AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ALIX RICKLOFF
Author Alix Rickloff agreed to spend some time telling us about her latest work. Earl of Darkness….
Earl of Darkness is my latest regency-paranormal from Pocket. It just released on December 28th. This is the first book in my new Heirs Of Kilronan series that follows the children of the old earl of Kilronan as they struggle against the fallout from the evil their father unleashed before his death.
Earl Of Darkness follows Aidan Douglas, the eldest son and heir to the title. He believes clues to his father’s murder and his brother’s disappearance lie in the pages of his father’s diary. Unfortunately, the only person he’s found who can decipher the language it’s written in is Cat O’Connell, the beautiful thief he catches trying to steal it. Together, lord and thief must race to understand the secrets contained within the book even as they struggle against a passion that both know can only end in disaster.
Set in Ireland, it’s a blend of Regency historical and sword-and-sorcery fantasy. The latest to follow the lives of the Other, a race of humans bearing the blood and magic of the Fey.
I’ve always loved the Regency period and devoured both non-fiction books exploring the era as well as fiction set during the period. But I’m also a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction. It seemed natural to try and combine the two into something unique. Thus was born the race of Other.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I wish I could be one of those writers who plots everything out scene by scene. It would probably save me hours of hair-pulling and deleted pages. I do go in with a basic premise and a fuzzy idea of the major turning points. After that, my characters take over. Their quirks and characteristics really emerge over the course of the book, and I feel as if I’m getting to know them as I write their story.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I’ve always loved being transported into the past through a good story. I began by writing straight regency historical, but a magical element kept creeping in. By the time my first book about the Other came out, I’d decided to jump in feet-first and really bring the whole paranormal aspect to the fore.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
The second book in the series comes out in July. Lord Of Shadows features Daigh MacLir, a man struggling between two pasts and two identities; honorable warrior and ruthless assassin.
Daigh has been torn from his own time and forced to do things that go against the very heart of who he knows himself to be. He was one of those characters that revealed himself to me as I wrote the book and the actual man he became was nothing like the character sheet I began with. He really took control of his own destiny and turned the story on its head from what I anticipated when I sat down to write.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
I could tweak and revise forever if my editor would let me. It’s probably one of the reasons I don’t like to read the book after it’s published. I’m always finding things I wish I could go back and change. But I can’t say there’s a character that stands out as one I don’t like. I mean, even the villains have a reason for doing what they do that is perfectly justified in their eyes.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
My husband has been accused more than once of being the basis for all my heroes. You’ll have to ask him whether he enjoys that comparison or not.
I may pull a character trait from someone I know here and there, (I had a villain once who constantly cracked his knuckles—an annoying habit of my daughter’s) but I try to stay away from drawing on real people. I live in a small town. If I did that, I’d soon be friendless.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I am a huge Andy Griffith Show fan – at least the black and white episodes. I’ve seen them all and can probably quote good portions of most of them. It was a show I never liked as a kid, but I think it was because I didn’t get the subtle humor, and of course, no one can beat Don Knotts for comic genius. J
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Napping! Nothing beats an afternoon snooze while the rest of the world is hard at work.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Caffeine. I need two or three cups of coffee in the morning to wake up the brain cells. Beyond that, a looming deadline is great at kicking my creativity into high gear.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Music is a wonderful way to plug into a certain frame of mind as I’m writing. I use Beethoven and Mozart to paint the scenes of my Regency countryside. But Enya and Loreena McKinnitt can also lose me in the far-off times and far-off places of my stories. For action sequences I love any of Howard Shore’s Lord Of The Rings music, the soundtrack to The Last of the Mohicans (it doesn’t hurt that I can alternately imagine Viggo Mortenson or Daniel Day Lewis as my hero) or if I’m feeling particularly dramatic, I can’t beat Wagner. I’ve also been known to blast Muse, Nickelback, or Evanescence if I need a creative boost.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I keep a file of pics on my computer that I use when I create my characters, though for some reason, it’s all men. My women seem to remain fuzzier in my head.
For Aidan, I found a picture of Christian Slater from the movie Broken Arrow that was perfect. The villain, Lazarus ended up being Gerard Butler. I have no idea who would play Cat. Readers will have to decide for themselves and let me know.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
Actually, my husband gave me the news. My agent had called while I was out and left a message to call her. At least it gave me time to contain myself so I didn’t sound like a blubbering idiot when I spoke to her.
I think the first person I told was my mother. She’s read everything I’ve ever written and been my biggest fan and promoter from day one.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I think I must have been 12 or 13 when I picked up a Victoria Holt and found myself hooked. Shortly after that I was devouring authors like Catherine Coulter and Johanna Lindsey.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I am finishing up copy edits on Lord Of Shadows and awaiting revisions on the final book in the series, title TBA, which is due in bookstores January 2012.
At the same time, I’m also working on a spin-off from this current series set in 1816 London which has been a lot of fun.
Where can readers find you?
They can always find me at www.AlixRickloff.com where I post excerpts, reviews, and other fun stuff. I’m also a member of the writing blog, Blame It On The Muse. Or fans can reach me via Facebook or at Pocket After Dark.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I have very plebian tastes. Give me a good Snickers bar and I’m a happy lady!