I grew up on a farm outside Eugene, Oregon. My sister and I had a lot of time to ourselves, always in the woods or down in the back pasture, making up fantastical stories. I expressed that creativity as I got older, in drawing, acting, singing, bellydance. I studied opera in college, then decided opera was full of prima donnas and got out. I switched to holistic medicine, and went to school for my Naturopathic Doctorate, then opened a medical practice, where I still work by day. But three years ago, I woke up with a vivid, haunting dream stuck in my head about a white road in an aurora-lit night deep in the desert, which became the opening scene to the "Key of Fire" series. Before I knew it, I had thirty pages! I’ve never really stopped writing after that. I now have about 20 pages of dreams, fifteen vignettes fleshed out into 20-30 page ideas, and twelve books currently in the works from those fascinating nighttime escapades!
Tell us about your latest book.
The first series I am publishing is the Three Days of Oblenite trilogy, Breath, Tears, and Blood (April, May, and June 2015 releases). They are glimpses into a fantasy Victorian-gothic world like a darker version of 1890’s Paris, where religion is in constant conflict with desire. The novels are intended to be read together, the characters from each book influencing each other’s lives. In them, I explore religion, spirituality, and the soul’s mission. What happens when your soul has a dark and a light side, one a curse, the other a blessing, and too often the lines are blurred? All three gifts/curses of the protagonists are double-edged, and bite as much as they bless. So what do we do? Give in to it? Deny it? Try to get rid of it or overcome it? Turn to the church to absolve us of it? Do we harness it? This life is all about choice…
What do you have coming out in the future?
Too many! But here are a few teasers...
Calamity, my personal favorite! A hard-ass addict of a mechanic lives in an underground city, traumatized by the climactic decimation of their planet ten years prior. She loves and hates a brilliant shut-in of an engineer who has designed a machine to restore the surface, and rallies protection around him as an assassination plot develops. Probably out late 2015.
The Book of Truth, a novel about a hard-luck whore on a “wild west” planet, whose life is uprooted when she meets a bastard of a dark angel cast out of his home and military prestige. The two team up to pursue their personal vendettas, gunslinger-style. Probably out early 2016.
Kingsmen Chronicles, a two-book series about the genocide of an ethnic group who were loyal peacekeepers and elite military for their king, and of their now-grown children who survived, trying to unravel the plot that killed their families. Probably out late 2015.
Adia and Delio (working title), set in the Three Days of Oblenite world, but far to the south. A woman raised like a man finds herself suddenly thrown into the conflict of having to wed. She enters into a plot with a gay duke’s son to forestall marriage, but ends up falling in love as she tries to save the duke’s son from the horrors of his own life. Probably out mid-2015.
Key of Fire, a dystopian fantasy trilogy about a continent that has been dying for centuries, and the seven souls brought together by fate to save it. This was the very first series I wrote, but is still in editing because it is so epic...! Probably out late 2016.
Fantasy fiction, often dark/epic, sometimes steampunk/supernatural, with a romantic/erotic and sometimes LGBTQ bent. I love the creativity of it. There are quite literally, no limitations! I feel this way about gender, also. I believe love is love, and it can and does happen in any combination of genders/peoples. I enjoy challenging assumptions about love, and even what boundaries exist in the epic-fantasy genre. A lot of fantasy authors don’t write about sex. I do. Graphically, but it doesn’t occur in my works nearly as much as in erotica, and it’s not always as pretty as your typical romance novel. It’s not about the sex, or even the plot. It’s about the people. And people have urges, and we all have flaws we give in to, and honor that we celebrate.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
My spirituality inspires me a lot. I’ve had exposure to many world religions, and have settled into a quasi-Buddhist paradigm. But I’m not a practicing Buddhist by any means, though I have a daily meditation/yoga practice. I find Gaiamtv intriguing, and I love imgur! And my husband finds the most random stuff on reddit, from TED talks to medical research to infographics on the evolutionary origin of world religions. You could say I rely on him for my current events. ;-)
Do you ever base your characters on real people in your life?
