Posted on June 20, 2006 by Flames
How did you get started as an author?
Nightseer was the 1st book I ever wrote, or sold. The first short story I ever sold was Stealing Souls to Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Death of a Darklord for Ravenloft is being reprinted this summer, what can you tell us about it?
I think of this book, like actors think of early roles. I was thrilled to get the job. It was great at the time. My work has certainly changed and grown since then.
How has your writing style changed since then?
I thought I’d write heroic fantasy for my entire career, but the sequel to Nightseer was rejected. The bottom fell out of the fantasy market and I was left trying to find something else to write. I had this one short story, unpublished “Those Who Seek Forgiveness” which featured Anita Blake. I thought well that’s fun, but is there a book in it? As it turns out, yes. The rest as they say, is history.
Which of your Anita Blake books was the most challenging to write? Why?
Narcissus in Chains. There is a myth among a portion of my fan base that this book represents my own personal romantic life. It doesn’t, but denial does nothing for the rumor. The truth, is that somewhere in the first three fourths of that novel I separated from my husband, moved out of my house, got an apartment for my five-year-old daughter and me. All this happened in the first half to three fourths of Narcissus in Chains. For the last third of the book; my husband and I agreed to date while we were separated, so I was dating again for the first time in over a decade. That was an interesting experience, not bad, just interesting. I found that the men in my own age range hadn’t changed much. There had been a reason I hadn’t dated a lot in college. They were still intimidated by my job being as important as theirs, they still didn’t like how independent I was, they still expected the dainty exterior to match the interior. It doesn’t. I’ve actually had at least three different men say, “You’re perfect until you say something.” No, they didn’t get a second date, or even a kiss good night.
I found that I liked not being married. I liked being on my own. I was never going to marry again. Our divorce was actually one of the more amicable ones I’m familiar with, but it was still a death. A death of the life I thought I’d have, a death of the person I thought I’d be with for a lifetime. To say that it was difficult to concentrate on work while all this was happening is an understatement. But I had to make my deadlines, because I had to support my daughter and myself. I couldn’t afford to lose it. So I kept working on Anita’s life while my own fell apart around me.
Somewhere close to the end of the book, I had sort of accidentally started dating people about a decade younger than I was. I found the men in that age range were less intimidated by my job, they expected me to work, because they’d mostly been raised in households where women worked outside the house. More of them had no trouble with me being independent, out spoken, or just me. I’m sure there are great men in their thirties and above, and I know there are jerks in the twenty and under crowd, but my experience was that thirty and over didn’t work for me.
One of those younger men was Jonathon, a friend I’d had for eight years. We realized that maybe we were more than friends. The book was written and off to New York before I admitted to myself that maybe I was falling in love. Somehow I ended up engaged by the time this book came out, and Jonathon went on tour with me. Just as the police had suggested, having a male presence with me cut way down on the sexually inappropriate moments. Funny that. Timing made some of the fans tie Jonathon too closely to the new character Micah, and by stretching my ex-husband to the character Richard. I can think of few people less like my ex-husband than Richard. If pushed I guess Jonathon is in personality somewhere between Micah and Nathaniel, but that’s not really a true reflection of him, or of the two characters. They are all very different men. I think the only thing the upheaval in my life did was change how quickly Anita and Micah got together. I think my imagination couldn’t take Richard dumping Anita, and her heart breaking without someone to comfort her. I think my imagination needed Anita to have someone, because when I wrote the scene I had no one. That’s the truth. But having said the truth, it won’t matter to the myth. Like any good myth it’s taken on a life of its own, that has little to do with reality.
As Anita has grown in power over the course of the series, how has her connection to humanity changed?
I’m not sure her power has weakened her connection to humanity, but the violent cases she worked have hurt her. It has been a lot of what made her realize that humans can sometimes be the biggest monsters of all.
Can you give us a hint about some of the challenges Anita will be facing in upcoming novels?
