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Friday, August 29, 2014

Wickedly Dangerous - Author Interview + Giveaway!

Today it's my pleasure to have author Deborah Blake as my guest today.  Her novel, WICKEDLY DANGEROUS will be released on September 2, 2014 and I can tell you that it's truly Wickedly Wonderful!  I had the pleasure of reading it a few months ago to provide a quote for her book.  This is the quote I provided: Baba Yaga is smart, confident, and pragmatic--all the qualities I love in one character! Be prepared to stay up well past your bedtime.

Below is a Q&A with Deborah, who is a wonderful lady as well as talented (that's important to me - I never promote authors who are mean or obnoxious).  She has also offered to give away one signed copy of WICKEDLY DANGEROUS to a random commenter on my blog.  The contest is open to international readers and please include an email so I can contact you!

Cover Copy: Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…


Take 10 with Deborah:

1.) Where did you get the idea for WICKEDLY DANGEROUS?

My agent Elaine Spencer and I were chatting one day about what I should write next. We both agreed that we liked my books that had witch protagonists and we both liked updated retold fairy tales. But that left me with this question: what fairy tales haven’t been overdone, and also involve a witch? I thought of Baba Yaga, who wasn’t as well known as Snow White or Beauty and the Beast, and when I did some research, much of what I found actually led to the story. The fracking that is part of the storyline came about because we’re having huge fights about it here where I live in upstate NY.

2.) The story is wickedly fun to read. How hard was it to integrate all those wonderful mythical characters, humor, and still have the main protagonists dealing with finding missing children?

It was a little bit of a balancing act to have the magical world and the humor, plus some grim reality—but that was part of what made it fun to write. I have always had some humor in my writer’s voice, and in this story, I think it helped to keep things from getting too grim. I actually enjoyed having the magical elements side-by-side with the regular mundane world. After all, you never know what’s out there, do you?

3.) What do you like most about Barbara Yager (a.k.a. Baba Yaga)?

(Laughs.) Honestly, I love her bad attitude. She’s kind of crabby sometimes, and doesn’t much like people, although she has a good heart underneath. And I like how she is surprised when love finally sneaks up on her. And, of course, her relationship with Chudo-Yudo, the dragon-disguised-as-a-giant-white-pitbull she lives with. That was a hoot to write.

4.) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?

Oh boy. How long do you have? There are so many authors who inspire me, and some in particular who inspired this book. (Tanya Huff has a fabulous series about the Gale family that has magic hidden in plain sight, and I reread everything Patricia McKillip ever wrote because she has such an incredible way of painting fantastical pictures with words.) As I’ve probably mentioned before, when I read Poison Study, I was so impressed I was beside myself. [Awww, thanks :)] Other people who have had a big influence on my writing: Jennifer Crusie (her use of humor and quirky characters is the best ever), Mindy Klasky, Lisa Shearin, Jim C. Hines, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Carol Berg—I could go on and on. Different authors have inspired me at different times (and you can see there is a wide range of writing styles and even genres here), but what they all have in common is the ability to tell a completely original story with compelling and likable characters, and tell it well.

5.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?

I did. I knew the very basics of the Baba Yaga tales (my family is of Russian Jewish origin, and it is possible my grandfather introduced me to the character, although I also remember reading about her in fairy tale books, which I devoured by the dozens), but not much beyond that. And everything I learned worked so well with the story, it amazed me! To begin with, there were often references to the Baba’s sisters, so it made it easy to create a series with different Baba Yaga characters in each one. I discovered that she was associated with a dragon named Chudo-Yudo who guarded the Water of Life and Death, and three mysterious Riders, and that if you start delving into the Russian culture, there was abundant evidence of her as not just a witch but also a demi-goddess or goddess of the elements. She was said to guard the doorway between our world and the Otherworld. All very fun stuff to work into a story. Of course, I also did some more research on fracking, and found out it was even worse than I thought…

6.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, really (I think I got serious in 6th grade) and always wanted to be a writer. But I was also timid and insecure, so when I sent out a batch of short stories in my teens and 20’s and got rejections, I just gave up for a long time. Fast forward to about 10 years ago, and I suddenly got an idea for a nonfiction book (on witchcraft, since I am a practicing witch/Wiccan). I sent off a proposal to Llewellyn Worldwide, they bought the book, and I wrote a bunch more for them. But once I’d finished that first book, I said to myself, “See—you CAN finish a whole book! No more excuses!” and began to work on my first novel. My third novel got me my agent, and we sent out three more before I finally sold this one. But here I am, with two novels and a prequel novella coming out this year. There is something to be said for being too stubborn to know when to give up. (My first novel got lots of great feedback from agents and 67 rejections. Clearly I’ve toughened up from when I was younger.)

