino Mountains of California.  It was easily a 5-star rating from me. I had trouble finding anything really wrong with the story that was worth mentioning. It read like a dream and any teeny tiny slights were easily overlooked. See my full review below. And if you get a chance to pick this one up, DO IT! You won’t be disappointed, especially if you enjoy darker fiction varieties, tending toward cult classics.

REVIEW: 5 out of 5 stars!

“Hold on a minute… you hear that? That is me taking a nice, deep, refreshing breath. Why, you ask? Because I just finished reading something truly new and exciting! I’m a huge horror fan, both to read and to watch, and seldom lately do I find myself as anxious to review something. INSIDE THE OUTSIDE had me hooked from the first page. The author, Martin Lastrapes, has successfully written a debut novel with an exquisite voice that expertly paints an effective picture of his characters and their surroundings. You feel their emotions. You fight their inner battles along with them. You identify with them. You even feel like you are speaking their words. You really get inside. Martin has done this with rare expertise and I applaud him.

Timber, the main character, is both endearing and creepy. You love her in her strengths and in her weaknesses. You want to protect her (at least I did) from the world at large. You agree with just about every single thing she does. You feel elated when she wins and heartbroken when she loses.

Martin also teases you throughout the book. He throws out reveals but you feel like you never get to them and it’s maddening!! In a good way, mind you, because it keeps you hooked. You finish a chapter and think you can put the book down, but NOOOOOOO, he tantalizes you and forces you to keep going. That is part of the genius in his writing style — the way that he strings you along but doesn’t necessarily provide until later on or until the very end. And speaking of the end: NO HOLLYWOOD ENDING HERE. Well, partly, but not fully. You get some, you lose some, and you want more. I highly recommend this story to anyone that likes dark fiction or cult stories — or even drama! There’s a lot of drama that pulls at the heart strings and anyone/everyone can identify with. Horror fan or not. I absolutely loved this book!”

So there you have it. Great book, amazing new author, impeccable writing, creepy storyline. Enjoy!

My First Author Interview

I am so excited this morning.

I woke up to an email from Martin Lastrapes, award-winning author of Inside the Outside, letting me know that he had posted my first-ever author interview. That’s right. I’ve now been officially de-virginized and you can “read all about it” on his blog.

He asked me 10 questions which I answered with raw honesty, added links and pictures, and truly made me feel like a star. I can’t thank him enough for being a great new friend, an amazingly talented author, and a generally super cool person.

So if you have a few minutes this morning (or afternoon or evening), please check out my interview and let me know your thoughts. Ask me anything and I will answer honestly. ❤

Character Intimacy

My cover designer and friend, Myah Frazer, came up with a great blog topic for me to go over. A beautiful, multifaceted question regarding character development and intimacy.

“Character development and the intimacy that you, as a writer, do or do not allow yourself to create with your characters. How do behaviors, quirks, nuances, even notions become full fledged characters – what is the process and how much of *you* does it take over? – with their very own psyches and needs – are they demanding and do you find yourself interacting with them on a more substantial level than character/creator.. and how does that affect you?”

I am VERY intimate with my characters, and each and every one of them (the main ones especially) carry traits and quirks of my own. Anything from my past or present comes alive within them. I allow them free reign of my imagination and never worry about how much of me they are taking, because I am always the stronger one. I always walk away me. And that’s not to say I am perfect, but to say that I am strong and extremely malleable. I can share many parts of my own psyche with them, without losing any part of myself. I can jump in and out of writing. There is only one who remains with me always, and that’s Devendra.

Demanding? Devendra is the most demanding. She resides in me always. She’s my inner witch. I have had Devendra with me for as long as I can remember! It’d be hard to let anyone else play her on the big screen, should that opportunity ever arise, and I think it will be in the stipulations of contract that if I cannot play her role (haha!) then I MUST be in the casting room when her actress is chosen. It is so important to me. She is the only one that I consider parallel with me, or part of me on a daily basis, whether I am writing or not. When I finished Blood Life, she kept chattering away at me, wouldn’t leave me alone to sleep, until I agreed/decided to write her story leading up to Blood Life, a prequel that I am working on now and hope to have ready for release by late October. Halloween, maybe. Seems fitting of a vampire / witch novel.

