Today I’m catching with the Denna Holm, one of the fifteen authors who has contributed to ‘Love Potion #9’ an anthology of paranormal and romance stories. Denna, thanks for spending some time with me today to discuss ‘Love Potion #9’. Can you start off today’s interview by giving us the sales pitch on why the readers should get a copy of ‘Love Potion #9’.
‘Love Potion #9’ is a collection of paranormal romance stories, novellas, and full-length novels that has something to satisfy everyone. For those that like just a little spice to those that like it steaming hot, our 15 authors have collaborated to bring you the best in paranormal romance. This enormous box set offers the reader a taste of everything. You will get hours of entertainment, novelty and enjoyment all the while knowing that there will be a satisfying Happily Ever After ending to each story. No cliffhangers and no partial novels here, just spellbinding stories you can really sink your fangs… Er, teeth into.
Nice pitch. What made you want to sink your own fangs into writing your own contribution ‘Dark Warrior’?
I like to write about strong female characters. In Dark Warrior, I got my idea for this story from my husband, Lee Holm. He has been an avid bow hunter all his life and I thought, what about writing about four women bow hunters. Add werewolves and vampires to the picture and it made for a very exciting plot.
Did you know much about bow hunting yourself, or did you need to look into it?
Oh yes. I had to sit down with my husbands many magazines about bow hunting. I’m more of a fisherman myself, so it took a bit of work to bring the hunting scene across realistically. He helped me as well, though I didn’t go so far as to try to draw his bow.
Obviously when your main characters are bow hunting they’re outside in the wilderness for a significant part of the story. Do you have a strong relationship with the outdoors?
I love hiking in the mountains of my home state of Oregon. I’ve had many hair-raising experiences while out, once getting attacked by two cow elk and once running right up on a black bear. I use my memories of these many hikes to describe the country where this story takes place, and also how I felt while going through these frightening experiences.
Wow, that would be fully terrifying and something that you wouldn’t forget anytime soon. Is fear or other types of concepts like this important for you to integrate into the story to make it more powerful or true to life?
Yes. Life can be difficult for most of us. Downright depressing at times. I think it’s important that we never give up no matter how hard life gets or what we have thrown at us. We might not find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but we can find peace and happiness. We simply have to want to fight for it.
That requirement to fight for your peace and happiness I don’t think is always emphasised enough. Your main character Jada, do you think that she has this fighting spirit?
She’s a strong woman who doesn’t take any garbage from anyone. And she’s not afraid to fight for what she wants. When I read back over the story at the end of the editing process, I couldn’t have been more pleased, Jada and Bryce two of my favorite characters ever.
I’m glad to hear that you’ve found some awesome characters. Did their development differ from others in the past? Did you put a bit more of yourself into either Jada or Bryce?
I saw a little bit of myself in Jada. Jada has been sitting in the back of my mind for ages waiting for her story. I used a lot of my own thoughts and feelings while describing her, more so than any other characters I’ve written about. Bryce is someone I’d like to know, a man not afraid to admit he has problems, or that he might not have all the answers Jada needs. He’s handsome, brave, and yet emotionally accessible.
Sounds pretty good to me. If one of your characters could magically come to life, would you want to go out socially with Jada or Bryce?
If I could keep a handle on my fear, I’d really enjoy asking Vaughn questions. He is the vampire Hunter in Dark Warrior. I think there is a lot more yet I need to learn about him, someone who comes across a little cold on the outside, but that you sense is hiding a softer side. Vaughn will come back in a future novel and I’m hoping to get a chance to learn more about him and what he’s been through. I know he is powerful, but not what he had to go through to get there.
Sounds like there’s another possible encounter with Vaughn in the future. Is he your favourite to write, or bring back to write?
Another of my favorite characters is Amanda Cross from my first novel Soul of a Warrior. She’s a bit like I would like to be, but not. She’s sassy, brave, and not afraid to speak her mind. I liked her enough to bring her back in my second novel Ghost Warrior. Amanda has to do a lot of growing up during the second novel and realize that life doesn’t always revolve around her. Sometimes you have to give, and give a lot, to find happiness inside yourself.
Do your characters seek you out in your dreams to give you happiness?
All the time! They seem to talk to me in my dreams, sometimes yelling at me to get it down right. I’ve woke up more times than I can count needing to write down some bit of information they were trying to get across. I keep a pad and pen by my bed for just this reason.
Do you write all of the initial ideas on paper, or is it just for the sake of convenience when you wake up with an idea?
I write everything longhand to start. I can’t think with a computer screen. I can edit on the screen however.
I agree that computer screen is somehow very distracting for thinking. Other than keeping your pen and pad handy, what strategies did you use to keep yourself writing?
