It’s my absolute pleasure to host Lauren M. Roy today! Her brand new urban fantasy, NIGHT OWLS, just came out, and not only does she talk about the book, but she tells us why she can’t stand characters that are TSTL, her perfect dinner party, and more! Also, we’ve got a copy of NIGHT OWLS up for grabs, courtesy of the lovelies at Ace, so be sure to check out those giveaway details!
Congratulations on your new book, NIGHT OWLS! Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Thank you so much for hosting me!
I grew up on Little Golden Books and fairytale collections, so it only made sense that my career led to bookselling. I worked at an independent bookstore all through high school and college, and got a job at a publisher right after graduation. Somewhere in there I added fantasy, sf, and horror to my reading repertoire. I’m all about the story.
My answers to What do you want to be when you grow up changed a lot over the years — dolphin trainer, archaeologist, teacher, astronaut — but the one career that always, always, always appeared on the list was writer.
Tell us more about Night Owls bookstore and Val and Elly! *please?*
Night Owls is a mash-up of the bookstore I used to work in and my dream bookstore. (Bookstore owner is still on the list of things I’d like to be when I grow up…) It’s open late to accommodate students from nearby Edgewood College, which is a convenient cover for its nocturnal proprietor.
What with her being a vampire and all.
Val settled down in Edgewood to get away from past as a monster hunter. She’s forsworn vampire politics and really just wants to sell some books. Unfortunately for her and her employee-slash-Renfield Chaz, the monsters are coming to Edgewood.
They’re chasing Elly, a girl who’s quite happy being a monster hunter, thankyouverymuch. But she’s just lost her mentor and father figure, and in her grief did something utterly reckless. The book they stole from Father Value? The one they killed him for? She went and stole it back. Now she’s on the run, and when her path crosses Val’s, they have to stand together against the Creeps.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
I’m not sure if my bookstore years count as research. They certainly informed Val and Chaz’ characters, but sixteen-year-old me had no idea I’d be writing a novel set in a bookstore.
The topic of my college thesis was “The Female Vampire in Literature.” The English department had no idea what to do with me, but since I’m a packrat I was able to find some of my old research while working on Night Owls. If you’re looking for interesting vampire lore, Montague Summers’ The Vampire: His Kith and Kin and The Vampire in Europe were a couple of my sources.
What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a hybrid of the two. I tend to have an ending point in mind, but how I get from page one to THE END is fairly nebulous. I’ll plan two or three chapters ahead, then when my writing catches up to my proto-outline, I’ll do another look ahead. Along the way, I’ll jot notes for the future, little things to keep in mind, snippets of dialogue that might have double meanings (which of course, I have to figure out because my brain isn’t currently telling), and either weave them in when I get there or save them for the second draft.
I did outline book two in its entirety, and lived to tell the tale! I do not know if I will make a habit out of this, but I’m proof that pantsers can plot.
What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
Stephen King is probably my biggest. I picked up my dad’s copy of Skeleton Crew when I was twelve or so, and became a fan. My mother was convinced she’d get a call from my school, questioning their parenting skills for allowing me to read his books, but that never happened. I also loved L.M. Montgomery’s Emily series (surprise! Emily wanted to be a writer!), and wore out the library’s copy of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
What are you reading now?
I read several books at once — my day job requires a lot of reading, so I usually have at least one read-for-work book and one read-for-me book going at once. (The fun thing is, I dig both, so the two categories tend to blend together!)
Sarah Lotz’ The Three is still haunting me. Four planes go down on the same day, and three children survive the crashes. Is there a fourth? What brought the planes down? Why did those kids survive, and are they just incredibly lucky children, or are they the harbingers of the apocalypse? It’s told as a series of interviews with the kids’ caretakers and the people surrounding the conspiracy. Very chilling read.
Chuck Wendig’s one of those authors who goes straight to the top of my to-read pile. The Cormorant is his third Miriam Black novel. Miriam knows how you’re going to die, and just as she’s figuring out the rules of her power, people want to exploit it. Of course, Miriam doesn’t take too well to being told what to do…
If you could experience one book for the very first time, which one would it be?
The Stand. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reread it now. In fact, it’s probably about time for another stroll through the pages.
What do you look for in a good book? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
It’s all about believability for me, not in the magic-isn’t-real sense (I mean, you probably figured that, what with my book involving vampires and magic and stuff), but instead: do I buy that THIS particular character would do THIS particular thing? I want good characters — people I don’t necessarily have to like, but who I can root for. I want actions to have consequences. I want the author to surprise me. I want the characters to be so real to me that when the inevitable Terrible Thing happens, I’m left a sobbing wreck.
I’ll put a book down when the characters display signs that they’re TSTL: Too Stupid To Live. Usually it’s a case of the author’s hand showing through. They needed the characters to do Thing X even though it makes no logical sense. I’ll go along with just about anything if the narrative supports it, but as soon as the character who’s terrified of spiders climbs onto the back of the mutant brown recluse and doesn’t bat an eye? Nope, I’m out.
I’ve also become much more wary of rape as a plot point. Seanan McGuire has an excellent piece here that had me nodding and yessing as I read it: (Trigger warning). If it seems like a writer’s added it to punish a character for her agency, or because the villain needs to be extra-villainy, I’m not sure I need to keep reading.
You’ve got your pick of dinner party guests (alive or dead). Who would they be?
My family and friends, obviously, especially since I’d be in trouble if I had dinner with the following and didn’t invite them:
We’d have a big ol’ potluck dinner for all of the authors I’ve already mentioned in other questions, plus Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore. Then I’d add some of my science fangirl list to the mix: Sally Ride, Valentina Tereshkova, Col. Chris Hadfield, and pretty much everyone on the Mars Curiosity team. We’d talk about books and science (SCIENCE!) all night, and it would be amazing.
When you’re not working on your next project, how do you like to spend your free time?
“Reading ALL THE THINGS” probably goes without saying! I’m also a gamer: video games, roleplaying games, board games, oh yes please. I’m learning to play guitar. I want to get back to running soon, too. I was inspired by two more of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Bear and Lilith Saintcrow, to get out there and run. I actually did enjoy it, then fell out of practice (hello my name is Lauren and I am a wimp about New England winters). So that’s on the docket to start up again. You can work out lots of snarly plot points on a run.
What’s next for you?
The sequel for Night Owls is ready to start editing. Ghosts are appearing in Crow’s Neck, causing new problems for Elly, Val, and crew to deal with. It will hit shelves early in 2015. After that I’m working on a fantasy novel currently entitled Adrift (assassins and faeries and pirates oh my), and writing for several RPGs I love. I keep busy!
Wanna win a copy of NIGHT OWLS?
2.) Giveaway is for 1 copy of NIGHT OWLS by Lauren M. Roy to 1 winner
3.) Giveaway is open to those with a US mailing address only (no PO Boxes)
4.) You must enter on or before 3/10/14
5.) Giveaway book courtesy of Ace
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.
About NIGHT OWLS:
Night Owls bookstore is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk
Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away as possible from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren. She’s experienced that life, and the price she paid was far too high for her to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.
When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safekeeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors