It’s been a long time since I’ve had a willing victim, but today G.L. Giles joins me in the interview hot seat!
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
*Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?
GL: My process has undergone changes as I’ve hopefully matured as a writer and that includes taking everything quite a bit more seriously these days—though I still fancy myself a humorist upon occasion, too! J In that vein, I am a vegetarian, so I don’t sacrifice any animals, but I do murder the hell outta some veggies and fruit, compliments of my NutriBullet, before I sit down to type for the day. Alas, no cape and chanting, as I preferred going skyclad whilst chanting and circling my bonfires in homage to the Goddesses of the Greek pantheon, but at almost 49 years old now, my neighbors would surely be turned to stone watching me—more quickly than gazing upon Medusa, I’m afraid! On a more serious note, my process in writing my WATER VAMPS (2nd ed.) involved lots of coffee beforehand, too, but no outline was necessary this go-round, as I was basically reworking the first edition—making sure that there were no ‘plot-holes’ for anyone to step in this time, hopefully sharper dialogue, changing the tone somewhat, etc.!
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
GL: I believe in meticulously planning AND the muse!! So, parts of WATER VAMPS came from planning and studying the various kinds of ‘real-life’ vampires: Psychic Vampires and Sanguine Vampires. And, I also had a dream which I reworked for parts of my Prologue, etcetera. Let’s see: “…shady deal with a dark power?” Hmmm…does my being published by a vanity press (early on in my career as a writer) count? 🙂
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
GL: I try not to play favorites at this point, but there are certain characters that are closer to my heart than others. Certainly, the protagonist, Robyn, in WATER VAMPS is nearer and dearer than the antagonist: Jonas. What I wasn’t expecting was to kind of bond with two of the secondary characters: Candace and Molly. Here’s an excerpt from my WATER VAMPS (2nd ed.) showcasing their rather irreverent dialogue (taken from page 45):
Robyn caught up with her friends, Molly and Candace, while switching out books for her next class at her locker. “Hey, Robyn, you excited about Marion’s birthday bash?” a breathless, from being a bit overweight and having two classes close together on the opposite sides of the school, Molly managed to get out—behind her locker’s door to the left of Robyn’s locker.
“Well, yeah, now that I have my costume picked out. What are you going as?”
“I was thinking of going as a vampire,” Molly said softly, waiting to see how her friend would react. “Do you think that it’s too ‘out-there’ for Charleston—especially with it being a South of Broad Halloween-Birthday party?”
Robyn rolled her eyes and replied, “If you ask me, Charleston needs to get a little more ‘out-there’, as in with the times…it’s the ‘80s after all…I love it…your idea…yes, it’s out there—a necessary ‘out there’!”
“Here, here,” Candace chimed in. “As if we’re not ‘out-there’ enough being the only public lesbian couple our age here!” And with that, Candace, moving from her locker to the right of Robyn’s locker and bypassing Robyn, quickly gave Molly a kiss on her cheek. “You know, out of the closet, out here, out there…as long as it’s out!” And, at that, all three of them burst into peals of laughter. When their laughter subsided, Candace said, feigning having had her feelings hurt, “Hey, you didn’t ask me what I’m going as.”
Playing along, Robyn smartly answered, “Maybe I didn’t care to know!” Again, all three burst into laughter.
“Oh yeah?! Well, now you’re gonna know, whether or not you want to,” Candace replied with a broad smile. “I’m going as a zombie.”
“Great gods,” Robyn teased, “that’s even more ‘out-there’ than a vampire.”
“What about you, Robyn?” Molly asked, with her sweet Southern drawl.
“Boring!” Candace teased, and that made the three of them fill the locker hall with laughter once again.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
GL: I’m pretty sure Cthulhu and most horror writers will want to sacrifice me anyway for my answer, but the truth is: children’s picture books championing animal causes. It’s no secret that I’m both canine crazy with a ‘pittie’ named Dejah Thoris and feline crazy with 7 cats: Anubis Star, Eclipse, Luna, Vega, Comet, Bo and Dyson. I am both fascinated and frustrated by the following genres: horror, mystery and thriller. They are infuriating to me in the sense that to write well in any of them takes a lot of dedication and frustration—at least for me—but the payoff of having a finely-crafted work in your hands at the end of the process is pretty amazing, too!!
