Monday, February 6, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Julie Ann Dawson

1.   Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

A Game of Blood
Paranormal Thriller
What would you do if a three-hundred year old vampire decided you would make the perfect Van Helsing to his Dracula?

2.   How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

The “game” in question refers to both the politics of the vampire court and the game of cat-and-mouse between Mitch and Darius.  Darius in particular often refers to things as a chess match, with various other characters in the book serving as different chess pieces. 

3.   Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I equally love both Mitch and Darius, as they really are sort of flip sides of the same coin.  In some ways they are polar opposites, and yet those differences only make their similarities stand out that much more.  Mitch is rough around the edges and resorts to some rather colorful language when frustrated, but has a heart of gold.  Darius is smooth, charming, and well-spoken, and also a heartless bastard. 

4.   How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

A character would not be in the book if it wasn’t interesting in some way.  I can’t say I have a least favorite character or one that is unappealing.  There are a few that need a good shaking to shake some sense into them.  There are a few that definitely deserve exactly what they get in the book.  And there are a few that I feel bad about their fates but I had to do what was best for the story.  But insofar as unappealing?  All those characters were edited out in the final draft!

5.   If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

Well, since I am also the publisher, I can change anything about the novel whenever I want!  But no, there isn’t anything I would change. The book has been through all of the edits it is going to get.  Time to work on the sequel.

6.   Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series.

The novel actually started out as a short story, and that short story appears in the novel as the prologue.  The original short story was a spoof of sorts of the whole paranormal romance thing, with a young woman meeting a handsome, wealthy, and seemingly sensitive vampire in a club.  When I finished the story, however, I had this amazing character of Darius Hawthorne who was demanding a lot more attention. 

7.   Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I wish I could say I was a great artist, but as those who follow my blog know my stick figures are pretty horrible.  Can’t say I have any unique talents beyond writing.  As far as hobbies, I’m pretty immersed in the rpg community.  The old style “Dungeons & Dragons” pen-and-paper variety RPGs.  I also design and publish RPG materials. 

8.   How can we contact you or find out more about your books?  That pretty much has links to everything I am doing and everything my team is working on. 

9.   What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m currently working on a sequel to my dark fantasy novel The Doom Guardian, and there is also a sequel for A Game of Blood in the planning stages.

10.   Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

The only tip I have for readers is to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, so that they can get free issues of the Bards and Sages Quarterly when they are released.  Everyone loves free books!

As far as advice for writers, I would say to LEARN YOUR DAMN CRAFT before you think about publishing.  The beauty of indie publishing is that anyone can do it.  The downside of indie publishing is that anyone can do it, and too many people self-publish before they have honed their skills to a point that they can produce marketable material.  Readers DESERVE your best, not just your “good enough.”  A whole lot of people rush books to market before they are ready. 

The rise of indie publishing has not made it easier to be successful.  If anything it has made it harder, because you are competing with some amazingly talented writers who have their acts together and have mastered their craft.  Readers don’t need to “give you a chance” when they have thousands of exceptional choices to chose from.  So learn your craft and then worry about publishing.

11.   Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Bad open ended question!  I can run my mouth for days!  So I think I will just keep quiet so as not to get myself in trouble.

