Monday, April 25, 2011

Interview with author Sara Durham

Today, my guest is MuseItUp author, Sara Durham.  She's talking about her new release The Lycan Moon.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
The Lycan Moon is the story of a cursed seventeenth century man (cursed to immortality and the life of a werewolf, that is) who's present day life is turned upside down by a woman who comes to town in search of a legendary werewolf. What the cursed man doesn't know, is that this beguiling Seattle Columnist, is really a witch who believes she has the answer to ending his curse. Of course his loathing of witches and witchcraft is at direct odds with the volatile attraction which begins to grow between the two of them.  
2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I was stalled on revisions of my first novel, and that's when I decided to write a second one. Everything I'd read regarding writing was in agreement: you write the second novel to sell. Well I love werewolves and had always thought I was born to write a werewolf story, so began my journey of The Lycan Moon. I pulled out an old book my father had given me, a reprint of The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring Gould, and became entrenched in the history and legends of werewolves. 
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I still work full time by most standards as a nurse, but because I have longer shifts (ten hours) I have more days off, and I fit my writing into those days off. So instead of writing daily like many writers do, I tend to marathon write over blocks of days or until my mind starts making mistakes, or just shuts down on me. I guess (at this time) I'm considered a part time writer, but everything inside of me is begging to be full time. Something else that I'm able to do, is write, or run scenes through my mind on my forty minute drive to work, and the same goes for the drive home. I've imagined and rejected a lot of chapters during those hours on the road.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Well I've always been a voracious reader, with the dream of being a writer forever lurking in the recesses of my mind, since taking creative writing in high school. Here and there I would pick up pen and paper, write a couple pages, look at it, reject it as crap, and shove it back into a bottom drawer. Over the years, working and raising children jostled to the surface and became my main priorities. But five years ago, when my kids became more independent, I picked up my legal pad and pen, and began writing in earnest. 
5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing? 
I not only want to entertain the readers, but to maybe offer them a piece of history, and have them relate to at least one, if not more, of the characters troubles and torments. Oh, and I hope they walk away loving the story, and thirsting for more...
6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Currently I'm writing paranormal romance (I use to know it as supernatural). I love a good romance, but I've always been drawn to the mystery of the unseen, the magical, the mystical, and the struggle between good and evil...which most certainly extends beyond what our human minds can comprehend. Someday I would like to write a suspense thriller, and a young adult novel. There are so many ideas zinging around in my brain, I think it will be a matter of what my muse thinks should come next.
7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
I want more time! My family is very supportive and understanding of my need to write though, and on my days off they're really good at allowing me to disappear into my mind for hours on end (although I remain visible and accessible to them). I do surface to make dinner and find out how everyone's day was. Oh, and this new world of promotion, I wouldn't call it the toughest part of writing, but it is harder than sitting down and just typing what the muse brings forth. Commas, they are the hardest part of writing...grin.
8) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Not really, unless you consider the some five hundred thousand people who were  persecuted and murdered for witchcraft at the height of European witch hunts, that was real enough.
9) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
She's stubborn and doesn't take no for an answer, she has a thirst for knowledge, that's a little of me. Different: I'm short, she's tall slender, exotic, and a witch. I always wanted to be able to wiggle my nose and make things happen, like Samantha from Bewitched, but alas it was not to be.
10) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I researched the Thirty Years War, European witch hunts, and 17th century Germany. I did a lot of research on Wicca, as I wanted to be accurate in regard to spells and circle casting. I studied different herbs and their effects on the human body. And as I mentioned before I delved into werewolves, their legends, and shapeshifting. It was great fun!  
11) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Violence and sex are inherent in us and in our history as humans, so if a violent scene fits into the story, then I can write it, but sometimes I feel a little emotionally exhausted, like when I wrote the arrest of Katerina, the 17th century witch, who starts all the trouble when she throws out a whopper of a gallows curse. Sex, well again, it's part of who we are, and if it fits I write it. Sometimes it's a little weird trying to write a love scene when the family, especially the children, are in the next room, but I've learned to detach that writing part, and get through it.
12) What about your book makes it special?
I think the historical elements make it interesting, and the emotionally charged characters, dealing with betrayal, revenge, and forgiveness, make it a little different from other werewolf stories. Oh, and I combined a little modern day crime investigation, murder and suspense in The Lycan Moon
13) What is your marketing plan?
Well I'm learning more than I ever thought I'd know about Facebook, Twitter, Romance groups, and webpages. I'll take advantage of the online press release sites, bookmarks, possibly local bookstores, and of course participate in interviews like this one. You are my third one by the way:) 
14) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Read every author that appeals to you in the paranormal genre in order to get an idea of the 
different types of styles that are out there, and then you can develop your own. For instance Kim Harrison’s style is very different than J.R. Ward’s, Charlene Harris vastly different from Anne Rice’s, and so on. 
Join a writers group, either locally or online. The collaboration of minds and ideas of other writers is invaluable to an evolving writer. Having other people read and critique your work gives you a more realistic picture of your own writing, where you need to rework, polish, and revise your story. 
Be open minded. I think it’s natural, when you start writing, to think your work is really something different, and how could anyone think it’s not good:) The reality, however, is there are many, many talented writers out there, and a new writer is better off approaching the craft with a thirst to learn and get better, rather than an attitude of ‘those people’ don’t know what they are talking about:) Having recently gone through my first editing experience, ever, I have learned so much more (than what I thought I knew) from my fabulous editors at Muse It Up, they really know their stuff!
Penny thanks again for the opportunity to guest on your blog, it truly is an honor!  