7.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?

I try to write every day, although I probably realistically manage about 5-6 days a week. (For instance, tonight I’m writing this and a post for my own blog instead.) Since I have a day job, I usually write in the evenings, from about 6:30 or 7pm until around 10pm. On weekends I often do two stints if I am mid-book. I start with some plotting and character development before I ever begin the actual writing. I usually have a loose outline, although how in depth it is differs from book to book. It definitely goes faster when I have one. I often write a scene in my head before it makes it onto the page—either while I am supposedly napping/resting, or while I am taking a walk. When I sit down to write, I start by rereading and editing the previous day’s work. That serves two purposes: it makes the job of editing the finished manuscript much easier later on, and it also gets me back in the zone of the story, so that by the time I’m done with the 3-8 pages from the previous stint, the next bit of the story is usually ready to ooze out my fingers and onto the keyboard. [I do the same thing!] Because of this, my first draft is unusually tight and clean, which makes my editor happy.

8.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite?

I have a great office in my dining room where I do all the business end of writing, and most of my emailing, and have my white boards and organize everything. But most of my actual writing is done in the living room, where I have a red recliner that is easier on my back and my arms than sitting upright at a desk (and where a cat can sit on the end, draped over my feet, instead of trying to squeeze between onto my lap in front of the laptop). I’m not one of those people who can write out in public at a coffee house—I need peace and quiet. I don’t even play music.

9.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?

I run an artists’ cooperative shop and make gemstone jewelry that I sell there. (I spent 25 years doing a lot of jewelry making, but the writing has gradually taken over most of the time I used to use for that.) I have a very large garden, and spend time out there, especially at this time of the year. It is good therapy after a long day of trying to herd artists. And I lead a group of witchy types called Blue Moon Circle, and we often meet a couple of times a month. There is also my Scrabble addiction, and the five cats. And I live in a 120 year old farmhouse that I’m always having to fix something on. I’m not sure if you can call that a hobby or not!

10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?

The next thing out is the second in the Baba Yaga series, WICKEDLY WONDERFUL, which is out in December. Right now I’m working on something that is a complete change of pace: a humorous contemporary romance, with nary a witch in sight. So far all my first readers are loving it, so that’s encouraging, and I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

LINKS:
Website: http://deborahblake.author.com/
Blog: http://deborahblake.blogspot.com
Penguin Books:
http://www.penguin.com/book/wickedly-dangerous-by-deborah-blake/9780425272923
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0425272923/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0425272923&linkCode=am2&tag=pgus-20
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wickedly-dangerous-deborah-blake/1118662987?cm_mmc=affiliates-_-linkshare-_-ev0de4uoclu-_-10%3a1&ean=9780425272923&isbn=9780425272923&r=1

57 comments:

  1. I saw a description about the book another day. I love stories based in Russia or connected to Russia. Look forward to reading this.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I hope you like it :-)

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  2. oh this sound good i must admit i'm completely new to Baba Yaga legends and now i'm quite curious bout that myth/fairytale

    i would be delighted to read this book the plot is really catching my interest, i love character strong willed and a dragonchanged dog^^ i must read about him^^ ( and the cover(s) so gorgeous)

    i wish you alot of success Deborah and thank you a lot for including international readers in your giveaway

    isabelle(dot)frisch(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Isabelle! You're going to love Chudo-Yudo :-)

      And I do try to include international folks at least some of the time--I know that some of my favorite authors are from the UK, and I always pout because their giveaways don't cover the US...

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  3. I took a class in Russian Folklore over 20 years ago at Penn State and I am very excited to read your book. I also love Urban Fantasy and I am always looking for new books and new authors.

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    1. Cool--an expert! I look forward to hearing what you thought!

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  4. I've heard about Baba Yaga in another series I've read, but it was only brief detail. Wickedly Dangerous sounds great.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! Usually if you see Baba Yaga someplace, she is the villain. As far as I can tell from my research, I'm the only one so far who has used her as a protagonist :-)

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  5. This most definitely sounds like a book that I can get into, I love reading anything based off of folktales and myths. I have an obsession with the King Arthur tales for example (I have 6 different versions).

    morgy8755(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. I love the King Arthur tales. Have you read The Forever King by Molly Cochran?

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  6. I love the Baba Yaga tails and definitely knew about her before Deborah posted about her new book.

    Of course I'd also kill to win a copy.

