The second edition of the Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers will be available soon from Dark Oak Press and all major distributors. New cover design by Kevin “Fritz” Fotovich. Interior features a revised map of Faltyr by Maria Gandolfo.
As most people’s thoughts turn to warm weather, bright flowers, and outdoor vacations, there are those of us who enjoy the Addams Family or Munsters-kind of life regardless of the season. I am one of those Autumn People, always with one foot on either side of the Veil. Paranormal writer Bella Roccaforte is part of our worldwide creative carnival as well. This legitimate badass is literary and quite lively, unlike some of her creepy crawlers and haunting hunks. I have the privilege of sitting down with her to find out what steered her toward the world of spooky fiction.
J: Let’s start with something simple. How long have you been writing? And what led you to “go pro”?
B: In a former life, I was a professional musician and used to write poetry for as long as I can remember. But as far as writing stories, I started in December of 2012. My husband had been talking about writing a novel for as long as I’ve known him. So I challenged him to write for an hour and I would do the same.
At the end of a week of doing that he asked how many words I had. I didn’t know, because I wasn’t paying attention to that. Turns out I had 30k words. When I asked him how many he had, he just told me that wasn’t important right now. He asked to read what I had written and after he did, he told me it was good and I should publish it. So I finished and here I am now eight novels later.
J: Whoa! That’s an impressive start. If you can type 30k words in a week, I should hire you to write my novels, if I could afford you. Broke Guys Productions is no euphemism. Hehehe!
J: What genre(s) do you prefer to write? Do you prefer to read those genres too?
B: I prefer to write in paranormal. I’m having a blast with my latest series which is a paranormal romance. I’m not typically big on romance, but this story was scratching to get out.
I also love to read paranormal, pnr is okay, but I don’t need a lot of sexy to enjoy a story.
J: Personally, I’m fine with scary, sexy, or both, as long as it’s well-written and edited.
J: Speaking of your reading habits, what are your five favorite novels?
B: Inferno by Dante Alighieri
The Beautiful Demons series by Sarra Cannon
Elfhunter series by C.S. Marks.
The Celestra Series by Addison Moore
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
J: Both 1 and 5 are great choices. I’ll have to check out the rest. You’re not the first person to recommend Elfhunter.
J: What writers have influenced you the most over the course of your life?
B: Addison Moore and Sarra Cannon. I would not be a published author without both of them!
J: I feel similarly about those who helped me along the way, writers, editors, publishers, and artists. Part of why I started this series of interviews was to showcase them as well as others.
J: Let’s turn back to your writing process. When you set out to create a new story, do you jump right in to the tale (pantster) or plan it out for ages beforehand (plotter)?
B: Gosh, this is a tough one because I usually have the basics down for the story in my head before I jump in. But as the words flow, they create their own little ripples in the story line. I have been known to come out of my office with wide eyes and say “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!”
But I don’t create an outline, or write down the plot. My latest series actually grew from a series of paintings I had done. Originally, there were three paintings, now there are nine. But the original three served as beginning middle and end. The story has grown beyond that at this point.
J: Are there common themes, topics, or tropes that you use or explore in your works of fiction?
B: Oh yes, I have all kinds of little Easter eggs or private jokes all throughout my work.
In the INK series, there are a ton of The Walking Dead Easter eggs. I have a character named Carl who’s always getting lost. Things like that.
In Paranormal Transmissions, many of the towns/cities they go to are named after the actors from The Walking Dead (I’m a huge fan if you can’t tell.)
In Moon Crossed (The Crescent Hunter Series), my “hero” is named Cole Jackson. Jackson is the name of the hero in Sarra Cannon’s Beautiful Demons series and last night I needed a list of casualties. Characters we’ve never really met that died in battle. At first, I was thinking I could name them Kenny (South Park), Rory (Doctor Who), Red (Red shirts from Star Trek), you know characters that always die. But I couldn’t come up with enough names, so I decided to go with a list of all my exes.
J: It’s nice to know that I’m not the only writer here who has killed an ex or two in fiction. Or loves #TWD!
J: Judging by our previous conversations, it sounds like you have had a rough life, one that has helped build you into the badass you’ve become. What real life events have most shaped your writing?
B: Whoa, so yeah. If we were sitting face to face, I’d be making that face that Peta Mellark made when asked on stage if there was anyone special at home (Hunger Games).
