I would like thank D. Renee Bagby for giving me the opportunity to interview her. After reading Eris, I was like a kid eager with questions, and it was so exciting to pick Renee’s brain for answers. Enjoy the interview and Comment by answering one or all of my FUN questions below!
- 1) What inspired you to write Eris?
My inspiration for Eris goes back to why I originally started writing. I wanted to read interracial fantasy romance with a black heroine. At the time, I couldn’t find any. I had already started dabbling in writing and figured I might as well try my hand at actually finishing something and getting it published to see if anyone liked my stories. Lucky for me, they do.
I have always loved time swept romance. So, of course, I wanted to see a black heroine in that sort of situation. Given the history of the world, it is safe to say a black heroine wouldn’t luck out the same way a white heroine would. Eris allowed me to explore a romance sub-genre I enjoy. I had fun with it. Whether I try another time swept is still up in the air. I’ll have to wait and see what my muse says.
2) What is your favorite scene in the book?
One of my favorite scenes is the phone call to Lucien and Ranulf after Eris’s disastrous LARP [Live Action Role Playing] session. Actually, I should include the LARP session through the phone and into the rescue. I had so much fun writing that scene and ran it past some of my gaming friends just to make sure I had done it correctly. I’m not a gamer, though I have seen some sessions, so I wanted to include that in the book for my gaming-geek readers.
Another scene I really like and again had friend help with (I thanked her in the dedication), is the introduction of Mason. His characterization was so much fun for me to write. He is very dynamic given his small role. I would have liked to have done more with him, but I’m sure the readers were happy to see him leave.
I have a few other scenes that I love to re-read, but they are so deep into the book that there’s no way to allude to them without giving something away. It’s pretty much safe to say that I like the more emotional scenes.
3) Why did you choose to travel back into the 13th century in this novel?
Truthfully… the clothes. I know that sounds weird and you were probably expecting a different answer, but that is mine. 13th century dress was simplistic yet elegant. True, I don’t go into too much detail about the clothing, but that was the reason I chose that time period.
Also, I wanted to pick a time period where Eris wouldn’t get into too much trouble—thus making more work for me—for sounding as intelligent as she does and speaking her mind from time to time. It helps that Ranulf is such a forgiving person, but even he would have had issues with her if they had been in a later time period.
4) Without giving too much away, what motivated you to come up with that surprise ending?
I love twists. If someone reads my book and then says, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming,” then my task is accomplished. While I do try to drop hints so the twist isn’t a complete left-field surprise, I make sure it is something worth waiting for. Given the length of Eris, there is a lot of waiting involved.
As a sidenote, that twist wasn’t in the original draft of the book. I wrote a large chunk of the original draft during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) one year with a different ending. I didn’t like the direction the book had taken and ended up scrapping that draft for its current incarnation.
5) How do you choose the title of your novels? I noticed that Eris, like Serenity and Adrienne, have a one word title. Is this an intentional theme?
That is an intentional theme. I’ve sometimes heard of people not liking a book as much as they would have wanted because they couldn’t stand the heroine’s name. Weird, I know, but it happens. By naming the books after the heroine, the readers know before even touching the book if they will have issues or not. I’d like to think someone wouldn’t totally blow off my book because they didn’t like the way I named my heroine, but I’ll allow that it does happen.
I also do it because it’s easier for me. First, because I don’t have to think up elaborate titles that might already be taken or confused with someone else’s work (kind of backfired with Serenity but we won’t go there). Coming up with titles that are catchy, memorable, and encompass the theme of the book is a headache and a half and sometimes more difficult than writing the book itself. Naming the book after the heroine bypasses that.
Second, it’s easier for me to recall my stories. Before I was published, I would always refer to the book by the heroine’s name since none of the books had a title yet. The proverbial light bulb blinked on and I decided that was the way to go.
6) What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing Eris?
I learned that I’m more long-winded than I thought. I had planned for Eris to be ninety thousand words, one hundred thousand at the most. When I finished and the word count hit one hundred and fifty, I couldn’t believe it. The extra ten thousand words were added during edits, believe it or not. I tried to find something to cut from the story and couldn’t. I’m lucky Siren Publishing releases such long books.
