I first discovered Lynn Viehl, not through her books, but through the world of art journaling, an art form that combines words and images to create an intensely personal form of expression. That led to her blog, Paperback Writer, which then led to discovering a versatile author who writes across several genres, and is generous with her expertise as well as loads of pretty things. Take a look at what Lynn is offering one lucky commenter today (click thumbnail to embiggen):
1) When did you know you were a writer?
I guess I first knew sometime around midnight on December 28th, 1974 (I was thirteen, and I'd just finished writing the last page of my first novel.)
2) What's the first thing you know for sure about a new story concept? Plot? Character? Something else?
Generally the characters come first to populate my knowledge base. Occasionally an idea shapes the story for me -- I once wrote a novel based solely on the words "carnival geek" -- but most of the time it's the characters.
3) What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you've ever heard?
The best was "Whatever you do, protect the work" from author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have never once regretted following that advice.
I don't know exactly who is responsible for the worst, but it's that tiresome old adage of "Write what you know." Imagine how many fantastic books would never have been written if all writers followed that tiny-minded attitude. What rubbish.
4) How did the world of the Darkyn come to be?
I've always loved vampire fiction, and I began writing my own short stories back in 1998. The first one was a disaster because I tried following all the traditional vampire lore, which I find a little ridiculous. I trashed that story and decided to create my own mythology. It took another six years to fine-tune the Darkyn universe, but eventually I got there.
5) In one sentence, how would you define dark fantasy?
In fantasy the hero always defeats the monster; in dark fantasy sometimes the hero IS the monster.
6) The latest Lords of Darkyn novel, Nightbound (love that title, by the way,) features a supernatural stronghold disguised as a medieval theme park, a hero with secrets and a heroine with extraordinary theories. Can you give our readers a taste of why romance readers won't want to miss this one?
Glad you like the title, because it would be really hard to change now. I hope Nightbound will appeal to any reader who enjoys adventure, mystery and characters who cannot be classified as typical.
7) How does art journaling, or art in general, help or influence your writing?
Art is a great tool for a storyteller to use when you want to explore ideas beyond the boundaries of words. When I sketch a character or paint a setting, or even make a quilt in colors I've chosen as a story palette, I can better visualize those elements. The process of artwork also gives me time to think and make creative decisions that enrich the story when I do go back to the keyboard to write.
As for journaling -- something I've also been doing almost daily since 1974 -- it's a great way to work out ideas and chronicle the journey you take with every story.
8) What do you do when creatively blocked/empty/burned out?
I'm lucky in that I don't have to cope with writer's block or idea deficits, but I do frequently feel burned out, especially after I finish a novel. When that happens I try to recharge my batteries by getting some exercise and opening myself up to new sources of inspiration. That can be anything from taking a long walk and photographing nature to attending an art show and talking to the exhibitors while I admire their works. Sometimes just listening to a new CD while I clean the house from top to bottom helps, too.
9) If you could have an all expense paid trip to any time in history, where and when would you go? You may take one companion, real or fictional. How would you convince them to come with you?
If I could stay for a while, I'd go back to Galilee in 27 AD to see exactly what this carpenter from Bethlehem actually said and did during his ministry. I'd take Jorge Mario Bergoglio with me, and I don't think I'd need to say anything but "Let's go meet Jesus Christ in person" to get the new Pope to tag along.
If I couldn't stay, I'd like to visit an inn in Bavaria on April 20th, 1889, and take Simon Wiesenthal with me. I'd tell Simon that unless we do something the baby born there that day will grow up to murder 5.5 million Jews. I'm sure Simon would have some excellent ideas about how we might prevent that.
10) We've retrieved the parrot we hid in your office a while back, and now he won't stop saying "Toriana." Can you tell us more about that?
I thought I heard something chirping behind the filing cabinet. Toriana is the name of a Victorian-era America that exists in a universe parallel to our own, and in which I've set Disenchanted & Co., my new urban fantasy series. The first book, Her Ladyship's Curse, will debut in August, thanks to my publisher, Pocket Star, and my editor, Adam Wilson.
Thanks, Lynn, for stopping by. Readers, if you've been drooling over the gorgeous giveaway picture above, all you need to do is leave a comment below for a chance to win.