Okay, so yes, probably the one thing in my life that has shaped and driven my writing in one specific way is heartbreak. In the INK: Series, the two heroes are based on exes. They are both aware and think it’s pretty cool. I did have one of them apologize to me for being such an ass hat.
Moon Crossed is the product of a difficult time when life had just fallen to pieces for me. I’m a people hoarder, and for whatever psychological issues, I have one of the coping mechanisms is to create an extremely tight knit circle of friends that I would kill or die for. The circle broke, we all fell away, and I felt like my heart had been dug out of my chest with a rusty spoon. Thus, the painting outlet, and subsequently telling a part of that story. I, of course, had to spice it up and throw in some romance. But all of the characters with the exception of the love interest/hero are based on my boys from The House of Brotus (our little cult).
It has been therapeutic, but still on a level while going back and doing revisions and re-feeling some of those emotions, it’s so raw. Most of us have all reformed the circle, it would seem there was only one permanent casualty of the fallout.
J: Pardon to tough question, but I find that many writers tend to be survivors and fiction makes wonderful therapy for us. But it also showcases our pain as well as our hope for a better tomorrow. That can make it daunting to delve into such personal stories on occasion. Glad you’re working through it all and finding catharsis bit by bit with each tale.
J: Do you find that your real life struggles make it easier or more difficult to put your characters through a fictional baptism by fire?
B: Depends on the character and the mood that I’m in. Sometimes it’s so nice to just rip someone’s intestines out and eat them while they watch. Other times I’ll be like, “I’m so sorry, but we really had to do that. It hurt me more than it hurt you.”
In general, the heroine always gets the shitty end of the stick. I love to torture her to see how amazing she’ll be when she rises from the ashes.
J: What’s the common quote about fiction? Put your characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them. Writing 101. I think some of us enjoy the experience entirely too much though. Yes, I’m talking to you, G.R.R. Martin.
J: What writing project are you working on at the moment?
B: I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the first book in the Crescent Hunter Series, Moon Crossed. I’m releasing it in serial format and three episodes are already available on Amazon. I’ll continue to release them weekly until April 15th.
J: What upcoming releases do you have slated for 2015? When and where can we find them?
B: Moon Crossed #1 (Crescent Hunter Series) April 15 – Amazon and my website (BellaWrites.com for the paper back)
INK: Bold Strokes (Book 5) – Final book in this series. All digital retailers by the end of summer.
Three more installments of Paranormal Transmissions – supernatural/paranormal serial. All digital outlets and I’ll be releasing them over the course of the next year.
And who knows what else might come from my crazy brain. If you had told me three months ago that I was going to write a shifter romance, I would have said, “Shut up, I’m not.”
Thanks for the lively, intriguing answers, Bella. I’ve come to expect no less from you. Good luck on your future endeavors and upcoming releases. Stay weird. Stay fun. And most important of all, keep writing!
I’m not much of a blogger or self-promoter for that matter. I find it easier and derive more joy from promoting the works of others. That being said, I was talked into participating in a blog tour about the writing processes of different authors. I tend to field similar questions at conventions or whenever someone finds out I’m a writer.
Before we get into the question-and-answer portion, I would like to thank A.G. Porter, the talented, alluring author of The Darkness Trilogy, a series of YA Paranormal Thrillers. She brought me onto the tour.
You can find out more about her and her works at the following links:
In this installment of the Writing Process Blog Tour, you’re getting a sneak peak into the world of a writer who likes to write horror, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Namely, me! Good luck! Hope you come out with as many sanity points as you had going into this blog. If you don’t blame A.G., not me. 3:)~
What am I working on?
At the moment, I am working on a number of short submission projects for various anthologies with a few different publishers. I finished the rough draft of a submission for Chaosium’s The Summer of Lovecraft anthology, which features Cthulhu Mythos stories set in the 1960s. However, I ran long, so I had to edit it down a couple of thousand words before the deadline. Thankfully, several beta readers helped me through that difficult process. I’m in the planning stages for a hardboiled detective short story for Dark Oak Press. And have a couple of other short stories in various stages of completion for upcoming Pro Se Press projects.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmm…good question. I’m assuming that other people are being read more than me. My career as a professional fiction writer is just getting started, so I’m working on developing my style, playing with characters and different narrator voices, and experimenting with different genres. In doing so, I produced a truly unique piece of steampunk fiction set on our fantasy world of Faltyr. It’s a story about dwarves on a submarine deep within the abyssal seas contained within the planet. I tried to handle the steam technology in a different way and fused much of it with our Aethyr magic system.
