Good Afternoon Ms. Smith and welcome to Coffee Time Romance. Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed as I'm sure your fans will enjoy learning a little bit more about you.
Tell us about when you first met your husband. Was the magic there immediately?
Definitely love at first sight. I met my husband at the oh-so tender age of 17. I was pure as the driven snow and a certified art school geek. Aaron was twenty, just entering college, and not quite as pure! We met through a mutual friend and I will never forget the first time I saw him: the wild curly hair, the muscles, the jawline and bad boy smirk...ahhh. Never thought a plain jane like me would land such a catch. There was instant mutual interest; we talked nonstop about books, music, art, comedy-- never in my life had I met someone who had so much in common with me. I instantly admired how he was the whole package: beautiful, funny, intelligent, and not just a little bit dark. I like to tell people that the split second I met my husband we became best friends. Thirty minutes later, we were a couple.
You describe the motorcycles in this story with great detail -- do you have a fondness for them yourself and do you own one?
I love motorcycles--the older I get the more I drool over them. I had great fun assigning Skriker his big roaring Harley and Rose her stripped-down Italian masterpiece on two wheels; I think that motorcycles can make a character's sex appeal shoot into space. Unfortunately I am forbidden to have a bike myself by two very important men in my life: my husband and my dad. My dad used to ride motorcycles and mopeds so it's pretty much an "over my dead body" thing with him, I think. Whenever I whine that I want "my Harley" my husband grumbles, "Great. So you can have wheelchair races with Steven Hawking." I admit that I'm a spaz, so I would probably eat shit and die faster than most. For now I'll just daydream and let my characters live out my motorbike fantasies.
Did you do the graphic work on the cover of your novels?
I sure did. I come from a strong visual arts background (folks tend to be surprised to learn that I'm a tattoo artist) and both of my publishers took note of that. I was extremely fortunate to be able to have some say in the quality control over the covers of my books--literally the "first impression" for many readers. I am extremely picky about how my characters are portrayed; no stock photography for my covers! With both of my books, I aimed to create cover art that was both uniquely eye-catching from a marketing standpoint and visually beautiful. I'm confident that I was successful.
What is your favorite tattoo? Is it your own or one that you have inked?
So far my favorite tattoo is my own chest piece. I have a gorgeous winged skull that takes up most of my upper chest, with the wingtips reaching my shoulders. It took a 6-plus hour marathon session for my tattoo mistress, Beth, to apply. The image was taken from a headstone dating from the 1690's in Rhode Island; the young woman buried beneath it was named Eizabeth and she died in her early 20s. Sometimes I like to look at my skull in the mirror and wonder what Elizabeth would think of a girl in California having her headstone design emblazoned across her chest.
Your stories seem to have a raw dark edge to them, have you ever considered writing in any different genres?
Not at this point. I have always had a taste for the dark: gritty urban fantasy, horror, gothic erotica. I don't really see myself departing from that; to do so would mean turning away from what comes most naturally to me. Oddly enough I have considered writing and illustrating a few children's books at some point; possibly retellings of old fairy tales or myths. But it's unlikely that you will ever see me writing, say, a Western novel.
What is a typical writing day for you?
I'm kind of a Jack-of-all-trades, so my days tend to be pretty busy. I work in a custom tattoo shop and am also a painter/illustrator so I need to manage my time very carefully (and sometimes it gets away from me). I tend to hit the laptop in the evenings, after I've come home and had a drink to relax. I might write for thirty minutes, I might write for several hours. I have pulled those crazy sixteen-hour days where I work at the shop and then come home and write for several hours more. It just depends upon the whims of my muse.
When you write, is atmosphere important? For example, do you use mood music or candles? Do you need complete quiet to concentrate?
To some extent atmosphere is very important, but I don't tend to have a problem creating that. I will frequently have headphones on and be blasting the most revent "soundtrack" to whatever book I'm writing as I work. It doesn't bother me if the TV is on, or if my husband is rustling around. I tend to be able to zone out pretty easily, probably due to the practice I had as an artist. One thing I do usually need is a drink within reach: a good beer, a glass of red wine or champagne, or a super dirty martini tend to be my drugs of choice.
In what order do you write? For example starting beginning to end, combining parts, in random order or in development cycle?
Very randomly. I keep two files: the main book file with the title of the novel, and a separate file that I simply call "Snippets". The Snippets file has bits and pieces of stories, some even three or four books into the future. I am planning to make the Psyche's Gate series five books long, so I have a lot of scenes "to be used" in this file. If I have a creative block going on with my current project but have this great scene idea for a future book, I'll pop over to my Snippets file and write the scene out. Then, down the road, I can copy and paste the scene into the story when the right time comes.
What motto do you have that you say over and over when/if things get tough for you?
"Two tears in a bucket, fuck it." I also like, "Rome wasn't built in a day." True words of wisdom (especially when learning to tattoo!).
What inspires you to write the stories you create?