The rest of my stars, although important, they take smaller parts of me and run with those pieces becoming their own individual characters. Lokee is tricky, as he is the bad side of me. He’s dark and dirty, but also wants nothing more than acceptance and love. Since he does not get it, he strikes out at everyone and exudes hatred instead. Alexandria/Alethea is my weaker side, my inner victim becoming strong with every growing day. Roman is my perfect lover projected… he is every man I’ve loved and want to love. He’s my “Weird Science” creation of a man instead of a woman. 😉

Lillith… she is very special. The mother of the Combined. The Goddess of the vampires and the witches of the Spectrum (the world I’ve created for them to exist among humans). Lillith is my dangerous but controlling side. She is the most powerful character among them all and next to Devendra. She is my own mother in many ways. The strong one holding us all up, the one that remains in control, and the ultimate nurturer and protector.

I allow them all that they need to help me write their stories. I channel each and every one of them into my words and my life as needed. And I hope they decide to stay with me through the bitter end. Maybe even forever after. ❤

And in case you missed it, I recorded a live excerpt reading of Chapter 12. I’ll be reading live, from a different chapter, on May 22nd, at this cute little local cafe that hosts local author readings monthly. Check out the little website… buy the book! Watch the video. What else? Oh, like the fan page or follow me on Twitter to keep updated! hehe

The Writer in Me

I am so much a writer, the blessing (and curse) runs through my veins like nothing else in this world. It’s magical, like a predestined craft, a trade, a calling, even, that no other hobby or profession can satisfy. And I must have time to write.  Correction, in this crazy world, I must make time to write or my life just feels . . . ordinary. Writing is my life. I wrote my first short story, about a crazy cat lady who died and all her cats ate her, at 10 years old. And look, I didn’t become a serial killer!? You’d think, “Whoa, troubled kid!” Nope. Not troubled (in that sense, anyway). But wildly imaginative, and a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Edgar Allen Poe shorts, et al. Enough said.

Many authors will tell you they come up with story ideas through occurrences in everyday life or through dreams / nightmares, and then outline them before sitting down to write them out. Not me. In fact, outlining really messes up my flow. I sit down and channel the story.  It just comes to me.  I’ll sit with no idea which story I’m going to write in (since I have five other books in progress at present). It depends on the mood I’m in.  I’ll sit down in my office and place my fingers on the home keys of my Asus keyboard, feeling the firmness of them, waiting for the first words to come to me. And that’s just what happens.

Sometimes I will start slowly and speed up as pictures and ideas invade my mind, or, if I’m lucky, my fingers start smoking across the keys as I pound out a scene or two, even a chapter, in record time.  When the temporary possession ends, I go back to read what I’ve written.  When it’s good, I can’t believe I wrote it. I get humble but excited. When it’s bad, it gets deleted and I walk away.  Simple as that.

I will say, though, that some ideas do come to me through everyday life occurrences rather than dreams.  Dreams do sometimes play a role in my imaginative tales, but being out in society, people-watching, gets me the bulk of my material. I see people, I study their actions and body language; if I make eye contact, I decide what they’re thinking (or their thoughts literally fly out at me – it’s frightening!) and it fuels a character or scenario. Little do they know they’re supplying my story tank in some little important way. I wonder if they’d be flattered or weirded out by it? I’d be flattered, but I’m a writer, so I understand. How about you? How would you feel if you found out the reason for a stranger’s stare was that they were momentarily struck by your presence and that you’re quite possibly supplying ammo for a fictional character’s actions?

Video Blog, Vlog, VeeLog?

ImageI recorded my first excerpt reading: Chapter 12 of Blood Life. In this scene, Roman, my male hero character, loses the love of his life to a scorned vampire, Lokee, in a brutal death. All four main characters at this early point in the book are introduced (though Alexandria already dead), and it is a pivotal point in time for Roman – he will now become a vampire and spend centuries waiting for Alexandria’s soul to be reborn so they can reunite. Devendra, my heroine of Combined blood (witch / vamp hybrid) will show her true form to Roman for the first time.

Chapter 12 was written before much of the book.  In fact, it was one of the first chapters I actually finished writing! The rest of the story centered around this very important section. It set the tone for all the characters in my mind, opening a pathway for the rest of their lives and intentions.  The quote at the beginning of the chapter, by William Blake, was also the first time I realized I wanted to have quotes to fill in blank spaces of the interior layout.

