Mar 3, 2010

Interview and Contest with author Skyler White

Today meet Skyler White author of the beautifully written, edgy urban fantasy novel ...and Falling Fly (Berkley, March 2, 2010)

[see contest details at the end of the interview]

Welcome Skyler! Thanks for visiting Patricia's Vampire Notes.

Skyler: Thanks so much for having me!

PVN: Your urban fantasy novel and Falling Fly just hit the shelves yesterday. This is your first published book. How are you feeling?

Skyler:  A little overwhelmed. It feels a little like standing beneath a tree full of apples, and you have your eye on one particularly beautiful, ripe fruit just out of reach. So you jump and you shake the tree and you jump again. You swear for a little bit, throw a rock at the tree, shake it some more. And the entire tree’s worth comes down on your head and on every side of you in one giant whomp! It’s all good. It’s more than I hoped for. I love every stinking apple. It’s just a lot. And I’m a little dizzy.

PVN: Tell us something about the heroine, Olivia.

Skyler:  Olivia is the fallen angel of desire. She creates desire in others, but can’t feel her own. She is wanted, but can’t want. So she’s a vampire and sustains herself on what she inspires but can’t experience.

PVN: Also describe Dominic O’Shaughnessy and how the two characters connect.

Skyler:  Dominic is a neuroscientist. He understands desire as a biochemical process and attraction or addiction as adaptive traits. Olivia explains suffering as God’s judgment. Dominic understands it as neurological disorder. They connect because they’re both interested in ending suffering, their own and other people’s, but the very thing each feels the other needs is the one thing that would negate everything they believe in.

PVN: What sort of research did you do for this novel? Or did it all come from your imagination?

Skyler:  I did quite a lot of research on the neuroscience of desire and memory for this book. I’m fascinated by the field. Sometimes I think I made Dominic a neuroscientist just for the chance to learn more about it. I also did a good deal of retro-active research in Ireland. I spent ten days over there with a rental car and terrible maps about five years ago, and even though I didn’t know it at the time, several of my tourist accidents set the stage for events and locations in the book. Finally, my imagination is formed and informed by the mythologies I grew up with, and I did go back a re-read some of those primary texts very deliberately, mining them for trinkets I could hang on the story.

PVN: Why did you decide to use the vampire motif for Olivia?

Skyler:  Vampires are so magnificently rich symbolically. And so infinitely open to re-interpretation. A human-appearing creature that feeds on humans – the list of taboos on offer in just that simple construct was irresistible to me. There’s the primal fear of being eaten. And a primal pleasure in being fed. There’s cannibalism and sexuality and religion in the mix. Just way too much to pass up.

PVN: What are you working on now? Will there be a sequel for and Falling Fly?

Skyler:  My next book, which comes out in December, isn’t really a sequel to and Falling, Fly, but it takes place in the same story-world. In Dreams Begin is a dark time-travel romance/horror about a contemporary woman who falls asleep on her wedding night and wakes up channeled into the body of Maud Gonne, a six-foot tall, Irish Victorian revolutionary. The amateur occultist who channels her (the Victorians were big into spirituality and séances and wild experimentation with religion and science) introduces her to the poet WB Yeats, and they fall immediately – Victorianly – in love. This raises some interesting problems for her in her modern life and allows me to play with questions of fidelity and imagination, romance and irony, body, body image and culture. It was a lot of fun.

PVN: Do you use music or visuals to inspire you as you write?

Skyler:  I can’t listen to music while I write. I listen to a repeating loop of thunderstorms on headphones. Weird, I know, but I’m very distractible and it blocks out noise and relaxes me.

Writing the second book, I had images of Victorian and fin de siècle clothes. With and Falling, Fly, I had photos from my Ireland trip of specific locations, but I can see the hotel vividly in my mind, and there’s no external image of that at all.

PVN: Would you tell us what it was like going from draft to publication?