So many things! Music, art, tattooing, film, the people in my life..it would take a whole separate interview to go down that list!
What books/authors were your faves as a child and what characters stand out in your memory from them today?
I loved anything fairy tale or mythology related. I adored "Beauty and the Beast" and H.C. Andersen's "The Little Mermaid". I was also a huge fan of the Serendipity books by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrator Robin James. When I was thirteen I came across James O'Barr's raw gritty graphic novel "The Crow" and fell in love with it. The character of Eric, the victimized soul seeking vengeance, still tends to stand out to me quite a bit--that book was definitely a big influence on me as an artist and a writer.
Rose is the daughter of the couple in a previous story. Is "Black Dog and Rebel Rose" a stand alone or should they read "Psyche's Gate" first?
"Black Dog and Rebel Rose" can easily stand on its own. It is my hope that people enjoy BD&RR enough that they will then read Psyche's Gate (or vice versa), but it isn't a fait accompli that they read about Psyche and Alexius first. Rose and Skriker's story can float its own boat.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories? What do you hope they feel, or learn? How much does reader reaction mean to you as an author?
It would be my hope that readers of my novels would feel that they have read something with artistic merit. I work hard to create characters that people could care about, relate to, and have fun with; I want the reader to laugh, cry, and feel the heartache or bliss that the charatcers experience. At the very least, I hope that folks are entertained by what I write. Reader reaction is paramount; intense feelings from the reader shows that the author did his/her job well.
Please introduce us to the main characters in "Black Dog and Rebel Rose".
The hero of this dark romp is a fellow by the name of Skriker. The son of a True Native of Hell and a mortal lady of the night, Skriker is a hot rock star-platinum half-demon hunter who specializes in the destruction of all the evils that dwell in the dark. When not hunting, he is an insatiable seducer and wanton lover of the female sex. A gory vampyre hunt in an abandoned town leads him to stumble upon a fellow hunter: a beautiful woman with an ironic lineage by the name of Rose, who instantly makes him head-over-heels hot for her.
Rose is a Nephil, the fruit of a passionate union between an angel and a mortal girl (readers can discover her parent's story in "Psyche's Gate"). She has battle ferocity honed into her very bones via the bloodline of her father Alexius, a top soldier of the Holy Army. A gorgeous raven-haired huntress who prefers to live, and hunt, alone, her chance meeting with Skriker while slaying a nest of vampyres forces her to face emotions and desires that she once swore she would never allow herself to feel.
When these two motorcycle riding, shotgun wielding warriors collide, the result is a forbidden love story that takes would-be enemies (the predator and the prey, if you will) and twists their destinies inexorably together.
Your story is very blatantly sexual. What are your views about erotica versus porn?
I think the big difference is that porn does little more than satisfy the prurient tendencies of our basest animal instincts, while erotica takes sex and makes it artful. Take sexual realtions in film, for example: I would not look at a graphic sex scene in, say, the French film "The Story of O" and call it porn; it is artistically filmed, with a strong storyline and characters that interest the viewer with their moods, motivations, and struggles. The same goes with writing erotica. I like to think that a good erotica writer can take hardcore sex and turn it into poetry.
How far are you willing to go for research? Would you for instance, cook certain foods, go on police ride alongs, view autopsies or surgeries, try BDSM, or even, certain drugs to make your books more realistic?
I'm willing to go pretty far, but more so in the internet and hardcore book research area. I am not the type of person who will put my own healthy or safety at risk for the sake of a story (i.e. taking drugs, which I am very sensitive to)--I tend to be able to find exactly what I need in my own library, online, in conversation, or in film. But who knows? Maybe someday that will change.
If you could switch bodies with someone for a day who would it be and why would you want to switch with them?
I'd love to switch bodies with a really hot guy, just to feel what it's like to be on "the other side". *wink*
Why erotic horror stories? What is the draw to them for you that compels you to write them?
I love sex and gore! Is that a simple enough answer? No, really...I love to give my characters great pleasures which will, in turn, affect their lives and motivations, even in the midst of horror and grit.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Creative. Loyal. Determined.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m currently working on two new books. The top priority is the second novel in the "Psyche’s Gate" series. Titled "Nephil’s Curse", this story chronicles Rose and her journey into adulthood. Skriker and Alexius are major characters, and I introduce my first werewolf characters here as well. My second project, "In The Neon", is another erotica offering that tells the story of Skriker’s parents and how they met. I am also working on a comic book version of Black Dog and Rebel Rose, which I am incredibly excited about.
Where can fans find out more about you?
You can hunt me down online in a few places: my author website: http://www.danielledsmith.com and my blog: http://www.theangelsgate.blogspot.com
For those interested in Danielle the visual artist check out: http://www.wildwyrmart.com
Is there anything you would like to add? Something I might not have asked that you would like to share.
I am frequently asked what character is the most like "me". The answer may raise a few eyebrows: I have always said that there is a dirty little man living inside of me.
And his name is Skriker.