Absolutely. Many of my characters have bits and pieces from my own life and I love to write in people I meet. For instance, I wrote my great-uncle Steve into the Key of Fire series. Imagine Santa, make him boisterous and loud, give him amazing bone-crushing hugs, and put him in a Hawaiian shirt. Presto! My great-uncle! (Look for him as Emraj in the first novel of the Key of Fire series!)
I’ve been a spiritual sensitive and a guide-channel most of my life, and that is reflected in my work. Opening up to guidance from non-corporeal realms many people think of as “woo-woo”, but to me, it’s really not. Native Americans had shamans, they spirit-quested, they saw and conversed with power animals and spirit guides under trance and in sweat-lodges. What I do is no different, just sans any need for drugs. Altered states are natural for me. Opening up to this kind of information has made my life blossom in every way, though there are sometimes challenges. I’m no guru. I’m just a person working on my shit and getting closer to my soul’s essence day by day. And I like to write that into my characters. Their spiritual and otherworldly experiences influence who they are, urging them to go deeper into their true self. And so do I.
What celebrity would you chose to play the main character(s) in the movie rendition of your book?
I keep pinterest boards for each novel just for this reason! Gryffine from Breath bears a striking resemblance to Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) when she’s young, and Michelle Dockery (also of Downton fame) when she’s older. In Tears, I love Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) for Oruthane d’Iver, and Jamie Dornan (The Fall) for Phillip d’Auvery. And in the third novel, Blood, I think Jude Law is sort of a classic look for Aulen Gregoire. As for dark, sexy Gypsun Jessup Rohalle… I’m still on the hunt! Suggestions?
Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
There are so many. Oruthane d’Iver from Tears tops my list. He’s seen the world, been crushed by it, literally whipped his demons into submission as he strives to know himself deeply and do good works, and is rewarded by utter devotion and sweet love. Oruthane is masculine, thoughtful, dedicated, and compassionate. He’s got demons, but he’s working on them, striving to get better and better every day.
Another one is Aluest the Calm from the Book of Truth series (forthcoming). He’s a bastard. Evil. He’s slaughtered continents, enslaved entire societies at the behest of a ruthless tyrant, and it suits him. But there’s a part of himself that has become twisted only because of the ruthlessness of his society, and he learns to uncover a kind of compassion as he progresses through his journey with Elsennia Mae Argentine, whore and gunslinger extraordinaire.
A third one I love is from Calamity, Altulli Aradan. Aradan is a no-bullshit machinist and runs her crew with a tight fist and drill tossed at their heads. She’s an addict, a drinker, and has more skeletons in the closet that you can shake a wrench at. But she learns to get sober through the influence of another character in that book, Tanuath Rojer, and discovers her full potential.
Jacqueline Carey, Robin Hobb, Patrick Rothfuss, George RR Martin, Anne Rice, and Laurell K. Hamilton, because they challenge assumptions and write great characters. No one is simple. Sometimes love and hate and all the emotions in-between happen at exactly the same time, and these authors get that. I’m also inspired by non-fictional authors, such as Sogyal Rinpoche, Leonard Shlain (Alphabet Versus the Goddess), Robert Spencer (Craft of the Warrior), and Carolyn Myss, as well as by the EFT practitioner Carol Look.
How would you describe your writing style?
Mix the lush sensuality of Jacqueline Carey with the dark allure and sexuality of Anne Rice, then throw in a bit of the epic scope and complex characters of Robin Hobb, plus the “sit around the fire” storytelling of Patrick Rothfuss, and you’ll get my style!
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
When I just couldn’t stop! I had three novels written (Key of Fire series) and was already launching into writing another (Calamity). I took a look at my life and went, “Huh! Maybe I should do this for real?” And once I felt I had a few projects polished enough to put out there, I did. Fingers crossed…!