Dean and Raven have worked together many times these past few years. When DEMAIN was being launched, Raven mentioned she was looking for a home for her new novella Dean was very happy that she chose DEMAIN. Her book House Of Wrax is currently out for pre-sales and is being published mid-November...
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Great to speak to you again Raven! Let’s start with an easy one: who are you and why did you become a writer?
RAVEN DANE: Hello to you too. As a child, I had a vivid imagination and created characters and their story lines. I was nine when I watched an amazing sunset from my bedroom window. It looked like jagged, black mountains surrounding a silver lake. Decades later, it was the inspiration for Isolann, a country central to my first published novel, Blood Tears. I was also a voracious and precocious reader from 3 years old, mainly Science Fiction to start with, then anything and everything. In my working career, I was a newspaper and magazine journalist but also became a library assistant. It was then that exposure to other genres was so invaluable to my future self as a writer.
DP: I don’t think I knew you were a journalist – I love these interviews, I learn so much. So, House Of Wrax – what is it about?
RD: It is set in a toxic, post disaster-struck Earth, where only the most tenacious lifeforms have evolved to survive. Remnants of humanity shelter in massive fortresses from the monsters of the wasteland. A single act of anger triggers peril for all the survivors. Revenge is a dish of human flesh.
DP: I love it...and your protagonist?
DP: Ha ha – fair enough. Okay, so in writing Wrax did you have to do much research?
RD: I always research extensively no matter how fantastical the setting. There must always be plausibility otherwise you are short changing and most likely losing the interest of the reader. The research is not to info dump but create a world that makes sense, has its own reality and logic and engages the senses of the reader. What does that feel, taste, sound, smell look like.
DP: Some great advice there to writers starting out! Would you say you found any of the scenes hard to write?
RD: Not any scenes in House of Wrax, thank goodness. It was one of those priceless stories that magically write themselves. It began as a short story called Carapace that featured in an anthology edited by Dean. Many readers wanted to know more about that world and House of Wrax came to me in a surge of creativity. I wish I had that surge again on a work in progress novel now. That one is fighting back at me.
DP: I know how that feels – I’m currently writing a script which should have been ‘easy’ but its proving to be anything but right now...creatively Raven what would you say has been your biggest success?
RD: That is a tough one. It has to be my debut novel, Blood Tears. It took me many years to write, firstly as I was in full time work with long, exhausting hours and later being a parent to my son. It was enormous too, an epic chunk of dark fantasy novel. It was also a cross genre story with aspects of science fiction, alternative history and horror. One agent who loved the book, said it would be impossible to sell as it didn’t fit into any one category on a book shop shelf. When I found a publisher for it , there were no e-books or much social media though there was some special interest on line forums. The publicity department at the time did a great job at getting me interviews and reviews in magazines. Good word of mouth on vampire forums was also incredibly helpful. Blood Tears launched me as a writer. It was still selling well until the novel has only been available on e-books and with over 2000 [extreme rude words] pirate sites stealing it.
DP: Yes – those [rude words also] pirates! What books do you read and have they influenced you as a writer?
RD: As a writer in the past, I was always terrified of any influence creeping into my work and I have kept a genre quarantine as a means to prevent that. I avoided all vampire stories, for example, while writing my Legacy of the Dark Kind series. I made an exception though for Sam Stone’s Vampire Gene series, as the books are so very different and too enjoyable not to read. I have far more confidence in my writing now and the quarantine has been eased. As for books I read now…well Stephen King, Joe Hill and Adam Nevill will always be on my must-read list. I am working my way through James S A Corey’s epic The Expanse SF series. The TV series has blown me away with its brilliance. I also love the SF of Jilly Paddock and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I am also a big fan of Phil Rickman and Karen Maitland. I am always on the lookout for new authors.
DP: I guess then you’re looking forward to Adam’s new novel, The Reddening?
RD: Very much. Adam’s books are wonderfully written and absolutely terrifying. That old cliché ‘sleeping with the lights on’ was actually true for me when reading his novel, Last Days!
DP: He’s a great guy too. Very friendly and approachable. Is there anything that Raven Dane is afraid of and has it ever made its way into your work?
RD: Nothing supernatural, I have experienced the presence of earthbound spirits from an early age and they cannot harm the living. They need only pity and help to move on. The first thing that truly frightened me as a young teenager, was a documentary about the Charles Manson murders. The awareness of the sheer evil of living humans, ones without motive but capable of such random, cold barbarity, led to many sleepless nights. In horror films and stories, child ghosts have always unsettled me. When I wrote my very first horror short story, long before my career took off, I asked myself what would scare me in a film. So I wrote the Attic Nursery.
DP: Bit of fun this one: Marvel or DC?
RD: I am a total Marvel fangirl! But sorry, Avengers…my favourite character is Loki. It is a fandom that has given my son and I so much enjoyment over the years with the Marvel Universe films and TV series. When he was little, I helped him build up his super hero action figure collection. So many happy hours scouring car boot sales for any figure that wasn’t Batman and Superman…he had enough of those already. We did enjoy DC’s Suicide Squad but that was a one off.
DP: I saw Suicide Squad in French which improved it slightly I think...shame because it could have been something super-great...anyway, that’s just a personal opinion. Last one then: please tell us something surprising / unknown about you.
RD: Not that I am a pagan witch. Common knowledge! Horses have always been important to me. I am a professional horse trainer and riding instructor and used to teach stunt people to fall off and actors to stay on horses. I also took part in medieval jousting tournaments on horseback. Wonderful days that can only be memories now. All that crashing and bashing about on fiery steeds has caught up with my body in a big way now. Ouch!
Ouch indeed! Thank you so much for your time Raven, extremely appreciated. Best of luck too with House Of Wrax.
If you would like to connect directly with Raven:
Dean M. Drinkel