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INTERVIEW: Yasmine Galenorn

(c)2008 Yasmine Galenorn

(c)2008 Yasmine Galenorn

New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy for Berkley: both the bestselling Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon Series for Berkley and the upcoming Indigo Court urban fantasy series. In the past, she wrote mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and nonfiction metaphysical books. Her books have hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists numerous times.

Yasmine has been in the Craft for over 30 years, is a shamanic witch, and describes her life as a blend of teacups and tattoos. She lives in Bellevue WA with her husband Samwise and their cats. Yasmine can be reached via her website at www.galenorn.com.

GFTW: How did you come up with the idea and title for Night Myst?

Yasmine Galenorn: One night, some time back, I had a dream. In it, I was walking by a painting, and the painting was alive. As I watched, this young woman walked through a woodland filled with creatures from legend and lore—and overshadowing the woodland was an evil queen, a queen who worked with spider and snow magic. I knew, in the dream, that the woman was looking for her aunt who had disappeared, and that the woodland was filled with enchantments and snares. When I woke, the vision of the painting was so vivid that I had to write down everything about it. Some time later, the visual wouldn’t let me go, so I talked to my agent about it, and wrote up a synopsis and sample chapter, and my editor loved it and so I received a contract for the Indigo Court series. The title, Night Myst, refers to Myst—the Queen of the Indigo Court. She’s the queen of the Vampiric Fae.

night mystGFTW: The cover of Night Myst is gorgeous, who designed it?

YG: Tony Mauro (www.darkdayproductions.com) is my cover artist, and Rita Frangie—from Berkley—designed it. I love Tony’s work, he also does my Otherworld Series, and Rita’s always come up with great design for his artwork for me. I consider Tony one of the most provocative artists around and have commissioned him privately for several paintings of secondary characters for me.

GFTW: What made you decide to populate your books with The Fae/Dragons, etc.?

YG: I love urban fantasy, fantasy, and science fiction. For me, the Fae are very real—but my takes on them are fictional. And who doesn’t love a powerful dragon? ~grins~ My life has been steeped in the paranormal, both real and fictional. My writing feels empty if I don’t include that element in it.

GFTW: How do you make your characters seems so real?

YG: They are flawed. Seriously, that’s what makes for a character who seems real. You cannot have invincible characters and expect readers to identify with them. Nor can your characters be too whiny, angst-ridden, or annoying. I try to avoid those traps because I don’t like characters like that—not to read about, nor to write about. Even if your character is a werewolf, a tree, a living rock, they must have qualities with which the readers can identify and empathize. It’s also important to make sure that your characters are three-dimensional. Flat characters, stereotypes, may work in limited quantities for a certain effect, but they don’t make good heroines or heroes. I seriously examine my characters in all of their aspects. I listen—and I don’t force them into situations that wouldn’t make sense for them. I also don’t force them to act in ways that go against their nature.

GFTW: You have three other series that you work on, how do you keep track of your world building?

YG: Actually, until I wrote Night Myst last year, I’ve only been working on one series. I wrote eight nonfiction books years ago, then two mystery series but those have long been finished. I was just writing the Otherworld Series the past few years, but now am back to writing two series with the addition of the Indigo Court world. I have huge notebooks that I call my ‘research notebooks from hell’ for all of my series and they’re basically my bibles for the series. I keep track of the characters and their changes through the books, story arcs, plots, subplots, secondary characters, the bestiaries, and anything else that needs addressing within those notebooks. They save my ass time and again. ~grins~

GFTW: Many authors who write mainly adult novels are branching into YA now, do you see yourself writing a YA novel?

YG: I thought about it, but no. I do not see myself as a YA author, even though it would be interesting to try the challenge. But I seriously don’t think I could do a good job at it. My writing is too dark and explicit for YA.

GFTW: With so many books written in the fantasy genre how to you go about making yours unique?

YG: I follow my inner vision. I don’t try to copy others. My vampires are my vision of vampires, my dragons, my Fae, my Weres, all are endemic to the worlds within my imagination. I’m not out to write the further adventures of Twilight—I’m out to write my worlds, my books, and find my audience for them. Would I love to see my work be as widespread as Twilight? Sure! I don’t know many authors who would turn that down. But it would have to be as my work, not as a clone of somebody else’s visions.

