Today’s First Love Author Interview is with Zoey Xolton, whose short story Once in a Blue Moon rubs shoulders with mine in the afore-mentioned Dragon Soul Press romantic fantasy anthology. Oh – and I absolutely love her author logo, so I’m placing it below, nice and big. Take it away Zoey, and may God have mercy on your soul for reading those final chapters first…
What drew you to the First Love anthology?
Ironically enough, the gorgeous cover! It sounds cliché, but covers, I’ve learned, as an author, are often a ‘put your money where your mouth is’ kind of situation! In our world of Online marketing, a striking cover is crucial… I recognised which cover artist had designed the cover, and I found myself thinking “If this publisher is paying good coin like that, for a cover, they must mean serious business!” And so of course, it seemed like the kind of enterprise and project I wanted to be a part of.
Give us a little tease for your short story for First Love.
My story Once in a Blue Moon is about a girl called Faith. She is an orphan on the cusp of womanhood who comes face to face with her death, and salvation in the space of a single night, when she discovers vampyres not only exist, but rule over their small, Victorian harbour town!
Do you prefer your romantic fiction to end happily-ever-after, happy-for-now, tragically, or does it depend on the story?
I love a romance where the spark, or relationship is so intense, and so undeniable, that the couple involved are willing, without question, to fight for each other, and if necessary, die for each other. As a result, I often mix my happily-ever-afters with strong lashings of tragedy.
What fantasy elements (if any) do you use in your First Love story?
Being that my story would fall in the Paranormal Romance genre, the fantasy element, of course, is the existence of vampires as a hidden part of the every day world.
What major theme(s) are you exploring in this story?
Time, and love. The quote “We’re never promised tomorrow,” has always resonated strongly with me. It evokes a sense of urgency and appreciation for every moment. It also encourages the idea of making the best of whatever hand we’re dealt in life. Sometimes, you just have to follow your heart, or your gut and follow through on your choices, for better or worse.
What inspired your story?
Once in a Blue Moon is a story I had partially started some years ago, and so when I found the call for submissions to First Love, I picked it back up. It was born of my undying love of vampires, and the idea that life may be ephemeral, but love is eternal.
To what extent are your characters based on you or people you know?
Not at all, my characters are purely works of fiction. If anything, they are most likely the embodiments of small pieces of myself. The things I dream and wish, the way I see the world, what I believe and how I’d deal with fantastical situations.
Do you know your ending when you write, or do you start and see where the story or characters take you?
I always know my endings. I know them before I even know the beginning! It’s always been a quirk of mine, but is just how I operate. I have a vision of the end, and I work backward from there. I figure out how the characters met, and how they came to be in the situation they’re in, and what they do about it. Apparently it’s a really bizarre concept to most writers, but it’s always been my way! Plotting a story from the start, working through the middle and then tying it all together in a nicely wrapped up conclusion is just such a foreign concept to me. I mean, I always read the last chapter of a book before I purchase it, to see if it’s worth buying! (So many people want to clip me over the ear for this!) To me, if the climax is not epic, I can’t bring myself to invest in it.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
The being a writer part! Writing is my life. I live for it. I breathe for it. It’s always been my dream to be an author. I’ve been imagining, writing and sharing stories since I was little. I can’t not write. I can’t imagine a world in which the written word is not my all. It’s just inconceivable.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
The frustration over lack of time. I’m a mother and business woman, as well as a writer, and I loathe the days I’m so busy and caught up in other responsibilities that I can’t wrangle the time to write. I often go without sleep to write, that’s how much it frustrates me! I figure I can sleep when I’m dead.
To what extent (if at all) do you agree with the statement “write what you know”?
Within reason, it absolutely makes sense. I read predominantly Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy and Horror. It’s what I know, it’s what I love, so it’s what I enjoy writing. I probably could write a Sci-Fi tale, but I’d feel uncomfortable about it, because it’d be unfamiliar territory for me. I don’t know a great deal about quantum physics, the laws of gravity and the engineering behind space stations, so I’d feel anything I could write, would most likely lack that sense of depth and realism it would really need to feel genuine. I think, ultimately, the better phrase would be “write what you’re interested in”, because the more interest you have, the greater your desire to learn and do that subject matter the justice is deserves.
Are you promiscuous or monogamous with your genre of choice?
Nice choice of descriptors, there! I’d say I’m loyal to three genres, though I may be tempted to dabble if something else catches my imagination!
Which writers inspire you?
My greatest inspirations and influencers would have to be J.R.R Tolkien, Terry Brooks, G.R.R. Martin, Wilbur Smith, Anne Rice, Anne Bishop, Cecelia Dart-Thornton, Mercedes Lackey, Jacqueline Carey, Melissa Marr and Holly Black.
What other books or short stories have you written?
There’s quite a number, and I’m constantly churning out more! My most recent short story publications, outside of Once in a Blue Moon for First Love, by Dragon Soul Press, are: The Eternal Masquerade for Echoes of the Past, by Fantasia Divinity, as well as Heart Song and Ancestral Magic for Spring’s Blessing. Also, my flash fiction tale Beneath the Blood Moon was published by Factor Four Magazine, just to name a few!
What is your current work-in-progress?
I’m working on a submission for Dragon Soul Press’s Coffins & Dragons anthology, one for Fantasia Divinity’s Summer Splash fantasy anthology, a couple submissions for Iron Faerie Publishing; as well as over a dozen micro-fiction pieces for Blood Song Books’ Tiny Tales trilogy!
What advice would you give someone who tells you they want to be a writer?
Just do it! Write your heart out. Bleed your soul onto the page until you feel brain-fried, and then get up do it all over again. Write what you love, but challenge yourself, and never give up! If you truly want it, if it really is your greatest passion and dream, you’ll find a way to succeed.