Interview With Aspen deLainey
Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
I started telling stories before I could read. You know those picture books little kids have? My little brother would ask me to tell a story and we'd curl up in the rocker, open the picture book and I'd keep him occupied with my imagination for hours.
Once I learned to read and print, I began to write my own versions of the stories my father read to me. elementary school opened up creative writing where I found a new audience for my tales. My poor grade five teacher used to assign work by saying a minimum of a three page story must be handed in, then he turn to me and give me a limit of ten or twenty pages. He always read my stories out to the class.
During my teens, watching and listening to one of my friends' mothers going through a painful divorce, I wrote a poem asking why had his love died and sent it in to one of those women's magazines. I received a cheque and a copy of the magazine. My mother was horrified that I would steal that mother's pain and brazenly write about it. What did I know about life, love or pain? I was forbidden to send anything out again while I lived under her roof. "Leave that to people who know what they're doing," she told me.
I never stopped writing, though after once, years later, sending in a romance to the wrong sort of publisher, I held those stories to myself. Until...one of my grown kids told me she'd delete all my files if I didn't send just one story out to any publisher. Biting my nails, heart in my throat, I sent a short piece to a magazine in March 2010. Two weeks later I got an acceptance letter.
The joy, the pride, the nervous acceptance that maybe I could write spurred me on. I write in many genres though I am only published in two so far: paranormal romance and scifi. I do believe I am a writer!
Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?
After I wrote Love 'n Lies, about an overweight vampire, I wanted to flesh out the world I started to build. I wanted to get to know her friends better. Howling Hearts is the story of Rand, a young adult werewolf who moves from the Evermore Keep down to Calgary Alberta to seek her fortune and a new life while running away from a love affair gone sour. The book starts with a hair-raising trip through mountain passes in the dead of winter during a blizzard. Because when I started the book a snow storm had been raging here for three days. Rand meets an RCMP officer on the trip who strikes her fancy as much as she whets his. Rand interacts with the various paranormal beings living just under the human radar in Calgary, gets a job and keeps interacting with her young man. Hijinx ensue when her ex shows up.
Why did you decide to write in the paranormal genre?
I worked in medicine for years, the last several in geriatrics. I got to wondering what happened to a werewolf with Alzheimers, or a troll with Parkinson's. How would a vampire age? And what kind of retirement home would house these poor creatures, how would modern medicine handle a decrepit fire elemental? What happens when subdivisions cut down a dryad's grove. I knew I had to write about this.
You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?
I am caught between different genres. I cannot honestly say I prefer writing in any one of them. Depending on my mood, I write in each. When I'm angry I write murder mysteries - though none of them have seen the light of day. When I'm moody, sad or depressed I write romance as it seems to perk me up a little. The times I feel adventurous I write scifi.
Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?
At least once a month I read Roger Zelany's Art of Writing. He is fairly inspirational, especially when I'm not in the mood to write. I read everything that passes by, though I do have a few authors whose books I will seek out: Anne Bishop, Jeffrey Deaver, Mary Higgins, and Tami Hoag. I reread Tolkien's books every few years, along with Ann McCaffrey's Pern series and Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series. In reality, I go through my personal library every few years rereading everything that catches my interest.
How do you research your books?
Ah research...the bane of my writing career. I get lost some days in research.
I write fiction. But. Even fiction has to feel real. For my paranormal romance I read legends from around the world. I research god myths. I probably spend over one hundred hours just on the research once I start a story. For my first book, Love 'n Lies, I asked a hematologist if theoretically a vampire could get fat drinking the blood from a high cholesterol victim. In theory, the doc agreed. Voila - story! During Howling Hearts I researched the equinoxes and earth's reaction geologically to this event. Not just that, of course. I have reams of information on different culture's werewolf folklore. Right now I have been reading personal stories on line about people going blind for my next book that might be called What Will Be.
Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?
I live in the country, fairly far from any neighbours. Sure, I can see two houses, one north west and one north east, about a mile away. That's it. To the south is a long dirt road stretching off to nowhere. About a mile from our house this road becomes an unmaintained road allowance. Another two miles and the road allowance turns, coming out at the highway in about two miles. Farmers use the allowance to get into their far fields. If I keep walking straight instead of turning, I eventually get to a large slough in a coulee about ten miles away. I know this because I've seen a map of the area. And I've driven the road down to the slough in spring to see the swans.
Once, I took the dog out on her daily walk. I'd been writing that morning and got stuck on a scene. I wanted it to go one way and my muse kept interjecting lines pulling it another. So, dog nearby, I walked off thinking about the scene. I don't know how long I walked for, but suddenly I didn't know where I was! The road had disappeared, I was walking in knee-high grass and by the look of the sun I'd been meandering for hours not paying attention to anything except the scene in my head for my book. I got home about nine that evening, tired; the dog exhausted but happy. Yes, I'd resolved the conflict about the scene - my muse won.
Are you working on another book?
Oh yes. I have four books in various stages and lots of pages of notes on book ideas. I got kidnapped in July, right after I finished editing Howling Hearts. My muse would not let me take a breather. for weeks I wrote on this newest idea. My muse let me up for air about a week ago, once I'd gotten the main plot and two hundred pages of first draft finished. Thank the gods. My fingers are worn to nubbins.
Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?
Ok, I've only written three that have been published. But the one that is my most favourite is no longer in print, though I am trying to republish it after I get my beta readers to finish it. Te book, Moustache on the Moon, a scifi book for young adults, is about life living in space, sort of. See, these Beigorri, which are marsupial space worms, house a race of human/aliens. The Beigorri shows up in our skies, above the moon. The aliens who live inside it come to earth offering a particular genetic trait of humans a one way ticket to a new world. It will be a series, ending with their new world.
I loved writing that book. I love the characters. And I loved the ideas for the alien artifacts I developed. I wrote that book under the pseudonym d.k.snape. I even enjoyed the research I had to do to get that book as realistic as possible.