Welcome Viola Ryan as my guest today!
It all began when…
I wrote Buffy/Angel fanfiction. An image came to me in 2003. A vampire bites the woman he loves to turn her, giving her the greatest gift he knows. The woman doesn’t understand, is abhorred and rejects him. That didn’t fit with the Buffy/Angelverse, so I put it aside. In 2007 I pulled out the scene for National Novel Writing Month. The title was going to be Rejection: A Vampire’s Tale. The biggest rejection is all of storydom is Lucifer’s expulsion from heaven, so he decided he wanted to be the hero. It made sense. Vampires are seen as demons and fallen angels are seen as demons. According to math, if A=B and C=B, then A=C. I was surprised the connection hadn’t already been made.
Tell us three things about you-the writer-readers wouldn’t typically know, and can you share your author bio with us?
- I am bipolar. I take medication for this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t cycle. It just means my ups and downs are more manageable. I’ve learned to use my cycles in my writing. When I am up, I am big idea girl, but the actual writing is disjointed. I do a lot of brainstorming and mind mapping then. When I am down, the world slows and I am hypercritical. It’s the perfect time to edit.
- I must be chewing gum when I write. It helps me concentrate. The gum must still have flavor. I go through a 60 piece cup roughly every week.
- I bribe my kids to let me write. It started back in 2007. National Novel Writing Month is incredibly demanding. My kids were 10 and 6. I was a stay-at-home mom, and they were used to having me all the time. It was hard for them to understand that even though they could see me on the computer at the dining room table, I was busy. They needed a stake in my career. They were making sacrifices. I told them for every $5,000 I make, they each get $100 to do whatever they want. Now they are my little task masters. Fortunately they understand reading and networking is a big part of my job.
A very good friend of Viola Ryan in high school said, “You don’t think outside the box. You blow the thing up.” Sometimes boxes need exploding. That’s why she’s here. She has a whole bag of C4 and isn’t afraid to use it. She’s blessed with people who treasure her eccentricities or at least put up with them.
Sometimes the box can be a cozy place. Without some sort of stability, her two daughters’ and her life would be unmanageable. That stability comes from her husband. He’s the rock holding her family together.
On the flip side, his career is anything but stable. He’s a Chief Marine Safety Technician in the US Coast Guard. They’ve lived from Kittery, Maine to Yorktown, Virginia. Fortunately, the moves have all been on the east coast. Then again, the Coast Guard tends to guard the coast.
Her oldest daughter (16) was born on Cape Cod, not far from Plymouth. Massachusetts. Her youngest (12) was born in Yorktown, Virginia, down the road from Williamsburg. Viola jokes they’re doing the colonial America tour.
Where did you get the premise for this book?
I wrote The Fallen about Lucifer. I finished it 2009 and put it in the closet, literally, before I started to edit it. I wasn’t completely happy with it. It’s hard to get a heroine as epic as Lucifer. I was vegging my favorite way, watching a documentary on the History Channel. This one was about the Roman extermination of the Dacians. Emperor Trajan wanted their gold mines and wiped them out. This is depicted on Trajan’s Column. Very little was known about Dacia for the longest time. The Romans were very thorough. Dacia is in present day Romania. That screamed to be in a vampire novel. Then I thought, what about MY vampire novel. I took The Fallen out of the closet and reworked it to become The Mark of Abel. Since the Second Dacian War was in 107 CE, that meant giving the heroine, Janie, a past life. If I was going to give her one, why not others? There are plenty of massacres throughout history that people don’t know a lot. Once Janie’s past lives were born, she became a much stronger character and a lot of fun to write.
What stands out about this story that makes it different for you?
It doesn’t just contain generic fallen angels or use names from Judeo-Christian stories. It actually reimagines them. Lilith becomes the Mistress of Hell and the mother of Lucifer’s twins. Jesus is Lucifer’s brother and I lift some of his dialogue right from the Gospels. The book opens with the events of the Garden of Eden. Lucifer’s story is deepened.
Were there any difficult challenges or special subject matter you came across while writing this book?
I spent the most time researching the heroine’s past lives. Once I decided to use actual massacres, I wanted to include details that would point the reader to what they were without coming out and saying this is such-and-such event. I sometimes give place names, like the Isle of Wight, Schenectady and Cawnpore. I didn’t want to be debunked like The Da Vinci Code. I spent days on a single event before I wrote it, even if it was just a brief mention.
What about this book would make us want to read it?
It is a fresh take on vampires and Lucifer. Combining the Judeo-Christian stories many of us were raised with and vampire mythology created something new.
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
What does redemption mean? That is Lucifer’s ultimate lesson. It isn’t about being forgiven or getting into heaven. It is being able to move on with your life and finding meaning by helping others.
Finally- tell us about the finished book. Anything we might not know?
If you aren’t familiar with the details of the Bible, you will still enjoy The Mark of Abel. If you are familiar, you will see how I reimagine the stories to stick with canon, while at the same time play with them. That was the trick, not contradicting the stories, while expanding them. The book isn’t preachy. It plays with the stories like other authors play with Native American beliefs or Wicca.
Lucifer is fed up with humanity. He created hell to deter evil, but man’s inhumanity is only escalating. He just wants to return home to heaven, but ever since that little problem in the Garden of Eden, the Pearly Gates remain firmly shut to him. It doesn’t help that he’s the first vampire, an abomination in God’s sight.
Fortunately, two thousand years ago Lucifer’s estranged brother, Jesus, gave him a prophecy. To fulfill it, all Lucifer has to do is find the right artist, study her artwork and the path back to heaven will be revealed. The artist even bears a symbol so he knows who she is. Too bad she is murdered every time he finds her.
Janie’s a frustrated artist and college art teacher who wants two things—a guy she can show her paintings to and a night without nightmares. Each nightmare plagues her until she paints it. She doesn’t realize these paintings are key to unlocking her destiny, one that could redeem the original fallen angel.
Where can we find you and your books?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/violaryan
Current Release: The Mark of Abel, Book 1 of The Mark of Abel series
Release day: Ebook – December 21, 2012 Paperback – September 2013
MuseItUp Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=516&category_id=69&manufacturer_id=250&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1
Trailer: Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UayqdSPMFMQ&feature=youtu.be
Thank you for enlightening us. Good luck with your writing and this book, Viola.
Thanks Sandy. Sometimes thinking out of the box is as simple as combining two things we are familiar with to make something “new.” My daughter does Odyssey of the Mind, which is a brainiac competition. Her group took two ideas that had nothing to do with each other and combined them to make their skit. The judges loved the result.
A successful writer must think out of the box. I’m working on it. Your books sound like you’ve tweaked the old and come up with fresh! Wishing you much success.
Thanks, M. I had a lot of fun writing it.
Thanks, Calisa for having me.
Feel free to ask me anything. I love chatting.
Thanks for stopping by M! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂
Those were great questions! I am hooked. This book sounds original and pretty awesome!