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
GL: Probably in WATER VAMPS since I know already know the ‘rules’ in this ‘cosmos’ I created and unlike in my children’s picture books, it spans centuries and many geographical locations, so there probably wouldn’t be as great a chance of boredom; it is an adventure story, too. My loved ones I would stick on dry land in WATER VAMPS—away from the water vamps who might consider them a tasty snack. By contrast, I’d definitely stick my enemies in the water with my water vampires! [evil laugh with fangs bared] But, with my luck, the water vamps would not be hungry that day, so the enemies would survive as ‘fodder’ for my next novels. J
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
GL: Perhaps know the rules for the blockbuster hits/bestsellers, and then turn them on their heads? That way one is true to oneself and can actually make a living at it? I don’t really know…I’ll let you know if I ever have a bestseller!
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
GL: It’s not too late to change paths! J Just kidding, but it is a very challenging, competitive field, so expect an uphill battle, and if you happen to have it come easily, then be amazed and grateful for your good fortune because it doesn’t really happen that often.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
GL: Definitely books worth buying!
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
GL: I’m taking the liberty of substituting your “or” above for ‘and’, as I recently had the distinct pleasure of being sent “AFTER DEATH…” (edited by Eric J. Guignard) for review, and there wasn’t a story in the collection that I didn’t find captivating—for the content and well-crafted storylines.
And, now plug time, too! Here’s my synopsis of WATER VAMPS (2nd ed.):
Take a both fun-filled and treacherous ride into the waters surrounding the peninsular city of Charleston, South Carolina with G.L. Giles’s water vampires. Slake your thirst for different vampire species and subspecies at the same time! On dry land, you’ll also experience a part of Charleston, South Carolina (set primarily in the 1980s)—from White Point Garden to The Battery to the surrounding marshes, complete with plough mud and fiddler crabs—atmospherically rich with the inherent tapestry of the Carolina Lowcountry and then embellished with a healthy dose of dark fantasy! With several species of vampires in the mix, conflicts naturally arise. Add to that, some of the various species of vampires, as well as some of the humans, also have potentially fatal run-ins with some of the specters and shape-shifters found in this young adult novella as well. More than just peppering the plotline are the mostly human protagonists, Robyn and Marion, who are like contemporary versions of Robin Hood and Maid Marian in many ways—that is, with Robyn being a female and Marion a male in Giles’s mythology—and the ‘young love’ version to boot, as they’re middle school kids. Yet, unlike other children their age, they have special ‘gifts’ and a lot of responsibility for those so young in years. You see, they have the distinct burden, squarely placed upon them, of being the only ones who can save their older counterparts from another place and time: Setiana and Vasario.
Here are some of the reviews:
“Water Vamps is one of the most clever supernatural stories I’ve read in years… only the singular mind of GL Giles, in all her guile and wit, could have come up with the idea of aquatic vampires who behave like the sirens of yore. As wildly out to sea as the premise seems, Giles’ rich, warm, and emotional writing style manages to make everyone seem so real, and our young protagonists, Robyn and Marion, are as grounded and substantive as can be. Water Vamps is a truly unique, engaging story – the sort of which makes GL Giles the worthy successor to the authors of my childhood (Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle) and will certainly earn her a place in the canon of today’s most imaginative and engaging emerging fantasy authors.”
Staci Layne Wilson, author of DARK LULLABY and co-host of Inside Horror
“G. L. Giles once again brings vampires to life, this time in a young adult novel spanning centuries, dimensions and death. Giles’ tale of protagonists Robyn and Marion includes all the usual suspects one expects from a good horror tale; vamps and werewolves, romance and loss, life and death. Mixing these ingredients with a brand new revisionist spin, Giles creates a world familiar yet astonishingly different from similar young adult fare. Giles has not forgotten what it is to be twelve. Armed with this knowledge, she lures readers in with interesting characters and daring messages not mired in traditional fantasy tropes. Giles cannily circles the familiar before transforming her tale into something entirely new. Water Vamps is a tale of tolerance and understanding, written in descriptive, engaging prose.”
Will Colby, reviewer at KillingBoxx
“A good storyteller shows the ‘human’ in the alien creatures, in this case water vamps, and the ‘alien’ in the humans and GL Giles’ “Water Vamps” lives up to a great fantasy tale because of it. A new kind of vampire is created in Water Vamps and Giles fascinates readers with those differences. It is not just blood sucking vamps but a kind of species that lives in water and behaves sometimes similarly to sirens. These creatures live by a set of rules – ones you probably haven’t encountered before – and these codes are mirrored in the young lives of the human protagonists. Targeted for young adults, the depth of the story easily catches adult readers in its snare as all good fantasy/fairy tales do.”
