What is your real name?
It’s in most of my books, at the very least as part of the copyright notice. I prefer to go as Claudia when I’m talking about my writing, though, despite the fact that my real name isn’t a secret. I took a pseudonym for fun, and fun I shall have with it.
Have you read TWILIGHT/VAMPIRE ACADEMY/other vampire novels?
For the most part, no. While I was writing about vampires all the time, I was more or less having my vampire needs fulfilled. There were the occasional exceptions, like watching “The Vampire Diaries”, but I didn’t want to wind up with undead overload! That said, I have read TWILIGHT, just the first book, and I really enjoyed it — and while I haven’t read any of Richelle Mead’s novels, I’ve interacted with her online and think she’s great. Hopefully someday soon I can catch up on some of the great vampire fiction I’ve missed.
When will you come to my hometown?
Whenever my publisher or bookseller in your area invites me there! I love meeting readers, but tours and appearances are usually driven by the people who sell the books rather than the people who write them. You can check out my latest tour information here.
What’s the deal with James McAvoy?
I just think he’s cute.
What’s the deal with the pugs?
I just think they’re cute.
How did you choose your pseudonym?
I had the miniseries “I, Claudius” in my DVD player. It’s a lifelong favorite, so I’m pretty happy to have named myself after it.
Are any of your characters based on real people? Is Bianca/Tess/Nadia/Skye/Marguerite/Noemi secretly you?
Not really. While occasional moments from my life have crept in (such as Bianca’s terrible waitressing in HOURGLASS), the books are the product of my imagination. Balthazar is not a real guy, unfortunately for us all. And Bianca, Tess, Nadia, Skye, Marguerite and Noemi aren’t that much like me. For example, they all have better hair.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Each book is different. I’ve had it take only a couple of months; I’ve had it take more than a year. Every plot offers new challenges.
Are you going to make movies of your books?
Sadly, it’s not up to me. Books get made into movies when producers or studios decide. Thus far I don’t have anything like that to announce, but trust me, if that ever changes? You’ll know, because I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops.
Where do you get your ideas?
God only knows. Ideas are actually pretty easy to come by; the tricky part is hoping your ideas will meet each other in your subconscious, fall in love, and give birth to little baby plots.
I’m writing a book! Can you read it and give me feedback?
Sadly, no. So many people ask this that if I said yes, I would have no time to get my own writing done.
I hope to become a writer someday. Do you have any advice for me?
My three main pieces of advice for would-be writers:
1) Read as much as you can. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read the stuff you love. Read the stuff you never thought you’d love. You will learn more about storytelling this way than any other, and you’ll discover the kinds of plots/premises/characters that entrance you.
2) Write as much as you can. I can’t tell you that you must “write every day,” because I don’t. (Nearly every day … but that’s not the same thing.) But you must write regularly enough to make consistent progress on your projects, and to turn writing into a part of your everyday life. If you wait until you have “time to write,” you’ll never have the time. Start writing, and you’ll find the time.
3) When you finally have something you’re ready to show the world, do your homework to find out how best to get it out there. Is your novel the right length for publishers? Have you chosen the right genre? What agents would be a good fit? Is self-publishing right for you? It’s a lot to take in, and there are many loud voices out there who are not necessarily shouting the best information. I would suggest checking out good agent blogs and reputable publishing boards such as Absolute Write and Backspace in order to educate yourself well.
About the SPELLCASTER series
Who are the main characters in SPELLCASTER? Tell us more about them.
The three main characters —
Nadia Caldani is a young witch, one who has been studying clandestinely with her mother, like most witches do; the Craft is a secret, one closely guarded from the outside world, and most particularly from men. But earlier in the year, her mother left the family, which not only has crushed Nadia emotionally and given her a whole new set of responsibilities, but also has deprived her of the only teacher in witchcraft she has. Nadia loves witchcraft and can’t imagine her life without it, but she has no way to complete her training. Right now she has tons of potential and power, but not the knowledge that would allow her to use it well. She’s resigned to never being the witch she might have been. But when she moves with her dad and little brother to the small town of Captive’s Sound, she immediately becomes aware that there’s a dark power there that goes beyond anything she’s ever known – and she might not be the ideal person to stop it, but she also might be the only one even able to try.
Mateo Perez is a lifelong resident of Captive’s Sound, and yet he’s always been an outsider. There have always been whispers about a curse on his family, one that drives them all insane and destroys them. He refuses to believe in it – even though his mother ended her own life in despair years ago. The curse supposedly begins when you begin to see the future, so it must be nothing but a tall tale, right? But then he begins having powerful dreams of approaching danger, even disaster, and one dark-haired girl who’s often in the heart of it. When he sees Nadia’s face for the first time and recognizes her as the one from his dreams, he knows he’s doomed.