I try to write a little every day no matter what. When a novel is flowing, I find it hard to stop. I rarely fight trying to come up with something, my muse always busy. Fingers crossed it stays that way.
I hope it does stay that way for you. So when your muse is powering on, how long does it take for you to write something. Approximately how long did it take for you to write ‘Dark Warrior’ for instance?
Not long for Dark Warrior. I was asked to take part in a boxed set of 14 paranormal shorts and novellas, but I only had three months to get it finished. The actual writing part only took a week. It took several weeks of study and grilling my husband about bows and hunting before that, and then the rest spent in editing.
And how do you find the editing process?
Editing is fun more me though I know a lot of writers don’t like it.
Editing is loads of fun. How does your process go?
The rough draft part usually goes fast. Once I have an idea for a story, and know where I’d like my main characters to end up, it pretty much writes itself. After the rough draft is finished, I usually put the story up for four to six months while I work on something new. After that I’ll pull it down and start the edits. It takes me about a year to finish one novel, though I’m working on several in various degrees of editing at the same time. The first pass will be to make sure the structure is sound, that everything lines up as it should. The second pass will make sure point of view is kept, and perhaps add more information to help flesh out my scenes or characters. The last few passes are strictly for cleaning up any repetition or awkward wording, tense issues, that type of thing. I always leave about a month in between each pass to help make the story sound fresh. At the end I’ll usually have someone else, or an editor, double check to catch all those details that seem to get past me no matter how hard I try.
So, for you having an editor is an essential part of being a good self published author?
Yes, hire an editor and then listen to them. The biggest problem I see for self-published writers is that they want to rush the editing process. It’s giving self-published authors a bad reputation. I know editors are expensive, but believe me, you don’t want to get a bad reputation for typos or blunders. It’s not worth it. If you can’t afford an editor, then exchange work with other writers. Keep doing this until the manuscript comes back fairly clean of red marks. Don’t rush the story. It all takes time and a lot of loving attention.
That’s a great tip that we haven’t had before, to exchange work with other writers to save on editing costs. Do you have any tips for cover designs?
Karla Seydoux designed this cover for me and I absolutely love it! I hope everyone else will as well. She has designed two covers for me now. Taria Reed designed the cover for my first novel Soul of a Warrior and I am going to use her for my second novel Ghost Warrior.
You just mentioned that you work on multiple novels simultaneously. What’s on your plate at the moment?
Right now I’m working on a completely new novel called the House of Pain. It’s set in the far future, the world nearly destroyed by the sun. Magdalena is a half-breed succubus desperate to escape her master, a woman who runs one of the biggest whorehouses on the west coast. When the opportunity presents itself, she takes her chance and runs, depending on the men in her life to help her. This sounds like an erotica type, but it’s not. Magdalena only wants one special man to stay by her side. The others are only good friends who want to help her escape her horrible life.
A half breed succubus, that sounds really cool. Let me know when it’s done, I’d like to read that. Speaking of one of my favourite things in the world, reading, who are your favourite authors and do you think they have contributed to your writing style?
Laurell K Hamilton in her earlier books contributed. Not so much now. Marie Moning, love her and always will. Love Stephen King, but again, more his earlier work. I like Koontz too. I’ve read everything by Kim Harrison and also J.R. Ward.
Has your current writing been influenced more by your profession, rather than other writers then?
I am a retired dressage trainer. I’ve earned my USDF bronze and silver medals riding a racetrack reject called Oregon Sunshine. After that I decided to give writing a chance, a lifelong dream.
I love that you’re pursuing that dream of authorship. It makes me happy to meet more authors doing that. Especially when they get great reviews which just spurs on their dedication to the craft. Personally, how did you feel when you received your first review?
Nervous and excited.
Awesome. Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
Yes, but it’s a story I only beta read about five years ago and it isn’t out yet. I wish she would hurry up because it is an amazing novel about a shifter. I cried at the end.
And now we’re onto my favourite section of the interview, the fast-paced quick fire round. Denna, no pressure just answer the following questions with as little hesitation as possible.
What is your zodiac sign?
What are you currently reading?
The Doom Murders (Inspector Sheehan Mysteries) by Brian O’Hare
Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Not any more
That’s a shame. It’s always quite a good party trick. If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
The Mona Lisa
What is your favourite quote?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
What was your favourite book as a child?
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Engle Wilder
Can you curl your tongue?
Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Dragons, of course
Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Not really. Treat others as you would like to be treated. I believe in karma.
Considering karma is not a bad way to live, even if it just means a little extra consideration for others in daily life. Denna, thanks for joining me today and giving all of us just a little taste of both your story ‘Dark Warrior’ and the ‘Love Potion #9’ collaboration. I wish you and the other authors the best of luck with the promotion and I hope to hear from you again with ‘Love Potion #10’.
Want to find out more about Denna Holm? Connect here!