Hey all! Welcome to the first of what I hope are many author interviews!
Today we’re going to speak with Serenity Valle who has written a paranormal mystery book named Acquittal!
Serenity began writing short stories when she was 7 years old. She illustrated these stories as well, even though now she admits she can’t draw. Her parents would buy her extra school notebooks to write her stories in and her favourite place to write was under the carport during a rainstorm. She would sit at the picnic table and write for hours during the Midwest summer storms. While still in high school, Serenity had nearly finished writing a full length novel. Unfortunately, the notebook fell out of her backpack during her Junior year (she believes on the bus) and was never found. Devastated, she turned from writing and threw herself into drama. For many years she participated in school musicals and community theater. She even had a very small (uncredited) part in the 2001 Tim Burton film “Planet of the Apes”. She met Burton on the set and said he was “eccentric but very nice”. She also did some modeling in the past few years and continues to pursue that venue as well.
During this time she began writing again for an online RPG game based on the show “La Femme Nikita” (one of her favourite shows of all time). Slowly, she began to have ideas for her own stories again but always found that the middle of the story was missing. She wrote the beginning and left it until her block was defeated. In 2013, Serenity started writing again full force and has two books currently available with another on the way April 1, 2014.
Serenity is the wife of an author. She is mum to 3 boys, currently aged 21, 17 and 2. Serenity graduated from Cerro Coso Community College in 2002 with two Associates Degrees in Social Sciences and Humanities, then went on to graduate in 2005 from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Latin American/Latino Studies. She is a proud Banana Slug and a proud sister of Sigma Pi Alpha Sorority. In the little free time she has between family and writing, she enjoys gardening, reading, crafting things, henna art, and watching such shows as “Burn Notice”, “Covert Affairs”, “Warehouse 13″, “Law & Order SVU”, “Touch”, “Kitchen Nightmares” and others.
Now let’s get to the INTERVIEW!!!!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
A little? Ok, I’ll try, ha ha. I’m the wife of an author and mum to three boys. I have degrees in Social Sciences, Humanities, Psychology and Latin American Studies. I’m a Banana Slug through and through (UC Santa Cruz!). I’m part Calo (Gypsy is the well-known word), Zacateco, Scottish and Native American. I love to act and sing, model and write. I edit books on the side. When I’m not doing those things, I love family time, gardening and henna art
2. When and why did you start writing?
I started writing when I was seven. I have no idea why except to say I felt creative one day and just picked up a pencil!
3. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
During their junior year of college, best friends Krizi and Kenzie suddenly find themselves in the middle of a mystery!
4. Was there an event or a person that inspired the creation of this book?
I would have to say that my numerous paranormal experiences throughout my life contributed, but I can’t pinpoint a specific event or person that inspired it.
5. Under what genre does your book fall?
This book (and the subsequent books in the series) falls under Paranormal Mystery/Crime
6. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I would choose Phoebe Tonkin to play Krizi, Emma Stone for Kenzie, I’m not sure who would play Scott, still working on that. Liam Neeson as Ira, Nathan Fillion as Badger (funny innit, Browncoats?), Bruce Campbell as Hatchett, Chris Meloni as Elian, Jeffrey Donovan as Dodge. (Don’t worry if you read the book and don’t know who half of them are, some aren’t introduced until later books, but I figure if one is made into a film, then all of them should be!). There are other characters, but I’m still thinking on them as well.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I would say it took about 6 months. I started on it before my second book was done… I had an idea and had to go with it… then put it on the back burner to finish the second book. Once that book was released, I went back to this one.
8. Will this book be the first of a series or is it a stand-alone?
This is the first of a five book series. While some of the events are solved within this book, others are not, so I would highly encourage readers to follow up with the other books when they come out.
9. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both. I’m pretty meticulous in my planning, but when something comes up I just go with it for a while.
10. Do you have a favorite character in this book?
No. I just can’t decide!
11. How did you come up with the title for this book?
My husband and I were brainstorming for the title of this and the second book (which there is already an outline) and I said I wanted something legal-sounding. I don’t remember which of us said it, but Acquittal was put out there and I went with it.
12. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Gosh, I don’t know. I haven’t had time to read for a while (sadness!) and I’m not sure I’ve recently read an actual paranormal mystery… I’m a big mystery buff and love crime novels, but it’s been a while for a combo paranormal + mystery.
13. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I have unique characters, but when it comes down to it, I think they are very relatable. There’s also just a smidgen of romance that just *might* be explored more in later books. *wink*
Honestly I can’t wait to read this tale. I hope our readers here will enjoy it as well!
Links to buy Acquittal!
Autographed paperback: http://serenityvalleauthor.wordpress.com/autographed-copies/
If anyone here will like to be interviewed about their creative workings please let me know! 😀 I really enjoy seeing all the different ways that we come up with our art, music, and writings!
As a librarian, I’m sure it’ll come as no shock that my favorite part of crafting a book is the research.
So many might ask… how on earth does someone find research on an esoteric topic on something the Celts (especially the Gael culture).
Many people might be surprised, but a lot of librarians love these kind of questions. In fact we also enjoy showing how we got the answer, at least I do.
So… here are some basic research tools that you can use
1. World History Collection
Generally most reference databases aren’t free to everybody… but the great news is if you have a library card chances are you will have access to them both at the library and at home.
When you go into it, you’ll see a list of subjects like automotive, medical, genealogy, and history. One of my favorites is EBSCOHost’s World History Collection mostly because it’s user-friendly and patrons can pick it up quickly.