GFTW: Is there a method you use to help come up with the settings and characters that make them distinguishable from all the stereotypes currently used and reused over and over again in a lot of writings today, and do you think using cookie cutter characters ,within reason, is a good or bad thing?

YG: As far the characters, toss the stereotypes in the garbage and pay attention to what your characters are trying to tell you. Don’t force them into a mold. My characters are very vivid in my mind and if they don’t want to do something, they won’t. If I find the story is bogging down, then I’m usually trying to force either the plot or characters into a direction in which they aren’t meant to go. Cookie cutter characters? Not a good idea. Just…not. Boring, flat, and no substance.

As far as worldbuilding—and I’ve been complimented over and over on my worldbuilding—you have to use all senses when creating a world. Scent, sight, taste, touch, hearing, and more—the energy of a place. For me, I think of the environment as a character in itself. The setting becomes yet another entity in the book, a living, breathing creature that I must attend to in order to keep the book fresh. I’m very visual, and I see everything as I’m writing it, like a movie is playing in my mind. Therefore, I see detail in my mind—I envision it and then describe what I’m seeing.

GFTW: If you weren’t a writer what would you be doing?

YG: Going crazy. Seriously, I have to write to get the voices out of my head. ~smiles~ But if I had to choose another profession, there are so many things I’m fascinated by: archaeology, volcanology, I majored in directing/theatre, I’m fascinated by folklore and mythology, I’ve been a professional tarot reader…I’d find something to do.

GFTW: If you could write in any other genre, what would it be and why?

YG: I already wrote in other genres (mystery and nonfiction) and am happiest where I’m at. But if I had the chance to write something out of the box now—most likely cyberpunk. Maybe steampunk. I’ve had the yen to write a zombie steampunk story (short) for awhile now. And I’ve got a number of standalone novels—paranormal thrillers—that I’d love to write.

GFTW: Are you working on any other projects right now?

YG: I’m finishing up Blood Wyne, book nine of the Otherworld Series, then need to finish an OW novella by the end of June. I’ll be writing Night Veil—book two—of the Indigo Court Series after that, then starting book 10 of the OW series. I recently accepted a great new contract for books 10-12 of the OW Series. I’ve got deadlines booked through 2012 for five more books so far.

GFTW: What are you currently reading?

YG: I am just about to start reading the new Charlaine Harris book. I’m reading Hunted by PC & Kristin Cast, and I’ve got a TBR pile of over 200 books. I just finished Silver Borne by Patty Briggs and loved it, and also Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris. That’s the one downfall of writing at the pace that I do (three + books a year), I don’t have nearly enough time to read.

GFTW: With instant communication/gratification prominent and expected from so many people today, how do you divide your time between writing, real life and all the online distractions like Twitter, Facebook etc.?

YG: It gets harder and harder. I used to be out on all the networking sites but now my time is so limited that I have to really pay attention. I’m on Twitter most, my husband takes care of my MySpace for me, and we both take care of my Facebook for me. I also have my website, my forums (down at the moment), my mailing list, my blog. It’s crazy-making. Most readers get it when you can’t be there all the time—they’d rather have the books. I put in appearances on my networking sites and try to be interesting and try not to whine too much. ~grins~ But I estimate that over the past few years my promotion time has risen by about 20-25% of what it was, which means my overall work week is a lot more frantic than usual. I work about 60-80 hours total per week, including promotion.

GFTW: Do you have a firsthand experience of the paranormal in real life?

YG: Quite a number of them, actually, since I am a shamanic witch, and I do work with the magical realm. An ongoing theme is that we attract kitty spirits to our house. I guess they sense we love cats, or that they’ll be safe within my home, because I often see spirits of strange cats wandering through our house. One in particular—a silver tabby—hung out for three days. I saw him in the hall, I saw him sitting on my printer, and I saw him near our bed, just resting. Eventually he moved on. I am honored they feel safe in my house. I keep our home warded against negative entities/spirits, however—I’m very cautious about that because I’ve dealt with ghosts before and would rather not have them hanging around.

YG: Thank you for having me here, and I appreciate the chance to talk to your readers!