12.   And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

“I can’t believe Torres put you on leave,” complained Jazz as she put a plate in front of Mitch. 
“Jazz, he did Mitch a favor,” corrected Rodney.
“Well, I liked Cambridge until I found out what scum supported him.  I’m not voting for him now,” she said with a huff.
“That will teach ‘em,” said Rodney.
“Hey, it’s a paid vacation as far as I’m concerned,” said Mitch.  “And I need the break.”
“Where’s Shaquana?” asked Rodney.
“Yearbook meeting,” replied Jazz.
“Did you call the school to make sure?”
“Why would I…” she took a deep breath.  “Um, I got the number somewhere.”  She got up and went to look for the number.
“I’m sure she’s fine, Rodney,” said Mitch.  “She’s got more sense.”
“I know.  It’s a hard age, man.  Sometimes I’ll be talking to her and I forget she’s not an adult.  Other times I look at her and forget she’s not my baby girl anymore.  Try to protect her without suffocating her.  Doesn’t always work.”
“I think you get it right most of the time.”
“Yeah.  I hope so.”  Rodney took another bite.  “You, you talk to Sylvia any?”
“Here and there.  Talked to her dad yesterday.  Her and her mom went to go visit her Aunt up in Miltowne for a few days.  He was happy to have the house to himself.”  They both chuckled nervously.  “I don’t think she’s coming back.”
“Don’t say that.  You guys have been through tougher shit.”
“But that’s the problem.  All that other shit.  I think it just put too many chinks in the armor.  This, I think this might have broke it.”
“She’s there,” said Jazz with a sigh of relief as she returned.  “And I am an embarrassing, overprotective mother who doesn’t trust her daughter.”
“Good, then everything is normal,” joked Rodney.
Everything isn’t normal, thought Mitch.  If everything was normal he would be having dinner with his wife, then going to work in the morning.  Instead, he was mooching off of Rodney again, and instead of going to work he had a mandatory appointment with Dr. Roberts next week.
He left Rodney’s house late in the evening, stopping at the convenience store on the way home to buy a pack of pre-measured coffee for the morning.  They costs more than buying a full size can, but he was actually able to drink it after it brewed so it didn’t matter.  He pulled up to his house to find lights on inside.
“Sylvia?” he whispered as he got out of the car.  The front door was closed, but unlocked.  He walked into his living room to find Hawthorne sitting on the sofa, his file open on the coffee table.
“You know, Mitchell, may I call you Mitchell?  You know, if you were so interested in me, you could have just asked.”
Mitch reflexively reached for his gun, but then remembered he didn’t have it.  “How the fuck did you get in here?”
“You let me in.”
“You let me in.  At least, that is what I’ll tell anyone should you decide to call the police.  There is no sign of breaking and entering, and nobody saw me force my way in.”
“What the fuck do you want?” asked Mitch, clenching his fist while deciding whether he should let Hawthorne continue his game or rush across the room and beat him senseless.  Hawthorne leaned back, stretching his arms out across the back of the sofa.  “What are you doing here?”
“Saving your sanity, Mitchell.” Hawthorne’s head tilted slightly as he studied Mitch.  “You are not crazy.”
“But you are.”
Hawthorne frowned.  “Mitchell, here I come of my own good will to offer my aid to you so that you can salvage your sanity, and you insult me.  You wound me.”  Hawthorne flipped through the papers in the open folder, resting his index finger on one sheet.  “Reverse refraction?  Do you understand any of this drivel?  Sounds like badly plotted science fiction.”  He flipped a few more pages over.  “Mr. Lee.  One of the few residents of Abilene capable of stringing together more than two independent thoughts.   He had some potential, but in the end he proved more of a defender than an avenger.  And I do require someone with a bit more zeal.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
Hawthorne closed the file, ensuring all of the papers were neatly stacked inside.  He paused for a moment, looking at the remote control and magazine on the coffee table.  He aligned the magazine with the folder and made a slight nod to himself.  He stood and slowly walked around the coffee table.  Mitch’s muscles became tense.  Hawthorne walked in front of the mirrored wall decoration hanging near the TV stand.  He studied himself in the mirror for a moment, adjusting his collar.  “What I am talking about, Mitchell, is your desire to understand.”  Before he even finished the sentence, his reflection had vanished from the mirror.  He turned his head and smiled.  “This is why you went to go speak with that professor, isn’t it?”
Mitch approached Hawthorne cautiously.  His instincts said to get away from the man.  But curiosity overcame his reason, and he felt compelled to try and understand the truth.  He raised his hand between Hawthorne and the mirror, watching his own reflection even as Hawthorne’s remained non-existent.  “How the fuck do you do that?” he said.
“You already know the answer to that, Mitchell,” replied Hawthorne with an even wider grin.  This time, when Mitch looked at him, he noticed that Hawthorne’s canines had grown longer and more pronounced.  He took a half-step backwards as the most primal of instincts, fight or flight, welled up in his gut.  The image of Rachel flashed across his mind, and he threw a punch.
Hawthorne didn’t attempt to dodge the swing, and it landed firmly on his jaw.  Mitch’s fist felt like he had just slammed it into a brick wall.  Hawthorne barely budged.  He moved his jaw back and forth, looking upwards as if he was doing nothing more than trying to identify a lingering scent. 
