Monday, May 6, 2013

FAST FORWARD with Author Michele Drier

SNAP: The World Unfolds
Premier novel in Michele Drier's
Kandesky Vampire Chronicles

Today my guest for a Fast Forward interview is Michele Drier, author of the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles. What initially impressed me about the first novel in her series, SNAP: The World Unfolds, was Michele’s relaxed writing style. She has created a strong female protagonist in Maxmilla Gwenoch, who is informed and energetic with a self-awareness that stays with her throughout the series. Michele deftly blends mystery, suspense, and romance into her Vampire Chronicles. 

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series. 
Thank you, Michele, for taking time out of your busy writing schedule (see full details below) to discuss the second novel in your Kandesky Vampire Chronicles. A story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. Can you please share with us some of the back story that defines your protagonist but isn’t included in the published novels? 

MICHELE DRIER: Maxie Gwenoch, the protagonist in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is a smart, successful magazine editor. She’s overcome years of people telling her that her success is just due to luck. On the surface, she’s a take-charge, no-nonsense career woman, not quite The Devil Wears Prada, but secure in her position and knowledge. What she’s not secure in is her personal life. She wants to believe in having it all, but she’s put personal needs on the back burner. This has made her uncomfortable when she realizes she’s falling in love with Jean-Louis and she chafes at his arrangements for body guards to keep her safe, viewing this as another vote of no-confidence in her abilities. This inner chafing, and what she assumes is trivialization, gets her into big trouble in book two of the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles.

SNAP: New Talent
2nd novel in Michele Drier's
Kandesky Vampire Chronicles
FAST FORWARD: After writing the first novel in a series, it seems that subsequent novels would flow out fully formed. The author has the basics down: format for the storyline; a feel for the proper number of plot lines and chapters; techniques for creating a charismatic protagonist and supporting characters; secrets to making the antagonist likeable; and guidelines for adding conflict right up to and through the denouement. How has writing become easier for you; and what remains as difficult now as when you wrote the first novel? 

MICHELE DRIER: It is easier to write a second and following books in a series. The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles is an unfolding and continuing story and each book tells a part of the story. As I continue to write the series, each character gains depth and nuance (and occasionally behaves in ways I wasn’t expecting!) 

The difficulty for me still lies in the middle third of the book. I’m a panster, meaning I don’t outline the whole plot, but I do know where I’m going to end up. It’s the part between introducing the tension scenes at the beginning and the denouement that always takes more time than I’d allotted. Each scene has to have tension and barriers, and these small arcs have to mesh into the full story arc, as well as the overall arc of the series. I’m not a marathon runner, but I think of the middle third as the part where you just want to lie down and rest, asking yourself why on earth you thought this was a good idea. 

FAST FORWARD: To hold a reader’s attention, a series protagonist must continue to grow or change in each novel. In Sue Grafton’s ABC series, Kinsey Millhone does not age (much), or get married, or acquire children, but she expands her knowledge of the job, begins to carry a gun, and discovers family relatives who are woven into the storyline. Without revealing any spoilers, how has your protagonist developed or changed from Book #1? 

MICHELE DRIER: Maxie is learning behavior patterns that make her less apt to jump at some imagined slight and beginning to curb her jealousy at Jean-Louis’ previous life (all 500 years of it). She’s a product of the late twentieth century United States and she’s living with people who have eighteenth century European sensibilities and manners. 

She’s also from Southern California and more used to going barefoot or wearing flip-flops. Now she’s expected to dress for dinner, meaning high heels, dresses and all. During this process, she’s discovering that she can manage her internal fears without having to resort to high school drama queen tactics, which ultimately gives her more power and gravitas. 

FAST FORWARD: A series requires the presence of a continuing main character. Often, however, there is another recurring character. The almost infinite pairings of main characters with guy/girl Fridays or wingmen could claim its own category on Jeopardy. Two Mystery/Suspense series authors and their interesting (equal or supporting) characters that come to mind are Tess Gerritson’s Rizzoli & Isles; Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. Is there a recurring secondary character in your series? What is the purpose/role of that character within the plot? 

MICHELE DRIER: The secondary character who most often plays off of Maxie is her one-time assistant, Jazz, a young, knowledgeable, competent woman who helps smooth Maxie’s path as a new editor and who also serves as a solid link to Maxie’s home in L.A. when Maxie get moved to the Baron’s Hungarian castle. Jazz is a touchstone to Maxie’s background and upbringing.

FAST FORWARD: Researching a new novel takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, newspapers, or physical travel. What did you most enjoy about the research process of your second novel, and where did your research take you? 

MICHELE DRIER: Unfortunately, my research has only taken me to Google and others, so far. In SNAP: New Talent the action with the Huszars ricochets from Paris to Budapest, Kiev and Krakow. The Paris settings are places I’ve actually been, but Kiev and Krakow I learned about on the internet (and thank goodness for it!). 

I was surprised at the medieval section of Krakow and that it had been a European Cultural Heritage spot, and I had no idea Kiev had such a background. I’ve been to Hungary but now there are lots of places in middle-Europe on my travel wish-list! 

Where can fans of your novels find you and your books on the Internet?

Barnes & Noble

Michele Drier’s mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013. 

Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers.  All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds; SNAP: New Talent; Plague: A Love Story; and Danube: A Tale of Murder; are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.


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