Today’s and tomorrow's guest is Rhonda Parrish, author of Sister Margaret.
Today I'm putting her under the spotlight and interrogating her, uh asking her questions. Tomorrow I turn the blog over to her completely.
Review of Sister Margaret.
Sister Margaret is a short story about a vampire hunter and a half-incubus swordsman who are hired by a priestess to take care of an undead pimp. It’s written from the POV of Michael, who has never forgiven himself for abandoning his friend when they were younger. Determined to use this mission to put things right and make it up to her, Michael sets off, only to find things aren’t what they appeared to be.
The book kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was fast paced from the start and its twists and turns make for gripping reading. The descriptions meant I had vivid images in my mind throughout the book. At just over 4000 words, Rhonda wastes none of them, throwing you straight into the story and leaving you breathless at the end.
Advertised as a coffee time read, it was something I could read in the brief lull between shouts of “Mummy!” And it’s something I will be reading again.
Thanks for agreeing to this.
CR. First off, could you tell us a little about yourself and how long you've been writing. Do you write everyday? How does each session start? How do you proceed? How, where and why does it end?
RP. Truthfully I'm having a very difficult time with writing these days. I've plenty of excuses but I just sort of lack the discipline to sit down and do it this month. I'm going to blame the fact winter is finally ending…but that's probably not fair LOL
When I am writing it's pretty unexciting. I just do it. Not everyday, except in May and November I don't write on weekends. That's the time I spend with my family and my Warcraft addiction LOL
I generally write Monday to Friday and I just do it. There's no ritual or anything I'm afraid. I just do it.
CR. Where do you get your inspiration from?
RP. All over the place. It's crazy. Sometimes something from a movie will twig something in my brain and then I can feel my sub conscious chewing on it for a while. Eventually it will spit something out, which I'll combine with something else (the person I saw on the bus who I turned into a character, the story starter I have jotted down on a post-it note somewhere) and then something else, and eventually I have a story.
Sister Margaret was inspired by a large number of things. Sin City, a writing exercise on NaNoLJers, my best friend in junior high, one of my old roleplaying characters…the list is extensive.
CR. Sister Margaret is written from the POV of Michael. Was it easy writing it from the male POV or a challenge?
RP. I didn't find it difficult to write from a man's POV at all…hopefully that doesn't mean I didn't do it well LOL
CR. I know you run a webzine. Could you tell us a little about it?
RP. I am the founder and editor of Niteblade Magazine. It's a fantasy and horror magazine that I think rocks…of course, I'm a bit biased J
Every three months we put out an issue with stories, poems and book reviews. There is a free version available online, we've switched from html to a Wordpress layout for now to see how that goes. In addition, people can pick up a .pdf version with no advertising for just a few bucks. The .pdf version is a superior product in regard to layout and appearance but contains the same content.
One thing that I think makes Niteblade stand apart from the crowd is the illustrations. Marge Simon illustrates all the fiction plus the cover for the magazine and her skill and artistic touch have definitely given us a look and a feel that really pops.
We also have author interviews, art showcases, book reviews and news on the Niteblade News blog.
You can find the website at http://www.niteblade.com/
Sorry, I got a bit carried away there, but I love Niteblade.
CR. What do you do in your spare time? (Assuming you have any ;-) )
RP. Mostly I play World of Warcraft LoL I read an awful lot as well, volunteer in an inner city elementary school, am working on a degree of my own, quilt, cross stitch and garden. I like to be busy.
CR. What person or experience inspired you to become a writer?
RP. There are many. Mostly teachers, actually. My teachers all through school were very supportive of my writing. My grade five teacher is the one who set my feet on the writing path when he gave me an exceptionally good mark for a composition I wrote, but others definitely were like bumpers, not letting me stray too far.
CR. When you write do you start with a plot outline, a character sketch, how do you begin? How do you stay on course?
RP. I don't outline or do character sketches. Now and then I will do a character-inspired exercise on NaNoLJers but that is mostly for fun rather than to actually be helpful LOL When I start writing I tend to know the beginning and the ending of a story and the middle is a great big question mark. Once I start writing, however, I find that the story (and characters) take on a life of their own and propel me through the question marks to the other side.
As for staying on course, sometimes the ending is nothing like how I imagined it originally LOL So I don't know that I do stay on course. It always works out though J
CR. What genre would you classify your work as? How do you decide what genre to write in? Is it your favorite?
RP. I don't classify my work…mostly because I can't LOL I write across several genres and so I wouldn't know what title to pick. As for choosing a genre to write…I don't consciously do that. I write whatever I am inspired to write so, at the risk of personifying the story, that is what decides the genre, not me. The story.
If we are talking about Sister Margaret specifically though, I just call it fantasy. I suppose it's a dark fantasy, but I've definitely read darker LOL
My favorite genre to write, however, tends to change. At the time I wrote Sister Margaret and its sequels my favorite genre to write was fantasy. When I wrote my zombie novella Deadmonton, my favorite was horror. My favorite tends to be whatever one I'm working in at the time :-)
CR. What genre would you like to explore that you haven’t tried to write in yet? Will you? What would you never see yourself writing?
RP. I'm intrigued by steampunk but I haven't written anything with that flavor yet…I don't know if I will actually I guess we'll have to wait and see if inspiration for a steampunk flavored story comes to me. The same with science fiction. I'd like to write a time travel novel at some point, and I have a few ideas, but they haven't congealed into anything solid yet. Someday maybe…I hope.
CR. Do you have a favorite author or authors? Do you read a lot? Is there an author whose books you pick up just because they are the author?
RP. I love Peter S. Beagle and Neil Gaiman's work. They have a lyrical feeling to their prose that I envy and admire beyond words. I also love Joe Haldeman, Jim C. Hines, Stephen King's short stuff. Actually, I read a lot of short stories, not just because of Niteblade, but also in my leisure time. There are a HUGE number of very talented writers out there who specialize in short fiction.
I do read a lot. I read an obscene amount really LOL I love reading and I truly believe that to be a good writer you need to do it a lot…so that works well for me ;)
There are several author whose books I buy just because their name is on the cover. Peter S. Beagle, Neil Gaiman, Jim C. Hines, Carrie Jones, S.G. Browne, Patricia Briggs…it's a long list ;)
CR. What are your writing pet peeves, if you have any?
RP. My biggest pet peeve in regard to writing is that I am not consistent. I tend to work in fits and starts, which is not the system I would like to use LOL I can turn out the first drafts of two different novels in six weeks and then not write anything else for six months. I would much rather have a slow and steady approach, but that seems to be beyond my ability. That is irksome.
CR. If you were granted three wishes by a genie, what would they be?
RP. Oh man, I don't even know.
If we are talking writing-related wishes I would ask for 1) an awesome agent who loves "Shadows" as much as I do and would love to represent it. 2) enough money to go to five or six conventions a year and 3) the ability to sit down and write everyday unlike how I described in question #11 :-)
CR. If you could go anywhere to tomorrow, where would you go?
RP. Europe or Peru. I lived in England for a little while and I miss it quite a bit, plus I'd like to visit my family there and explore a few other nearby countries. I would also love to go to Peru. I want to hike the Inca trail and go to Machu Picchu. It's on my "to do before I die" list.
I'd also love to visit Sumatra and Java as they are the setting for a novel idea that is simmering in the back of my brain J
CR. If you could see anyone tomorrow (dead or alive), who would it be?
RP. How about that agent from question #12? That would be pretty sweet! :-)
Come back tomorrow when she takes over the blog.
Sister Margaret is available from Eternal Press