One of the fun things about this age of social networking for us author types is getting to know folks you would not normally meet. Raven Dane and I live on opposite sides of the big pond they call the Atlantic Ocean, so outside of the internet, our paths wouldn't likely cross too often! However, a mutual friend on her shores (talking about you here Dave Brzeski) saw that we got introduced, and are now becoming friends. I love how that works...
Raven is an interesting person and we have more in common than I expected, for she both lives within the influence of and writes tales based in the Celtic cultural heritage that I am so very enamored with. We both have dark deeds and shocking atrocities entwined within our work, but prefer to end with at least a somewhat hopeful outlook. Neither one of us is crazy about Twitter or has separate 'author pages' where we hawk our wares but can't interact with family or friends as well as readers. We're both longing for that big contract by a major publishing house, so we can primarily focus on writing, and leave the marketing to the experts. But until then, we're just motoring along, and very grateful for the kind and mentoring folks who do put out our books. Yet there's enough difference between our style to be refreshingly unique too.
Oh, and she likes dragons. Works for me!
But say... don't take my word for it! Read the interview below, and then you can tell me if we're somehow soul sisters separated at birth.
WRITER 2 WRITER
An interview with author
Raven, would you please tell us something about yourself and your writing?
Hi Nancy! I am a full time professional writer, living in the beautiful Chiltern Hills in the UK. As the daughter of an Irish mother and a Welsh father, I am very much a child of the Celtic Twilight and use our ancient and often dark mythology as an influence in many of my stories. In particular ‘Death’s Dark Wings, an alternative history/supernatural novel. My books include dark fantasy, steampunk, horror and alternative history novels and short stories.
How long have you been writing, and what got you involved in the first place?
I’ve written professionally as a journalist since 1972, though I have retired from that to write fiction full time. I was the highly embarrassed child who always had her creative writing assignments read out to the class at school. Indeed, my English teacher and school mates always knew I would become a writer…which is more than I did at the time. I was always a voracious reader from a very young age, so writing became the next logical step. At one stage, I couldn’t find any books in a genre I wanted to read, so began to write my own.
What kind of writing do you enjoy most? Is there anything you're uncomfortable with, or simply don't like writing about? Why or why not?
I love my steampunk world, writing the misadventures of my anti-hero Cyrus Darian comes the easiest and is most fun to write. To be honest, I would never write in a genre I had no passion or interest in. For instance, I once tried to write a Lovecraftian short story for a submission…hated
it! Too bleak and hopeless a world view. My story had a positive ending and was rejected for that alone. I do get many horror story commissions though and enjoy those. I could never do
romance or young adult fiction, my mind churns out too much dark and adult content.
I understand that because some folks think your name is unusual or simply a nom-de-plume, you've had issues online with social media. What's that all about? How does the ever-burgeoning world of Facebook, Twitter, etc help or hinder you as a writer trying to get word out about your work and connect with fans and other people in the business?
It has been a total nightmare! I have lived and worked legally as Raven Dane for over a decade now…due to someone malicious reporting me to Facebook, I had my site taken down three times…losing contacts built up since 2007. I rely on Facebook for networking, story commissions and invites to events as well as keeping in touch with family and friends. I hate ‘author pages’ with a vengeance. No two way contact with people and the horrible aspect of having people ‘like’ me. Many in the world I move in, the professional publishing industry will not ‘like’ an author on principle in order to stay in touch. I also hate the word ‘fans’ too. I only have much treasured readers. I am on Twitter but cannot see any advantage as an author.
Part of the problem of getting word out about my work, is there are too many books out there now….hard to be noticed in a tidal wave without the big money hype machines employed by big money publishing houses.
Do you ever long for the good old days when editors in big publishing firms were more like mentors and coaches than unknown entities pushing papers and making thumbs up or down decisions? Or do you embrace this brave new world where small independent houses and even authors themselves can push a book out by print-on-demand and word of mouth advertising?
To be brutally honest, I would love to have an agent and be signed up by a big publishing firm for the marketing and exposure they give their authors…or at least they used to. Marketing and publicity are the first to go when they are tightening their financial belts. I was with a firm that had a great PR department for my first book and really enjoyed the radio interviews and press launches that got my book noticed before the days of social media and ebooks. Sadly they went bust but that’s another story!
I am deeply grateful however to be with two wonderful presses, one very small but highly professional, Endaxi Press and the well-established and respected Telos Publishing. You get far more care and attention with a smaller press, it is in our mutual benefit that a book does well and they will not drop you the instant a book’s sales drop. The editing process is far more like the mentoring and coaching you mentioned in the question. I have a wonderful relationship of trust and understanding with my editors. It is teamwork and not a painful process any more as in the early days of my writing. The learning process never stops though!
- Anything special recently released or coming soon from you? Anything you can share with us that we should watch out for?
Thank you for the opportunity to plug my latest baby! It is the dark and visceral re-imagining of the events leading up to 1066 set in a very alternative world. Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany are still pagan and full of old magic and mysterious beings. The peaceful, prosperous kingdom of England is watched and coveted by the ruthless and ambitious Duke William of Normandy. Seers and clairvoyants across both Christian and pagan lands see visions of a catastrophic battle, a terrible, bloody carnage over which a monstrous raven flies. Can a blind Welsh novice witch, a young Saxon nobleman and an Irish mercenary warrior/bard prevent this nightmare coming true?
Also to come is the third in the Cyrus Darian steampunk occult adventure series. Finished and with Endaxi, title to be announced but probably will have a dragon in it.
Where can we find your books and other writing?
All my books are available as both paperbacks and eBooks. To order from any good book store, on line generally and on Amazon. Absinthe and Arsenic, my collection of Victorian spooky short stories and Death’s Dark Wings can also be ordered directly from Telos Publishing. My author page on Amazon (US & UK) also lists the anthologies containing my stories.
Raven thanks so much for taking the time to share your work with my audience!
Thank you for the great pleasure and opportunity.