Skyler:  I write the world’s ugliest first drafts. So for me it’s going from draft to draft to draft (times eleven) to publication. By the time Leis (Leis Pederson at Berkley) bought the book, I felt it was pretty finished. She made a few streamlining tweaks, but she’s wonderful to work with and very collaborative, rather than dictatorial. Mostly she asks amazing questions.

PVN: Has your theater background influenced your writing?

Skyler:  I think so. It certainly taught me a lot about working with other creative people on a collaborative project. And it showed me how much I enjoy the blatantly theatrical. It’s why I like SciFi/Fantasy. I’m simply uninterested in realism. I can enjoy it as a spectator or a reader, but it’s not what I want to make. There’s still so much more in the way of breaking down the fourth wall that I want to do as a writer, but you have to start slowly.

PVN: What is your writing environment like?

Skyler:  My ideal writing environment sadly no longer exists. There was a day spa just outside of Austin called “The Crossings” where you could go, work undisturbed until you got tired, walk a labyrinth or swim in their pool, go back to work until you were hungry, go to the cafeteria and have a gorgeous, hot, healthy meal, and go back to your room and work. I never actually went there and did that (although my best friend and I went for a girl’s day once and had a ball) but I think it would have been perfect. However, The Crossings was a casualty of the recession.

So instead, I write mostly in a coffee shop with earplugs in my ears and my notes in a wad beside me. Or I work at home. I have a desk in my bedroom and all my books within reach and a big, soft exercise ball to sit on. When the work is going well I do my best work there. But if the words are being twitchy, there’s email and Google Reader and the laundry waiting, and I have to run away to work.

PVN:Where can readers find you?

Skyler:  My website is the best place.

PVN: Anything else you would like to add?

Skyler:  I wrote ...and Falling Fly to start a conversation, so please join in! I love hearing from readers.

Skyler White is author of dark fantasy novels ...and Falling Fly (Berkley, March 2010) and In Dreams Begin (Berkley, December 2010).

Trailer for  ...and Falling Fly


one US readers or Canadian reader (No P. O Boxes please) will have a chance to win a copy of ...and Falling Fly

International readers (non-US or Canadian). I will offer one copy of
...and Falling Fly to be sent from Book Depository.

To enter the contest: 

*Ask Skyler a question: One chance

*Make a pertinent comment: One chance

You may also: 
*Link to this contest on any of the social network sites or your own web page. Let me know the url:   One chance for each link.

*Tell me if you are a follower: One chance

*Tell me if you are an email subscriber: One chance

*If your email is not associated with your ID, please put the address in your response.

*Let me know if you are a US or International reader. 

Contest ends March 24, 2010


buddyt said...

The first book sounds really unusual and very interesting in your use of neuroscience but I must admit that Dreams Begin really intrigues me and I can't wait to hear more of it.

I visited Ireland once (oddly also about 5 years ago) and loved it, so I will be eagerly waiting to see what you have done with the locations.

Best of luck with both books.


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EVA SB said...

The Olivia on the cover is stunning.
I love her clothes and the wings that you almost don't see at first glance.
Is that how you imagined her?

I tweeted

I posted to my sidebar

I follow
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booklover0226 said...

Hi, Skyler.

How long did it take to create your trailer?

I like the concept of an angel turned vampire; its a twist compared to other vampire books I've read.

I am a follower.

I am an email subscriber.

I posted on Twitter..

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Judi S said...

Hi Patricia & Skyler!

Congrats on your first release Skyler! I've been seeing And Falling Fly all over around the blog-o-sphere and am mightily intrigued to read it now. I really like the idea that a fallen angel could be what we know as a vampire. I also find the neuroscience aspect interesting as well.

I would love to win a copy! :)

I am a follower
I also subscribe via email

Judi S / Sidhe Vicious

Diana Dang said...

Congrats on your release Skyler!

Listening to thunderstorm is quite interesting. I can understand that music be quite a distraction and sometimes it just suck when you want to do something productive cause you get sucked into the music world.

Are you planning to write YA fiction by any chance?


faked_sugartone at hotmail

SandyG265 said...

