Writing short stories, even mini-fiction, can’t always be worked into a writing schedule; so for those authors who may not be able to let their characters play in the sand, I’ve invited them to a nighttime beach bonfire to have a drink, listen to the crashing waves, and answer a few questions of my own.
Joining me in the sand is Mary Calmes, author of the Vault, L’Ange, and Timing series!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, something readers may not have heard before?
I wish there was something remotely interesting to tell you but sadly I’m absolutely the epitome of dull. Married for 22 years, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a full time writer. That’s me. Maybe this, of the 56 books I’ve written, 28 do not connect in some way to A Matter of Time while the other 28 do. That’s kind of fun.
The official bio reads: Mary Calmes believes in romance, happily ever afters, and the faith it takes for her characters to get there. She bleeds coffee, thinks chocolate should be its own food group, and currently lives in Kentucky with a five-pound furry ninja that protects her from baby birds, spiders and the neighbor’s dogs.
Can you introduce us to the world(s) that you have created?
My shifter books are all set in our world but the shifters themselves keep themselves safe by not allowing regular humans to know about them. In Change of Heart, the shifters are werepanthers. They have their origins in Egyptian mythology because werewolves have their origins in the Celtic tradition, and I wanted something completely different from that. Even when Jin, my main character, increases his power throughout the course of the books, all the things he morphs into have their roots firmly in Middle Kingdom Egyptian deities. In Change of Heart, there are finite laws, traditions, titles, and basically rules for anything that would come up.
Conversely, in L’Ange (Old Loyalty, New Love), there are all kinds of shifters and some, like the wolves and stags, have convoluted laws and traditions, but jackals, hyenas and lions, have one or two, but nothing at all nearing what I created for Change of Heart. The world-building is very dense in Change of Heart whereas it’s hardly noticeable in L’Ange which was what I wanted. So either way that a reader likes their shifters, they could find it in my books. Hopefully, I succeeded.
Will this be your first Coastal Magic or are you a veteran? What was it about Coastal Magic that drew you to it? Why have you continued to return?
It’s not my first time, I’ve been two others, and I think Coastal has all the facets of a larger con, the panels, the reader interaction, the book signing, but it feels small and intimate. It’s like you can actually talk to people and get to know them and it runs without glitches, just smoothly and with lots of laughter. My hope is to get to go every year.
If you’ve been before, what is your favorite CMC memory? If you’ve never been, what are you looking forward to?
My favorite CMC moments are always reader interactions. Last year while I was standing at the DSP table, I was talking to other authors and readers and the topic became how many of my books inter-connect and how characters show up in lots of different books. It was fun to see the surprise on a couple faces as the mystery of whether or not Dreo had killed the bad guy in Acrobat or where the gun that was supposed to be in the marshal lock-up really was. I LOVE talking to readers, I could do it all day long and into the night and those aha moments are the best.
Is there a character who stayed on the page longer than you thought they would?
In my Vault series (A Day Makes), I thought that Lee Tae San would be a tertiary character. I wrote him originally to walk on and walk off but somehow he became so fun to write, and really such an ass, that I couldn’t stop. I had to have him in the book more than I thought I would and my plan is that in the 3rd book, he’ll be there quite a bit. It’s always fun when a character that you were sure about when you started becomes something else completely.
Is there any character that didn’t make as big of an impact on the story that you thought they would?
When I originally wrote Acrobat, I thought that Nate’s ex, Duncan Stiel, would play a much bigger part in that book. I thought he would be in Nate’s business and come between Nate and Dreo but as the book went on, that wasn’t how it worked out. And yet…I still felt that Duncan had more to say, more to be, and so when it came time for Sam to need a hand in But For You, I put Duncan into that book to see if there was actually more to him or if it was just in my head. Turned out that Duncan was a bit more broken than I thought but also ready for love. So when it was time for Jory to set him up with his ex, Aaron Sutter, he was the one who fit seamlessly. I’m excited to revisit a second story for those two this year.
What was your inspiration when you created your characters and the worlds they live in?
Different things inspire different characters and then the character, in turn, creates the world. I haven’t done any series that where I have a steampunk world or continual high fantasy, but like in The Guardian, which is a world through the veil, the main character is just like you and me and so as a reader, you experience the newness at the same time he does with the same questions. It’s like I beta read for Amy Lane and when she has started her steampunk novel and her fantasy one that I’ve given her feedback on, how she’s kept my interest is that those are character driven books so that if you’re involved with the character, then the world becomes accessible. I try to do that as well.
If you could be one of the characters in your book for one day, who would it be and why?
I would be Darius Hawthorne from my Vault series for one day if I could because I would love to know what it would be like to be both gorgeous and deadly at the same time. To walk around and always know that whatever the situation, I could handle it easily—attacked by ninjas? No problem. Have to diffuse a nuclear bomb? Got it. Or if I have to talk to my annoying crew or my stunningly handsome boyfriend…I have that covered as well. It would be fun to be the guy who’s the whole package for one day. Not any longer, there’s a certain amount of stress that comes with being at the top of the food chain, but for a day it would be awesome.
If you could be one urban fantasy creature/person/magical thing, what would you be and why?
If I could be a paranormal creature, without a doubt, without even having to think about it, I would choose being a shifter. There’s a caveat of course. I would need to be a sentient shifter. If I turned into a frenzied werewolf who gorges on women and children and the elderly…not so much. But a werepanther, like Jin, who I’ve written, that would be fantastic. No more diets, no more saying, “oh no, no bread for me.” I’d be done with all of that noise. Plus, if Francis Dolarhyde ever tried to break into my house, I would just turn into a werewolf and eviscerate him and I could protect my family easily. There are only upsides to this.
Don’t miss your chance to meet over 50 fabulous urban fantasy, paranormal, and romance authors at Coastal Magic next February! This super casual book-lover weekend happens on Daytona Beach, and gives everyone the chance to hang out with fellow readers and amazing storytellers.
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