Hi Sharon, and welcome to PVN!
PVN: Where does Scorched fit in the grand scheme of the Dark Forgotten series?
Sharon: Scorched is the second book. At the end of Ravenous, the heroine, Holly, discovers the Castle. In SCORCHED, we get to find out a lot about the history of the non-humans on earth, what happened to many of them, and the challenges they face. This book probably spends more time in the Castle than any of the others will, but I wanted to really explore this cornerstone of my world.
PVN: As you say, much of the action in Scorched takes place in the weird environs of The Castle. What is it like for the residents?
Sharon: The Castle is like a great big medieval dungeon that goes on forever, and most of the inmates roam around inside, forming alliances and battling over choice territory. The magic inside the Castle removes certain appetites and emotions—hunger, thirst, joy and lust—but it doesn’t remove aggression. Essentially the place is a war zone. There are guards, but their number is dwindling and they’ve gone a bit crazy over time because they’ve all been stuck there against their will for centuries. One of the big questions my characters face is what to do about the Castle. Do they try and help the people inside? How? Who is safe to let out into the human world?
PVN: I have fallen in love with Mac, that devil. Not only is he a hunk who becomes hunkier, he has the funniest lines in the story. How would you describe him?
Sharon: Mac is an ex-police detective who likes the ladies. Unfortunately, one turned him into a demon and he lost his job and pretty much his whole life. When Scorched opens, he’s come back to town and he’s trying to pull his life together.
In some ways, he’s an average guy. He likes a beer and the hockey game, loved his job as a police officer, tinkers with his Mustang and tries to pay his bills on time. He’s one of the good guys, and hates the fact the whole demon issue puts him on the bad guy list. When he finds out Constance needs help, he has to step up because he has the skills and willingness to do it. He knows it’s going to cost him a lot, but he does it anyway because there’s no one else who will.
What makes Mac an interesting hero to me is that, no matter how bad things get, he believes that he can make things better. He has serious doubts about how things are going—he’s not an idiot—but he tries to do something about the situation. Psychologically, he’s very tough, and his sense of humour is part of that.
PVN: Describe the two vampire characters - Alessandro and Constance.
Sharon: Alessandro Caravelli is the hero of Ravenous and the vampire queen’s enforcer in Fairview. If one of the non-humans step out of line, he’s on their case. The supernatural community is, on the whole, happy he’s around to keep the peace both among the non-humans and between the supernatural and human authorities. He’s been around for centuries and is an interesting mix of chivalry and modern ideas. He still has a strong sense of duty to his queen. Of course, that causes problems when he falls for a young witch and then the queen wants him to betray his love.
Constance is the heroine of Scorched. She was a farm girl Turned into a vampire in the mid-eighteenth century. The guards who run the Castle put her in prison before she could actually bite anyone, so she’s still without a lot of her powers. In order to survive, she sought the protection of Atreus, a sorcerer who lives in the Castle. Unfortunately, by the time the story opens he’s gone mad. He’s as much a danger to Constance as a protector.
My vampires are venomous. Their bite gives a very addictive sexual high, which means they make slaves out of non-vampires very easily. Interspecies romance is a definite challenge, because vampires don’t reach maximum happy potential unless they’re biting.
PVN: Book 3 Unchained comes out July of next year. Can you give a sneak peak? Will there be more to come?
Sharon: Unchained deals with Holly’s sister, Ashe, and Captain Reynard, the head of the Castle guards. It’s a very active book—lots of fights, lots of danger, lots of plot threads. It gives the reader an insight into who the guards are and why they’re there. We also get to know some of the minor characters from the first books much better.
Right now I’m working on a proposal for a fourth book. We’ll see what happens! Here’s a question for those who’ve read Ravenous. Which of my characters would you like to see as the next hero: Perry or Lore?
PVN: All of your characters are complex and unique. What stories, authors, or anything else pique your imagination?
Sharon: I read a lot of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, of course. I also read a lot of classic literature. For characterization, I love nineteenth-century authors like Balzac, Theodore Fontaine, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and Trollope. Cousin Bette was completely amazing. Those authors nailed the interrelationship between economic circumstances, ethics, and family affection. People are complete and very complicated packages. It’s impossible to capture everything about a person on paper, but I believe the author has to understand as much as possible in order to build an effective personality.
PVN: It isn't unusual to find a mixture of horror and romance in today's paranormals, but you also inject a sense of humor. Is it possible for you to write and not be funny?
Sharon: Of course I can write and not be funny—I have many documents in my workplace that prove I can be deadly dull.
It’s important to use humour when it’s appropriate. It’s also important to back off and have a serious moment when the reader needs to feel the sadness or dread of a character. I do like to keep things witty most of the time because it keeps the prose moving. You can also get a lot of serious ideas across in a joke without sounding preachy.
Plus, it would be dreadful to have my characters taking themselves too seriously. I always preferred the unapologetic Spike model to the Angel broody model. If a guy hasn’t got over the fangs in the first hundred years, dump his black leather backside.
PVN: As a writer what method do you use to keep track of the various plot lines?
Sharon: I pin a great big piece of newsprint to the wall, divide it into squares, and write in the action with coloured markers. That way I can see at a glance what’s going on. I’ve started to use a writing program called yWriter (it’s free software and very nifty), but I still need to do the brainstorming manually.
PVN: What did you have to do to get your first novel published? Any horror stories?
Sharon: I got noticed by my wonderful editor through a contest. I think the biggest “horror” for me was how unprepared I was for the business side of being an author. I had this huge moment of DUH! Then I scrambled around figuring out what I was supposed to do besides write the book. I didn’t actually expect to get published, so I hadn’t planned ahead.
PVN: Any advice for beginning writers?
Sharon: Learn all of the rules about archetypes, scene and sequel, point of view, scene goals, and so on. Practice them until they’re automatic. Then realize they’re tools, not laws. When you read a book you love, study what that author is doing that works for you.
Also, read outside your genre. I think this is critical. Otherwise, the gene pool of ideas gets a bit thin. Familiarity is good, but readers do like the pleasant surprise of something unexpected. I know I do!
PVN: Where can readers find you? How can they contact you?
Sharon: At www.SharonAshwood.com. My links to Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook are there, as well as my personal blog. I also have a yahoo group where we chat about books. My newsletter link is here.
I also belong to www.SilkandShadows.com, a group blog of four terrific paranormal authors.
PVN: Thanks, Sharon. It's always a pleasure to have you visit PVN!
[This contest has ended]
Now for the contest. One commenter will win a copy of Scorched
To be eligible do one or more of the following:
1. Ask Sharon a question.
2. Make up the name of a supernatural pop band, eg the Fangtastics, the Zydeco Zombies, Hairy and the Blue Moon, etc.
3. Link this interview to your own site or a social network site, and be sure to let me know the URL. If your email is not associated with your ID, please put the address in your response.
*Contest ends Dec. 7, 2009 at 11:59 PM (wherever you live).
*Contest ends Dec. 7, 2009 at 11:59 PM (wherever you live).
This contest is INTERNATIONAL.