Anita will have a pregnancy scare in Danse Macabre. Is she? Or isn’t she? And who is the daddy?
Which of your supernatural “races” do find the more enjoyable to write? Why?
I’ve loved vampires since I was a small child and the wereanimals were a close second. I’ve always loved monsters that can eat you. I love researching the real animals for the lycanthropes. The vampires are way fun for the politics. I do love individual characters, the fact that they are vampire or shapeshifter is secondary.
How much research goes into your novels?
A lot. Example: I’m introducing a new character in the Anita book after DANSE MACABRE. She’s a weretiger. She’s not a main character, but to make sure I get it right here are the books I’ve used so far. Wild Cats of the World by Sleeper and Wolfe; Big Cats by Brakefield; The Way of the Tiger by Karanth; Tigers in the Snow by Matthiessen; and a tiger calendar. I have also purchased the video that goes with Tigers in the Snow. I haven’t had time to watch it yet. All this because I’m introducing tigers in a bigger way than I’ve done before in the Anita books. Most of the research won’t go on the page, but it will be in my head, and I feel the character will be the stronger for it.
What can you tell us about the Anita Blake comic book series?
The first issue comes out the end of July. The Dabel Brothers have purchased the first three books for adaptation to graphic novel/comics. The script is very faithful to the book and the art is amazing.
How involved are you in the project?
We get to see the outlines, the script and the artwork for the comic before it is finished. I have veto power on all of it.
What can you tell us about the animal rescue and other charities you are involved in?
Personally, I’ve contributed to several breed rescues: Airedale, Boxer, Dalmatian and of course, Pug. I’m also a Friend of the St. Louis Zoo. The specific charitable groups the fan club is helping are Midwest Pug Rescue (www.midwestpugrescue.com), Granite City APA (www.apagc.com), The Wild Canid Survival and Research Center aka The Wolf Sanctuary (www.wolfsanctuary.org) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org).
Pug rescue is a charity that I’ve personally supported for years. But like many charities since 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, much of their donations have dried up. A lot of people seem to think that once they’ve given to a larger charity that the smaller charities don’t still need help. But they do.
It was Darla, my assistant, who saw Granite City APA on the local news when part of their roof collapsed in the middle of winter due to heavy snowfall. We’ve tried to do our best to get the word out about Granite City and the good work they do. They are one of the few no kill shelters in our area. Between 8-10 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the US due to lack of forever homes.Spaying and neutering are so important to help stop this trend.
The Wild Canid Center aka the Wolf Sanctuary is dedicated to help keep the wolf populations from disappearing completely. They do research and breeding with the intent to release them back into the wild. Wolves are not the danger most people think they are. In North America there is only one documented case of a person ever being attacked by a wolf. It was a photographer who came across a wolf and her pups. He decided to re-arrange the pups so he could get a picture. If someone came up and grabbed my children I don’t think my reaction would be to terribly different.
The Wolf Sanctuary was also kind enough, years ago to let me use their resources and help research wolves so my werewolves would be as realistic as possible.
We finally have a people charity: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. One of my close friends son was diagnosed last year and watching her and her family learn to cope with the challenges his illness presents was what inspired me to choose them.
Someday, we hope to say that none of these groups need our help anymore. That they have more families willing to provide a home for a dog or cat than animals available. That the wolf population is back up and steady in the wild. That they have found a cure for Juvenile Diabetes. When that happens, well, we will look for other groups to help.
What’s next for you?
Danse Macabre comes out June 27th, the comic/graphic novel of Guilty Pleasures the end of July sometime, my short story collection Strange Candy (which contains “Those Who Seek Forgiveness”, my first Anita story which has never been published before.)comes out October 3rd and Mistral’s Kiss (Merry #5) comes out December 12th.
For more information and updates about Anita Blake, Merry Gentry and other Laurell K. Hamilton works visit her website LaurellkHamilton.org.