    NoraAdrienne(at)gmail(dot)com

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  7. I learned about BY from Lost Girl... see TV is good for learning! LOL I totally plan on reading this now though! jenbibi @ hotmail.com

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  8. I haven't seen Lost Girl, but a few people have mentioned they saw Baba Yaga on there. Was she a good Baba or a bad Baba?

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  9. First I have to say, these covers are beautiful. I love the colors. And second, this sounds so interesting! I've never heard of Baba Yaga before, but I'll definitely be looking into it now.
    samanthadomeier(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I love the covers too--didn't Berkley do a great job?!

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  10. Oh love the covers.
    In Lost Girl the Baba Yaga is kinda scary and a baddie. It'll be good to have another side to a story. I can't wait to read these :)

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    1. I so have to catch up with that show :-)

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  11. Doesn't much like people? Sounds like my kind of character! Lol
    I've heard of Baba Yaga before, but many, many years ago, so I don't remember much. I'm excited about reading this, because if Maria gives her seal of approval, then it will be an amazing read.

    Lildevilgirl3[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Yes, my kind too :-) I hope you enjoy it!

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  12. I grew up with Baba Yaga told to me by my Russian grandfather.

    My email is you.heatheranne(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. That's cool! My family is Russian Jews, and I'm pretty sure my grandfather talked about her too.

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  13. I've only ever read a couple of books with Baba Yaga in them, and she has never been a protagonist of the story! This series seems quite interesting, with some fairy tales that I have not really encountered!

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    1. Oh, my email is taylerclements94@gmail.com

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    2. I was trying to do something completely new and different--let's hope I pulled it off :-)

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  14. I've always been fascinated by Russian folklore - I have a brother who lived there, and he came home with such tales! Baba Yaga was particularly interesting, so I'm super excited to read this series. She's always been the bad guy, so it will be refreshing to read her as the heroine.

    -Emily
    emsreviewsbooks [at] gmail [dot] com

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    1. Oh, that sounds like fun--I'll bet he had some great stories1 Let's hope you enjoy this one :-)

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  15. I have actually never heard of baba yaga until now. I'm excited to read it what a great mix of character blends. I'll be buying this as soon as it's on the shelf, look forward to sitting up late lost in the pages.

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    1. Whoo hoo! I hope you enjoy it! Be sure and let me know.

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  16. Nice interview

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  17. Looking forward to reading this book. Love the subject.

    onceuponadreambooks(at)Hotmail(dot)com

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  18. I've never heard of baba yaga before but I love to learn about legends and see stories that use them and make them new and more relevant. It keeps the stories alive. :)

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  19. I love fairy tale retellings! This one sounds very unique so I will be sure to give it a read.

    selindryl [at] yahoo [dot] com

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  20. I loved those covers! (the doggies!) Your books sound amazing! (and funnY). Thank you for the intl chance. :D
    kah_cheurb at hotmail dot com

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    1. I love the covers too--Berkley did a great job with them! Of course, my cats are a little peeved because there are dogs on the covers...

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  21. A great post thank you. I don't mind a bit of bad attitude at times.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. My new motto: It's okay to be a little wicked :-)

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  22. this sounds really interesting, cant wait to read it.

    maddysmith080(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  23. I also first heard about Baba Yaga on Lost Girl. I'm looking forward to this book's take on her!

    starlight.starbright.ks at gmail.com

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  24. Will definitely have to have a read! Baba Yaga is one of my favourite folklore characters, and this sounds like a fresh, exciting interpretation of her! amyliz1993 [at] gmail [dot] com

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  25. This sounds like an amazing read. I really hope to be able to read it! I love retold fairy tales and old folk lore. Its great to find yet another author that is interested in the same.

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  26. Oooo, this books sounds awesome. Can't wait to read it!
    Dezi A
    sethdeziATgmailDOTcom

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  27. That sounds like a really cool book and it is coming out tomorrow!!! Can't wait to read it!!! : D

    My email is - cbrow334ATeqDOTeduDOTau

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    1. Please don't spam me with messages!!!

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    2. No worries Anonymous - I never spam anyone unless they ask for it ;) in other words, only if you sign up for my free email newsletter.

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  28. Thanks for all the comments and love for Deborah! Tas won the signed book! Congrats to Tas and keep watching my blog as I'm going to have another give away posted tomorrow!

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    1. Congrats, Tas! The book is going out today. Thanks to everyone for your comments and interest--I hope you all enjoy the book!

      And thanks to Maria for having me here.

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  29. I love the Night Study cover, it definitely suits its name. Just by looking at the cover, I can tell this book is going to be awesome and thrilling. It makes me even more excited to start reading!

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