Joanne Valiukas is a new author on the scene that had the brilliant idea of taking two of today’s most beloved beings – vampires and angels – and placing them together in her novel Danann Frost Falls from Grace. Check out the interview I did with the author on her debut novel:
Can you tell us about your book Danann Frost Falls from Grace?
Danann Frost Falls from Grace is one woman’s journey about life, love, loneliness, despair, responsibility…basically all of the things that we face in life but from the perspective of an Angel who falls from Grace to be with a vampire who professed to love her but then abandoned her when she needed him most. The book is fast paced and full of action…battles, vengeance, misunderstandings, violence, hatred and jealousy all juxtaposed with love, compassion, understanding personal growth. The characters are deep and the plot moreso…it is a book I am told, that people cannot put down.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I began writing in February of 2009 and wrote for 99 days straight, after which I came out with 5 books, all approximately 400 page novels which I call ‘the Ancient Blood books’. I began editing but still needed to create and so I began writing Danann Frost Falls from Grace. I wrote for 19 days having finished the book, took a week off, then wrote the sequel Danann Frost Embraces the Darkness in 21.
I am a 40 year old wife and mother. I have been married for 21 years and my son is 10 years old and my daughter is 8. I attended an all-girls secondary private school before attending the university of Melbourne, though I did not complete my arts degree. I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which can make me very driven and I have learned that channelling my energies can be a positive thing; something that took a long time to learn.
What got you interested in writing about vampires?
I have always liked vampire fiction and movies. It is the seductive nature of the vampire and the true danger they represent that I find so appealling. I wanted to write about the brutality of human nature but in a paranormal form. I wanted to escape with my writing not relive life such as it is. I wanted to have characters capable of truly awful things yet still have redeemable qualities. I’ve been told that my characters are so real that people actually identify with them.
Ok, here’s a question I ask all authors I interview: I’ve noticed that most of the authors I follow on Twitter talk about the music they’re currently writing to. What kind of setting/atmosphere do you find most conducive to your writing?
Writing to music was something that I had to learn to do, it did not come naturally but once it did…it became a very powerful tool in helping me to create exactly the right atmosphere and emotion for each individual scene. Everything in my books is essential; necessary for character development or advancing plot line. Everything I write is with emotion…there is no filler in my books…at all. I listen to music that helps me set the mood that I need. An example of this is where in one of the Ancient Blood books, a character lays dying after a brutal battle and he is just concerned with my heroine. I wrote that scene to the song ‘Ready for a fall’ by P J Olsson. The words spoke to me and made me cry as I wrote the scene. They were ‘Where will you go after me? Where will you go after I set you free…’ In Danann Frost Falls from Grace, there is a scene where Danann and her best friend Asher are driving down St Kilda Boulevard; a world famous, tree lined street in Melbourne (my home city) during the heat of a balmy summer evening. They are on their way to a night club, escaping life after a nasty scare and Danann just wants to feel free and unencumbered. The radio is playing, the car is a convertible with the top down; her hair is flying free and the Black Eyed Peas come on the radio playing I Gotta Feeling. Really sets the mood.
Who’s your favorite fictitious vampire (other than your own)?
I have seen many, many, many vampire movies and read even more books. I created my own vampires because no one else’s totally appealled however, there were certain character traits that I liked from others. One common trait that I love in male vampires is the total and debilitating loneliness they suffer until they find the one woman that can deliver them. I like the stoicism they tend to exhibit, such as Eric Sinclair from Mary Janice Davidson’s Queen Betsy books. We rarely see emotion from him but what a buzz when he thinks she is dead. Charlaine Harris’s Eric Northam falls in love with Sookie much to his own reluctance and surprise but he is passionate and protective of her. Acheron (Not a traditional sort of vampire in the normal sense) is heart-breakingly sad and shocked to find that someone is truly capable of loving him. It is all the common character traits of the vampire that I think I find so seductive.
What is your favorite vampire book/movie/show?
I have too many to truly be fair; their is no particular one. I love Anne Rice’s work, as well as Charlaine Harris. I liked the early Anita Blake books, Laurell K Hamilton gave us a great plethora of characters that interacted well and had great plot lines. I miss the pard and Raphael the Rat King as well as Cherrie and so many other characters…I hope one day we’ll see them again. I liked the television series Kindred the Embraced and I do like True Blood, though I keep hoping that they will be true to Charlaine’s vision of the characters whilst still understanding that for television to work, they do need to change some things. I love the movie 30 days of night, Bordello of Blood, Dusk ’til Dawn, Underworld, Van Helsing, Innocent Blood, Vampire Hunter ‘D’, Lost Boys, Day Watch and Night Watch, even Nosferatu…I like them all…action, romantic, cheesey…you name it.
If vampires were discovered to exist today, do you think our society would accept them or try to destroy them?
Humanity is brutal and judgemental and to my mind…incapable of handling such a concept. We already hate and try to destroy what is different without often even trying to truly understand…a theme that is in my book actually. The Angels in my book are not religious, merely creatures of light from another plane of existence that visit humanity to learn and sit judgement but they do not walk in our shoes, yet nevertheless feel capable of condemning us.
And finally, what other projects are you currently working on? Any goodies we should watch out for?
The Ancient Bloods are my Magnum Opus and I am still editing them with one more book to write, bringing them to a 6 book arc. Danann Frost Falls from Grace and Danann Frost Embraces the darkness are companion tales set in the same world with some crossover of characters. I have plans and story arcs for another 5 characters, one of which I have already begun writing. I am self-published in the hopes of generating interest in my writing an attracting the attention of a publisher. I could be the best writer in the world (or the worst) but without someone taking the time to read it, I have no chance and so we thought that generating interest would be the way to go.