I like your twist on the vampire theme. It's nice to see a writer come up with something different.

I am a follower and email suscriber.

US resident

Julie S said...

Who was your favorite author growing up? Are they still your favorite?

I'm also a follower and a subscriber. juliecookies(at)

Dot S.( said...

Skylar, I'm curious as to HOW Olivia became a vampire? I'm totally intrigued with your book and the world you've created. You have totally caught my interest in the science of desire.
I follow
I subscribe to e-mail
I'm in the good ole USA

tetewa said...

I've been hearing alot about this one, sounds good! I'm a subscriber!

Skyler White said...

Good morning! A little later for me than typical due to celebrating, sorry!
Eva: Thanks! I love the cover too. It isn't really how I imagined Olivia, her face changes enough dependant on who's seeing her, that I tried really *not* to visualize her too clearly. But it does --exactly -- capture the book conceptually, which is a much bigger deal to me and the kind of thing only a really artistic imagination could pull off. I don't know who came up with the stone wings and the vein/tree motif for the corset, but it's so much better than anything I could have imagined being a word person.
Tracey: The trailer was a birthday present, so I don't know how long it took, sorry! My husband and best friend put their heads together and came up with that as a surprise for me. I'm a very lucky girl.
Diana: I'm not planning on writing any YA. I wasn't very good at being a young adult and don't feel I'd have much to offer. And I'd have to write cleaner, in language, theme and sex than I want to. I like to have access to the full range. That said, there's plenty of "young" left on the other side of 18, and I very much want to write for them.
Julie: I had so many! My first favorite book, and I remember it very clearly, was the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. And yes, I'd still count it among my favorite books.
Dot: Olivia became a vampire out of my curiosity around the subject of desire. She's the fallen angel of desire -- desire not in its ideal, but in its thwarted or frustrated state. Because her desires are fallen, she has no access to them herself, she can't want. She can only be wanted. She has to sustain herself on the desire of others. And that's what suggested vampirism to me for her.

Minding Spot said...

Great interview! Did you have to do alot of research into neuroscience? It sounds like one of those subjects you don't want to study, but it sounds fascinating!!

I'm looking forward to reading this:)

I'm a follower

wendyhines (at) hotmail (dot) com

Cherry said...

Thunderstorms? I've read a few author interviews, and that's a first for me :)

Congratulations on your first publication Skyler!! More power to you!!

Skyler, do you pattern your characters after real people around you? Family, friends. Celebrities? Some mother-in-law characteristics comes out through one of your character?

mischivusfairy-warrior [at] yahoo [dot] com
*Re-posted your contest at:
*I'm an old follower.
*I'm also an email subscriber.
*I'm an international reader.

Kathleen said...

This sounds great. I love the mix of the Irish culture with the extreme supernatural. Lol I'm going to Ireland this summer and I've been looking for books that involve anything Irish!

My question for Skyler: How much control did you have over the cover? I'm always curious about this! I love the way it turned out, and this is one cover that would definitely catch my attention on a shelf.

US reader, email subscriber (, tweeted here:

Skyler White said...

Hello again!
Wendy: I think if I had my academic career to do over, I'd go into neuroscience. It's such an amazingly cool field, and devloping so quickly right now. Yes, I did a ton of research, but I really enjoyed *and* barely scratched the surface.
Cherry: Thank you! It's been a blast. I do model the characters on people I know. And then I steal stuff from friends too. Gaehod speaks setences lifted directly from an email from my dad, and Dominic's "I wish I had two blisters" is a one-to-one steal from my best friend's husband. Once the characters start to congeal in your mind, you start catching glimpses of them out in the wild.
Kathleen: Have a wonderful time in Ireland! Do you know where you're going yet? Plenty of the supernatural there. I can recommend a B&B in Cashel called "Legends." As for the cover, I don't really know how much input I had. I build a powerpoint deck for my editor to take into the cover conferene, but I don't know whether she used it or relied on her own genius to come up with the conceptual components of the cover. The stone wings and the vein/branch motif on Olivia's corset weren't my ideas, but I like them more than any of mine.