Why do I write what I do?
Various reasons. It depends on what I’m writing actually. I’ve written stories to expression emotions, viewpoints, beliefs, conflicts, or tackle touchy or controversial subjects. I’ve written strictly to entertain and have fun with it too. So, what I’m writing at the time is really influenced by my mood and what scenes my imagination station is developing at the time. However, most of my work tends to be darker, grittier pieces as I tend to have a very pragmatic outlook on many subjects and have highly critical viewpoints on other topics. I also tend to live by the phrase: hope for the best; prepare for the worst. So, that mindset tends to influence the tone of a lot of my work. And then there’s the revenge fiction. Muwahahaha! One of those will be coming soon in Dark Oak Press’s werewolf anthology, Luna’s Children: Full Moon Mayhem.
How does my writing process work?
Well, first there’s the concept or initial idea. Followed by a flurry of activity, which is mostly planning and research. Then there’s the procrastination. And the hem-hawing, the paralysis-by-analysis, and finally some forward progression. More procrastination aids in the percolation process for imagination station. Occasionally, there’s some advice from outside sources along the way. Then I wrestle with Act II. Hate myself and my writing. Procrastinate some more. Get frustrated. Maybe have a smoke to relax and then go back to writing. Finish the third act, usually well above the anticipated word count and then move onto editing. But not before I criticize, procrastinate, and proofread. After I’m done editing, some other poor bastard beta-reads it and then unloads on me with both barrels. I fume. Mostly, I think things like: Why does everyone hate adverbs anyway? And adjectives, don’t I need those? I sulk and then procrastinate. Then I edit some more. Eventually, it goes to a professional editor before coming back to me. We send it back and forth like a game of pong, only less fun, until the publisher is happy. Some months down the road a check shows up in my mailbox or I get some free copies or both. And there you have it. The guide to being a very poor professional writer.
Well, there you go, kiddies. That’s how the magic happens, from its origins in imagination station to publication. If you feel enlightened and/or educated, I have succeeded. If you feel slightly traumatized, I have succeeded better than I could have possibly imagined. If you have any other questions about the writing process or need help with yours, feel free to look me up on social media or chat with me at a convention or booksigning.
In the meantime, check out my newest release, a Pro Se Digital Single Shot entitled “The Savior of Istara”, another standalone tale from The Cycle of Ages Saga. It’s only 99 CENTS on Kindle and Smashwords. Click the picture below to purchase it through Amazon.
As part of this Writing Process Blog Tour, I am supposed to tag three more people with this blog and provide links to their material. Coming up on this blog tour, you can look forward to the following authors:
HC Playa is a writer, a mad scientist in training (translation: full –time graduate student), a mother of three, and an animal wrangler. Although, some days she wonders if maybe she’s the one being wrangled.
An avid reader since the precocious age of four, she devoured books from numerous genres, but science fiction and fantasy hold a special place in her heart. A rambling, late night phone conversation with her sister sparked an idea, which led to discovering a new passion. Bitten by the writing bug, at last count she had seven novels in various stages of completion, and a growing collection of short stories.
Her favorite activity is to play in fantastical worlds, as it’s the best adventure there is.
John A. McColley lives in a vortex of worlds, characters, machines and language, constantly dragging images and forms out of the storm onto canvas, paper or computer screen to share them with others and give them new life. When not wrestling with words, he cranks dials and makes sparks at his local hackerspaces and searches the wilds of New England for semi-precious stones with his wife and son. His work is currently available in Crossed Genres’ first issue of the year, various anthologies, including the first Capes and Clockwork, and at Mad Scientist Journal.
John has an author page of Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-A-McColley/105420682981117 a twitter account @JohnAMcColley and a blog http://johnamccolley.wordpress.com/ that he’d love for you to visit.
J. H. Fleming is the author of the upcoming Lifting the Veil: Tales of Discovery and Magic. Her work has been published by Visionary Tongue Magazine, Evil Girlfriend Media, Mocha Memoirs Press, and Seventh Star Press. She writes fantasy that isn’t afraid venture into the shadows. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, or possibly playing a video game or watching anime. J. H. lives in Arkansas with a Yorkie, a cat, two turtles, and her Asian American friend with a voice to rival an anime character’s.