Tell me about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’ve been writing pretty much my whole life, but it’s only been in the last three years that I’ve gotten serious about it. I had a story that I worked on off and on for years that I finally just had to give up on because it was making me miserable. That seemed to take the pressure off and I started writing for fun. Fun was the magic key because a year later I had my first finished novel. It was so bad it had to be put in that proverbial trunk, but I still love it anyway and it seemed to crack something open in me. I haven’t stopped writing since.
Other than writing, I’m a big reader, of course. And I love music. I can’t sing or play any instruments but I’ve always loved music. I love music history and learning about the artists whose music I love. I must have at least a hundred books on music history and biographies of musicians. I live in Tennessee, about halfway between Memphis and Nashville, so I’ve visited a lot of the music-related sites in those great cities. I’ve also done a little of what you might call blues travelling, visiting places in Mississippi that are important to blues history.
Your novella, Bring on the Night, is going to be published May 17th. Can you tell us a little about it? How long did it take you to write the novella?
Bring on the Night is an urban fantasy about a vampire named Jessie who is basically an enforcer in the vampire world. A series of murders by a gang of monsters starts to get too much attention from mortals and she is sent to stop them. It was inspired partly by my love of old fashioned noir, all those tough guy characters with attitude that live on the fringe of society but still care enough about people to stand between the innocents and the bad guys. I wanted a character kind of like that, only female, and a vampire. Because, you know, vampires are fun.
It took longer than it should have to write the novella. I wrote it after the novel that got trunked and I didn’t really know what I was doing. As I learn more about the craft of writing, I’m writing more, and faster. Hopefully better, too.
What was your favourite scene to write? What was your least favourite scene?
The bad guys are a vampire who calls himself Draven and his werewolf girlfriend Margot. Jessie has a chance to interrogate them and takes every opportunity to show her disdain for them, rather than show them any kind of fear or respect. She mocks Draven for finding his vampire name at an online name generator and calls Margot by various dog names: Lassie, Odie, Hooch. It was something that just kind of happened organically when I wrote it, and I loved it because I think it illustrates Jessie’s toughness in a funny way. These bad guys are scary monsters, but then so is Jessie.
My least favourite scene to write is one with a “red shirt.” You know how in Star Trek it’s always some anonymous guy in a red shirt that gets killed on a mission? Well, I killed a character and even though it’s a minor character, it was still weird. It’s impossible for me to not get emotionally invested in what I write, so that was a hard scene to write. I don’t even much like re-reading it.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers that are trying to get published?
Writing is one of those things that you just have to do. Research is awesome, outlining and brainstorming can be fun, finding pictures of actors that look like how you envision your characters can fill many, many hours. But you have to sit down and put the words on the page – the story’s not going to write itself. You have to learn to take criticism and rejection gracefully, and you have to learn that your writing is not sacred. You can always make it better. Always. For some people that might involve attending conferences and joining critique groups. For some it might mean dropping twenty bucks for Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and Stephen King’s On Writing as your textbooks. (Best twenty bucks I ever spent.) The main thing you can do to improve your writing is to write. My trunk novel, though it has a lovely heart, is a lousy book. Bring on the Night was good enough to catch the eye of a publisher. After that I wrote a book during National Novel Writing Month that while not perfect, helped me learn to plot longer works. I can see the progression in my own work and so will anyone else who writes consistently and with passion.
Do you have any upcoming projects for 2010?
I’ve recently had my second acceptance, a novel called Mojo Queen. It’s also urban fantasy but a bit different from Bring on the Night. Magic and monsters are my thing and while Bring on the Night is all about the monsters, Mojo Queen centers on magic. I’m excited about it.
What is the best way for readers to contact you? (e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc)
My email is email@example.com. I’m on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sonyabclark, Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/authorsonyaclark, Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3510861.Sonya_Clark, and I have a blog at http://sonyaclark.blogspot.com/ . I am all over the internet, it seems, but I’d have to call my blog my home base, so to speak.
Here’s where Bring on the Night can be found:
Thank you for the chance to be interviewed, Natasha!