Behind the Quill gets vampy today with the fang-tastic Liv Rancourt, author of A Vampire’s Deadly Delight and several short stories, including Honolulu City Lights
. Liv and I share an interest in the paranormal, especially vampires, so you can imagine how startled she was when she caught me stalking her excited I was when she agreed to chat with me.
Here’s what she had to say:
Me: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
LR: Since I was a kid, I guess, but I only got real about it when I realized I would run out of time if I didn’t get started. I published my first short story a few months before I turned 50.
Me: Tell us about the very first time your work was published. How did it feel? Was it any different when you published A Vampire’s Deadly Delight, from when any of your short stories were published in anthologies?
LR: Release day is always good, regardless of the length of the work. Acceptance day (when I get the first email from the editor/publisher) is a little better, and completion day (when the first round of edits are done and it’s ready to send out) is better still. I’m working backwards in time here, in case you couldn’t tell. Starting the first draft is just about my favorite feeling, topped only by the rush I get when the idea first starts to take shape.
Me: Does your significant other read your books? What about your kids? And what do they think?
LR:The husband will read things if I ask him to, and he’s an awesome cheerleader. I don’t
usually have the kids read stuff because of the romance angle. I did ask my son to read The Loft, a short story I wrote for a horror anthology, but he didn’t finish it. He said it was boring. Yeah, ouch. I did some editing surgery after that.
Me: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Mack and Joe have turned up in two of my short stories. They’re both actors, and in The Santa Drag, Mack has taken a job playing Santa in a shopping mall because it’s the only paying gig she could get. Her old boyfriend Joe shows up and things get complicated. It’s the kind of thing that might have worked on the old I Love Lucy show.
The further adventures of Mack and Joe is a story called The Ring Toss. In this one, Joe’s shooting a film in New Orleans, while Mack’s been cast in a small theater production in LA. The night of the dress rehearsal, she has to step into the role of Brittney, the bride, and again things get complicated.
These two stories are contemporary romance/chick-lit, and I’d love to come up with a third story to complete the set. I’ve got an idea for a title that would work, but can’t figure the story out. Yet.
Me: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I had a reviewer tell me she couldn’t finish The Vampire’s Deadly Delight. Ouch. My favorite compliment is the one my sister emailed me after she finished reading my very first short story – the first one I’d written since college, anyway. She said it was really good, and while I think that was probably a generous assessment, it gave me what I needed to write that second story.
Me: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
LR: Trying to type while lying in bed with a cat in my armpit?
Seriously, though, I have to fit writing into the corners, you know? I have a full-time job and a family. Writing is a priority, but there’s plenty of competition.
Me: I agree there are many things competing for our attention. Fortunately,cats just seem to force themselves into whatever spot they can fit. 😉
When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
LR: Hang with my kids, read, hear my husband’s band play, read, sing Gregorian chant, read, crochet, and, oh, did I mention reading?
Me: Okay, Liv. I hear your favorite paranormal creature is a vampire. Why? What is it about these undead beings that strikes a chord with you?
LR: In general, reading and writing paranormal characters allows me to deal with harsher realities than I otherwise would. If I want to deal with real life-and-death drama, I’ll go to work at the hospital. Paranormal fiction gives me a safety net.
Now why vampires, in particular? Because they come with so much baggage, which gives me so much to play with. They come with questions like: “what does it mean to be alive?” and “what IS evil?” and “what is the importance of a soul?” Then there’s the permanently- beautiful thing, which resonates so strongly in our contemporary youth-worshiping culture. The transmission of blood-borne diseases is another element that carries symbolic weight right now. There’s so many different ways you can take a vampire story, you know? They’re versatile.
Me: So true! Vampires are such fun.
Are you a pet owner? If so, what pets do you have and their names?
LR: Yep. Two cats and a dog. Woody and Sara Smile (yeah, I might have had a cocktail when I chose that one) are the cats, and Burnsie is the dog. Burnsie was named for the Barbara Streisand character in the movie What’s Up, Doc, which is my daughter’s favorite movie. Coincidentally Burns is my mother’s maiden name, and her college nickname was Burnsie. Had to play that angle very carefully – she’s not a big fan of dogs, you see.
Me: What would you like your readers to know about this book or you in general? What do you want readers to see in your books?
LR: I’m a firm believer in a happy ending. Life dishes you enough crap, right? And there’s a whole generation of emo-twenty-somethings who can write the heart-wrenching, gut-busting stuff. I work in crayola crayons and snarky humor and the girl always gets her man.
