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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Creating New Worlds: An Interview with Zoe Archer

By Alana Saltz

It's not an easy task for a writer to create a world so complex and engaging that readers want to savor it book after book. RITA award-nominated novelist Zoe Archer has discovered the magic potion that hooks readers from page one and keeps them wanting more.

Zoe's 11 published novels include the Hellraisers paranormal historical series ("Devil's Kiss,” "Demon's Bride" and "Sinner's Heart") and the acclaimed Blades of the Rose paranormal historical adventure series ("Warrior", "Scoundrel", "Rebel,"and "Stranger"), published by Kensington/Zebra. “Sweet Revenge,” the first book in her new historical romance series for St. Martin’s Press, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Zoe took time out of her busy writing schedule to share a few of her tips and tricks with us. If you're interested in writing your own adventure-packed, page-turning novel series, be sure to check out Zoe's Writing in Series class this Sunday! She'll share her techniques for writing compelling story worlds and characters that deliver novel after novel.

You’ve published 11 novels, with a several more deals in progress. How do you come up with your ideas and find your inspiration?  

I collaborate a lot in the plotting with my husband, fellow author Nico Rosso, and we generate ideas together. But often there's an aspect of history or a scenario that I find intriguing, and want to explore it further. So with my latest series, Nemesis, Unlimited, we thought up a secret organization in Victorian England that helps to provide justice for those who can't obtain it for themselves, since that society is so stratified and slanted toward the wealthy and powerful.

Your novels feature strong, bold, and adventurous female characters. How do you create and develop a protagonist who readers will love and root for?

Primarily, I write for myself.  So I try to imbue my characters with traits that I find admirable and intriguing, plus make sure they have a good sense of humor.  That little bit of wit or playfulness definitely makes readers more sympathetic to a character.

You’ve written several series of novels, including the “Hellraisers” paranormal historical series and the acclaimed “Blades of the Rose” paranormal historical adventure series. What are some of the unique challenges writers face when writing a series?

One is setting up a unique concept that will have readers wanting to return to the world I've created.   Another challenge is keeping a consistent tone and theme, while also making each book unique, so readers want to come back to that particular place, but they don't get the same story told over and over again.

What advice do you have for authors who are interested in writing a series of their own?

Again, it comes down to creating a world and characters that are unique and fresh, and one that readers and you as the writer, will be happy to return to over the course of several books. Have a game plan, too. Do you want the series to be open-ended, with any number of books within it, or will it have a finite amount of books, that have one overarching storyline? And if it's the latter, be sure you have a satisfactory conclusion in your mind when planning the series.

You are an extremely prolific writer for someone so young. What is your writing practice like?

Structure is key. It means setting aside specific time to write and not deviating from it (as much as possible, but life can intervene sometimes). My books are plotted before I sit down to write actual pages, so I know where I'm going each day. Since my books have a lot of action and intrigue, it's critical for me to have a sense of direction, or else I'd just stare at the monitor (or toddle over to social media and waste time).

Thanks for sharing this great advice, Zoe. We can't wait for your Writing in Series class this Sunday! 

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