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Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome Author Sonya Clark

1.        Where do you hail from?
I grew up an Army brat so I don’t have a hometown. We lived all over the US and the world. Now I live in Tennessee with my husband and our yorkie.
2.        As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
The only thing I ever wanted to do was write but for a long time I never thought anything would come of it. Being able to write and actually be published is a dream come true.
3.        What do you do for fun?
I love music, especially learning music history. I’ve got boxes full of CDs and a hard drive full of all kinds of music. Also a ton of books on music – biographies, histories, analysis and criticism, on various genres but especially Southern music. I live halfway between Nashville and Memphis so I’ve been able to visit a lot of places that are important in music history here in Tennessee, as well as Mississippi. I’ve been to all three grave sites of blues legend Robert Johnson. That’s the kind of thing I think is fun. J
4.        Tell us about your latest book.
My second release comes out on May 2 and it’s called Mojo Queen. Here’s the blurb:
Hoodoo and high magic are on a collision course.

Roxanne Mathis isn't like everyone else. Not only can she see auras and spectral entities, she can mix herbs and roots for spells to do good or ill. She can even light a candle without the benefit of a match. But when she’s hired to exorcise a demon from a young girl, she discovers the limits of her powers.

With her vampire cousin at her side and a sexy sorcerer chasing her on the rebound, Roxie sets out to send that evil entity back to where she came from.

Nothing is as it seems and Roxie’s in over her head. It’s not going to be enough for her to just be a paranormal investigator and old school root worker – to defeat this demon, she’s going to have to be the Mojo Queen.
5.        How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
Most of my titles come from song titles. Bring on the Night is an old Police song. Mojo Queen is a classic R&B song by Ike and Tina Turner. Red House is a Jimi Hendrix bluesy number. Music informs so much of my writing, I feel like borrowing song titles isn’t a bad idea. Plus I have a terrible time coming up with my own titles.
6.        Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
My current work in progress starts with the main character still dealing with losing her home in the catastrophic flooding of Nashville last year. Mojo Queen is set in Nashville, as is its follow-up Red House. I didn’t know how I could write Red House without dealing with the flood in some way – it was such a major event for the city and the region. I could have decided that it simply didn’t happen in the Mojo world but as I read news reports about the aftermath and what people were going through, I began to think about what it might have done to my main character’s life. The plot for Red House grew out of that.
7.        Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Figuring out what will please readers (and editors) is honestly the hardest thing for me. There is a difference between storytelling and publishing. I think that I’m pretty decent at the storytelling part, and hopefully getting better with each book. Publishing, though, is hard. I know what I like to read, and like some writers I write what I want to read, but that doesn’t always match what other people want to read.
8.        Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t know that I suffer from writer’s block exactly, but instead writer’s doubt. I’m still learning to have confidence in my own work and my ideas, and sometimes that is really hard. So I second-guess things a lot and that can really slow me down. I can’t really give any advice to anyone else who might have the same problem because I still haven’t figured out how to deal with it.
9.        What books have most influenced your life?
Death Is A Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice both had a tremendous influence on me when I was a kid. I was already writing stories by the time I read Death but that was the book that made me want to be a writer, that made me think it might be possible. I can still remember the day I found Interview With The Vampire in the library the first time – and which library, because I knew the inside of a lot of libraries growing up all over the world. Interview was very dark and gothic and brooding and I saw it in my mind as a black and white movie. But The Vampire Lestat – wow, Lestat was pure Technicolor and surround sound. It was a very different tone from the Ray Bradbury and Stephen King I was used to reading. Horror with a sort of dark joy to it. For me the takeaway from Lestat was that it’s okay to *not* be afraid of the dark. That it’s okay to feel quite at home there, in fact.
10.     How did you deal with rejection letters?
Rejection is easy. You feel bad for a while, then move on. Submit the story somewhere else. It’s the “revise and resubmit” that gives me stress. That gives me a major case of the writer’s doubt I mentioned earlier, for some reason even more so than a rejection. Probably because there is actual feedback. I think the best way to deal with that is just to jump into the revisions head-first and do the work.
11.     What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
When I see this or a similar question in author interviews there’s usually an answer involving discipline, a thick skin, determination, stuff like that. And those are necessary to have, but I think there’s one that doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough and that’s empathy. There’s a lot of talk about how publishing is a business – it is, and that needs to be discussed, especially for the sake of new authors . There’s a lot of talk about how writing is a craft, and that’s true too and where your discipline and determination come in. But writing is also an art, and with all art comes unquantifiable things like the mystery of inspiration and that strange vicarious experience of putting yourself in a character’s heart and soul in order to tell their story. If you don’t have the basic level of empathy needed to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so to speak, then your writing is going to be about as engaging as the nutrition information on the side of a cereal box.
12.     Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I have yet to really push myself as far as writing something I would consider explicit. When I do I’m sure it will be more in the erotic direction than violence and gore. I have no problem with a story having violence but sex is way more fun. I can say this: I will never write about rape. Not in a detailed way, not in an abstract way, not in any way. There are two reasons for this. One, as a reader I get tired of urban fantasy heroines being the victim of rape and somehow gaining strength from the trauma. I get that it’s supposed to be about empowerment but even so, I hate reading it. Two, as a writer, well, see what I said above about empathy. I just don’t think it’s a place I could let myself go.
13.     Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?
What I wind up doing is I get an idea, I do some research, then the research gives me more ideas. True life events and urban legends have been really good places for me to find ideas.
14.     Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
I’m going to have to say Mojo Queen. I feel a really strong connection to the three main characters of this book and I’m really excited about it. The musical influences are stronger in this book and with these characters than anything else I’ve written so far. I think that’s why I feel so much more attached to it than some of my other writing.
15.     What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
I have a long-abandoned unfinished novel hidden away that had a scene with a little hoodoo spell done at night at the site of the plane crash that killed Patsy Cline (there’s a long wacky back story to this.) This site is not far from where I live, so I went there. At night. It’s down in a ravine, there are no lights, just a small memorial, and you better not walk off in the woods and get lost. I feel like that’s pretty tame so now I want to do something that really qualifies as weird. J
16.     Where can we find you on the net?
You can find out more about my books and me at www.sonyaclark.net. There you’ll find links to purchase my books and links to find me on social networks. I talk about books and writing on my blog, and sometimes I get wild and talk crazy about music. J

2 comments:

Sonya Clark said...

Thanks for having me as a guest!

Savannah Chase said...

Sonya great interview. Wishing you all the best with your books.