The length of Eris reaffirmed something I already knew but had hoped wasn’t true. I tend to make things more convoluted than they need to be. It’s a fault I’ve always had. I can’t seem to shake it. The only thing I can do is realize when it is happening and try to stop. I think I might be failing already because my dragon novel (current work-in-progress) is getting up there in length and it’s only half finished.
7) I have to ask… If you were Eris and had to choose, would you pick Lucien or Ranulf?
Ack! I love them both. You have the brooding, serious type and the fun-loving, mellow type. I gave her both so she wouldn’t have to choose, thus I wouldn’t have to choose. Oh all right, that’s a lie. I would probably choose Ranulf. It’s for a really shallow reason, so don’t get all excited. I just like guys with long hair. Most of my heroes will have long hair. I actually gave Lucien short hair to emphasize the differences between him and Ranulf in a physical way and to give my heroes a little variety.
1) Eris is the first book in the Eternal Truths Series. Can you share with us a little about Book Two in the series?
Book two is about another “eternal truth”—Death. I’ve always liked personifying Death as a guy who needs a love life. He is so misunderstood, after all. I made up I don’t know how many stories over the years. Obviously, I can’t write all of the stories I plotted. I risk repetition and I think some people might get sick of seeing him. I chose one story and decided that would be my Death story.
The reader will be introduced to Thanus and his quest to have a normal love life despite being the grim reaper.
2) Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I get into the role of my characters in order to write them with better, more life-like emotion. It’s not uncommon to see me at my computer close to tears or mad as hell while writing certain scenes. There’s nothing wrong. I induced the emotion by listening to appropriate music, watching certain movies, or just thinking of past events so the feelings would come across in my writing.
I am actually planning to give myself a mini-psychotic break in the near future to write a horror romance. It’ll probably be more psychological horror than actual monster/killer horror, but I’ll give it my best shot. I’m a poor judge of scary since I spend my time laughing at horror movies (I can’t help it. They are hilarious.). So I’m going to watch a few movies, get myself into the mindset, and then see what appears on my computer. Hopefully, it will be scary but no so much that I scare people away.
3) What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Watch movies, watch anime, read manga/comics, come up with plots for new stories or hash out scenes for current stories. I dabble in knitting chain mail and inkle loom weaving. Both of which I haven’t touched in months. I want to take up macramé. I also need to resume studying Japanese since I want to be able to hold a conversation one of these years. Generally, I keep busy. People in my family don’t do bored. Listless maybe but never bored.
4) Do you have any hidden talents you would like to share with us?
Umm… I think I just did. I can knit chain mail. My material of choice is galvy (galvanized steel). I like the European weaves, but that’s probably because they are so easy. The weave I have the most issue with is half-Persian. That’s only a matter of doing it more so I get the hang of it. Chain mail is very versatile and beautiful. I’ve only scrapped the surface of what can be done. Once I’ve gotten pretty good with it, I might move on to silver and gold. Then I can make jewelry.
1) What is your favorite dessert?
Something with apples. Traditionally apple pie. So long as it has apples, I’m good. Apple streusel, apple tart, apple fritter, apple turnover, etc. Sadly, though, I’m not a fan of the apple all by itself. I’ll eat them but I don’t think of that as dessert.
2) If you could live anywhere in the world, you’d choose…?
Japan. More than likely Osaka, Japan. I studied abroad there for a year and had a blast. I really want to go back. I love the culture and the language and the food. I’m hoping a manga artist over there will read one of my books and want to adapt it to manga format. Then it can become an anime series. That would be beyond amazing to me.
3) If you could travel back to any time period, you’d go to…?
Ancient Egypt, pre-Cleopatra. I want to see it in its prime.
4) If you could be any Greek Goddess, you’d be…?
Eris – goddess of chaos. I know, I know. It’s sad but true. That’s partially why I chose that name.
5) If you could possess any special power, it would be…?
The power of imagination realized. That means I could have anything my sick imagination could conceive. At this point, people would start running in terror because that would amount to absolute power. You better believe I would be corrupted absolutely and love every minute of it.
It would probably be a pain in the butt to control at first, though. I’d chance it just to be able to do half the stuff I imagine. First things first, we need dragons and shapeshifters and vampires. I might even throw in some merfolk and centaurs just to keep things interesting.