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“Understanding psychology allows me to add dimension to some of my characters: explore the motivation behind their behaviors… knowing how criminals (or sociopaths) think is a real aid in developing the Dark Ones.”

April 15, 2011

Arts & Literature, Interviews

DarkMedia Interviews Tessa Dawn:

Tessa Dawn grew up in Colorado where she developed a deep affinity for the Rocky Mountains. After graduating with a degree in psychology, she worked for several years in criminal justice and mental health before returning to get her Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management.

Tessa began writing as a child and composed her first full-length novel at the age of eleven. Her first published works were in the areas of poetry and education. She currently lives in the suburbs with her two children and “one very crazy cat” but hopes to someday move to the country where she can own horses and a German Shepherd

Writing is her bliss. (tessadawn.com)

You profess a deep affinity for the Rocky Mountains and have used mountains as your setting for Blood Destiny. Why is this sort of terrain so special to you and what does it add to your fiction?

Mountains are just so majestic, beautiful, and peaceful. They seem to eclipse the rest of the world—or loom over it— providing a sense of awe, wonder, and infinite power. For me, they always provide spiritual balance and perspective. With regard to my fiction, they provide mood, stir emotion, and keep things in scale—my vampires may be powerful beings, but they are still subject to a much larger universal force…

Like your heroine, Jocelyn, you’ve worked in the Criminal Justice system. Do your real life experiences help or hinder when it comes to writing a fantasy novel?

Oh, it always helps. Understanding psychology allows me to add dimension to some of my characters: explore the motivation behind their behaviors (whether or not I write that motivation into the story). Knowing how criminals (or sociopaths) think is a real aid in developing the Dark One’s…and not just in terms of how the Dark Vampyr behave, but in terms of how their presence makes others (readers) feel. At some point, it should get uncomfortable.

What do you think makes a good story?

The number one element for me is emotion: Whether what is felt is positive or negative, a good story should evoke an emotional response to characters and events.

Blood Destiny has elements of horror, fantasy and the thriller/crime genres. Why did you decide to cross over several genres like this?

I like this question because I think it gets to the heart of my philosophy with regard to writing. I rarely “think” my stories: I feel them. In fact, I usually see a particular character or scene before the story. You could say I FEEL the overall conflict or emotion in the book, and thatfeeling provides the nucleus for what I write. From that point forward, I always let the characters lead (I have no choice; they’re quite pushy).
From that perspective, if my characters take me into an element of horror or suspense…or even romance…then I follow. If they decide to throw in some humor (which is always a pleasant surprise) then I allow that, too. Naturally, I tend to gravitate toward the areas that have the greatest appeal to me, but I don’t ever try to control where my characters take me in order to fit the book into a predefined mold…or genre. (On the few occasions I’ve tried, it caused character anarchy!)

What’s your favorite book to give as a gift and why?

Hmm, that’s hard. It would really depend on the recipient; literary preferences are so varied. People see the world so differently from one another. Believe it or not, I would probably be more likely to gift non-fiction.

What are you reading right now?

Ah…you got me: Lover Unleashed by JR Ward (and about a half dozen others at the same time).

Are you a fan of vampire fiction yourself? Aside from your own characters, who is your favorite literary vampire?

I L-O-V-E vampire fiction, have read hundreds of books — which is why it would be next to impossible to choose one favorite character. However, I will say that I enjoyed Manolito from the book, Dark Possession by Christine Feehan, although technically, I think he’s a Carpathian rather than a vampire.

Some of the names (Nathanial, Levi) and practices (sacrificing the first born son) in Blood Destiny are very reminiscent of the Old Testatment. Was this an influence and how did you go about creating the rudiments of an ancient society?

Actually, the Old Testament never even crossed my mind, lol. I paired Romanian surnames with some of my favorite first-names (I think I got Levi from the jeans).

However, I did use a real, ancient society that sacrificed its females to the point of extinction (yep, that horrific storyline actually happened), and then I reasoned beliefs and consequences based on those existing elements.

What, or who, is your greatest inspiration as an author? What about them inspires you?

The authors that inspire me the most are those who follow their own hearts, those who write the stories they feel most passionate about regardless of what is or isn’t going on in the market at the time. Often times, in their interviews, they will point out that they didn’t expect those particular books to be sold…or they didn’t believe others would go for them, but they had to write the story they wrote.
It inspires me because it sets a wonderful example.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? What’s the best, or worst, advice someone gave you?

Other than the obvious (master the technical elements of writing; write thousands upon thousands of pages; and read so many books in your genre(s) that you can’t even count them all), I try not to give advice and I rarely ask for it. That’s not because I don’t think there’s a lot of wisdom out there. There is, and we should never stop seeking, learning, and growing…but that is different to me than seeking counsel or guidance. The inherent flaw with getting advice from another is simply…they’re not you. They haven’t lived your life; they don’t see the world through the same lens; and they don’t feel your deepest dreams, desires, and fears. Basically, they are here for their own purpose, walking their own path, and they will never wake up and go to sleep with the direct results of your decisions…but you will.

Best Advice: Know who you are, why you write, and what you want…then follow your heart.
Worst Advice: Anything negative or fear-based.

What are you currently working on and how can your readers support you and your upcoming projects?

I am currently working on book three in the Blood Curse Series (Blood Reign), and I’m playing around with the idea for a short story. AND…I’m wishing I could write more…faster.

As for supporting me? So far, my readers have been phenomenal! They send notes of support; they tell others about the series; and they share my love of fiction. The most powerful thing a reader can do is recruit another reader: give a shout out on their own facebook, twitter, or email loop. Blog or chat with others.

Finally, what’s got you inspired or excited?

Right now, the whole vampire explosion just has me thrilled (although I’ve been reading it for years and will probably continue long after the “fad” has passed). There’s just something about those dark, dangerous, mythical beings that is alluring to the Nth power!
Positively fangtastic!

_____________________________________

Tessa Dawn can be found at www.tessadawn.com or on DarkMediaCity.

Many thanks to our contributing interviewer and reviewer, D.

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission.)

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