“Did you box in your youth?  That was a good swing.”
Mitch swung again, landing the shot just below Hawthorne’s eye.  He finally grabbed Hawthorne by the shirt and attempted to slam him into the wall, but he couldn’t move him.  Mitch took a third swing, but this time Hawthorne caught his fist and pushed Mitch backwards into a bookshelf. 
“Now Mitchell this is getting rather droll, wouldn’t you agree?” asked Hawthorne as he smoothed the wrinkles from his shirt.  “I didn’t come here to beat you senseless, after all.”  He waved a hand at Mitch dismissively and returned to the sofa.
Mitch’s mind was swirling.  Hawthorne wasn’t a big man.  He was maybe five foot eight, nine at the most.  He looked like he weighed all of a buck fifty.  He pulled himself up and walked toward Hawthorne, stopping in front of the coffee table.  “You’re a vampire?  You expect me to believe you are a fucking vampire?”
“You already believed that,” Hawthorne shrugged.  “I simply wanted to assure you that you were in fact correct with your assumption.”
“Why?  Why tell me?  What’s to stop me from…”
“Telling someone?” Hawthorne finished his sentence.  “Who are you going to tell, Mitchell?  Oprah?  Fox News?  President Obama?  What, exactly, are you going to tell them?  And besides, who would believe you?  As it is, you are on a mental health leave.  You can’t possibly tell anyone that I am a vampire.  Nobody would believe you and it would most likely get you kicked off the force.  And besides, what would Sylvia say if you ran around talking about vampires?”
“You leave her the fuck out of this.  I swear to God you so much as look at her…”
“You’ll what?” Hawthorne leaned forward.
“I’ll burn your fucking house down in the middle of the day.”
Hawthorne sat back on the sofa.  “Well, I must admit that would be troublesome.”  Hawthorne looked down and contemplated Mitch’s threat.  “See, this is why I like you, Mitchell.  You’re willing to go straight for the jugular…and yes the pun was intended.  Tell you what.  We’ll make a deal now, then.  I’ll stay away from Sylvia, and you promise not to burn my house down, at least while I’m in it.  I think that is a fair bargain.”
Mitch collapsed into the chair next to the sofa, dumbstruck.  “Are we negotiating something?”  Hawthorne nodded.  “You’re serious?  What are we negotiating, anyway?”
“The terms of our rivalry,” said Hawthorne with a giddy gleam in his eyes.  “You’re going to make a fine adversary.”
“My adversary.  My nemesis.  It’s been so long since I’ve had one.  Things have been so very bland these last few decades.  People either lack the ambition or lack the will or lack the courage.  Like the Lee fellow.  Complete lack of ambition.  Despite the fact that he, like you, is resistant to my powers, he just lacks the ambition to look beyond his tiny little world and recognize what is in front of him.”
“I don’t want to be your nemesis, Hawthorne,” said Mitch as he stared with confusion at the vampire.
“Oh, of course you do,” replied Hawthorne glibly.  “You can’t possibly expect me to believe all this is about justice, do you?” He waved a hand at the folder.  “A culprit is in custody.  And no, I won’t believe you if you make some argument over an innocent man taking the fall.  You hardly consider James innocent, and nor should you, I might add.  The parents have their closure and are moving on.  Surely you realize dredging this out further only hurts them at this point.  Yet you continue to press on, why?”
“To stop you from killing again.”
“Well, it’s a bit late for that.”
“Get the fuck out of my house.”
“Do we have a deal, Mitchell?”
“A deal?”
“Yes, Mitchell.  My house in exchange for Sylvia’s life.  Do we have a deal?”
“Sure,” Mitch finally said.  “You got your fucking deal, asshole.”
“You really should develop a larger vocabulary, Mitchell,” said Hawthorne as he stood up and walked to the door.  “But regardless, I’m glad we finally had this chance to talk.”
“Why wouldn’t you just kill me?” questioned Mitch as he stood. 
“What kind of a nemesis would you make if you were dead?” said Hawthorne.  “No, no.  There is no challenge in killing you.  No sport in it.”
“Wait.  All those girls you killed.  You don’t even need to kill, do you?”
“Oh, heavens, no.  If I had to kill every time I fed the world would be nothing but corpses.”
“So you just kill them because, why?”
“Boredom,” he said nonchalantly as he reached for the door.
“Boredom?  You rape, torture, and kill girls out of boredom?  You sick fuck!  You got all that power and strength and fucking immortality and you kill out of boredom?  Wait a minute!  Get back here!”
“Make up my mind, Mitchell.  Do you want me to stay or go?” said Hawthorne as he turned and folded his arms in front of him.
“Boredom?  Go watch a fucking movie!  Rent a video!  Buy a goddamn XBOX! What the fuck kind of an answer is that?”
“I’m not sure why you are so upset.  I was only being honest.”
Mitch stomped over to Hawthorne, standing almost nose-to-nose with him.  It stunned Mitch that Hawthorne seemed genuinely confused as to why he was so upset.  “This is how you squander your immortality?” he said, exasperated.
“How old are you, Mitchell?
“Thirty-five.  Why?”
“Well, come back and ask me that question in another three centuries, and we’ll see if you are still so annoyed by my answer.”
“Get the fuck out of my house.”
Hawthorne offered a slight bow.  Without a word, he vanished into a pale mist and seeped under Mitch’s door.  Mitch collapsed to the ground, leaning a shoulder against the door as his body shook.
* * *
Thank you Julie for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview!  I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

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