Gary Starta, author/reviewer and a ‘Top Ten Finalist in 2010’s Preditors and Editors Poll for Science Fiction’
“I was thrilled when I read about the Water Vamps that Giles created…every author needs to come up with a new twist that makes their vampires unique and memorable. With vampires seen as a species, Giles has definitely done this overall, but then she takes it a step further by creating an entirely new species that seems a little like a mermaid, a little like a siren, and all vampire!…Their story [is told in] “Water Vamps,” and it will slake the thirst of anyone wanting to know more. Giles weaves a tale of intrigue and gives us a glimpse of the underwater world of the Water Vamps, and the history and origins behind these beautiful and dangerous creatures is truly unique!…We get to interact with these creatures on a more personal level: they go to school, have spelling and vocabulary tests, have to deal with their parents and even crush on each other. In this sense, we get to see the more ‘human’ side of the water vampires and see that the youth water vamps are similar to the human heroes, Robyn and Marion. Written for young adults, the main characters are children, and the adults are secondary to the story, which will appeal to any young adult. Robyn and Marion understand each other, and they (like the water vamps) have to deal with all the things children deal with, despite their unusual gifts. Even without these gifts, Robyn is a role model for any young female with her strength of character, respect for adults (at least those who deserve it) and her loyalty to Marion, who deserves his own credit for his loyalty and friendship…In the end, even the water vamps come to be [those] we can relate to and accept in this thrilling ride into the waters of Charleston, South Carolina.”
Deanna Anderson for Target Audience Magazine
“G.L. Giles has written a YA book worthy of a closer look by young adults and adults of all ages. Her stories read like a welcome canteen of water when one has been in a desolate literary desert for too long. Let’s face it. One can’t throw a stake without hitting one of the many vampire novels out there these days. With Giles’ book however, one hits a rich vein of gold or perhaps in this case, blood and, as every vampire knows, the life is in the blood. The life blood of “Water Vamps” is in the talent of such a gifted writer as Giles. Such are the literary riches one finds in “Water Vamps.” If you love vampires, you are in for a rare treat. The most intriguing thing about her Water Vamps is that they are a fantastic and wholly unique twist on the vampire myth. Even if vampires are not your cup of tea (or goblet of blood) you will be engaged by Giles. It is her skillful writing style, engrossing narrative and some of the most interesting characters in all of literature that brings delight to the reader. I absolutely love the biracial storyline with Robyn and Marion. With this, Giles doesn’t merely tell a story. She digs deeply into the human consciousness, bringing out old modes of thinking and revealing them in the light of day, inviting the reader to expand his or her mind. This is story-telling at its best. The most important thing I can say about this book is this: Best twist on the vampire mythos ever.”
Evelyn Smith, author of “Transylvania, Louisiana” and “City of the Undead,” for Eviesite (WordPress Blog)
“G.L. Giles creates a delightfully original vampire mythology in her young adult book Water Vamps. The main characters Robyn and Marion (aptly named after the literary adventurers Robin Hood and Maid Marian) engage in their own adventure involving Water Vampires, a complex hybrid of ravens and mermaids—with teeth! Giles celebrates the unconventional in numerous ways throughout the book, which any vampire-lover will embrace whole-heartedly. Her compelling tale follows the burgeoning young romance between Robyn and Marion which leads to their dangerous encounter with the Water Vamps. Giles mixes her unique history of vampires and the background of Charleston, South Carolina, creating a fully absorbing fantasy tale. Together, Robyn and Marion discover a pair of deceitful adults and a perilous, hungry species who are more than they appear to be on the surface and with whom they have more in common than they realize.”
Bryce Warren, author of “Voodoo Mayhem”
“GL Giles delivers a new concept to an old tale noteworthy of a fictional television documentary. Her descriptions of her characters lend charm and mystery to the history of how vampires have always been perceived. I think Stoker would be well pleased to see this ‘new breed’.”
Rena Short Brashear, Reviewer (for Target Audience Magazine, etc.)
Links to purchase a copy of WATER VAMPS (2nd ed.):
Links to connect with G.L. Giles:
Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity, Selah!
Thanks very much to GL for sharing her thoughts, excerpt, and work with us! It looks fabulous, and I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far!