*** SPECIAL FEATURE - November'13 ***
A Quick Recap of This Month's Posts
1st November: Introducing Author Cheryse Durrant
8th November: Broken bones fail to shatter Shahkara dream
15th November: The Destiny of Character - Shaping Plot & Shaping Lives
22nd November: A Fascination of Aliens and Dark Creatures
About the Author
Dead fingers curled around an ancient crypt and a love of Celtic mythology were the two inspirations behind Cheryse Durrant's The Blood She Betrayed, the first novel in her young adult/new adult Heart Hunters series. Durrant grew up on an Australian farm where she chatted to scrub faeries and an imaginary superhero. She wrote her first story on her aunt's bedroom wall when she was five, but it did not attract literary acclaim. She worked as a journalist for 15 years before trading her soul for fiction. The coffee/chocolate/strawberry addict now lives on the eastern Australian coast where she teaches writing through Creative Dragons and is an avid WriteFest fan.
An Interview with Ms.Durrant
Thank you, Ms.Durrant for agreeing to do this with me. So, you have been busy promoting your book all over the country. How did it go?
The tour was fabulous. I’ve met wonderful readers and bookstore owners across the country from the casual warmth of Queensland and her coastal islands down to the cooler, cultural metropolis of Melbourne. The tour has had many highs and lows from new fans queuing to get my autograph or a photo with me, to events where only a few readers showed up. My fave part of the tour was SupaNova where I got to be a fangirl myself as I was photographed alongside awesome authors and film/storybook characters. SupaNova fans would also buy my book one day and come back the next day to tell me how much they loved, after reading it overnight.
How did you get into writing and when did you first decide to publish your work?
When I was seven, I told my mother I wanted to be a writer. She said I had to go to university first. I solved that by studying a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. I had already won some writing awards, but when I was 16, I did work experience at a local newspaper and was thrilled to see my first news article in print with my byline. I saw journalism as a fascinating career where I could get paid to meet people and write about them, while using that paycheck to give me time to develop my fiction voice.
Do you have some unpublished work, written before The Blood She Betrayed that is closer to your heart than TBSB?
I love Shahkara and The Blood She Betrayed, but another story very close to my heart is Shards of Shenadesh, which I have been working on since I was fourteen. Shards is a Young Adult cross-world fantasy about four sisters, separated at birth, but each possessing amazing powers. I finished the first book in the trilogy about 12 years ago but the world-building in the second book weighed me down and I eventually put it out to pasture (that’s slang for ‘letting the cows retire’). I have about four or five manuscripts that I intend rewriting at some stage and I’m eager to revisit these characters, especially my Shards heroines. I’m just not ready to decide what to salvage and what to throw on the chopping block.
From conceiving an idea to marketing the book – it’s a long process. Which part of it did you enjoy the most?
I love the dream weaving and story building – that magical moment when snatches of character and conversation flash through your mind and you keep playing with the pieces until the kaleidoscope becomes a tightly-plotted tapestry. I’m still gob-smacked that these stories and characters come from my head. I’m shy, quiet, ordinary, there’s nothing fantastical about me, but my imagination is magic.
The other thrilling part about being a writer is when you transform an ugly scene a passage of beauty. My drafts are rough and inadequate. Discomfort stirs the pit of my stomach when I sit down to polish a scene because it’s hard and difficult work – and I never quite believe that I can transform it – but once I’ve nailed, I’m filled with this quiet bliss – until I move onto the next ugly scene that also requires a mental chainsaw!
When you write, do you get into the character and decide the course of events or do you shape them as the plot requires them to be?
As a novice writer, my stories were always a journey of discovery. Characters formed in my mind and I wrote to find out who they were and what would happen. Since then, I’ve grown as an author. I’ve learnt to brainstorm in more detail. The characters still tell me what to do, but they do it while still in my mind, not once I’ve written 40,000 words of nonsensical crud. To create a commercially viable novel, you need to tweak the characters’ motivational arcs to ensure there is enough conflict within the storyline. If there isn’t, throw a little more fuel on the fire! Readers love that.
We have read about how broken bones failed to shatter your Shahkara dream. Writing, telling stories requires a lot of sacrifices along the way – are they all worth it – irrespective of the scale of success of the book?
Life sacrifices are about giving up what’s not important so we can have/achieve what is important. That’s why I’m an author, and I love being an author. I love imagining up characters, I love seeing raw words become passion and story, and I love hearing from fans that my book brought them joy – that they stayed up all night reading it because they couldn’t put it down. Even if I have to work another day job the rest of my life to support my writing addiction or I die penniless, the sacrifice is worth it – I have become what I instinctively always felt I should be – a storyteller. (and hopefully I won’t die penniless)
I don’t know if I was ever destined to write or if I just became so stubbornly determined that it was what I wanted that it eventually happened. Any sort of creativity – be it art, writing, music or craft – is a gift. They nourish the soul. Writing nourishes my soul. If my words and stories can inspire others, that’s icing on the cake.