Me: Tell us about your current or upcoming release. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
LR: I have two short stories on the horizon and both are pretty close to my heart. One, called Honolulu City Lights, is a contemporary romance from Still Moments Publishing. It’s set in Honolulu (surprise!) and asks that perennial question: blue eyes, dimples and a hot surfer’s body equal trouble, don’t they?
The next one should be out in early September. It’s called An Accidental Witch, and it’ll be the anthology Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, edited by Rayne Hall. I don’t have links for it yet, but in this one, a little harmless magic nearly turns into more than one Wiccan can handle.
Me: What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?
LR: Write. It’s just that easy, and just that hard.
Okay, I can’t take credit for that pearl of wisdom. I read it somewhere, possibly in The Getaway Car, a great book on writing by Ann Patchett. Either that or it’s something Neil Gaiman said. Anywhoodle, talking about writing and dreaming about writing and planning to write won’t get the work done.
Me: So true, Liv! Great advice and thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today.
Here’s a little more about Liv:
Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).
And because Liv is AWESOME, she’s provided a sneak preview of Honolulu City Lights for us!! READ ON!
Honolulu City Lights
Blue eyes, dimples, and a hot surfer’s body means trouble, right? There’s only one way for Katie to find out…
I stepped off the elevator carrying a white Styrofoam cup of frozen yogurt and smiled at my neighbor Darla out in the hall.
“Hey lady,” Darla said in her smoker’s rasp.
“Hey Darla.” I juggled my backpack and fished out my keys. Our building was surrounded by residential neighborhoods. From our fifteenth floor unit, we gazed over the tops of palm trees and red-roofed houses to the aqua ribbon of ocean at the edge of the world. Or that’s how it felt.
“You need a nice young man to take you to dinner.”
“Nope.” I glanced over my shoulder at her and laughed. “You do.”
Darla laughed too, a sound as wrinkled and leathery as her skin. She owned an extensive collection of old cotton bathing suits in graphic block prints and neon colored flowers. Straight from the sixties, they had built-in skirts, bullet boobs, and wide shoulder straps. She seldom wore anything else. Today’s choice had sunshine yellow hibiscus blossoms on a green background.
“Oh, I’ve done my time.” Darla punctuated her thought with a loose cough. “Miss Bitty and Stinker keep me busy enough.”
Miss Bitty and Stinker were cats. In my mind, they were the finishing touches on a perfect nightmare. In my ugliest fantasies, I ended up like Darla, living alone, dressing crazy, and talking to my cats all day. I wouldn’t be Meli’s roommate forever. Then what? It’s not like I had much hope of getting married. I’d had no practice with men. Seventy pounds ago it wasn’t an issue. Now, at size eight and with Meli coaching from the sidelines, it might be.
Our apartment was fairly standard. There was a short entry hall with a galley kitchen on the right and two bedrooms on the left. The kitchen was separated from the living room area by a waist-high counter. Two bar stools on the living room side to allow visitors to sit and watch the cook, if we ever cooked. We were more into Lean Cuisine frozen dinners.
Across the living room was a sliding glass door leading to the lanai. Our carpet was beige, the walls were beige, and our furniture was made from a pale polished wood. If it weren’t for the forest green couch and bright coral flowered pillows, the place would have resembled a bowl of oatmeal.
I plopped onto the couch and dug my spoon into the frozen yogurt, quickly shuffling exchanges in my head. Weight Watchers would prefer I wrote everything down and I would…later. Hula Girl, our dancing doll, was in her usual spot standing next to the TV. Flipping a switch made her hips swing and her grass skirt swish while the music box played The Hukilau Song. The rest of the time she listened to my problems and gave me advice about diet and exercise and stuff. Okay, so I talked to a plastic doll. Everyone’s got their little eccentricities.
Today she was quiet until I remembered Jack, carving the curl of a wave, his shoulders and chest broad and sun-kissed over a pair of those ubiquitous baggie shorts all surfers wore.
She smiled like the Cheshire Cat.
“What? I barely know him.”
Hula Girl just grinned at me.
Thank goodness Meli wasn’t home from work yet. If she knew I talked to a doll, I’d never hear the end of it.
So, what did you think? Do you have other questions for Liv Rancourt? If so, post them in the comments and I’ll see if I can get her answer a few of them for us.