Interviewed by Heather F.
HF: Congratulations on your latest release, The Bleeding Dusk! Please tell us a little bit about it and your Gardella Vampire Series.
CG: Thank you so much, Heather! The Bleeding Dusk is the third in the series, which is the ongoing story of Victoria Gardella Grantworth, a young woman living in the time of Jane Austen (Regency-era England) who finds out that she is the next in a family line of vampire hunters.
There will be five books in the series. I've just finished the fourth one, When Twilight Burns, which will be released in August. And I'm currently working on the fifth one, which should be released early in 2009. That will be the last one about Victoria, although I hope to write other books about the Gardellas.
A little bit Buffy, a little Jane Austen, and some ALIAS thrown in, the Gardella Vampire Chronicles straddle the genres of romance, historical, suspense and horror novels. There's not too much of any of those aspects, but a good smattering of all. Most of all, the books are about Victoria, as she struggles to balance the two sides of her life (her "normal" side and the vampire-slaying side) and as she grows into her role as one of the most powerful vampire hunters ever.
There are three delicious men that vie for her attention, lots of action and suspense, and a bit of tongue in cheek humor. I have so much fun writing these books!
HF: Victoria is such a great character; strong, beautiful, independent. How did she evolve into the fearless vampire hunter that she is today? Was she born fully formed in your head, or did she change a lot over the course of writing?
CG: Thank you for saying so!
Alas, Victoria did not walk into my head, fully formed. And although there are times when I wish she had, I'm glad that she didn't--because I've found myself growing with her as she's settled into her role. In each book, she evolves more and faces different struggles that relate to where she's at in her maturation. She's a powerful woman, and she has to learn that that power can cut both ways.
HF: There were a lot of surprise twists in The Bleeding Dusk! Are you worried about how your readers will react? Does reader opinion affect your writing a great deal?
CG: LOL. Yes, there were surprises. I've had advance readers sending me emails like crazy saying how blown away they were by certain things that happened in the book.
And while I want my readers to enjoy the books, I find that I have to be careful not to let reactions affect how the story evolves for me. I'm not worried so much about reader reaction as sensitive to it--but in either case, I don't let it affect my writing. I can't do that, because that would end up spoiling the broth because of so many cooks. :-)
Besides that, I've already finished the fourth book, and have started the fifth book--so any reactions that might have affected my story telling would be coming too late anyway. Which, I think, is a good thing.
What happens with the fourth book will be interesting, because that is the book in which it becomes clear who Victoria's choice--as far as the two main men in her life--will be. The reader camp is split between them, with an edge given to one of them (not telling)....so that means that when the fourth book comes out, there are going to be some disappointed readers if their pick for Victoria isn't her pick.
But I've known since the beginning who her true love will be, and I've never wavered on it. And the reasons are all there: some are logical, and some are just "the power of love" so to speak...so it will be very very interesting in August. :-D
HF: There is a lot of…um…sexiness in your novels. Do you find those scenes difficult to write?
CG: Not really. I just let myself settle into the scene as I do with any other scene that I write. It's a matter of becoming immersed in whatever the scene is, and watching it unfold in my mind.
But as for the sex scenes--in the Gardella books, I only include scenes that are germane to the plot. No gratuitous ones, honest.
There are other authors who write far more sexy than I do in the Gardella books--JR Ward, Laurell K Hamilton, Colette Gale, etc.
HF: Are there any questions you haven't been asked about your vampire
series that surprise you?
CG: Hmmm. Not really. I think I've been asked many of the obvious ones, and some not so obvious.
One of my favorites is who/what is Wayren. The careful reader will get a good clue in The Bleeding Dusk if they're paying attention. It's very subtle, but it's there. I'm trying to decide if I'll specifically answer that question in the fifth book, or leave it open. :-)
HF: If your books were sold to a production company, who would you like to see play Victoria, Max, and Sebastian?
CG: Oooh! Let's see:
Anne Hathaway as Victoria. Or maybe Kate Beckinsale.
Clive Owen as Max.
Jason Lewis as Sebastian.
And, just for fun: Kevin Branaugh as Rockley. Cate Blanchett as Wayren. Isabella Rossellini as Aunt Eustacia. Joan Cusack as Verbena. Nicole Kidman as Lilith.
HF: How much time do you spend researching your work?
CG: I do it in picks and pans--little bits at a time, as needed. Since writing the first book, where I did a lot of research up front, now that I have my vampire mythology in place and the time period and setting down, I really only research pieces as needed. But I may do something for research each day as I'm writing (thank God for Google!). It might be something little, or it might be something that takes awhile to nail down.
