Author Darke Conteur returns to chat with OBS reviewer Annabell about the second installment to her Watchtower Series, Under the Cover of Wicca. She also opens up about Of Covens and Packs (the next installment), what her journey was like into self-publishing, why she sticks to writing dark themed stories, and what she would cook if Edgar Allan Poe came over for dinner.
Annabell: As a Wiccan yourself, why did you decide to place the religion (so to speak) of Wicca as part of your plot in the second installment to the Watchtower Series? What do you hope readers understand better about how Wicca works?
Darke Conteur: I guess it’s because I am Wiccan that I included it, and I needed another form of magical belief to co-exist with Aslin’s. I don’t know if people will understand Wicca better, and with the spells Rowan casts, I might have added to the growing list of false abilities associated with the belief.
Annabell: I have a thing for names and learning their origins and meanings. Sangwuine is a very odd name. How did you come up with it and is there any meaning to it?
Darke Conteur: I have several lists of names ranging from Gothic to Wiccan. Sangwuine was on my Wiccan list. I looked it up on line, but there isn’t any definition for it that I could find, so I don’t know if it has a meaning or not. I thought it sounded ominous enough to be a good name for a bad guy.
Annabell: There is a hint of a romance beginning between Aslin (a.k.a The Scot) and Ember. Will the third installment show more progression in their relationship? Will readers also get a chance to learn more about Aslin’s Druid family and his past?
Darke Conteur: I wasn’t going to have a romance between these two, but it kind of worked itself in there. In the rough draft, Ember was killed, so the fact she managed to stay alive was impressive. I’m still debating how far it should go. His relationship with her is compounded by his sudden return to his ancestral home. Aslin left behind more than his family to work with Jezryall. Something I think he’s beginning to regret.
Annabell: Of Covens and Packs is the third installment in the Watchtower Series. When will it be coming out and what can readers expect?
Darke Conteur: If everything stays on schedule, I’m looking at a release date of mid-summer. I’m really excited about this book. For one, I let my imagination go wild. In the other books, there were places where I could have expanded the story, but I didn’t. I couldn’t unlock myself from the script-formatted story I’d written. Not this time. I show more of the paranormal world, get more into the characters background. In this novel, a couple characters must face their own personal demons. Dredging up things from the past is always hard, but for this group, it can be downright dangerous.
Annabell: If you could create a playlist of music for Under the Cover of Wicca, which songs would you pick?
Darke Conteur: Hmmm…that’s an interesting question. Primal Scream by Motley Crue, something from Rob Zombie; Where Ever I May Roam by Metallica, maybe some Ozzy.
Annabell: As a writer, has there ever been a moment where you just wanted to give up and walk away from writing? What always draws you back?
Darke Conteur: No. I’ve never not wanted to write. I took a few years off when my son was born, but I kept jotting down idea’s and plot scenes so when he was old enough to entertain himself, I was back at it again. I love the idea of entertaining people; of taking them to a world they’ve never seen, even if the landmarks sound familiar, it’s a completely different place.
Annabell: What has the journey of self-publishing been like for you? What have you learned about yourself through that journey? What’s some advice you could give to authors who are looking to follow the same path?
Darke Conteur: It’s been a learning journey, that’s for sure. I found myself not taking my own advice, and it cost me in money, time, and energy. Sometimes the hardest lessons are the ones that stick with us the longest.
I like doing this myself, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t publish with small press or go a traditional route. Self-publishing is the ultimate career for a control freak, but it’s hard. You have to accept that everything is left up to you. Every. Little. Thing. As for advice, there are some things you can learn to do yourself, but other things you should have done for you. An editor and cover art are the two highest on my list. Unless you’re an incredible artist, have someone do a cover for you. It’s the first thing someone will see of your work, and the old adage ‘You only get one chance to make a good impression’, applies here.
Annabell: Tragedy and death are constants within the Watchtower Series thus far. How do you approach writing such dark themes?
Darke Conteur: All my stories are dark. I don’t know why, but I can’t write fluffy, happy-go-lucky stories. I’ve always been attracted to dark themes. Even as a kid watching old movies on the weekend, I would gravitate to the horror/paranormal ones. I joke and say that I was Goth before it was cool, but it’s kind of true. It isn’t that I like to be scared, just the opposite, but the whole ‘lurking in the shadows’ thing is exciting to me. I was asked to write a short story for a romance anthology once, and I failed. Miserably. It was dark and ominous, and I killed off a whole pile of people.
Annabell: Why did you choose to write a fantasy series for adults instead of young adults (even though this series can also branch out into the YA genre—in my opinion)? Would you ever write a book specifically for the YA genre?
Darke Conteur: I tried. Honestly, I did. It was a futuristic story that revolved around two teenage boys. I got half way through it and gave up. I simply lost interest with it. I can’t relate to the YA genre. When I was a teen, I wrote about teen stuff. When I was in my twenties, so where my characters. Now that I’m grown *cough* and have children, my characters are more mature as well. I don’t read YA either, or rarely do.
Funny though, I recently came up with a Middle Grade story that I’m really excited about. Odd.
Annabell: What’s the scariest thing to you about writing (whether it be a book/novella/short story) and the best part?
Darke Conteur: Right now, the scariest is making sure everything makes sense with this series. I’m constantly checking to make sure I’m not repeating information. I can waste an hour just going back and forth between files, making sure one tidbit is in the right place and that I didn’t place it somewhere else.
Oddly enough, the best part is the scariest as well. I love coming up with scenes that take the reader someplace they’ve never been. It’s like a magic carpet ride.
Annabell: As a fellow book enthusiast, what is the type of content you look for in a novel when you want something to read? What type of content do you prefer to stay away from?
Darke Conteur: I look for believable characters and a strong plot. I need to believe that what I’m reading could happen and the characters could react the way the author has written them. I try to do that with my stories, but it’s hard. Sometimes it comes across, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t like reading pages of details either. I’ll skip over parts if I get bored.
Annabell: If you could have dinner with Edgar Allan Poe (you know, minus the whole dead rotting smell and all–we’ll just say if he was still alive), what would you ask him and what would you cook?
Darke Conteur: If he were to come over to my house, I’d have meatloaf. I make a killer meatloaf. As for my question, it would have to be what he thought of The Simpsons doing The Raven on an episode of Treehouse of Horror. That has to be my favorite episode.
Annabell: Big thank you to Author Darke Conteur for stopping by and chatting with me again =)
You can find Darke Conteur at:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Darke_Conteur (@Darke_Conteur)