As one of the #CMCon21 featured bloggers, I get to have a little fun with a few of the fabulous authors who will be hitting the beach for Coastal Magic 2021 and introducing you to their many stories.
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 Delilah Dawson, author of the Blud series, the Shadow series (writing as Lila Bowen), The Tales of Pell, and quite a few others.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, something readers may not have heard before?
I’m Delilah S. Dawson and Lila Bowen, and I write a little of everything from Star Wars to Urban Fantasy to Weird West to Fantasy Satire. Something the readers haven’t heard before? When I was editing my first book, Wicked as They Come, I was using a green pen. Around 2am one night when I was on deadline, I dropped the pen, and it landed point-down in my right big toe and just… quivered there for a minute. To this day, I have a green dot tattoo on my toe. Writing has marked me!
Bio: Delilah S. Dawson is a New York Times bestselling novelist with a variety of short stories in anthologies. She is the winner of the 2015 Fantasy Book of the Year from RT Book Reviews and the 2013 Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence.With Kevin Hearne, she is the co-writer of the Tales of Pell series.
Her next projects are MINE, a middle grade horror novel with Delacorte in Fall 2021, and THE VIOLENCE, a generational trauma tale set during a pandemic of random outbreaks of violence, out with Del Rey in 2022.
She lives in Florida with her family.
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Can you introduce us to the world(s) that you have created?
If you like steampunk vampires in a dark circus that talk like Spike from Buffy, you’ll like Wicked as They Come and the Blud series, which is Urban Fantasy Romance. If you like Terry Pratchett and think Fantasy can get a bit misogynist and grimdark but would rather laugh at elves who live in the Morningwood, you’ll like Kill the Farm Boy and the Tales of Pell. If you think Buffy and Lonesome Dove should have a violent, shapeshifting baby in alt Texas, you’ll like Wake of Vultures and the Shadow series. If you like Star Wars– even if you’ve never read a single Star Wars book–you should try Phasma and Black Spire, both of which have female protagonists. And there’s more– all of it up at my website, whimsydark.com.
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?
I was at the very first Coastal Magic, back in St. Augustine at the hotel with the parrots in the lobby. I road-tripped down from Georgia with my pals James Tuck, Janice Hardy, and Carol Malcolm, and we had an amazing weekend! I met so many cool people and had a fabulous time, including going on a ghost tour. I’ve wanted to return, but my travel schedule hasn’t allowed it. Yay for virtual cons!
If you’ve been before, what is your favorite CMC memory? If you’ve never been, what are you looking forward to?
On the last day of that first CMC, I took the Polar Bear Plunge with Kace Alexander and Chelsea Mueller. I think it was February, maybe, and the water was ice cold, but it was so fun!
Which do you find is more central in your writing: the characters or world creation? Why?
When a story idea arrives, for me, it’s either based in the world, the character, or the twist. I think of it like a triangle, and whichever corner the seed takes up, it’s my job to create a perfectly balanced triangle with the other two. So if I get the character first, like in Wicked as They Come, I have to build a world that could both give rise to that character and uniquely challenge them and then find a story twist that could only happen to *that* character in *that* world.
What kind of reading experience are you hoping to create for your readers? What do you want them to come away from your books saying, thinking, and feeling?
I want my readers to feel the same way I do when I read a book I love– immersed, compelled, delighted, and addicted. I want them to feel like I did when I read Written in Red by Anne Bishop on a cruise and had to read the rest of the series so badly, right away, that I splurged on the expensive cruise internet just to download them to my Kindle.
What makes a sex scene suck? What makes a sex scene good? Which tropes lead to epic eye-rolling? Is there a certain trope that will never go out of style?
For me, a good sex scene has to be perfectly balanced and finessed, such that nothing can budge me from that experience. I need to trust the writer and believe every word they write. The worst thing that can happen to me is being pulled from that scene by something unbelievable– like a virgin having multiple orgasms on a hay bale in a dungeon, or a woman waking up to a strange man letting himself into her house and just… having sex with him, no questions asked. I need to believe that, were I in the heroine’s position, I would do exactly what she’s doing. I have felt hay through riding pants, and let me tell you: There’s nothing sexy about the thought of it touching my bare butt.
When you’re not writing, what are you reading? Have you found an author that’s new to you and/or one that the rest of the world really needs to find? Is there a certain niche genre that you prefer to escape to? If so, why?
Just like I write all over the place, I also read all over multiple genres with an emphasis on smart historical romance, feminist fantasy, and rich, magical worlds with lush prose. The rest of the world really needs to know about Deanna Raybourn. She’s a tremendous writer and an equally spectacular person, and all of her books are solid gold. I would start with A Curious Beginning, the first in her Veronica Speedwell series, and then read her entire catalogue–it’s historical fiction mystery with a slow burn romance. I also love the Into the Wilderness books by Sara Donati, which I first read because I stumbled across one facing out in a bookstore and it had a blurb from Diana Gabaldon. If you like sweeping family historical sagas with romance, it’s a gem.
What drew you to writing in the genres you do as opposed to other genres?
I write whatever story seed takes root in my mind and obsesses me and then let my agent and editors decide which genre it is. My first book, Wicked as They Come, was inspired by a dream during a Buffy binge– I woke up on a stone altar in a birch forest, and there was a kinda-vampire in a top hat talking to me with Spike’s voice. That whole book grew from just wanting to spend more time with him. I first wrote it as Dark Fantasy, but then they had me add the sex scenes, and it became Urban Fantasy.
What is the most painful part of the process for you when you’re writing a book? Why?
The most painful part is the waiting. Waiting for my agent to read it and give me notes, waiting for it to go out on submission and sell, waiting to see if my editor likes it, waiting for it to launch. I adore first drafting and am quite fond of editing, and I really love seeing the cover for the first time.
Do you have a geek side? Explain with examples.
Oh, big time!! Star Wars is my biggest geekdom, and Star Wars Celebration is one of my all-time favorite cons. Even before I wrote for Star Wars, it was pretty much my life– I’ve got the t-shirts, the jewelry, the bumper stickers, the lightsabers. I got to meet Gwendolyn Christie at Emerald City Comic Con after my book Phasma came out, and she signed a copy for me and told me how much she enjoyed it. I’ll also get excited and chat your ear off about Letterkenny, Schitt’s Creek, Great British Baking Show, birdwatching, mountain biking, and finding great gluten free food.
Don’t miss your chance to meet over 40 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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