Anonymous said...

The book sound fantastic. I have not read much books that deal with the angel lore. Angel turn vampire. This is a new one for me.

I am curious what inspire you to make a connection from angelic host to a vampire?

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I subscribe via email.


jellybelly82158 said...

Congrats on your book.
What made you decide to make an angel into a vampire and how did it come about?

I am an email subscriber

I follow on Google Friend

I am in the USA

Karen W. said...

Hi, Skyler,

AND FALLING, FLY sounds very different, and I'm really anxious to read it! I have it on my "wish list." :)

I know this is your first published book (congrats), and I was wondering which authors you enjoy reading? Any favorites?

Skyler White said...

Sue and JellyBelly: The angel to vampire thing was really a function of who Olivia is. She's the fallen angel of desire -- desire in its imperfect, human form. She's lost all direct access to her pure nature -- to the good and healthy things that desire brings into a life -- and is only able to wield it against others. She doesn't know what she looks like without someone who wants her looking at her, and the very fact that they're seeing her distorts how she looks, subtly reshaping her to suit their tastes. She can't want things for herself, she can only be what others want her to be and sustain herself on their desire. It was that needing them to want her, that almost parasitic dependence on others that suggested the vampire part of her nature.
Karen: I read a lot of different things. At the moment, I'm really enjoying China Mieville. I'm also reading some nonfiction, research for the next project, and the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud.
Thanks everyone, it's really interesting to me to hear what ya'll are curious about!

Van Pham said...

Hi Ms. White,

What are you currently reading or working on?

Looking forward to reading ''and Falling, Fly'' !

- Blog follower
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U.S resident

Van P.

Spav said...

What were your favourite books of 2009? Who is your favourite author?

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heatwave16 said...

Hi Skyler!!! I noticed that you said the sequel will have different characters as the focus. Why did you decide to not continue on with Olivia? Its just unusual to see a series without a character focus, but with a world focus instead.

I do love your take on vamps & angels, and I'm looking forward to reading the book.


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+1 for e-mail subscriber
+1 for tweet -

Unknown said...

Hi Skyler, congrats on your first novel being published!

the title and Falling, Fly always leaves me puzzled (ina good way), makes me stop and wonder, how did you come up with it? what wa sthe working title of the novel (if there was any)?

Wow, I love the premise of your second book, I love reading about time-travel, and I love the Victorian times, so I will definitely check it out too!

+1 : I tweeted here:
+1 I'm a follower
+1 I'm also an e-mail subscriber

I'm an international entry.

stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

Thank you for this giveaway!!

Skyler White said...

Good Morning!
van pham: I'm expecting edits for "In Dreams Begin" pretty much any day now, but the new creative project is a fable for kids with ADD. I didn't feel like I could write another full-length adult book in the year I have my first two coming out, and this is a project I'm really excited about. Kids with ADD are particularly suseptible to storytelling as a teaching tool, and I'm having a lot of fun writing it.
Spav: Gak. I can't keep track of which of the books I've read recently came out last year. I was blown away by Caitlín Kiernan's "Red Tree" recently.
heatwave: I felt like Olivia's journey was wrapped up in "Falling" and great more for her to do would be less about her and more about me. Besides, there are a bunch of other characters I really want to work with.
Stella: The very first working title was "Reborn and Undead," but it became "and Falling, Fly" pretty early on, in part because I felt like it was a fair summary of Olivia's personal journey, and of what it takes to fall in love. It was also a reminder to myself about what I wanted to do in writing it. This was a very personal book and I needed a constant nudge to keep throwing myself off the edges of things. You can't learn to dive in the shallow end of the pool.

Ina said...

Hi Skyler!
thanks for your post - Falling, Fly sounds very interesting and I love the title; to me it conveys the impression that immenseness is waiting...
who designed the gorgeous cover? in combination with the trailer I got immediately goosebumps...
wish you all the best,

+ follower
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and International reader (thanks so much for the chance to win *hugs*)

Vickie said...

