Welcome book fiends and coffee aficionados! Today we are lucky enough to be chatting with, and learning more about, talented author Madeleine Drake. Thanks for taking the time to be with us today, Madeleine. To start, could you tell us a little about Faery's Bargain?
Tara is a witch who runs a small occult shop in San Francisco; her nephew has been bitten by a naga (a half-man, half snake monster from Hindu folklore) and the only cure is a rare Faery herb, impossible for a human to obtain.
Kane, a warrior of the Morrigan tribe, has saved a friend's life by binding a soul-devouring fiend called a baigh-duil, but he's not strong enough to banish the creature on his own, and if his fellow Fae find out, he'll be punished. He comes to Tara because he needs her help to rid himself of the baigh-duil.
What makes Tara and Kane special? I mean, aside from him being an amazingly hot fae and she a powerful witch, of course.
Tara has a secret that even she isn't aware of at the beginning of Faery's Bargain, and I don't want to spoil it for you, but it's going to change everything she thought she knew about her life and her magic.
One quality that Tara and Kane share is a tendency to take care of other people and a reluctance to ask for help themselves. They're both feisty and hot-blooded, and they're both used to acting
independently. Neither one of them is good at taking orders. Too bad they're going to have to learn to work together if they want to survive. :)
The ardat-lili, or the “night maiden,” as well as the location in Babylon inspired your recent work, Blood Hero, according to your website. It was a fascinating and unusual choice. How much research usually goes into your stories and what inspired Faery's Bargain?
When I was considering writing Blood Hero, I'd just finished working on an urban fantasy novel that drew heavily on Mesopotamian mythology (Rites of Flesh), and I read more than 50 books on that era of history as research. But there were so many fascinating aspects of this ancient civilization that I hadn't been able to explore in the novel. The Blood Hero series gave me a chance to play with some of the ideas that got cut from Rites of Flesh.
Faery's Bargain was inspired by my discovering Thomas Keightley's book on faery lore. It's an encyclopedic collection of stories about humans encountering faeries, organized by where they originated. It's fascinating how the same core traits show up in the Fae, no matter where in Europe you look.
I love research. I recently read half a book about Egyptian mythology before I felt like I was ready to write a 3000 word story about Osiris. But for me, that's how I make sure I've got the details right.
Not just in this book, but out of any that you have written previously or are working on, who is your favorite character and why? What are you working on now?
It's almost always the character I'm writing about right now. :) I have to be a little in love with a character to write a story about him (or her).
My newest work-in-progress is Slave to the Sword, a m/m erotic romance between an in-the-closet kendo teacher and a samurai who's cursed to haunt his own sword until it's wielded by someone pure of heart.
I'm also working on the sequel to Blood Hero, where Cuno's darkest secret will be revealed, and which will include a trip to Ishtar's temple and a touch of bondage.
Because I'm a plotter, I try to keep ideas percolating in the back of my head for months, and to feed my subconscious with tidbits from history and mythology books related to those story ideas. That way, when I do finally start writing the first scene, I've had a chance to think the story through from multiple angles. I've got about half a dozen novellas at the brainstorming phase, and I'm doing research for a novel drawing on the mythology of ancient Greece and the Eurasian steppes. (There will be Amazons!)
What kind of books do you read for pleasure? Stuff nothing like what you write, or pretty close to the same genre?
When I'm free to indulge in reading for pleasure, I generally read science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, historical mysteries (I'm fascinated by anything set before the fall of Rome). But I'll also tackle anything that's recommended by a friend whose taste in books I trust, regardless of genre. Right now, I'm browsing an anthology of short stories by Erika Krouse, a gift from one of my critique partners who writes literary fiction. Lilith Saintcrow, C.J. Cherryh, and Rachel Vincent are all waiting patiently on my TBR shelf.
Do you have a newsletter or chat-loop where fans can keep up with you?
I have a newsletter, and I'm just starting to experiment with the Coffee Time Romance forums. But mostly I keep up with fans through Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. (Newsletter signup and other contact links can be found at www.madeleinedrake.com.)
When writing the intimate scenes, like the exceptionally fiery one in Faery's Bargain, do you plot out the scene before hand or let the characters take the scene where it will go?
Plot. I can't start writing a scene (sexy or otherwise) until I have a detailed beat outline, including snippets of dialogue, and notes on the realization the point-of-view character is going to have in the scene. I usually generate 2-3 pages of notes and outline for every page of actual story.
How important is setting in your writing? Do you feel that the setting is like another character in the story and therefore something to be developed and researched or is it just backdrop?
That depends on the story. In Blood Hero, the setting is a big part of the story, and as Rihat and Iltani journey through ancient Babylonia, readers will get to explore this lost civilization with them. Rihat and Iltani's surroundings constantly influence their actions.
In Faery's Bargain, on the other hand, setting isn't nearly as important--the entire story takes place in Tara's occult shop, and the focus is on getting rid of the baigh-duil before it eats Kane's soul. Spending a lot of time on setting for this story would have interefered with the action.
I work hard to make the setting vivid in every book, but the story dictates how much emphasis it gets.
What do you do when the characters stop 'talking' to you while you are writing?
Get up and move around, stretch a little, start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher. Writing can be mentally and emotionally draining, and doing something physical can help me recharge. If that doesn't work, I go back to my story notes and review the characters goals and motivations, the purpose of the scene I'm working on in the context of the whole plot, and all the other elements that I brainstormed before I started writing. It's so easy to get caught up in the details of a particular scene and lose the big picture of the story.
Do you have anything else you would like to add/say to our readers?
I'd like to leave you with my favorite proverb, a Japanese saying on the subject of persistence:
"Fall down nine times, get up ten."
Also, I'd add that when you hit ten, there's nothing wrong with starting over again at one. :)
Thank you for inviting me over to chat with you, Virginia!
No, thank you so much for stopping by, Madeleine!! Well, fellow book addicts and coffee lovers, it was truly a pleasure to get to know a new author and thank you for stopping in to read with us today. I also want to make sure to thank the author for the worlds you create and transport us to with your words and mention that we look forward to more great reads in the future!