Living Her Dream - Gena Showalter e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (January, 2007)
Gena Showalter burst onto the romance scene in 2004 with the release of her first book, The Stone Prince. Since then she's written close to a dozen books and hasn't looked back. Her stories blend light fantasy and sexy romance. Plot lines include mythological heroes who turn into dragons or are enslaved by curses or, as in Playing With Fire, the accidental making of a superwoman.
Gena has also written contemporary romances like Animal Instincts, a story that showcases laughs, love and a strong-willed, if sometimes insecure heroine. Gena has also ventured into the world of young adult romance in Oh My Goth, a lively tale that focuses on a non-conformist high school girl who's whisked into an alternate reality where she rules the school. No matter where her ideas take her, Gena says her life's dream is fulfilled every time she sits down to 'create worlds of her own where people know what they want and live their dreams'. She kicks of 2007 with The Nymph King, a story that finds a commitment phobic spitfire abducted by an Atlantian king who claims her as his predestined mate.
Q: You say that at one time you 'despised every type of literature'. What spurred you to reach for books and then begin telling your own stories?
A: I think I hated books so much (in the beginning) because I was such a poor reader. I was the girl in class who needed extra time to finish reading (and understanding) the assignment. But it was the year I was held back that my parents realized I needed help. In stepped my grandmother, who was a voracious reader. They took me to the bookstore, read me the backs of the books, then let me pick the one that interested me most. The book that changed my life: the very first Sweet Valley High. Inside were characters I could relate to and wanted to be and when I finished it I was desperate to find out what happened next. The more I read, the better I read, and the better I read, the more I loved it.
Q: Do you draw on your own life experiences when you create characters and plot lines?
A: Absolutely! Emotions help bring characters to life, and I am a well of emotion. I don't often draw from myself because each character is an individual quite different from me, but when I do, I find the scenes are so much more powerful.
Q: What expectations do you have when reading a piece of fiction? Are these same expectations then translated to the stories you write?
A: My only expectation when writing a book is to produce something I love, something I'm happy with. I know I can't please everyone – though I wish otherwise – so all I can do is write a story that makes me sigh a dreamy sigh and walk away with a smile.
Q: How much time do you spend creating and researching your imaginary worlds - i.e. Atlantis?
A: I research while I'm writing, so researching takes the same amount of time as writing the completed novel. I use children's books because they break everything down for my deadline-fogged brain, as well as Google and award winning author PC Cast. That woman is a fountain of mythological information! Also, I constantly make things up: jobs, tools, towns, words, you name it. Nothing is safe.
Q: You also write teen romance - do you find writing for a younger audience more challenging or is it easy for you to switch to a teen mindset?
A: More challenging, definitely. There's always a voice hovering over my shoulder, whispering, "What kind of influence are you going to have on teens?" Sometimes it's daunting. I just have to push through and again, write a book that I love.
Q: In your current release, The Nymph King, the virile Atlantian King Valerian sees heroine Shaye for the first time and immediately claims her as his life mate, then whisks her away to his underwater world. This plot device has an almost old-fashioned pulp magazine feel to it - the dominant, bigger than life hero, beautiful women, exotic or mythical locales and strange and mysterious villains all populate the pages. Have pulp magazines influenced your story telling?
A: I've never heard of pulp magazines before, so I'm not sure if I've been in contact with them and just don't know it or haven't had any contact at all.
Q: How do you create and maintain a balanced relationship between your two leads to avoid having your hero come across as too domineering?
A: I think a strong man needs a strong woman who challenges him. Otherwise, he'll walk all over her. I also believe a strong man needs faults and weaknesses. But I confess that I love it most when the heroine is his biggest weakness.
Q: Are you planning a sequel to The Nymph King and if so, who takes center stage? Vampires? Dragons?
A: Yes. Next up for the Atlantis series is Layel's story. He is king of the vampires, has a blood feud with the dragons, and a tortured past in need of healing. I cannot wait to tackle this story! He is going to be a delicious challenge.
Q: Do you believe that Atlantis actually existed and if so, do you subscribe to Plato's theories of its location and its destruction?
A: I want to believe it existed. I love and am fascinated by the possibility of it.
Q: Or would you embrace more modern theories like those presented on the current TV series Stargate Atlantis?
A: I've been told I need to watch this series, but haven't gotten around to it. Bad Gena! Deadlines have been looming left and right.
Q: If you had the opportunity to spend the rest of your life in only one of the imaginary worlds you've created, which one would you choose and why?
A: Oh, this is a hard one! I love the world in Playing With Fire because I could be a superhero, but I think I'd ultimately choose the Atlantis series because of all the different types of men I could date. Vampires, demons, dragons, centaurs, mermen, and my favorite: nymphs. There's something so ... wonderfully wicked at the thought of bringing such a desirable and powerful man to his knees, his only thought to love, protect, and please you.
Q: What direction would your life take if you weren't living your dream writing fiction?
A: To be honest, my life was a chaotic mess before I began writing. For years, I jumped from major to major unsure of what I wanted to be "when I grew up". Nothing fulfilled me. I couldn't hold a job for more than a few weeks – sometimes days. So even if my books were not being published, I would still be writing.Find out more about Gena Showalter, her background and her books, and read her blog at her Website.
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