AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: MADELINE DRAKE
Chatting with author Madeline Drake gives us a little insight into her writing…
When Rihat discovers that his village is being terrorized by an akhazu demon, he seeks help at Marduk’s temple. He meets Iltani, a demigoddess who’s been cursed by Ishtar to live as an ardat-lili, enslaved by lust, a night-maiden who feeds on sexual energy. Iltani offers Rihat the power to slay the akhazu, if he’ll agree to serve her every need without question. But will the price of that power be more than Rihat can bear to pay?
Tell us a little about Blood Hero. What inspired you to write it?
I’d been researching ancient Mesopotamia for an urban fantasy novel, so there were a lot of historical elements I’d wanted to put in the novel but couldn’t. Blood Hero gave me the opportunity to use some of those other cool ideas, and to explore one of the most fascinating cities in the ancient world–Babylon.
So I started reading about Babylonian demons, trying to find one that I wanted to focus a story on. I came up with the ardat-lili, the “night maiden,” a sexy spirit who was probably the precursor of the succubus. With some nudging from one of my critique partners, Gavin Atlas, I decided that a vampire would be a perfect match for her.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Completely plotted out. I’m often surprised by dialogue that pops into my head as I’m writing, or by the way that a character does something in a scene, but I have to know the basics of each scene before I start writing, and I have to know the ending that I’m writing toward.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
When I decided to start writing fiction seriously, I was sure that I wanted to write fantasy and science fiction, because that’s what I enjoy reading most of the time. But I came to romance and erotica more gradually, in part as the result of reading some good paranormal romance (Lori Handeland’s Blue Moon was the first) and in part due to Gavin’s encouragement.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I love Rihat. He’s a bit similar to Vanye in C.J. Cherryh’s Morgaine saga, and in the sequels, a similar relationship dynamic will develop between Rihat and Iltani as you see between Vanye and Morgaine. Rihat isn’t as traumatized as Vanye at the start of the story, though, so his character arc is going to be different.
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
I can’t think of character I’ve written that I don’t still like, but I definitely have characters that I feel I wasn’t good enough to portray vividly on paper. I tend to like complex characters, and in a lot of my early writings, I wasn’t skilled enough to bring them to life and make them likeable. This means I now have a backlog of characters who are begging me to take another stab at telling their stories.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Well, I’ve been tempted, but you know, revenge isn’t as satisfying when it’s followed by a libel lawsuit.
But I think everyone ultimately draws from real life, even if only unconsciously. I’ve never written a story that featured a real person with the name changed. I do borrow traits, though. I might give one character my husband sense of humor, which cracks me up. I might give another character the kind of loyalty I’ve experienced from my best friend, or the political attitudes of a coworker. Then I build the rest of the character around the trait that’s going to most influence his or her behavior in the story.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I love cubic zirconium jewelry. It’s sparkly, and it’s inexpensive, so I don’t have to feel terrible if I accidentally break it or lose it.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Rurouni Kenshin. Rurouni Kenshin fanfic. Rurouni Kenshin doujinshi. I’m a total Saitou fangirl. Also, Walker shortbread cookies.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juices don’t flow?
A beat outline. If I haven’t taken the time to visualize the action of the scene and jot it down, I get stuck. (I’ve tried to pants, but I’m a plotter at heart.)
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I don’t tend to pick theme songs for my stories, but I do listen to music most of the time I’m writing. Pandora is wonderful for that–whether I’m in the mood for flamenco, classical, world beat, bagpipes and drums, or something light and floaty, I can make a station that plays just that.
I do need to either listen to instrumental music or to music that I’ve heard a million times when I’m writing–otherwise I will re-read my pages for the day and discover that in spots, I’ve typed song lyrics instead of the words I intended.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Hmmm…I can see Clive Owen as Rihat. For Iltani, maybe Mallika Sherawat?
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was at Starbucks, was checking email with my cell phone when I received the email from Selena at Excessica, offering me the contract for Blood Hero. First person I told was my husband, who was sitting across the table, wondering why I was hyperventilating.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
If Gone with the Wind counts as a romance, I was eight. If it doesn’t, probably nine or ten.
My mother used to read a lot of Harlequins when my father was traveling for work. When she was done, she’d stack them up in a pile on her nightstand to take the used bookstore, and I’d “borrow” them when she wasn’t looking.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’ve just contracted with Cobblestone for Faery’s Bargain, a short story about a young witch, Tara, who needs a magic herb to save her nephew’s life. Sidhe warrior Kane has what Tara needs, but he requires her help casting a spell to banish a demon. The catch–as a follower of the Morrigan, Kane can only perform sex magic and death magic.
My newest work-in-progress is Slave to the Sword, a m/m erotic romance between an in-the-closet kendo teacher and a samurai who’s cursed to haunt his own sword until it’s wielded by someone pure of heart.
I’m a few more hours of research away from starting the sequel to Blood Hero, in which Cuno will be lured into trouble by an attractive young man who will discover Cuno’s closely-guarded secret. Blood Hero 2 will also include a trip to Ishtar’s temple and a touch of bondage.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – what is your favorite type of chocolate?
Dark, preferably 60-70 percent cocoa solids. Add mint, nuts, or dried blueberries, and I’m in heaven.