Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with Nancy Holzner

This week's interview guest, Nancy Holzner, is giving away one ebook. Make sure to read through the interview and excerpt to find out how to enter for a chance to win!

Tell us about you, do you have a routine for your writing?

I suffer from the curse of being a night owl who works best in the morning. That means I stay up late reading (often until 2:00 am) then stagger out of bed the next morning, fill a mug with coffee, and try to get some writing done. It's not a bad method, because I find I can make a lot of progress when my mind is in that half-awake state, before my conscious mind takes over fully. As long as I stay off the Internet, I do fine. I do sometimes enjoy reading the news online with my morning coffee, but that's a danger. When I let myself do that, I look up to find an hour or two have passed, and I have a hard time then turning to my writing.

Now on to the important bit, your book. Tell us about your characters.

My Deadtown series features Victory Vauhn, a shapeshifter who kills other people's personal demons for a living. Vicky lives in the Deadtown section of Boston. Three years ago, a plague turned two thousand Bostonians into zombies. The plague's quarantine zone became Deadtown, home (by law) to Boston's paranormal population. Deadtime's zombies aren't the shambling, brain-munching kind you see in horror films. They retain their personality and volition; it's just that they're super-strong, can't go out in sunlight, and go into a socially awkward feeding frenzy when they catch a whiff of fresh human blood. Vicky is training Tina, a teenage zombie, as an apprentice demon-fighter. Vicky has an on-again, off-again relationship with Alexander Kane, a werewolf activist lawyer who's trying to establish paranormal rights at the federal level. As a shapeshifter, Vicky can change three times per full-moon cycle, and she can shift into any sentient creature. Her race, the Cerddorion, is descended from the Welsh goddess Ceridwen. Even though Vicky's job focuses on personal demons, she often finds herself fighting the bigger, nastier kind--including the demons of her own past.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The titles in my series have always been a collaboration between my editor and me. The working title for the first book in my series was Zombie Town, but since zombies are secondary characters in that book, the editor wanted a different title. Eventually we settled on Deadtown. Once that title was established, I wanted the titles of the other books in the series to resonate with it. So I look for compound nouns of two syllables that are between eight and 10 letter long: Deadtown, Hellforged, Bloodstone, and Darklands (2012). This gives the series' titles the same look and feel on the covers.

Is this your first book?

Bloodstone is the third book in my Deadtown series. My very first novel was a mystery (nonparanormal) titled Peace, Love and Murder that was published by a small press. That novel is available in hardcover and as a 99-cent ebook.

Do you have plans for more?

The fourth Deadtown book, Darklands, will be released next summer. I hope to continue the series for 2-3 more books after that, but those aren't yet under contract, so we'll see. I'm also writing some short stories set in Deadtown's world, as well as a sequel to the mystery, to publish as ebooks.

Which comes first, the character or the plot?

Plot is basically character in action, so the two are intertwined. I can't understand my characters until I see them going things and interacting with others. In a series, though, I get to know the character better with each book, so as the series progresses I probably focus more on plot. That's because I can trust my characters to be true to themsevles by that point.

Is there a certain author that influenced you in writing?

I used to be an English professor (medievalist), so I've had a liftetime of reading that's influenced my writing. That doesn't mean that I think my genre fiction is Literature with a capital L. It's just that I've been a reader my whole life and read a wide variety of books, and along the way I've been inspired to try to tell fun, entertaining stories, myself.

What's the best advice that you've been given when it comes to writing?

Write every day. It's so easy to lose touch with the world of your story if you don't.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Threshold by Caitlin R. Kierman. It's a Lovecraftian horror story set in Birmingham, Alabama. I read Kiermans' wonderfully creepy Gothic novel The Red Tree a while back and loved it, so I wanted to check out some of her other books.

What was the hardest scene for you to write?

I find scenes that have a lot of action very challenging. I enjoy writing dialogue, but my action scenes don't have much of that. I find it a challenge to balance description and action with pacing concerns. I probably go over (and over and over) the action scenes more than any others.

The anticipation is killing me! Let us read a little.

Here's an excerpt from Bloodstone. In it, Vicky goes to Creature Comforts, a monster bar in Boston's New Combat Zone, in hopes that is owner, Axel, can give refuge to an injured friend:

Any hope that Axel was having a slow night fled as soon as I opened the front door. Laughter and music blasted out. Creature Comforts was packed with women, dressed for a night of partying. The filled all the tables and spilled out of the booths. As I stepped inside, I was hit by the bar's characteristic perfume of beer, tobacco, and a slight whiff of human bloos--shot through tonight with a strong scent of musk. On tables at the back, two half-naked male dancers, humans, performed an athletic bump-and-grind routine.

Oh, great. I'd walked into a wereworld bachelorette party.

Massachusetts was one of a handful of states that recognized marriages between paranormals. Other states had passed laws restricting marriage to humans only. Although some norms in "Monsterchusetts" objected to paranormal marriage, no one seemed to mind the money it brought the state. It had become fashionable among werewolbes to have a norm-style wedding in addition to whatever ritual they performed at the full moon. In Boston, a whole industry had sprung up offering destination weddings to werewolves.

I scanned the crowd, but didn't see a face I recognized. I knew most of Deadtown's werewolves through Kane. These were definitely tourists.

"Hey!" One of the women stood up and pointed at me. She wore a tight, super-short, low-cut black dress and a crooked tiara sparkling with pink and white rhinestones. She flipped her glossy blond hair back over her shoulder, managing to make it look like an act of aggression. "This is a private party. The bar's closed."

Damn territorial werewolves. When the traveled in a pack, even out-of-towners acted like the owned the place.

I ignored her and walked toward the bar.

She was in front of me before I got halfway across the room. Her nostrils flared as she sized me up in a few sniffs. She bared her teeth--not a very impressive gesture in her human form--and growled. "I said it's a private party."

"Do I look like I'm here to crash your party?" I gestured at my ruined dress.

She didn't look at my outfit. She stared at the sword in my hand, the one I'd taken from the Old Ones.

Oh, that. Well, yeah, I could see how that might be interpreted as a threat.

I didn't have a sheath for it, so I stuck it under my arm, where I hoped it seemed less dangerous. I stepped to the left, intent on getting around her. "I need to talk to Axel."

She growled again and dropped into a fighting crouch. Jesus, the full moon was still three weeks away and she was going into feral overdrive.

"You want to challenge me? Fine." I dropped my purse on the floor and shifted the sword to my right hand, ready to use it. I wouldn't have minded two blades in a fight with a werewolf, but I wanted to teach her some manners, not kill her. Besides, it was bad form to rummage through your purse for a dagger at the start of a fight.

Where can readers connect with you?

My website and my blog are at I have both a personal Facebook page and an author page. I'm on Twitter, and I also participate in a group blog called Dark Central Station.

Where can readers purchase your book?

Bloodstone is available at bookstores, as well as online through Penguin, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

If you'd like to win an e-copy of Bloodstone, please leave a comment on this post in the following format: parayournormal(at)gamil(dot)com. If you'd like to learn more about Nancy, she'll be chatting with us via Blog Talk Radio this Wednesday at 3:30 PST. To set a reminder, click here


  1. Sounds like an interesting read, even though the zombies sound more like vampires. But I like the idea of demon hunters going after other people's personal demons.

    Thanks for the giveaway op!


  2. Sounds awesome thx for the giveaway


  3. Thanks for the info. I would have never found this book without you. I look forward to reading this book and learning more about this author. Thanks for the giveaway!!


  4. I still don't know how Tina hasn't gotten herself fired! Thanks for the chance to win.