“Sleeping lyca lay
While the beasts of prey
Come from caverns deep
View’d the maid asleep.”

Key Character Introductions:

Roman – hero male, vampire, not terribly powerful but a great lover… so who cares, right?  haha

Alexandria/Alethea – the first introduction to a key female character, mortal, (later Alethea who will become a vampire), Roman’s soulmate. Alethea will be introduced in a later chapter, she is constantly antagonized by Lokee and part of an intense plan of Fate for the race of the Combined.

Devendra – my great witch, also a vampire (Combined), sort of a goddess incarnate, extremely powerful but held back in favor of letting Fate play out as it is supposed to. I am currently working on her book, a prequel leading up to Blood Life.

Lokee – born of Combined blood, very powerful main antagonist, Devendra’s son and archenemy, threatens the Combined race as a whole, destroyer of all things good.

Lillith – the Mother of the Combined, first a witch, then a vampire, will be much more active in Book Three, also the star of the 2nd edition book cover.

I posted my excerpt reading video on YouTube in my newly created channel. Please watch it! It is a collaboration of myself and my mother, a theater director and set designer extraordinaire.

Share it like crazy!! Help me get a little viral wit’it. 😉

http://youtu.be/0h0lgS0rRDM


Excerpt from Blood Life

The following excerpt is from Blood Life

Copyright (c) Gianna Perada 2012

He led her upstairs into his office. She remained in front of the doors after he had closed them and waited for him to say something, anything to justify her being there.

She stood staring at him, waiting, hoping she would be able to keep her face hard in the presence of such a man, because what she really wanted to do was fall into his arms and just let him hold her forever. That thought troubled her the most because her feelings were unrealistically strong. She never seemed the type for this sort of thing. She was always the one in denial, especially concerning matters of the heart.

“Alethea,” he started, pouring her a glass of merlot, “allow me to explain myself to you.”

He picked up the crystal glass and set it down on the dark granite coffee table in front of the checkered brown and black suede sofa, motioning for her to take a seat. She flinched when he spoke her name.

Hesitantly, she walked over and accepted his offerings.

He continued, after giving her a few seconds to adjust. “Now, I realize you must be quite confused right now, but—”

“Yes, I am,” she cut in, trying to sip her merlot and keep her wobbly self under control at the same time. Of course, she failed, causing a stream of wine to jump out of the glass onto her dress.

“At least the dress is dark,” he laughed and passed her a handkerchief. “There’s a bathroom right through those doors if you need to wipe it up better.”

“No,” she said, soaking the wine up with the handkerchief, “but I don’t think this handkerchief will ever be the same.”

“I don’t mind. Keep it.” He strolled over to the window, and, although she kept herself busy wiping at the wine, she knew he was watching her through the reflection of the glass. She could feel his eyes again.

“I do apologize if I have upset you. You must understand that it is not my nature to explain myself to others.” He turned and faced her squarely, locking into her eyes as he walked towards her. “In fact, what I want to tell you will be hard for you to accept and I greatly fear your disapproval. But it is very important and so you must know.” He looked down at the wet spot on her dress. “Is that wine coming out all right?”

“Oh—” She unlocked her eyes, looking down at the dress, “yeah, it’s black, no one will even notice.” Her heart beat dangerously fast.

“I’m glad,” he replied, lifting her eyes to his and holding them there. He searched her again and finally saw it. Through her soul mirrors, when he looked deep into their abyss, he saw Alexandria’s spirit and his heart rejoiced.

Keeping his emotions at bay, and releasing her gaze, he said, “Good. I don’t think that I could tolerate having you stained in my club. It took me a long time to get this place and I would hate to have to tear it down for ruining your exquisite dress.”

“Tear it down?” she half-laughed.

“If that is what you wish. You see there are some men who would do anything for love, my sweet Alexandria.” He closed his eyes, tapping his fist on his head.

“What? Who is Alexandria?” She was confused, and surprised about the feeling in her chest, the pang of jealously that struck her deep inside.

“Oh, but you know, I assure you,” he whispered softly, opening his eyes again to focus on her sitting there, angry, confused and beautiful. “And you know who I am. I should never have to explain anything to you, should I? Do you need to be reminded of who I am? Are you so soon to forget?”

He sat down beside her, his words upsetting her so much she fought to keep from losing her temper. Her head swam; it felt as though it were floating just above her neck, disconnected and threatening to fall at any moment.

“Forget what?” she managed to force out. “No, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Your name is Roman Demone and you own this nightclub; that is all I know about you!”

He moved, no, crawled over to her giving her a look of such desire she couldn’t swallow the lump of anxiety that formed in her throat, suffocating her. She jumped up and started backing up toward the door, shaking her head furiously.

“Alexandria, my love—” he cooed, opening his arms to her.

“Why do you keep calling me that?” Tears were streaming down her face.

“Calling you what?”

“You know what!” she snapped, slapping at the hands he extended to her. Her eyes widened, growing as big as her face. “You’re crazy!” she cried.

“I have already considered that, but frankly insanity doesn’t suit me,” he commented, smugly, “nor does this ignorance suit you.”

He hadn’t meant to be cruel, but something came over him. Perhaps it was the tension of the long-awaited reunion, vampire-style? He did not know for sure, but she was beginning to understand, and she was not leaving him ever again.

Before she knew to be alarmed, he was painfully pinning her against the office door.

“In two hundred years my memory has never failed me, never left me. You must remember me, my love.”

She shivered beneath him. He cocked his head at her.

“But, if you truly do not see, than I shall give you the memories back!” he boomed as he pressed his fingers against her temples and his thumbs pressed gently over her eyes.

Alethea collapsed under his grip as the pictures began to invade her mind.

For an instant, she was hovering above a gleaming white castle, surrounded by the density of a lush forest. Then, with a sudden flash, she witnessed herself with a different face, closed in by maids and imprisoned by those same castle walls.

Looking out one of the stone portholes, a young dark-haired man stood, watching her, hiding himself on the edge of the thicket. And as he walked out into sight, she instantly recognized Roman’s face.

There was blood streaming down from his temples over the sides of his face. He was being restrained by two ironclad guards. Snickering by her side stood a man drawing pleasure from Roman’s pain. That’s when she looked down at herself to discover she was dressed in a wedding gown, obviously given to the strange man standing next to her.

She fought for control, prying her eyes open with all her might. As soon as she saw Roman in front of her, the images flooded again.

The two of them, wrapped around one another on top of a horse, walking across the thin green lining of a forest floor. She saw him above her and felt him come inside. Could feel him holding her in his arms with such love, the kind of love you cannot explain, but you know you’ve waited all your life to have. She was remembering, all at once, without warning. She did know him and had once loved him deeply, with all she was made of. But what stood before her now seemed only a cold reflection of the images. He was not the same warm man; he was cold to the touch, an animated statue.

With a frightened push, she shoved him away forcefully, but even then it seemed that he was the one who released her. She remained fixed, contained by one of his lordly stares, a look that seemed to coat his face like hard, gray marble. Though she was free from his hold, the images continued to overwhelm her. The intensity increased and her body became weaker as she slid down against the door in defeat.

Raising her hands to her head, she closed her eyes tight in a vain attempt to refuse the flashes. Roman continued to stare at her with eyebrows closing in together; a parallel vein ran down the center of his forehead. Rage surfaced at her inability or unwillingness to understand. He stood before her, frozen from emotions.

Alethea began mumbling, and as the mumbles rose into screams, the visions of Lokee moved in, torturing her.

A flash of a bathroom. A faint perfume. The woman emerged in a steaming tub with her eyes closed, relaxed and in peace. A slender form invaded her home. She was startled by screams in the next room, jolting herself upright in the tub.

The intruder made his way into the bathroom, and she looked up into the vengeful face of Lokee, with rich mahogany streaks of blood lashed across his clothes and face. Slowly, his arms rose and extended down towards her squirming body. He placed his hands on both sides of her head and forced her to look at him. She was kicking madly, spilling water from over the tub. With a swift motion, he pulled her from the tub and threw her into the wall behind him. Alethea could feel the woman’s pain, her suffering. Her thoughts of Roman, in the moments she could still think, before hitting that wall with force enough to break her neck.