Ever suffered from writer’s block? What is the best way around it – especially if you are on a deadline?
For me, writer’s block is borne from fear of writing badly or disappointing the reader or critic. I’m sure there are many talented wordsmiths out there who never wrote that all-important novel because they couldn’t get past the ugliness of the first draft or the first page. Nora Roberts says: “You can’t edit a blank page.” You have to get down and dirty, and wallow in the trenches. Sometimes that means brainstorming. Sometimes that means accepting that the deadline restricts your brilliance. Sometimes it means removing yourself from your computer and journeying into the real world to smell the roses and laugh and dance. I think most writer’s block is by doing what we often postpone: writing. Even if the words are ugly or the dialogue or plot doesn’t make sense, we need to write. Eventually, that writing will show us the way.
Do you think your long stint as a journalist has helped shape your career in a certain manner?
Being a sub-editor taught me to be economical with words, possibly too economical with words! My journalism career taught me how to write well and inject colour into my words, but I also had to un-teach myself a lot of style restrictions, for example, news writing is often very factual and without character, it’s only the bare bones of storytelling. I had to learn how to add flesh and fashion. The other fabulous way in which journalism has helped me is that I have a strong knowledge of media channels. This has helped me understand traditional and non-traditional media forms and how to utilize them to help promote my book. But it’s still a hard road for an unknown debut author.
All writers are readers first… Who and what are your favourites? Do you think your favourite authors have also had an influence on your writing style?
Two of my childhood favourites were Beauty & the Beast and The Ordinary Princess (MM Kaye). Both of these stories deal with breaking down stereotypes so it’s not surprising that I came full circle to eventually write about similar themes. My heroines always fight a handicap or challenge that they consider a sin or weakness (often because of perceived social stereotypes). It’s only when they tap into that deepest part of themselves and discover that they can use their weaknesses as a strength that they’re able to free themselves, achieve their goals and (often) save the world.
Some rapid fire questions:
- Your favourite Movie: The Wedding Date
- Your favourite genre of Music: Film soundtracks
- Your favourite Cuisine: Korean (unless coffee and chocolate are cuisines)
- Your first celebrity Crush: Pierce Brosnan (Remington Steele and James Bond)
- Top thing on your Bucket List: Get Published. Hang on. I’ve done that!
- Poirot or Ms.Marple: I love Christie’s characters, but I’m Australian so I have to vote for the amazing Phryne Fisher (created by Kerry Greenwood)
- Ocean’s 11 or Die Hard: Die Hard
- Tea or Coffee: Coffee. Half-strength cappuccino on skim milk.
- Pizza or Pasta: Pasta.
- Dystopian or Fantasy: Fantasy, preferably urban fantasy.
What would you like to say to the people who haven’t read your book yet but are contemplating picking it up?
If you haven’t read for a long time, this book is for you; if you’re looking for romance, this book is still for you; and if you have no desire to read fantasy or urban fantasy, this book is still for you. It’s not about genre, it’s about story. Enter the world of Max and Shahkara and you will be changed forever. I promise. BTW, here’s the book trailer…
Special note to Debdatta:
DDS, Thank you so much for hosting me as the Special Feature Author for November. It was more challenging than I thought, juggling this with my physical author tour, but I’ve loved being part of your feature and I wish you and your website all the best for the future. Hugs, Cher xox
Thank YOU Ms.Durrant! You have made everything so easy and it was a pleasure knowing MORE about you :)
Her BookThe Blood She Betrayed
Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Paperback Released: October 12th, 2013
eBook Release: Coming soon (within the next week)
To save her kingdom, she must betray her blood…
Thrust into the technology-driven Earthlands via magical mists, Shahkara is forced to rely on Max McCalden to help find the ancient Elnara death lantern, her homeworld’s last chance of survival against the heart-devouring Taloners.
Max has his own problems – a manipulative billionaire father, a murdered brother – but nothing prepares him for this fugitive warrior’s razor-sharp talons and magical abilities.
Shahkara’s half-Taloner blood demands what she knows she can’t have – a human heart. She longs for love, but as deadly enemies attack at every turn, will her lust for Max destroy them both? Or will she find the strength to free both worlds from a threat more horrific than the demons that share her blood?
Stalk the Author
Buy the Books
eBook link: To download the first 12 chapters FOR FREE, go to http://www.clandestinepress.com.au/content/blood-she-betrayed-launch-giveaway
Other Buy Links
3 kindle copies of The Blood She Betrayed - International
And an autographed paperback to one lucky Australian winner.