Thursday, February 13, 2014

Guest Author Series ~ Sophie Duncan

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks for having me here today, Ashlynne. So, um, let me think. Well, I’m, as they say, a Maid of Kent (UK). I was born in Maidstone, the county town, I spent my early years on the Sussex-Kent border in a little place romantically entitled ‘The Isle of Oxney’, and, although I've lived in a few places around the South of England, I always seem to come home, and I now live in a small village near Canterbury, the Cathedral city of Kent.

As well as writing my books, I also run the independent publishing company that publishes and promotes them with my twin sister, Tasha, called Wittegen Press.

What made you want to be an author?

I've always written stories, ever since I was very young. I just love thinking up characters and places and plots and weaving them all together to make something exciting, or dramatic, or angsty. However, what made me want to get them published was a very clear memory of when I was 8 or 9 watching a TV show where a girl only a few years older than me got her wish of getting her Beatrix Potter-esque short story published. I knew then I wanted the same thing, to see my stories ‘in print’.

What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?

OO, that’s tricky. I think I like the daydreaming the best, the thinking up of ideas, the mind-wandering indulgences that take me on journeys that I want to write down. The thing that I like the least would have to be responding to edits, taking the criticism, accepting that (most of the time) the editor is right and actually killing my darlings!

Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?

For longer work, I am mostly a plotter. I like to develop a scene by scene overview for my novels before I dive in to write the details. My twin sister, Tasha, who is also a writer, teases me that I write so many notes per scene that I might as well have written the scene :). For Sacrifice of An Angel, the first in a series of books called The Haward Mysteries, that I write with Tasha, we actually have a wiki that we maintain between us, so that we can make sure we both have all the plot points and references about the magical Britain we have created for the books.

For shorter stories and novellas, though, I usually just jump in and see where ideas take me.

What influences your writing? And why?

I take my influences from lots of places.

A song I hear can put me in a particular mood that makes me want to write, or just a single lyric can set my muse off sometimes - it can be like a spark in my brain, a word or a phrase just resonates with me and whole stories can come out of it. I also use music as a writing aid. I find 80's rock is really good for fight scenes, but maybe that is just a habit from my Highlander fanfic days ;P.

I think the books I read also affect my writing, maybe more the style than the content. For example, when I was going to be writing some ghost stories for friends for Christmas, I went back and read lots of good Gothic horror from the likes of M.R. James and Dickens. They really put me in the mood and I was able to draw on their word use and flow to add a traditionally spooky edge to my writing.

Sometimes when I'm watching TV, or a film, a character, or an event will kick off ideas as well. It's not usually a direct lift, well, not unless I'm writing fanfic, which, of course, means I'm playing in that show/film's sandpit. More often it will be something like a particular character on screen will throw me into a story, or character development that's already under way in my head. Some aspect of that persona on TV will influence a trait within that development.

Name one thing readers don’t know about you.

Now that's a difficult one, because I mutter about all sorts of things on my own blog, Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles, so folks could know all sorts of odd things about me already. Okay, I don't think I've mentioned this before - one of my favourite birds is the owl.

Are love scenes easy/difficult for you to write?

I find them fairly easy, although I have to be in the right mood :). For me, love scenes are all about the emotion and the relationship, so I let that guide me. Y'know, referring back to planning and pantsing, I'm a pantser when it comes to love scenes, I have an aim, and maybe a few points I have to get in, but then I just run with it.

Do you have another career besides writing? What is it?

I split my time between being an IT project manager at a local university and a professional writer - technically the split is 50/50 if you take into account working hours, but we all know writers don't 'do' working hours :).

What hobbies do you enjoy when not writing?

I like crochet, cross stich and other crafts. I'm not especially arty, but I consider myself an enthusiastic amateur - I'll give most things a go.

I read (not as much as I feel I should) and my absolute favourite story is a good, spine-chilling ghost story. I have a large collection of spooky anthologies, both fictional ghost stories old and new and those collected by paranormal investigators. My interest springs from living in a haunted house when I was a child.

A love of music is also big in my life, I sing in a local choir. I also run the village handbell group where I dabble at arranging popular tunes for the bells. I'm no composer, but I enjoy taking existing music and adapting it for ringing.

And something that has become a hobby where once it was my work, I'm a bit of a coding geek, which helps when it comes to running my own websites etc.

If you could be any supernatural creature, what would it be and why?

I'd like to be a dragon - being able to fly and breathing fire on anyone who pissed me off - I could get with that ;)

If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?

Listen to your critics, which include editors, but don't take it personally and always know your own mind.

Do you have any future project that we can look for?

I always have lots of projects on the go, but right at the moment, I have a couple of projects I'm concentrating on, for release in the next 6 months, both related to work I have already published.

I am currently writing the sequel to my novel, Death in The Family, which is a New-Adult Paranormal Fantasy following the self-discovery of a young man, Tom, who has to come to terms with a vampiric ancestry when it comes back to haunt him. In the second book, Tom is continuing to learn what it means to have a vampire for a father, and he is learning to accept and control his night-time traits. However, he has more to contend with than his own personal demons when an unknown enemy threatens the new life he is only beginning to establish.