    By now the forest light had dimmed considerably, looking at her watch Dana was surprised to see it was almost five in the afternoon. It would take her a half hour to hike back to her car parked off the highway.
     She gathered her belongings and began the descent down the small mountain.
     The sensation of being watched was sudden and unnerving. Dana stopped as the tingling in her spine intensified. Spinning around in a three hundred and sixty degree turn, she surveyed the muted forest. There was no movement, but the oppressive sense of something...dark and pressing in on her put her on alert all the same. 
     The screech of a hawk overhead broke the eerie silence. The sound of a brittle twig breaking in the distance made her pause. Her body on hyper alert now, she considered her situation and listened. The silence was all encompassing.
     A course rustling of underbrush fifty feet away, nearly startled her into a run until she realized it was moving away from her. She waited several more beats, a soft breeze kicked up scouring away the darkness she felt, and the predator she sensed.

She smelled the hours-old blood and rended flesh, even before she saw the police vehicle’s red and blue lights throbbing from the highway. Dana slowed her pace and quietly approached the area ahead of her. Yellow tape fluttered in the southerly breeze, guarding the death scene.
     At the base of the hillside maybe a hundred feet from the road, several men in uniform were gathered as well as two young men in hiking gear.
    “Hey!” One of the uniformed men shouted.
     She froze, not at all sure the young officer wouldn’t pull a gun on her, judging by the startled look on his face. An older man who appeared to be in charge, looked up sharply at the deputy’s shout. He studied Dana with speculative eyes.
     “Jesus, miss, you need to make a little more noise, or you’re liable to get your head shot off,” he said coarsely, while patting the air with his palm, indicating the younger officer should calm down.
     The two hikers who appeared to be in the middle of an interview with another officer, looked up at Dana. She saw it then, the horror in their eyes. Something terrible happened here, and though she couldn’t see the body through the small group of men, she could smell the woman and the perfume she still wore.
     The older officer moved closer to her, away from his men. “Listen, how long have you been in the forest today?” he inquired, at the same time looking over Dana’s attire, as if to confirm she was only a hiker and not a murderess.
     “I left the highway north of here at ten a.m. and it’s five thirty now, so about six and half hours.”
      “Did you hear or see anything unusual? He persisted.
      “No nothing,” she replied, maybe a little too quickly. The sheriff raised his brow at her words.  She didn’t want to try and explain the odd feeling she experienced in the forest; a feeling of someone or something, which felt threatening and dark. Through the trees she caught a glimpse of the sun dipping closer to the ocean. That, along with the smell of death sent an involuntary chill rippling through her.
     Another officer walked up to them. She noted he wore a different uniform and was younger than his colleague; maybe in his forties. “Hello miss, I’m John Morrison with the Tillamook Sheriff’s department, and this is Sheriff Elias Benson, from Clatsop County’s department. I’m sure Sheriff Benson already asked if you saw anything out of the ordinary on your hike today.”     
     She glanced at the older man. “Yes he did. What happened here?” She asked the officer quietly, gesturing to what lay beyond the men.
     “A woman was killed--probably by an animal; maybe a bear,” the sheriff replied. His brow furrowed. “Either way it’s not safe for you to be wandering around the hillside alone.”
     She nodded. “I was just on my way out.” 


