Tricia: Today, it's my pleasure to introduce Dawn Scovill, the author of IMMORTAL BONDS. Her novel is a brilliant thriller that mixes paranormal and historical elements. To read my review, click here.
Welcome, Dawn. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Dawn: If I had no conscience – and for the sake of a good story – I could say my childhood on Michigan Hill, nested in the foothills between the picturesque Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges of Washington State, was harsh and cruel. Mom took care of the house while Dad drove truck for the Game Department, so my siblings and I were stuck milking cows and slopping hogs every morning, checking underneath hens for eggs every night, hauling hay and firewood every summer, weeding gardens, mending fences, and shivering in the cold of winter as the wind ripped through the cracks of the old, drafty farmhouse. But I was the oldest of four. I did some of that stuff, some of the time. My younger siblings did the bulk of it, while I spent weekends with my grandparents in Olympia. (Before you judge: I was ten, they had hot water, cable, and made me breakfast in bed. You’d have done the same if you could.)
I moved to Florida in 1990, at the age of 25, after I met and married a cute Navy guy. Our two children have since flown the nest, but the cute guy’s still here, and we have a beautiful, old Florida home and a rockin’ Chocolate Labrador that make us smile every day. No one could ask for more.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Dawn: For real? Or for show? Besides wanting to be a singer, figure skater, and/or superhero when I grew up (particularly Wonder Woman, for those needing a visual), two of the earliest goals I remember setting for myself were to have a published book and a Mercedes before I was 40. I’ve been writing things – diary entries, poems, essays, campaign and acceptance speeches – and forcing people to read them ever since I learned how to hold a pencil. My first “self-published” book was actually written in pencil. In my file cabinet, I have an old, spiral UWF University Store notebook I’m guessing I procured from my Uncle Rick’s old room at my grandparents’ house. The title, printed across the top of the cover in pink colored pencil, is “SompThing by Dawn B. Bramer” (my middle initial is E, but my family’s called me “Dawnie B” for as long as I’ve held a pencil, so…). It’s 6-8 pages in length, depending on which ones you count, plus a few doodle sheets at the back, after the page that announces (in careful penmanship) “The End.” There are page numbers, sketched illustrations and small, adhered scraps of baby shower paper, and a table of contents. Given the materials and skill set, I think I was about six-years-old.
My eighth-grade homeroom teacher, Jim Bartley, and high school English teacher, Ernie Bunnell, were the first people to introduce structure and relevance to the things I wrote. Both in life and in writing, they constantly challenged me to be better than my own expectations. Throughout adulthood, I used writing as a release valve, especially when our kids were young, often sneaking out of bed at 2am to scribble story ideas or vent frustrations. By the time I was nearing 40, and the kids were old enough to fend for themselves, I confessed to my husband, Scott, that I wanted to – for real – attempt to write a novel. He asked, “What took you so long?”
Tricia: Did you get the Mercedes?
Dawn: Not ‘til December, nine months after my birthday. But, that was close enough for me. :)
Tricia: Can you tell us about IMMORTAL BONDS?
Dawn: Originally printed in hardcover by ArcheBooks Publishing in March 2007, it’s my first published novel. I wanted to tell a love story – about real love, not that vampire-on-teenager-on-werewolf, puppy love stuff flying around – but I also wanted to entertain, educate, and say something meaningful. In essence, it’s the story of an immortal woman who’s had enough of life as an immortal and wants normalcy. It’s also the story of three men who would kill (or die) for her. Call it a thrilling, history-laden love story with a paranormal slant, set primarily in South Florida, but with splashes of national and international intrigue, and I think you’d be close.
Tricia: The story moves back and forth through several different historical periods. How much research did this require?
Dawn: Lots. At least a week for most scenes. And I loved every minute. It helps when you chose places and times that interest you: New Orleans stole my heart in 1993; growing up in the Pacific Northwest gave me an appreciation for the railroads, and for the struggles of the pioneers and early stage coach travelers who came before them; and, though I lived half my life situated between the two, I learned more about Seattle and Portland doing research for this book than I ever did running through airports or going to the Seattle Center with Mom to see the Ice Capades.
Tricia: Which character was the most challenging to write?
Dawn: Most characters came to life for me about half way through the first draft, but I really struggled with Jane’s husband, Rand. I wanted him to be brave, to be a guy’s guy. So much happens to him, beyond his control, I was constantly worried he’d come out looking like a schmuck. Several people have told me they love his character, so I guess I did okay by him in the end. But I worried.
Tricia: I'd say you did a fantastic job. I loved Rand. Which character was the easiest?
Dawn: There are actually two, and it’s no contest: The “vampires.” While writing this book, I spent countless Monday mornings with my friend, Robin Stuckert, updating him on progress and brainstorming ideas. One day, I expressed my concern that the story felt too serious. I was desperate for comic relief. We talked about how Shakespeare often inserted arguably gratuitous characters. Given the growing entertainment trend, Robin suggested I add vampires. I argued that vampires aren’t funny, then suddenly declared, “Maybe they just THINK they’re vampires!” Coop and Ozzy were born. They practically wrote themselves. Robin passed from a sudden respiratory illness in early 2008, but he got to see his vampires – and his name – in print. It makes me happy knowing a part of him lives on through my novel.