The first book in this series, Death In The Family, is very much focused on Tom's discovery of his own past and the challenges he faces because of those revelations. The story is enclosed by the community of Coombedown, the village where Tom was born and to where he returns to find out about his history. With the second book, I want to open up his world-view and bring in more influences. Although much of the action still takes place in Coombedown, new characters and new threats will widen Tom's perspective and take the reader into a new facet of his life.

Also, I'm working on taking my most popular novella, Bonds of Fire, and extending it into a full novel. It is a story about a war-hardened dragon-warrior, Drekken, who finds a whole new side to himself when he must bond with a baby dragon to save her life. It's also a fantasy romance, since Drekken finds himself attracted to two civilian empaths he is trying to help to safety. I've felt there was more to this story ever since I wrote it, and I am taking Drekken and his companions into new discoveries beyond the end of the novella.

Tell us more about Rage (The Vampire's Concubine #2).

The Vampire's Concubine is a short story serial about Hieron, Vampire Lord of Harkham, and his mysterious new concubine, Umi. Rage is the second story in this serial, so we are still near the beginning of the relationship between master and slave. Umi is now a vampire, made so by the bargain he and Hieron struck in An Amusement, the first book in the serial. He is an unknown quantity, he has not revealed his past, and Hieron is making him pay for his secrets, making impossible demands. The story is told from the point of view of Hieron's favourite concubine, Yan. Hieron's frustration with Umi spreads to other members of the vampire's household and, with Hieron's anger verging on murderous, Yan, technically Umi's rival for Hieron's attentions, must try to avoid the danger, and he knows he must work with Umi to do it.

The Vampire's Concubine serial will, in the end, dip into periods of time throughout 100 years of Hieron's rule, and each book will add another part of the jigsaw to the erotic mystery that is Umi.

Do you have an excerpt for us?

Yes. :) This excerpt comes from the opening of Rage.

Yan turned his face up and slicked his hair back with the remains of the stream of warm water that was being gently poured over him by Janus, one of the more junior concubines. It was a privilege of his position as Hieron’s favourite that the other men in the harem wanted to please him, and, as the water ran out, he opened his eyes, smiled at Janus and then leant over and kissed him lightly on the lips in thanks. Janus accepted the dismissal by putting down the bucket. He then picked up the pot of soap and the sponge he had been using to wash Yan and left the bath house with a wide, satisfied grin developing on his soft, dark-skinned features. Yan sat down on the marble shelf that ran around the edge of the room and lazily watched the smooth, round arse retreat from the room. He enjoyed the bobbing view, but was still more than satisfied by his recent encounter with Hieron and the interesting new concubine.

When Janus disappeared round the door pillar, Yan’s attention flicked idly to Campion and Daynelle, who were enthusiastically introducing one of the newer youths, Gray, Yan thought his name was, to the joys of double penetration at the edge of the pool. Lee would give them hell if he caught them. Strictly, every concubine had to be ready to serve his lord at any time, and those two would be good for nothing in a few minutes (it was why they were still minor concubines after three and six years respectively). Still, Lee studiously avoided the concubine bath house and the communal bunk room where the juniors resided. Living out your life in the protection of a vampire’s harem was an enjoyable, comfortable position for those without ambition. Many of the minor concubines barely saw their lord from one year to the next. Yan was different, though, he had aims and everyone knew it: he hadn’t become favourite through luck.

Campion gave him a quick glance as he thrust into Gray, making the younger man groan and writhe uncontrollably on top of Daynelle. Yan offered an approving smile for the display. Campion did not have a lot of finesse in bed, his small, winsome looks being the reason he got any of Hieron’s attention at all, but Yan could not deny the man was enthusiastic. That was a general quality of the men Hieron chose for his harem, none of them were reticent about sex, and he found himself considering Umi. He had watched the birth of a vampire, been part of it that evening and the idea was still keeping his cock full. No-one had had the courage to ask him about it yet, but he knew they would, soon. The whole place had been awash with rumour and speculation since the dark stranger had arrived.

The way his lord had pitched him and Umi as rivals bothered Yan a little, but there was something wild about Umi, something that wasn’t the vampire in him. It made Yan think Umi would never make a perfect concubine. He couldn’t quite pin down his confidence, more investigation would be needed, because it never paid to rely on instinct, but Umi was different.

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?

A full list of my books, including some free ones, can be found at my author page on the Wittegen Press website:

I have short stories for people to enjoy on both my blogs: my personal blog, Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles -; a blog I run with my sister which is erotic fantasy and paranormal romance, Fantasy Boys XXX

I'd also love to touch base with folks on social media:
Google+ -
Twitter @thwax and @wittegenpress
Wittegen Press on Facebook -
Thwax on Tumblr -

Buy links for your book(s)
All my books are all available from Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes and Google Play.

Before you leave, let’s do a fast five:

Angels or Demons?
Demons - they're much more fun!

Vampires or werewolves?
Vampires, always vampires! I've had a major obsession with vampires since I first saw The Lost Boys back in the 80's and I've been writing fiction about the toothy ones ever since.

Coffee or Chocolate?
Definitely chocolate! I don't drink coffee - sacrilege for a writer, I know.

Early Morning or Late Night?
Early morning – I always get my best ideas first thing in the morning.

E-book or Paperback?
E-book - no trying to keep the pages open.

Thank you for joining us today. I wish you much success in your writing career.
Thank you for having me. :)

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for hosting me on your blog today, Ashlynne. It was great talking to you. :)