  1. Penny, thank you again for having me on your esteemed blog. I'm thirlled to be here!. Something I forgot to tell you was for anyone who makes a comment in the next two days will have a chance at winning a ten dollar gift certificate to The Muse It Up Bookstore!


  2. Well! I was fortunate to win a copy of Lycan Moon, and as of just minutes ago I posted to the Muse It Up Readers Group, that I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. reading this fabulous read!! I just couldn't put my e-reader down! It was awesome Sara. Well done.

    Lawna Mackie

  3. Loved The Lycan Moon when it was submitted and love it more with the small changes to flesh out the story. A Great Read! Kudos.

  4. Great interview ladies. Sara, congrats on The Lycan Moon, I can't wait for the release of The Powers in August. I've heard wonderful things about both books.


  5. Sounds like you do a great job of research ... that would be rough for me. I like writing, but I find it easier to just invent what I need. My witches in one book are not necessarily the same as my witches in another book, similarly for vampires, werewolves, and so on. It's fiction, so I am not overly concerned with historical accuracy, just with telling a good story.

  6. Great interview. Thanks to you both. I would definitely like to learn more about the free press release sites. good luck with your book. Sounds great!
    C.K. Volnek

  7. Sara, your Lycan Moon sounds wonderfully enticing, one of those books that when you start it you'd better have nothing else to do till you finish. I appreciate all that research you did and look forward to seeing how you worked it into the story. Best of luck with all those spinning ideas!

  8. Contest? Yay, great idea. Let's get some comments for a chance to win a ten dollar gift certificate.

  9. Lawna, thanks for the great review. I agree with you. The Lycan Moon is an excellent story.

  10. Lea, Nancy, Jim, Charlie and Pat, thank you all for stopping by and commenting. Glad you all enjoyed the interview and maybe one of you will be lucky enough to win the gift certificate!

  11. Thanks so much Lawna, Lea, Emily, Jim, Charlie and Pat for stopping by and commenting! Thanks for the positive words too. I see I invented a new way to spell thrilled:) I really do enjoy the research, and Jim, it's funny but I have more trouble with worldbuilding, than weaving history into my stories. Thanks again to everyone for taking the time out of your busy day to stop by!


  12. Super interview ladies - I read the book and loved it...can't wait for the next one. I'm a paranormal freak, and The Lycan Moon definitely gave me a nice fix. Couldn't put it down until I read the last word.

  13. I agree on the excellent editing job at MIU and how they work with the my case for sure. And promotion? I didn't know there would be so much promotion, but I have found some great folks (like Penny) who help us to get the word out. Best wishes with your new release!

  14. Kay Dee, thanks for popping in with a positive review of The Lycan Moon. The next one should be here in a few months. Be looking for it at the Muse bookstore.

  15. Janet, glad you like the work we do at Muse :-) Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Kay Dee and Janet, Thank you so much for taking time to stop by! Penny has a wonderful and diverse blog, and it is been an honor to be here:)


  17. Sara, thank you. I enjoyed having you as a guest.