That is so cool that you listen to the loop of continuous thunderstorms while you work. I used to go to sleep to a rainstorm soundtrack. So soothing.
Can't wait to read this book!

Patricia, I am a follower and I subscribe to your blog.

VWinship at aol dot com

Skyler White said...

Ina: The cover artist's name is Craig White and your comment made me smile 'cause I *still* get goosebumps too!

Cally Beck said...

Skyler -- Did you ever worry about readers getting impatient with your characters? I haven't read the book yet, but I got the impression that Dominic doesn't quite believe what's happening.

I do think that one of the most fascinating things about Skyler's books is the amount of thought that goes into the underlying philosophies and meta-information involved, aside from just plot and characterizations. On the other hand, it scares me a little--too much agenda can detract from a story.

I look forward to seeing how well it got pulled off :)


Also, my tweets get shipped to my livejournal around midnight ( so it'll be on my blog tomorrow.

whitewolfreads said...

Awesome interview!

My question is are you going to include any of W. B. Yeats' theories from "A Vision" in your second novel?

The idea of having neuroscience in an urban fantasy is very original. I've read some books that include biology or psychology which are close but not quite.


Follower and from Canada.

spettolij AT gmail DOT com

Misusedinnocence said...

What's your favorite musical? :)

Skyler White said...

Cally: Dominic doesn't disbelieve what's happening so much as he explains it to himself in a different way than Olivia does. But yes, I worry about readers getting impatient. I worry about pretty much every aspect of the reader's experience, but ultimately, books are vehicles and not everyone will want to go where you're headed or be comfortable in your bucket seats.
Jmspettoli: ::chortle:: Oh yes.
Misusedinnocence: Les Mis. I'm such a sucker for doomed courage.

Unknown said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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justpeachy36 said...


I'm interested in how you got started as a writer, what was the process of writing your first book like?

I am old follower.

Enter me in the giveaway.

Aik said...

+1 Ask Skyler a question: Are there times when you find it hard to write?

+1 Make a pertinent comment: This book sounds awesome! I'd love to enter this contest!

+1 I'm a follower.

+1 I'm an e-mail subscriber.

+1 I tweeted:

aikychien at yahoo dot com

FrankSandy said...

Did you previously submit a book to a publisher that was rejected? If so, how many times?

I also find it hard to concentrate with music. I find myself thinking about the music rather than on what I am trying to accomplish.

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I subscribe to your e-mail newsletter.

dsandyboy said...

Why did you choose to write your book in this genre?

It sounds like you write using paper and pen. This sounds like a very awkward way to write when computers allow for easy revisions to the text.

I follow you on Google.

I am an e-mail subscriber.

mysoulscreams said...

Skyler, Congrats on your book, Love the sample, Lov to win.. I follow you on Facebook, and posted links to my blog (a work in progress)and also on my facebook page..

Unknown said...

Hey Skyler,
I love to cover of your book. Did you have any input in it?

The cover looks awesome! and the trailer was cool to. I like when the author makes their own trailer.

I follow you.

I subscribed to your emails.

Under "contests" on my sidebar.


SiNn said...

your book seriously sounds awesome

my question to you is do you think being an autho defines you or do you think that its just part of who you are? do you think ud write a different genra in the future?

im a follower
and i subsciber

im inthe us

Anonymous said...

and Falling, Fly sounds wonderful. I've read at least half a dozen great reviews. I'm totally sold.

There are several Angel-based novels out now. What would you say about your novel that pushes this one over the top?

+1 I'm a follower (Lisa M. Basso)
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US Reader

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Giada M. said...

Hi Skyler!^O^
Thank you for the interview! I can't wait to read your book! I wanted to ask if there is any chance to see in the future And Falling Fly translated in Italian.

Good luck with everything!

(I'm an international reader)

fabgiada @

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