Victoria Larque, author of the paranormal romance, Soul Reaver, visits ePen and talks about creating a consistent world for her characters.
I’m so very delighted to have you as a guest, Victoria. Your novel, Soul Reaver, was an absorbing read with great characters in a fascinating world.
VL: Thank you so very much for the compliment and for having me. I’m so excited! (bobs up and down on couch) My first ever interview!
Before I get into my questions, I see a lovely wrapped gift. Is that for me?
VL: (looks down and presents a hastily wrapped gift) Oh yes, it’s a lamp made mostly of used motorbike parts. I welded it together. My dad has one just like it. Sorry for the wrapping, I suck at that. The paper just never does what I want it to. I would be seriously lousy at origami.
Oh! It’s… quite fascinating!
VL: See the lampshade? It’s made from an oil filter, and the stand is a gearwheel, the chain of the bike snaked up on top of it. It took me forever to fiddle the cable for the bulb through the bloody chain. (rolls eyes) Oh, and you can totally scrap it if you don’t like it. It is kind of clunky, but I’m all for self-made gifts.
But I love it! Thank you so much and for the time you put into it! I have the perfect spot on the bookshelf for it. Do help yourself to these brownies. They’re vegan if you don’t mind. And I have several pots of tea, both herbal and caffeinated. Which do you prefer?
VL: I’m not that big on tea, to be honest. My poison is coffee. But I never turn down a steaming cup of Rooibos tea. Also, I take it with three spoons of sugar and a bit of milk if you have any. Soy is fine too. I know, I know. Tea with milk, absolutely barbaric. I was in an English boarding school when I was little, maybe that’s where I picked it up. (bites into brownie) Mm, they taste great. Be careful to eat some of them while you still can, otherwise they’ll be gone soon. Did you bake these yourself?
I did! And I, too, put milk – well soy – into my black teas. And here’s an extra napkin for you. So tell me, if you could only use one sentence to introduce us to your main character, what would it be?
VL: That is hard. How can I possibly untangle the marvelous thicket which is Daphne and put her into a few words? I’ll try though. Daphne will give anything and everything for the ones she loves, all while battling the countless demons within; she is compassionate, powerful and crazy.
Your story is set in a complex world of the paranormal, and your characters have special abilities. I was so impressed how each character stayed within that group of rules for that particular ability. How did you organize and keep track of the boundaries of the story so it all is believable? Do you have a chart, a list, sticky notes everywhere?
VL: (laughs) Thanks for being impressed. I have no sticky notes, no chart and no list. Most of it is just in my head. I have a sort of Bestiary though, in which every race is explained. The (sometimes) known origins, the abilities and weaknesses. And the intro is always a little poem, summing up that special kind of supernatural creature. It is a fun way for me to get to know more about my world and its supernatural inhabitants. As far as keeping the rules goes… I honestly just (have to) remember them.
Do you have a structure to your writing? Outlines? Spill out the first draft then see what comes next?
VL: I spill. I’m a panster with all my heart. My first draft is messy, all over the place, and I love it. Takes a lot of time to clean up though. During editing there comes the time when I wish I could plot, but it just doesn’t work for me. If I know exactly what happens when, the story loses its appeal. I have to live it while I write it. It’s like the story is telling itself to me and I just write it down.
Daphne has such a fascinating history. I love that there were discoveries along the way and not just loads of background information all at once. How did you plan the incorporation of her exposition into your story?
VL: I didn’t. Not really. In the beginning I knew next to nothing about her. I just felt her. (laughs) This has to sound so weird, I’m sorry. But it’s true. I felt her inner turmoil, her dread of the hunt, knowing she couldn’t escape it. After a while I knew bits and pieces of her past. And that is how I incorporated them, as I got to know more about her. The scene at the end? Where a bunch of stuff is revealed about her past? Didn’t know it until I wrote it. It obviously wasn’t streamlined and fit for anyone’s eyes, that took a lot of time and editing, but essentially, I added what came to me when it came to me.
Which of Aristotle’s six elements do you think is strongest in this story: Plot, character, thought/theme, melody/rhythm, language/diction, spectacle/setting.
VL: I’d have to say character, plot, then maybe language.
Who is your favorite playwright and why?
VL: Friedrich Dürrenmatt. Mainly because his play The Visit (Originally: Der Besuch der alten Dame) has always left me afraid, fascinated, smirking and disgusted. In short: It always moved me in a way no play has since. Do you know it?
I don’t. In grad school we had an enormous list of plays we had to read. I’ll have to check out that playwright. I see you are really enjoying those brownies. Wow they must have been delish. (gets up) Good thing I have more. (shouts from the kitchen) More tea too?
VL: I told you, you had to be fast if you wanted some. Delicious baked goods are my weakness. (dabs chin with napkin) Of course I’ll take some more. You are truly talented. I wish I had a knack for baking, but alas, I don’t. I do make a mean lasagna though.
(returns, arranges tea on table) Well if that’s vegan lasagna, bring some over! Now, do you have a specific writing secret that you could share with other writers?
VL: Yes. Write what you love, not what you think will sell. If both comes together, great. If a story is written with love, with heart-blood, people will notice. They will feel what you have felt. I’m talking about a story that calls to you, that needs to get out there. A project which you love will be that much better for it.
What is the most unusual item sitting on your desk this very minute?
VL: (laughs) Favorite question coming up! Heirab. It is resin from a sort of trees (birch bark acacia) in Namibia and is the snack of my childhood. Love the stuff! I visited my parents and celebrated my wedding with the family. So yeah, I brought back… tree resin.
Anything else you’d like to share about your book, the characters, setting, theme?
VL: Well, it is a paranormal urban fantasy with romance. It has a wide array of weird and crazy characters, magic, nocturnal activities (winks), friendship and adventure. It is the story of Daphne, an outcast, who struggles to find her place in the world, a home, and who discovers that sometimes home isn’t a place but the people around you. To come to that conclusion, she has to face distaste, aggression, a pesky, hot guy who turns into a panther, nightmares, a conspiracy, a man with hellishly beautiful blue eyes who holds a grudge and, most importantly, herself.
I’m so happy you visited and shared info about your book. Please take the rest of these brownies with you!
VL: Thank you so much for bearing with me! I had a blast and yes, I shall snag those brownies!! I am so very happy to have met you- thanks for everything. Hope we meet again real soon!
Writer of paranormal and urban fantasy stories. Notorious socializer in real life. Onsie enthusiast. Procrastinator extraordinaire. I was born and raised in the wonderful country of Namibia and am now residing and working in Germany. I’ve learned the amazing craft of an auto mechanic. But my passion is writing, telling stories, and dreaming up impossibilities.
Victoria was such a delightful guest. I hope she comes back for another visit!