Alethea panicked, stumbling against the wall, reaching out to strike back at the vision, trying to save the woman, Alexandria . . . her. Alethea called out for someone to help her, this dying, suffering woman.

Unable to move before he reached her again, Lokee pierced her breasts and stomach with his long, jagged nails. Alexandria screeched in pain as he finally drug her by the hair back into the other room to see the other woman lying with eyes glazed over, drained of life on the floor.

Alexandria started scratching at him, frantically, anywhere she could reach but he again threw her up against the wall, with twice the force as before. Alethea tasted blood in her mouth. He tugged at Alexandria’s hair to pull her face towards the ceiling as he pierced the skin under her rib cage and picked her up like a ragdoll to toss back into the tub. The water became a pool of gore, a Red Sea, disturbed by turbulence, stained from the blood draining from her near lifeless body. He stole the last breath from her neck as he bit and drank until her heart finally gave up its fight, leaving the world with a single memory of Roman’s face, her beloved, an image to save with her soul. Then she was gone. Even when she breathed no more, Lokee decided to drink from her neck, like a fiend, a scavenger in the wild, caring not of poison.

Alethea’s eyes opened wide to catch a glimpse of Roman leaning over her. Unable to differentiate the images of Lokee from crossing her sight, she started lashing out at Roman, wildly, trying to fend off his approach.

Scrambling away and grabbing hold of anything in reach, she started blindly throwing things as she tried to pull herself out of the vulnerable position she was in. Sheer terror blessed her with a new pulse of strength, enough to lift herself up, but again her legs gave out and she was flat on the floor.

Roman looked down at her body and was suddenly hit with the intoxicating aroma of fresh blood. He stepped over her, searching for the outlet of a wound.

Salivating, his fangs pushed through his gums, razor sharp and ready to assist him in breaking through tough, human skin. Biting back the urge to feed on her, he noticed her back.

Memories surfaced as he studied the Vampire Mark. It had raised on her back as if pushed out from within. It bled as if fresh!

My Debut Novel: Blood Life

Blood Life is one book of a planned trilogy. I first finished writing it close to 15 years ago and have since rewritten it about 100 times. 😉 After finally finishing it, I realized that one of the characters had so much more to say, so I’ve begun writing her history, which will be released later this year as a prequel to Blood Life. Next year I’ll release the third in the series, a sequel, and that will be that! The vampires will go to sleep. Mine will, anyway.

Blood Life is a vampire/witch adventure story full of blood, magic, love, violence, and sex. It is no Twilight or Vampire Diaries!  It’s much darker and sexier, but equally as engrossing and unique. The witches and vampires of the fictional world of the Spectrum have united and created a race of half-breeds called the Combined. These are very powerful entities, but their race has been threatened by a rogue vampire with very old, powerful blood named Lokee, the son of the Great Witch, Devendra. This story is about letting Fate play out, but in all its turmoil, trying to save one woman who will be the key to saving the witches, the vampires, AND the Combined. Of course, the villain is very much against all that, and tortures her time and again to try to destroy her.

I learned a lot about my ability to tell a good, solid story writing this the 100 times it felt like I did. I had trouble letting it go, but finally decided it was time. And now, I can focus on the other two books, and the ones still begging to be written in completely different realms (other than the vampire/witch world). Blood Life is my first born, and I feel the name speaks for itself… a blood life, in the blood, of the blood.

The previous cover was a quick release, limited 1st edition intended for a short run. I purposefully released it with typos and imperfections (including two extra chapters that were cut) as a soft launch. If I ever make it huge, that one will really be worth something! This newer, more appealing cover (courtesy of the very talented Myah Frazer of Redeye Design Haus) is available now as the clean and pristine second edition release. This is the version that will go with me to signings (I have one scheduled the 22nd of April in Petaluma, CA) and be entered into at least four contests this year. I’ve sent press releases out to local and far-away newspapers, been using social marketing tools, submitting for editorial reviews, creating websites and author pages, joining writing groups, etc. I’m doing a lot here to market myself, but learning as I go, and all the help I can find/get is so appreciated. =)

I hope this helps me spread the word about my story! If you’d like to read it, it is available from various channels at:  http://www.giannaperada.com – please leave a review after you read it too.  xxoo