Wednesday, August 8, 2007

[Interview] Raven Starr


Emerging author, Raven Starr has been writing since she was 15 years old.

This year, some of her poems are going to be featured in When Times Moves On (Anchor Books), a new poetry anthology. She is also publishing her first novella, The Vampire’s Embrace (TreePress.net) and a short e-book, Fantasy (Red Rose Publishing).

In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

In your teens, one of your plays was staged in New London, Connecticut. What was the play about? And, how did you come to write it?

“The Wrong Choice” is about teens and drugs. It's about the loss that teenagers feel when one of their friends dies from an overdose.

It came about when I was in the 9th grade and a friend of mine died from an overdose. One day he was in school with us, laughing and the next day he was gone. It was my very first experience with death. "The Wrong Choice" was how I coped with losing a friend.

I was pleasantly surprised when my after-school program, The Drop-in Learning Center, also in New London, arranged with a local church to have the play staged there. The first night went very well. We received a standing ovation. I was really proud. The reception which "The Wrong Choice" received inspired to write another play called, “Running Scared But Free.” I still have copies of both plays. Somewhere.

As a writer, who would you say has influenced you the most?

The person who has influenced me the most is my mom. She was in my corner. She was awesome and very supportive. I suffer from a condition called endometriosis. I am in severe pain most of the time. There was a time when I didn’t think I could handle the pain... My mother showed me how to focus on the important things in life.

I read a lot: Stephen King, Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, Charlaine Harris, Michael and Kathleen Gear, Thomas Moore and the great poetic mastermind, Maya Angelou. All of them have influenced me in one way or the other. Their style, their prose...

What are the biggest challenges that you face? And, how do you deal with them?

I feel that the only challenge I face is facing myself. Writing is not easy. It takes time, patience and, yes, talent. Without the first two ingredients sometimes talent falls through the cracks.

I try to remain focused and when I have bad days, when I want to write but the pain is too intense, I make sure I surround myself with creative and supportive people.

I also find it very frustrating when what I want to do is write but nothing comes out clearly. Or when I have a good idea for a story but I'm already working on two other ideas and I just can’t get to everything. My friends keep me grounded. They help me see the bigger picture. They've taught me not to force my writing. They've taught me to relax and let it come to me.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

I am an avid horror movie buff. I now float between paranormal erotica and fantasy. I love writing in both genres. I love writing about things that scare you or creatures that come purely from the imagination. I truly don’t think that fantasy is too different from paranormal. Some people think that vampires, shape shifters and werewolves are a part of fantasy.

My concern as a writer is being ‘real’ and believable. I want the reader to become involved in my work, to be able to see the world I create.

Do you write everyday?

Yes, I try to write everyday. Even if it's 500 words, to me it's 500 more words than I had before. And I'm always writing or jotting down little tidbits.

My first book, The Vampire’s Embrace is going to be published by TreePress.net, a small publishing house based in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm going through the edits now and I don’t have a release date, just yet. The Vampire's Embrace is a novella and it's the first of a trilogy. It's the first in a set of three books that I'm working on. In the novella, we met Kia, the heroine. She is a shape shifter that falls in love with a vampire. And she may also be the key to ending the war, or the beginning of a new reign of death.

I submitted The Vampire’s Embrace to a number of publishers and Tree Press was the one that saw promise in my work. I did consider self-publishing, but I was told that agents and other publishers would not take me or my subsequent work seriously if I self-published so I decided against it.

In addition to The Vampire's Embrace, I also have a short e-book, Fantasy, which is being published by Red Rose Publishing. The e-book focuses on Star Morgan, a young black woman who falls for an 80’s heartthrob. She gets the chance to meet him and that’s when the fun begins.

Which aspects of the work that you put into Vampire's Embrace did you find most difficult?

Honestly, when I first started to write with the intention of being published, I thought: "How hard can it be? I just put my thoughts on paper and I’m done." No, it takes time and effort, combined with a love of learning.

I had the drive but it was the time issue that I found most challenging. Being a single mother of three, I found that I don’t have a lot of time. I had to learn to manage my time better. I had to ask myself if I was willing to sacrifice some things for my craft.

What will your next book be about?

I am working on the sequel to The Vampire's Embrace. The sequel is called Bayou Moon. I am also working on two fantasy books for young adults, The Dragon’s Phoenix and The Calling.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer? And how did you get there?

Besides getting a contract with Tree Press, I'd have to say my other significant achievement is the publication of, “The Otherside,” a poem I wrote for my mother.

Before I tried my hand at writing novellas and short stories, poetry was my heart. I posted some of my work to Poetry.com. It was a start. I received three different Editor’s Choice awards and have been published in a few anthologies through Poetry.com.

This article was first published on OhmyNews International.

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