I am very pleased to welcome author Diana Rowland here to SciFiGuy.ca to talk about her writing and her forthcoming urban fantasy novel Mark of the Demon. This supernatural crime thriller debuts on June 23rd, so I encourage you to pre-order it now because it is terrific (you can see my review here) and you will not want to miss it.
Also I will be doing a draw for a copy of Mark of the Demon. All you have to do is leave a question for Diana, a comment or just say hi. Diana will be dropping by to respond to your queries, so put your thinking caps on.
Here’s a quick extract of Diana’s bio as a bit of background to lead in to her guest post.
She has worked as a bartender, a blackjack dealer, a pit boss, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant, which means that she's seen more than her share of what humans can do to each other and to themselves. She won the marksmanship award in her Police Academy class, has a black belt in Hapkido, has handled numerous dead bodies in various states of decomposition, and can't rollerblade to save her life. She presently lives in south Louisiana with her husband and her daughter where she is deeply grateful for the existence of air conditioning.
First off, I want to thank Doug for allowing me this chance to come here and guest blog. The release of Mark of the Demon is less than two months away and I’m at that stage of nerves where I’m practically stopping strangers in the street to tell them that I have a book coming out. So, I’m sure that random strangers everywhere will be very grateful to you for giving me this outlet!
Mark of the Demon came from two very different origins. Many years ago I wrote a short fantasy/romance-ish story about a sorceress who was working what she considered to be perfectly normal magic, when a powerful (and hot and sexy!) arcane creature appeared. I’d originally intended to submit it to a print magazine that published short romantic fiction, however, the magazine folded before I ever submitted the story, and I ended up trunking it (a good thing, too, since it really was more of a vignette than a story.)
Fast forward many years later, and I was in the process of leaving my career in police work to take a job with the local coroner’s office. However, the year before I’d placed first in the Writers of the Future contest, and in between the time I left the one job and took the other, I flew out to California to spend a week at the workshop and award ceremony. I left the workshop motivated and excited about writing, absolutely determined that I was going to work my butt off and become a professional writer. During a brutally long layover in the Atlanta airport, my husband and I discussed the fact that I should write a crime thriller--utilizing my background as a police officer, detective, and forensic specialist. We even drafted out a rough premise and outline, and as soon as I got back home I dove into working on it.
But a funny thing happened before I even finished writing the first chapter: I happened to stumble across that vignette I’d written years ago, and I suddenly began to see my main character--a homicide detective--as the “sorceress.” I scrapped what I’d written, scrapped my outline, kept the basic premise, and started over. I was still writing a crime thriller, but this time it had demons in it, and Oh My God it was fun to write!
The road to publication for Mark of the Demon was actually a fairly dull and standard one. I finished the book, revised it and revised it some more, and then spent many hours researching agents and submission guidelines. I queried thirty-three agents, and one of the first ones I queried, Matt Bialer, offered me representation after requesting the full manuscript. After that the book went through another round of revisions, then went on submission to the publishing houses. It didn’t sell in a week, it didn’t go to auction, and I didn’t get a six-figure advance right out of the gate. Instead it was six months before an offer came in, but I have to say that it was worth the wait because I’m now with a terrific publisher (Bantam) and my editor (Anne Groell) is completely made of awesome win, and helped me make this book into something that I think is really incredible and special.
So even though I didn’t originally set out to write urban fantasy, I don’t think that there’s any question that Mark of the Demon falls pretty squarely into that genre. I’m pleased about this, because I think that urban fantasy has a huge amount of life left in it, despite what many might say. (Stacia Kane wrote an excellent blog post about this subject, and since she did such a good job of it I’m just going to ditto what she said. http://stacia-kane.livejournal.com/107806.html ) Moreover, I think that urban fantasy not only has the potential to be very socially relevant, but it also has the appeal of offering an easy escape from a real world that can be full of upheaval and heartbreak and stress. This is not to say that urban fantasy can’t be complex and challenging--because it certainly can be!--but it doesn’t necessarily require as much suspension of disbelief, and it’s easier for the reader to lose themselves in the story. “Okay, so everything’s the same, except that my next door neighbor might be a werewolf/vampire/demon. I can believe that!”
I love writing and I love telling stories, and perhaps one of these days I’ll get used to the idea that I can do it for a living. A sequel--tentatively titled Blood of the Demon--is scheduled for release in February 2010, and hopefully enough people will love the books that I’ll be able to continue to write about Kara, Rhyzkahl, Ryan, and Tessa. There’s plenty of story still to be told, and I absolutely can’t wait to share it all with you!
Thank you Diana! No argument here that urban fantasy is a genre that is here to stay with a loyal and passionate fan base. OK readers here’s your chance to pose a question for Diana or just leave a comment or say hi. I’ll be leaving the draw open until Monday when I will randomly select a name from among the commenters. The prize will be sent out when the book is released. You can also visit Diana at her website or personal blog or visit her at The Magic District writers blog.