Zoe Winters writes quirky and sometimes dark paranormal romance. Information about her Preternaturals series can be found at zoewinters.org
SA: Tell us about Save My Soul in a few sentences.
ZW: Anna just bought a house she's fantasized about since childhood, but she doesn't know there is an incubus trapped inside. Basically the book is about her trying to resist getting involved with him (and losing her soul) while she tries several methods to get him out of her house including exorcism, gypsies, witches, and paranormal investigators. The book is a paranormal romance that is heavy in both humor/snark and angst.
SA: How did you come to write this particular book?
ZW: A few years ago I was trying to think of something to write for Nanowrimo (back when I did Nanowrimo), and I was driving down this road in my town past this old plantation-style house I love, and basically almost the whole plot just fell into my head. It was bizarre. I don't usually get book ideas in such a: "Here's the story" kind of way.
SA: If you have a favourite character in your novel, why that particular one?
ZW: Cain is my favorite. And he appears across several books in the series. He's the villain in Save My Soul, but he gets his own book later. I love him because he's just so "wrong" and funny. Like, he's an incubus and he kills his prey, but because my world has reincarnation he doesn't think of it as "ending them", just "inconveniencing them". Cain is someone you shouldn't like, but once you get to know him, it's kind of hard not to. At least that's true for me.
SA: How can people buy your books?
ZW: If people are looking for Save My Soul, here are all the active buy links for print and E:
For other titles, people can search my name out at major online retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Smashwords.com
Save My Soul is book 2 in my series, but it can be read first without any difficulties/confusion. Book 1 is my anthology trilogy: Blood Lust, which contains the stories: Kept, Claimed, and Mated. Book 3 will bring in some characters from both book 1 and 2, plus a new hero and heroine for the romance part.
SA: What is your working method?
ZW: I'm probably the most boring writer on the planet. I sit down, open a document, and start typing. I use an app called Focus Booster and Freedom to help me focus on the task at hand. I do outline and worldbuild for the series, but my method is so intuitive that there really isn't anything wham bam pop that you can SEE, or any special rituals that will make me seem quirky and awesome. I just type stuff. When necessary I Google stuff to make sure I'm not writing completely unbelievable weirdness.
SA: What single biggest mistake do beginners to writing make?
ZW: I think they don't learn how to respect their subconscious mind. Some people call this the "muse" but I've never liked the "muse" metaphor. It's easier for me to remember it's a part of ME and not some outside divine inspiration or whatever. A lot of writers try to make their book "perfect" the first time, and they try to edit too much during the rough draft process. But those are two very different parts of the brain. I know there are some writers who that is their process, and it works great for them. But for most it's best to let the subconscious play without judgment in the rough draft, then in the editing phase you can start being more logical/critical.
SA: To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?
ZW: To the same extent oxygen is important to living beings.
SA: You write Paranormal Romance. What attracted you to this particular genre?
ZW: I really like growly alpha males. Bad boys. I think we've reached the end of the bad line when the sentiment is: "You could be my dinner or you could be my lover, or... if you're very lucky, you could be both."
SA: To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?
ZW: Well, it's a marketing categorization. Anything that helps you define and find your target audience is a good thing. A lot of people complain about how genre limits their brilliance or whatever, but no matter how brilliant you are, you have to be able to find your audience. If you don't have a short tag/hook/category to attract those readers, good luck. lol.
SA: Marketing is often considered a chore, especially by indie authors. What is your opinion on this issue and how do you deal with it?
ZW: Marketing is just building awareness and brand. It encompasses things like social media and blogging, guest interviews like what I'm doing here, guest blogs, sales, pricing, description, book cover, paid advertising... it's basically anything and everything having to do with the packaging of what you're selling and raising your visibility. If people can't see you, they can't buy you. I do feel that after awhile too much marketing cuts into your writing time. Like I do a little bit of it now, but I do less of it than I used to because my primary focus at this point is writing because I've got a strong enough platform to not babysit it 24/7, and my goal right now is to focus on building backlist.
SA: How long does it normally take you to write a novel?
ZW: It varies. Sometimes I can get a rough draft written in a month, sometimes it takes three months. Rarely it takes longer, but that's only when I'm going long periods of time without actually writing. So I'm not sure I can count that in "how long it takes me".
SA: If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?
ZW: The fact that everybody has an opinion about everything. How you publish. What you publish. And if you're indie, every aspect of everything you do. The stories themselves, etc. Sometimes it's just too much noise for me, and I take an Internet sabbatical.
SA: Is there an aspect of writing that you really enjoy?
ZW: I really enjoy all of it except the aforementioned noise. (Though I do love hearing from fans!)
SA: Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?
ZW: A little of both. I think more than anything, it's a passion and love affair.
SA: What are you writing now?
ZW: Right now I'm working on worldbuilding and planning the next few books in my series. I am writing stuff, but not for this name because I'm taking a series-writing course to make sure I'm not setting anything stupid in motion that will kill my series down the line.
SA: Do you have a website or blog that readers can visit?
Also, Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/zoewinters
SA: Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?
ZW: A cottage on the beach.
SA: Where do you actually write?
ZW: It varies. Sometimes in the living room, sometimes in the bedroom (depends on the time of year due to AC/heating)
Zoe was recently a guest on the brilliant and well-known J.A. Konrath blog. I suggest all authors read her post: you'll find it here - http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/guest-post-by-zoe-winters.html
And here is my review of Save My Soul, for what it's worth:
Save My Soul, by Zoe Winters, is a paranormal romance with edge. This is not a genre I've read much, but, in interviewing Zoe for the blog, I became fascinated by the ideas and themes she explores in her writing. There are associations and asides in the narrative, which will have greater resonance with those fully conversant with the genre. But, even as a newcomer, I found the book engaging and entertaining.
Zoe contrasts the tension with humour, and does this well. Her characters are fully formed; even the demons. Her confident descriptions of, and familiarity with, these supernatural beings begs the question, 'How come you know so much about them, Zoe?' And makes me wonder if she's had personal experience of them; such is the depth of detail and intimacy she displays.
There are biblical references in the text that cast, for me, a new light on perceptions of god and religion. As an agnostic, I'm already seriously sceptical about such matters, but Zoe's story telling skills are such that I was willing to suspend my disbelief sufficiently to enjoy the tale.
And that's the most seductive element of this book: the story. It's a great story, with twists and turns, threats to the spunky heroine, mysteries in need of solutions, periods of naughtiness both sexual and otherwise, and a mix of characters that brings real depth to the tale. It manages to be erotic without ever straying into pornography and it keeps the reader turning pages, wondering what will happen next. I'm glad I read it.