Tricia: You’ve put an interesting twist on immortality in this book. How did you come up with the idea?
Dawn: I was reading BLOOD LEGACY, a novel written by a member of the writers’ group I belonged to at the time. It was a vampire book with several immortal characters, and it made me wonder what it might be like to live forever. Where would you live? Who could you trust? And, if you found true love, wouldn’t it suck to have to leave? I hurried to finish the book I was reading, scrapped the work-in-progress I was struggling with, and started writing IMMORTAL BONDS.
Tricia: If your book is made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
Dawn: That’s easy! I have the complete list right here on my laptop. A dear writer friend of mine, Graeme Johns from Australia, taught me a great technique years ago that helps keep characters in order. Even before I write, I start a stat list and biography, complete with height, weight, hair and eye color, birthdate, education, etc., plus a picture to use for reference. At the risk of influencing (or worse, damaging) readers’ personal visions of the characters, the cast for IMMORTAL BONDS, in my mind, could only be Phoebe Cates as Jane, Russell Crowe as Rand, Orlando Bloom as Oliver, and Antonio Banderas as DeSain. And no one could fill Coop and Ozzy’s shoes quite like Johnny Depp and Jack Black.
Tricia: Any movie with Johnny Depp and Jack Black would be okay by me! Do you primarily write thrillers, or have you worked with other genres?
Dawn: Where my #1 goal as a novelist is to sell more books than Paris Hilton and her dog, my #1 goal as a writer is to never allow myself to be pigeonholed into a genre. In the “old days” (or about 5 years ago), it was a death sentence in the literary world for an aspiring writer to color outside the lines of his/her established genre. Even well known (and paid) storytellers had to use pseudonyms when they broke the rules. Publishers want something predictable – marketable. Personally, the thought of doing the same thing over and over and over makes my head hurt.
The Internet has changed the industry. In 2006, the first year I started blogging, I learned that, no matter the topic or content – fiction, non-fiction, opinion, travel, history, erotica – as long as it’s well written and has a point, people keep coming back. Instead of establishing myself within a genre, then, I decided to try my hand at all of them. My writers’ group thought I was nuts. In fact, after I sold IMMORTAL BONDS and started writing what would eventually be my second novel, CHASING KID ROCK, they were so steadfastly opposed to my following up a paranormal suspense novel with an irreverent, commercial fiction one, they kicked me out. But I’m still here. And readers are still reading.
Tricia: Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Dawn: Definitely a plotter. Although, once I get going, the story and the characters inevitably take me somewhere I hadn’t planned. That’s the fun part.
Tricia: Which authors have inspired your writing?
Dawn: At the top of the list are Stephen King and Anne Rice, not only for their writing styles and willingness to tell the truth, but also because, after reading their work for 30 years, they feel like old friends. Every author I’ve read has somehow inspired me, though. As a child, nursery rhymes and Little Golden Books enchanted me. As a young girl, I devoured Keene’s Nancy Drew mysteries. In junior high and high school, Tolkien’s Hobbit adventures and Frank Herbert’s DUNE series opened my mind to entirely new worlds, Poe’s short stories dispensed fear at dizzying speeds, and Robert Heinlen’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND changed my life. When I have time to read these days, I typically reach for David McCullough, but it could be anyone, from Nick Hornby to J.K. Rowling. No matter whose material I pick up, all the authors I read inspire me. Even the lousy ones teach me what NOT to do.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Dawn: This summer – beginning next week, actually – I’m diving in to the prequel to IMMORTAL BONDS. It’s set in sixteenth-century Malta, primarily during the summer of the Great Siege, and tells the story of Moncado LaCassiere DeSain, the native islander who would later condemn Jane Dougharty to immortality. First edition readers have been pleading for a follow-up to IMMORTAL BONDS since 2007, so I’m thrilled to finally have the time and opportunity to put it together. I think it’ll be worth the wait.
God willing and the creek don’t rise, the prequel will be available in 2015. In the meantime, BeanPods’ 2013 summer anthology, FIRST LOVE, will include my short story, “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” and an eclectic collection of shorts from my blog is expected to be released in the spring of 2014.
Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Dawn: (1) Don’t quit your day job, (2) Write something, and (3) Have a plan.
There’s so much information available on the Internet – how to write better, how to publish, how to market – the only real barriers aspiring writers face today are the ones they erect for themselves. Write well and the readers will find you. Period.
Tricia: That's great advice. Dawn, thanks again for stopping by.
To learn more about Dawn and IMMORTAL BONDS, please visit the following Links:
Amazon Books & Author Page: (lists all books except print version of IB)
The Book Patch: (to purchase print versions of IB)