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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Author Interview Danielle Benson

The lovely Danielle Blanchard Benson has joined me for an author interview. Danielle has an upcoming book, Better Off Dead: Book II (The Vamp Saga) that I was very excited to get my hands on. I've always wanted to ask an author these questions, so I'm glad I got the chance to ask.

Don't forget to check out the review of the book HERE.

Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve known more than three quarters of my life I wanted to be a writer. The seed was planted around the age of seven and since my teenage years, there has always been an intense, almost obsessive need to write something, anything.

I love to explore different parts of the world, people’s lives—whether ordinary or extraordinary—and the many issues which tear us apart but can also bring us back together again. Writing is an exorcism of sorts for me and allows me to explore other people’s issues and resolve them to the best of my ability in the end, if they are made to be resolved, that is!

What helps inspire you when writing? Do certain moments, pictures or phrases help?
More often than not, it is dreams which inspire and fuel my creativity. Another great time for me is right before sleep. I have thought up some of greatest ideas then, including the first novel in The Vamp Saga and another series, The Plague.

I let these ideas stew for a while before I truly know where I want to go with them and then I begin with a loose outline. It allows me to know where the end is but it also allows me to be a panster and write from the heart; I write where my characters take me, not what is written down from some detailed set of notes.

I’d like to think everyone has a different way to explore and write but this is the system that works best for me.

What is your favorite genre to read? Do you find that it inspires you to write?
I don’t have a favorite genre per se but I do read a lot of paranormal, urban fantasy, horror and mystery-thrillers (mostly police procedurals). I really do enjoy all these types of books but more often than not, an idea has formed in my head way before I start a various type of book.

For instance, I was completely into police procedurals (an extremely long and intricate Blake Crouch trilogy followed by J.A. Konrath’s Jack Daniels series) when I came up with the ideas of the second and third novels in The Vamp Saga and the concept for my new paranormal series, The Hart Family Saga. It is very important my series, regardless what genre they are be wholly original and not copied or “inspired” by any author’s existing work.

Lately, I have been reading more a lot of paranormal but I am just finishing up the third novel in The Vamp Saga and I am re-reading a completed novel which is about to go to print so I feel perfectly okay reading that genre at the moment.

Do you find yourself basing characters off of people you know? If not, how do you come up with your characters?
I used to do this quite often but I finally realized many of the characters I was basing on real-life people were wafer thin and too much like their real-life counterparts. Now, I make up my own characters and have a habit of naming characters after real like people I know well.

I have named characters in my book based upon my daughters’ names, my best friends’ names, family member names and associates’ names. I won’t ever tell which novels contain which person’s names but there is often a clue in the acknowledgments.

A great example is the main character, Manon, in The Vamp Saga. I named her that because I became friends with a lovely, young French woman (by the same name) when I stayed in Versailles June of 2011. She introduced me to the show, True Blood so I thought the dedication was only fitting.

Is there an author that you feel mentors you and helps you grow as a writer?
Not directly, no, but I absolutely love reading other authors’ writing styles. Some have such unique voices, they stay with you long after you have finished their novels. I love the prose of Stephen King, the detailed and sometimes tediousness of Anne Rice; I am also a huge fan of urban fantasy writers like Stacia Kane and Stacey Jay. I love the voices of horror which come from authors in that genre like Blake Crouch, J.A. Konrath/Jack Kilborn, Jessica Meigs, Kealan Patrick Burke and Jack Wallen.

What is your first thought when you see a newly released e-book/physical copy of a book you have written?
Holy shit, I wrote this! Or, in PG language: Wow, I cannot believe I wrote something coherent and interesting enough people want to read and actually enjoy!

With so many books on the market, how do you feel that yours is unique?
Although I would love to say ALL my books are completely unique, there are books with similar themes or genres but I always feel like I take a different slant on them. I am a romantic at heart so you will always find some romantic tendencies in any book I write, whether it is dystopian-horror, paranormal, urban fantasy or good old fashioned contemporary fiction.

Love is so clich├ęd but at the same time is an all encompassing emotion. We can do so much for love of something or someone; even when an act is pure hatred, there is a love of something or someone that fuels it. I suppose I think too deep but I would like to feel regardless what I write people will always find a shred of hope.

I also like to think that I add my own life experiences. I have visited many parts of the world and I would like to think my attitude is a bit more open and understanding of other cultures.

To quote Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, “although it’s the same, it’s a little different”. I believe this sums up the unique view one will read when they delve into one of my novels. 

Since you write different series, do you have to take time in between books to channel that character?
Most definitely. I sometimes believe people must think I am schizophrenic because I have so many series going at the same time. I also follow my muse too. I was suppose to write Apocalypse 2012, the second novel in The Plague series but my vamp muse wouldn’t shut up so I gave in and wrote the third novel in that series. Next up, it will be the first novel in my other paranormal series before I go back to The Plague series and there are a few other projects on the horizon this year.
The most important part about writing series is consistency. I also have a great editor who pays attention to everything and is quick to tell me… “uh, re-read the book before because this didn’t happen”. I have an excellent mind but one can’t underestimate the power of a good editor either. 

How much research do you do for your books?
Absolutely, positively tons. I often involve different parts of the world or weapons I don’t exactly have a lot of experience with (expensive hand guns or sem-automatic weapons for instance) and I research everything to make sure I at least sound like I know what I am talking about. I try to stick to places I have actually been but when my mind drifts into new territory, the first activity I do is research as much as possible about the place: temperature throughout the year, the people, the language, et cetera.

For instance, I had to create a whole new world based upon completely different political alliances in The Vamp Saga. I have extensive knowledge about the current unions in place but the ones I set up in my series also had to be relatively believable. I based two of the unions purely on language and/or political ties and I hope someone would read about these new unions and think, “yeah, that could be plausible”.

How do you celebrate a newly released book? Do you buy something, go out and eat, relax with the family, etc?
I’m pretty low key for now. I like to cook one of my favorite meals, have a glass of wine and watch a good movie with my loved ones. I am hoping to celebrate the next couple releases in more style and the ultimate celebration I am leaving to next year when I plan to move to France for three years in April/May of 2013.

Connect with Danielle Blanchard online: Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

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