Welcome to the four hundred and ninety-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with historical romance / paranormal romance author Deniz Bevan. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Deniz. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Deniz: Hi Morgen! Thank you for having me here. I’m a writer from Montreal, Canada. I’ve been writing stories for as far back as I can remember, but it was only after I read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series some years ago, and joined the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, that I buckled down and started editing some of those stories with a view to publication.
Morgen: That’s the key isn’t it; once you’ve written you should do something with it. What genre do you generally write?
Deniz: I’ve dabbled in YA and MG but I always come back to romance! Historical romances, generally (some set in the 15th Century, some Between the Wars), but I’m drafting my first ever paranormal romance at the moment.
Morgen: Very popular genres. I’ve had agents tell me they want more historical. What have you had published to-date?
Deniz: No stories yet – lots of book reviews and travel articles though, many of them in the Bizim Anadolu (http://www.bizimanadolu.com) newspaper (a local trilingual paper).
Morgen: Ooh book reviews? I could add you to my reviews page. Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Deniz: I love the idea of eBooks but it must be a failing with me – I just can’t concentrate if it’s not on paper and I don’t have a pen in my hand.
Morgen: Perhaps just not practiced but then all but a handful of authors have said they’d never give up reading paper so I do like to think they’ll both have a future. If any of your stories were made into films, who would you have as the leading actors?
Deniz: I haven’t been able to find any actors that resemble my characters at all. On the other hand, I’d be happy as long as Ioan Gruffudd was involved somewhere, anywhere.
Morgen: Oh yes, I’d be happy with him too. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Deniz: My first paranormal romance! I’ve been drafting like mad, very excited by the idea. Never mind that it’s distracting me from editing another story I’d already completed…
Morgen: That’s probably not a bad thing. The more time (but not too long!) you leave the other project, the fresher it’ll seem when you get back to it. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Deniz: I had about two or three years of writer’s block once, and started getting frightened that I’d never write anything new again. It felt like losing a part of me! Now I try not to ignore shiny new ideas, but keep a running list, so that I’ve always got something on the back burner.
I used to try to write every day but until I got into morning pages at the start of June, it had never stuck. Since then, however, I’ve written nearly every single morning – if you write first thing, you don’t get distracted by anything else. And it’s important not to have any goal. Whether it’s 50 words, 200 words, a page or more, doesn’t matter. It feels great to have accomplished something writing-related that early in the day, and often leads to more writing afterwards!
Morgen: Two or three years’? That’s awful… but then I stared writing seven years ago and have only become really serious (OK, obsessed) the past couple. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Deniz: Definitely an idea-runner. I’ve plotted a few, and I find the more detail goes into the outline, the less of the story actually gets written. I need to have adventures along with my characters.
Morgen: And so does the reader. If it doesn’t work for you then the chances are that it won’t for them either. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Deniz: I always have a sense of the ‘mood’ of a character right from the start, somehow. Some of them come with their names already chosen. My latest characters, Fred and Lyne (Frederick and Jacqlyne) were like that – I thought those were just placeholder names. But now they’ve stuck!
Morgen: They’re great names. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Deniz: It never feels fully-formed, even after editing! But I hope it’s getting better all the time…
Morgen: That’s the thing; we can edit, edit and edit some more. There had to come a point where you just have to let go. Do you have to do much research?
Deniz: Yes, but I love it! I get to learn about all kinds of things, like sailing ships and the sizes of towns and what people drank before the advent of tea and coffee in the West…
Morgen: I should like historical for that very reason but it was my worst (along with the sciences) subject at school (English, Languages and Art were my best / favourite) so perhaps why I write very little of it. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Deniz: Third person, definitely. My first person pieces generally fizzle out, unless I’m writing stream-of-consciousness from a character’s point of view. I’ve only ever done second person when writing parodies.
Morgen: I’d like to see those. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Deniz: I wish I could write short stories more often! I seem to come up with one a year. I used to write poetry all the time, but sadly seem to have gone out of practice.
Morgen: You’d be welcome to have a go at some of the prompts I’ve used for my 5pm Fiction slot (a story a day!) or the exercises page – there are plenty to choose from. Posting a new story every day at (or around) 5pm is great motivation. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Deniz: Yes, because I’d be sued for libel! My first romance novel featured two well-known musicians. I was convinced they were meant to be together… I should add, this was all back in high school.
Morgen: I have a novel that I thought should never go out but having written it (for NaNoWriMo 2010) I really like it so will have to change the names (which is a shame as they’re perfect!). Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Deniz: Yes. Form letters. I get mad and edit more. My favourite, though, is from when I was 13 and had the audacity to send a poem to The New Yorker. I love that little rejection card!
Morgen: You have to aim high. I went for the top dozen agents and was shot down in flames but if I’d started on a lower rung and been accepted I’d have never known. (I ended up going the eBook route before trying anywhere else) Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Deniz: Querying right now!
Morgen: Excellent, let me know how you get on. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Deniz: I’d have to do it on separate nights because I’d love to have dinner with J. R. R. Tolkien (Sunday roast would be good), but I’d also like to invite the Earl of Rochester (oysters, perhaps? I’ve never had them…), and William Blake would be an interesting dinner companion (eel pie? what else did Londoners eat in his day?).
Morgen: You could have a buffet (my favourite kind of meal). Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Deniz: The awesome Neil Gaiman: “make good art” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI).
Morgen: Isn’t he great. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Deniz: I’m also a part time translator! From French and Turkish into English.
Morgen: You may well like my interview with Saskia Akyil which went live on Wednesday. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Deniz: I knit! I read! I get out and see family and friends! I travel! Not necessarily in that order, and I usually bring my notebook with me. If I don’t, I end up scribbling on bar napkins…
Morgen: I learned to have a small notebook in every bag and jacket pocket as I’ve lost ‘brilliant’ ideas when out walking the dog. I repeated them but then got distracted and lost them. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Deniz: The aforementioned Compuserve Books and Writers Community is invaluable: a wonderful group of readers and writers, some of whom have been there since the late 1980s, all of them supportive of each other. There’s a Writer’s Workshop folder where members can give and receive critiques, and there are monthly writing exercises too.
Morgen: Ah, no need for my prompts then. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Deniz: The best place is on my blog: http://www.thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com.
Morgen: Thank you very much, Deniz.
Deniz: Thanks very much for hosting me, Morgen! It’s been a fun jaunt across the pond
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