Once you have the database up, you can put in a topic or use boolean phrases. If you don’t have a clue what I’m writing about, either call the library or go find a reference staff member. They’re there to help and generally get all excited once they figure out you aren’t asking about the copier or how to print. Generally they’ll take you into the advanced search, so you can find the latest and the greatest in terms of research. While it might be interesting to find an old article about the Gaels mythology, you may wind up with something from the 19th century. If that floats your boat, great, but if you want new information that’s accepted by scholars of today, you may want to try to limit the years of the search.
I’d also make sure that you click on the checkbox for ‘full text’. That’ll make things a lot easier unless you’re doing a search to find print documents that may or may not be available at your local library.
Just for S & G’s I decided to type one of my typical searches…’celts’. This search will bring up a huge number of results but sometimes that’s okay.
One of the first articles that comes up is
Celtic Myths: Celtic History?
By: Young, Simon. History Today. Apr2002, Vol. 52 Issue 4, p18. 3p. 1 Color Photograph. Abstract: Discusses the limitations of oral legends as historical sources in relation to the study of the Celtics culture. Criticism on the oral evidence for the crossing of the Bering Strait from Siberia into Alaska; Rationale behind the reliability of ancient Celtic legends over non-Celtic legends; Discussion on the historical distorting tendency of oral lores. (AN: 6427706)
Subjects: CELTS — History; CELTIC literature
Add to folder
HTML Full Text PDF Full Text (730KB)
Since this is an academic journal, we can be pretty sure that it’s a reliable reference source.
If we click on the PDF Full Text length, we can see an electronic pdf copy of the article, which is awesome. Plus you can save it, email it, print it, as well as some other nifty options.
JSTOR is a literal candy store for historical nerds such as I. It’s located at JSTOR.org Some academic universities will have access to it through their databases, however, many public libraries had to give it up. However, you can get an individual account for it and use it as a reliable reference source. If you can’t swing that, you can still use it as a searching tool for useful documents. Basically if you see something you like, you can request that any library in the world loan the document to your local library via worldcat.
Anyways… that’s just a few of the options that writers and researchers today can use.
I hope that helps anyone who’s researching history, especially those who want to use historical research in their fiction.
If you have any questions. I’m more than willing to assist 😀
And what I’ll probably do again later…
Okay all joking aside I figured I’d talk a bit about the publishing end of things now. InDesign is a great tool but it also requires learning and honestly now I’m pretty impressed that Chris sort of figured it out on his own. I may know the terminology that goes with it (sorta), and I know shortcuts and other things but I still feel like he’ll be the expert and the go-to guy for any issues we have.
Other than that, learning about it has been a lot of fun. I always thought laying out books and magazines were a kind of magic that I’d never be able to understand. Somehow, an intelligent force made the slick pages of a magazine or the weighty mass of a book. A force far more intelligent than me.
Anyways, while I knew about master pages, Chris showed me how to take the document out of word and put it into chapters for a print and ebook.
I’m just so tickled and pleased with my new knowledge!
I’m in no way an expert, but this is something I was convinced I’d never learn, and yet… the first version of the new book is ready to go. Granted Chris is in the middle of editing it. So after that it goes to our copyeditor, and then it comes back to us, and finally Lucius, Clyde, and Brigid will then have to sit on the computer or laptop to signify their approval or warm their butts, I’m never sure on that.
Anyways back to the writing board!
I thought it might be amusing to speak a bit about writing and reading and generally how the two sometimes do not match.
Chris and I write historical fantasy for the most part. However, oddly enough… most of the time we don’t gravitate towards reading historical fantasy for fun, which sort of strikes me as odd.
Generally, if I have time to spare, I’ll pick up true crime books. I’m not entirely sure why I enjoy reading them. Maybe it’s the fact that when I was younger, I wanted to be Clarice Starling when I grew up. Granted that dream never got very far. I’m flatfooted, clumsy, and not the best at logic puzzles. I know I’m a better librarian and writer than I would be an FBI agent. However, maybe that’s why many of the female characters we write about are deceptively strong and quick-witted, but also come with flaws. Let’s face it Mael Muire/Maire is pretty flawed and messed up on the inside. Then again, I guess the male characters are just as fractured and messed up in their own ways. Marcus can’t move away from his mistakes in the past sometimes. Mandubratius is pretty much opening a can of worms when it comes to trauma affecting how they treat others.
Then again, I’ve never liked perfect characters. I feel nothing in common with someone who makes everything look easy. I remember this happening a lot in the YA books that were popular when I was a YA librarian, and it annoyed me greatly as teenagers are seldom like this. At least I wasn’t. Like I said, clumsy, shy, and naive about a lot of things.
Chris enjoys reading Star Trek books and pretty much sticks to the Forgotten Realms series, particularly those by R.A. Salvatore. Perhaps that’s why our stories have been called ‘more like adventure books where the characters are blood-drinkers/vampires as opposed to horror stories with vampires’. Which is a good thing as it means that we get a wider and more diverse audience I think. I’ve seen women pick up the series for various reasons and so will the men. Generally, most men aren’t interested in the typical supernatural stories involving sparkling, big chests and happily ever after endings. Usually if a reader wants that I point them to another series we carry or mention… well, books, you know. You can’t please everyone with them.
I have no idea why we write what we write sometimes. Other than it piques my interests about history and how we interact with each other.
I wish I could say more and make it a profound statement, but there are whiny kitties to pet now. 😉
So what do you all read for fun?
Happy hump day all.