Right now I'm trying to decide whether to have Victoria & Co travel to Budapest or Prague....and that will require some research to see which works best.
HF: Do you think it's important for a writer to travel? Have you done much traveling? Do you write while you travel?
CG: I think that writers who are able to travel to the locales where their stories are set have an edge over those of us who can't in the sense of efficiency...but I don't think it's a necessity to travel to where my stories are set. I've been to England once, and never to Italy--yet I've set one and a half books in Italy. And when I was in England, it was long before I wrote these books.
The internet along with travel guides make it much easier for us to research locales. And just as any other part of writing, one doesn't have to experience it to make it real. After all, I've never slain a vampire, nor do I think Stephen King ever met a possessed car.
Of course, writing a historical novel set in England and Italy requires different research than one set in modern times. So even if I'd traveled there, I wasn't there in 1820.
HF: As a mother of two, I'm very curious to know how you find the time to write with three children, a husband, and keep house?
CG: Ha! Well, I'm blessed that writing is my full-time job now, and since I've always worked full-time and had to manage kids and a household, it's just a different way now. All three of my kids are in school all day, so that helps. Sort of. The problem is, I'm a night-writer. I've always done most of my writing at night--or at least after noon. (That's because when I worked a day job, my only time to write was after the kids were in bed.) I think I've trained my brain to be most efficient then.
I do get work done during the day, but especially when I get close to deadline, I often make dinner and eat with my husband and children, and then leave to go to a cafe or bookstore to write until 10 or 11. I get a lot done then--probably because I know everyone's settled for the night, all my emails are done, etc.
As for keeping house. Let's not talk about that. :-)
HF: You keep a very popular blog; For All the World to See. Why do you keep a blog? Do you find that it helps your writing?
CG: Thanks! I love blogging. It's a way for me, someone who doesn't get to interact with people on a daily basis because my job is a solitary one, to have those water-cooler chats with people. You know, the talking over the sides of the cubicles, or in the lunchroom chats you have with your co-workers. And many of my good friends are writers that I don't see physically very often. The blog is a way to interact with people about whatever I feel like talking about or having an opinion on.
It's also a way for me to get to know my fans--and them to get to know me a little more, if they want to--and to promote my books. I don't think that every author ought to bare their lives for their readers; I don't even think most readers would want that. But it's a way to make a slightly deeper connection with readers than just between the pages of my books...and to keep me in their mind for when a new release is coming out.
Plus, I've made a lot of friends through my blog--both fans and non-fans, readers and non-readers. I've met some of them and hope to meet more of them. The internet is an amazing thing.
HF: Aside from writing, what are your favorite pastimes?
CG: I love to cook and garden, and eat, of course. I love to read, but don't read as much as I used to. I also like movies and hanging out with my kids and husband. We have a lot of fun together, and for that I'm very thankful.
HF: What is on your top ten list of books to recommend?
In no particular order, and not quite ten....
1. The JD Robb IN DEATH series.
2. Anything by Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters
3. Most anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
4. JK Rowling (of course)
5. Unmasqued by Colette Gale
6. Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters/Navy SEAL books
7. the Virgin River books by Robyn Carr
8. Lisa Scottoline books
and there are more but I'm blanking right now.
HF: How much re-writing do you do? Which is more difficult, writing or re-writing?
CG: My writing process is such that I'm constantly rewriting as I write the book. In other words, I don't write a full draft and then go back and revise it. I rework and rewrite every day as I sit down to write new material, working through the previous chapter or pages and then moving on. That process helps me to get back into where I left off the day before, and to tweak and sharpen up things as I write.
Once I have the book done, I may go back and do some consistency things--like making sure the timing is right, descriptions are consistent, etc. but I don't really go back through the whole thing very deeply because I've already muscled it into shape during the writing process.
HF: What can your fans look forward to next?
CG: The fourth in the Gardella series will be out in August--When Twilight Burns. And then the fifth and final (and as-yet untitled) book about Victoria should be released in February 2009!
After that, I hope to write more Gardella books about a different vampire hunter, or perhaps something totally different. I'm currently talking with my editor about those things right now.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my books, and to interview me, Heather! I always enjoy Estella's Revenge and look forward to the blog every month.
Colleen Gleason has a fantastic blog called For All the World to See where you can keep up-to-date on her, her books, and her obsession with Johnny Depp. The Bleeding Dusk will be published February 5, 2008, followed by When Twilight Burns in August 2008.