Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ava Delany whose newest release Dark Daze will probably turn out to be her favorite out of the ten contemporary novels she's written. Dark Daze is paranormal, but it's different from most others—Ava uses common sense combined with monster lore to avoid stereotypes. For example, in her work vampires might be allergic to garlic or sunlight—it makes them break out in hives and that's the reason they avoid it.
"I had a lot of fun writing paranormal and with the length of the story I was able to get to know my characters better," she told me.
She's currently working on the second book in the End of Daze series.
"You'll meet some new faces, see some old ones, and experience more of life after Dark Day," she assured me.
This isn't the first series Ava has written, however. The Beginnings series is about a group of friends whose lives intertwine over the years; The Homecoming series is a group of short sequels to The Beginnings series; and The Fetish Club is about three friends who go to a fetish club to celebrate a birthday.
I asked her which came first—the plot or the characters.
"It's a combination," she said. "Sometimes a character will insinuate itself into my mind, fully formed, and sometimes a situation will come to me. I've written several first chapters based on one or the other but, until the two fit together, it just doesn't work."
Ava usually has one or two working titles for her WIPs and a final title. She will start out with a blurb and the title she first came up with. Then, as she writes, things change and another title might come to her. When she finishes the story, she evaluates it and decides at that time if the original title or blurb should be changed.
"Of course, I've had a few books titles something like sensual short-supermarket," she said with a laugh.
She's somewhere in between being a plotter and a pantser. Some of her stories she plots while others just come to her.
"I think it depends on how much time I have for planning. If the story is coming too fast, I don't have much of a choice, but I really enjoy mulling things over while I do mundane things like workout or clean," she told me.
The hardest part of writing, for Ava, is the editing—once she's finished writing the book, she's ready to go on to the next book.
"I've got new characters talking to me and new scenes playing out in my head," she explained. "Taking a step back into the story I just finished isn't easy and usually makes me want to get back to my new story. That's also why I can't write the last chapter before I've written everything else. Once I type 'the end, that's the end."
Ava has a desktop computer, but finds herself most often writing on her laptop while sitting on the couch. She has inspirational images on her living room walls and her computer desktop is covered with pictures of people and images from her novels. She can't listen to music while writing, however.
"I find myself ignoring the music, or ignoring the writing," she admitted."Either way, it's not good. I do sometimes listen to music to get in the mood for writing, but the minute the keys start clacking, the music turns off. I usually listen to classical before love scenes, and rock before action scenes."
In the ideal world, Ava would wake up and get ready for the day. Then she would sit down to write at 9 AM and keep writing until 2000 words or 3 PM, unless she was inspired to continue. Then she would relax for the rest of the day.
"I really do need a maid and a chef," she told me with a laugh. "My actual schedule is more like an hour a day, often interrupted by my children."
When she's not writing, she loves reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.
"We love hiking and walking in the outdoors. We letterbox a lot," she said. "To find out more about what letterboxing is, check out atlasquest.com."
"Tell us about a favorite character from a book," I invited.
"Odd Thomas for his awesomeness in all things, Miss Pross for her determination, Reena Harrison for her bravery, Elizabeth Bennett for her strength, Queen Betsy Taylor for her ability to bounce back, and so many more."
She has many favorite authors, just as she has several favorite characters. She loves Stephen King's excellent sense of pacing, Dean Koontz's grasp on suspense, Tessa Dare's ability to turn a kiss into a soul-changing event, Mary Janice Davidson's sarcastic sense of humor, Meg Cabot's awesome voice, Douglas Adams' comedic timing, and many other authors for many other things.
"I'm ever a fan girl, and I feel so blessed to have met the awesome authors I've met since I published my first novel," she told me.
"If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again," I asked, "what would you do differently?"
"I might have entered a contest or two before trying to get published. I would love to have tried for the Golden Heart. A friend of mine, G. Jillian Stone, entered the GH and she had so much fun with the experience. Plus, contests can help a writer to get unbiased feedback on their manuscript."
For fun, I asked Ava, "If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?"
"A plumbed toilet, because ewww! A computer with a solar battery charger so I could write. A satellite phone, so I could call for rescue. A solar powered frozen yogurt maker so I could make cold drinks to help the time pass. And finally, a three-sided tent complete with already inflated blow up bed so I can drink and write in comfort without losing the view."
"What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?" I asked.
"My advice to any writer, new or experienced, is to keep reading. As authors, we spend a lot of our free time writing, so it can be hard to find time to read. If you have a full-time job or kids, it can be almost impossible. Reading sharpens our writing and grammar skills. It shows us, through brilliant prose, how we want to write. It reminds us, through lacking prose, how we want to avoid writing. It refills the word bank in our heads and relieves our stress. Reading is an integral part of the writing process, so be sure to read every day. Even if it's just listening to a book on tape while you do the dishes."
Ava will choose one commenter to win a download of Dark Daze, but you have to tell her what movie her favorite quote—"Psychos don't explode when sunlight hits them, I don't give a f#(k how crazy they are"—comes from.
About the Author:
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On Dec 21, 2012, at 2:12pm, the sky went dark all over the world, and people's lives changed in ways they feared to admit. Thousands died in accidents while others claimed to have seen demons and found themselves locked up in their local psychiatric ward. Scientists explained away the phenomenon, and things seemed to return to normal.
After a decade of trying to conceal a power she never expected or wanted, Brie Duval was used to being alone. When life—or more appropriately, a meddling friend, sends her on a blind date with Ian Connors, she discovers she wasn't the only person to gain powers that day.
They find themselves falling in love while on the run from a creature with eyes that suck in light and a force that controls their wills, but Brie can't help but fear their love is a side effect of the menace. In order to survive, they must put aside their fears and embrace the gifts they've fought so hard to deny.