Verlaine Laughton knows she’s at the absolute bottom of the social ladder in Captive’s Sound. Even that crazy Mateo Perez doesn’t talk to her. It’s not like people hate her; it’s more like they forget she’s alive. She doesn’t even have any hope of making friends with the new girl, Nadia. However, when an accident reveals Nadia’s powers to her, Verlaine doesn’t care how dangerous any of this might get; something interesting is finally happening, and she’s going to be right in the middle of it. But it turns out there are secrets in her own past that she never imagined before – secrets that witchcraft reveals for the first time.
What are your favorite things about your new series/characters?
Coming up with a system of witchcraft has been really fun. And although this is definitely a dramatic series, there’s more humor in SPELLCASTER than in most of what I’ve written so far, which I enjoy.
Is the story based mainly in one character’s life or a group of people?
While Nadia is definitely the main character in SPELLCASTER, it’s Mateo and Verlaine’s story too. This comes much closer to being an ensemble piece than anything else I’ve written to date, and Verlaine will ultimately get a love story of her own that’s just as intense as Nadia and Mateo’s. (Not in the first book, though. Hang on, Verlaine!)
Will there be romance in these books like there was in EVERNIGHT?
Most definitely! Nadia and Mateo, and Verlaine and … you’ll have to guess.
What inspired you to write about witchcraft?
Whenever people ask me what paranormal creature I’d want to be, I always say a witch. Why? Because witches have the power. They’re in control. I always thought that would be fascinating to write about.
How will this be different from other witchcraft books?
I’m not sure how “sexy” an answer this is, but the first answer that comes to mind is that Nadia has to work for this. Witchcraft is a power, but it’s one you have to learn to control. It requires more than talent; it requires discipline, knowledge and will. I know that’s not necessarily untrue in other witchcraft books, but I feel like it’s more fundamental to the main character’s personality here. Nadia is someone who has earned all the power she possesses.
What are your witches’ powers and weaknesses? Can anyone be a witch, or are they born that way?
There are some limits to witchcraft, both in terms of things no spell can do (raise the dead, at least in any way you’d ever want them raised) and in terms of the First Laws, rules no witch can ever break (never swear yourself to the service of the One Beneath). An individual witch’s limits are only a matter of how much she knows, or doesn’t.
Not anyone can be a witch. Only women can do it, and only women with certain bloodlines, and even if you’re born into a family that has the gift, you might not. Still, having the gift for it is only the first step. Witches become more powerful through what they learn, and the life experiences they have.
(An analogy — it’s like being an Olympic gold medal gymnast. Not every person has the potential to do this. You have to be healthy, of a certain physical build, with very strong joints that can take a lot of punishment, with excellent balance and coordination, etc. Most of that is something you’re born with, or at least born with the potential for (or, in my case, not). Gabrielle Douglas was born with all those things. However, that did not make her a gold medalist. Busting her butt pretty much every day of her life since toddlerhood is what made her a gold medalist. Nadia was born with all the gifts to be a witch – and she’s been working hard to be a good one every day.)
About the EVERNIGHT series
Will BALTHAZAR have a sequel? Are there future books coming in the EVERNIGHT series?
Right now, the EVERNIGHT series is complete. I’m pretty happy with where Bianca and Lucas have ended up, and I wouldn’t go back to those characters unless and until I knew I had the perfect story to tell. As for BALTHAZAR, I’m not currently contracted for a sequel … but I’m thinking of ways to get a little more about Balthazar and Skye’s adventures out into the world.
Why not vampires?
I would say that I’ve always been interested in vampires, werewolves, ghosts and pretty much anything that should exist (if far from me) but doesn’t. I used to check books of folklore out of the library and read for hours. Then there was Anne Rice, then there was Buffy, then there was Moonlight—basically, if it had vampires in it, particularly if it wasn’t flat-out horror, I wanted to check it out. Then, a couple of years ago, the idea for the Evernight series came to me, and I thought I would give it a try.
What actors would you cast as Lucas and Balthazar? What actress would you want to play Bianca?
Honestly, their images in my mind don’t look much like any actors I know. I try to keep an open mind about it, because if a film or TV show ever did happen, I’d want to be able to approach it without any preconceptions.
Will you write a sequel?
FATEFUL was always conceived as a stand-alone novel. After all, it’s about werewolves on the Titanic … and the Titanic sank!
Someday, perhaps, I’ll revisit that werewolf mythology, but it would probably be with different characters, set in a new time period. Werewolves in every historical crisis imaginable! There is no problem that cannot be made more interesting with werewolves.
About the short stories
Is “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” in VACATIONS FROM HELL a prequel to the SPELLCASTER series?
No, though you’ll notice a few points in common between the two (like the witchcraft, the secrecy, and the existence of a cute-but-annoying little brother.) However, I hadn’t yet worked out the magical system that provides the framework for SPELLCASTER, and the tone is very different. If “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend” is my romantic-comedy take on witchcraft, then SPELLCASTER is my dramatic version. It would be more appropriate to call that story an inspiration for my current witchcraft series.