Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Interview: Author S.W. Vaughn (House Phoenix Series)

Today begins our House Phoenix Special Week with Author S.W. Vaughn! We'll be chatting about her book, Broken Angel--the first in the series--and getting an inside look into the book ;) Today, Annabell and S.W. Vaughn discuss all things nerd and Broken Angel!

Annabell: As you’ve been sure to guess from the name of our site, we are HUGE book loving nerds! *hehe* What defines you as a nerd?

S.W. Vaughn: Well, I can tell the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek! :-) Ever since being a nerd became cool, a lot of self-proclaimed nerds and/or geeks seem to have trouble with that . . . and for the record, I like Star Trek more.

But for serious nerd cred, I have actually read the Lord of the Rings trilogy (not just watched the movies), and The Hobbit. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve read the Dragonlance Chronicles and love Raistlin Majere. I’ve also taken a definite side in the eternal Terry Pratchett vs. Douglas Adams war—Sir Pratchett FTW!

I’m not a tech whiz, but I know my way around a computer and have a favorite operating system (Windows XP), browser (Firefox—though I also have Chrome and Safari installed), and media player (VLC). I can code enough HTML to post things online that are fancier looking than plain text, with live links and everything. And I have excellent Google-fu.

Nerds rock!

Annabell: You are a MASSIVE lover of coffee! What are your five top flavored coffee drinks? Do you like eating coffee flavored ice cream?

S.W. Vaughn: LOL Yes, coffee and I have an unnatural love affair. Hazelnut coffee is my absolute favorite, especially from Dunkin Donuts. The next four down would probably be Rainforest Crunch (brazil nut, macadamia, vanilla, and almond), Caramel Vanilla, Mocha Brownie Fudge (yes, that’s really a coffee flavor!), and Toasted Almond.

And I adore coffee-flavored ice cream, especially with chocolate Magic Shell on it.

Annabell: You name spray painting as one of your favorite hobbies. How did you become interested in spray painting?

S.W. Vaughn: I am sadly lacking in artistic ability. But a few years ago, when I had a separate room with a door as my office for the first time ever, I wanted to decorate and make it my own. The walls were already three different shades of blue, and my husband (who is an excellent artist) happened to have a collection of small cans of spray paint. I was also attempting to learn how to speak and write Japanese—so I decided to practice by spraying kanji symbols on my office walls.

It’s been my preferred method of artistic expression since, because I don’t have to care how messy it looks. It’s supposed to look like that!

Annabell: Did you decide to use the initials of your name as your author name instead of your full-length name so readers don't judge the dark stories you write based on your gender?

S.W. Vaughn: Very perceptive! Yes, that’s exactly why I decided on initials. I do think there’s still a perception that women write happy-ever-after stories and men write dark stories, and while the bias is often unconscious, it does exist to some extent. In fact, I’ve had quite a few reviews where readers refer to me as “he” or “him,” and have received a few emails addressed to “Mr. Vaughn” – so I know the assumption is out there. I don’t mind, though. :-)

When people are reading my stories, I don’t want them to have to think about the person who wrote them. I don’t want anything to get in the way of the story.

Annabell: You also write stories in the erotica, sweet romance, and paranormal genres. What attracted you to these genres?

S.W. Vaughn: I actually started out writing romance, because I am a closet romantic—for some reason, I struggle to talk or act romantically, but I thought I could write about it. My early efforts were terrible (the first two books I wrote will never see the light of day), and then I started writing the House Phoenix series, and for a while I was all about thrillers. But after I’d improved my writing craft, I gave romance a try again and didn’t suck at writing it quite so much.

I got interested in paranormal / urban fantasy because I love the idea of magic and more-than-humans existing in the real world. My approach to writing paranormal is that people are people, even if the people are angels or demons or Fae or djinn (I’ve written about all of those)—they just have more awesome problems.

Annabell: Broken Angel deals with five underground fight club houses— Ulysses, Dionysus, Pandora, Prometheus, and Orion—names which originate from Greek mythology. What inspired the use of Greek names?

S.W. Vaughn: When I was naming the Houses, I wanted to use something familiar, but not cliché. I wanted to avoid expected names like the Bloody Skulls or Fists of Fury—and that’s also why I called them Houses instead of gangs.

I decided on Greek mythology because there were so many names there to choose from. This also let me match the names with the styles and personalities of the House leaders. As for why the series is called House Phoenix . . . well, folks will just have to read Broken Angel to find out, because that’s a HUGE spoiler. :-)

Annabell: How did you choose the character names in Broken Angel? Did the meanings behind the names help inspire the characters at all?

S.W. Vaughn: Well, for Gabriel, I already knew that he would eventually be called Angel when I started writing the book. It’s the only time I’ve ever come up with the last sentence of a book first! So I decided that he should have an angel name. And since I’ve always loved the angel Gabriel (especially as played by Christopher Walken in The Prophecy), Gabriel it was.

For Marcus Slade, I wanted a name that sounded kind of sophisticated and upper-class, but also cold. Jenner’s real name is very long and difficult to spell, and constructed with a traditional East Indian naming convention (specifically Bengali, because I love the sound of that language), but his family name can be corrupted to Jenner.

And I didn’t mean to have a doctor that everyone calls Doc (I know how original!). That’s just the personality he ended up with—so it’s all Doc’s fault. However, he was influenced by Kiefer Sutherland’s character in Young Guns 2 and Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in Tombstone.

Annabell: In Broken Angel, Gabriel is in search of his sister. What was it about the relationship between a brother and sister that made you want to build a plot around it?

S.W. Vaughn: Personal experience. My family’s really close, and I am the oldest of four. I have two sisters and one brother—we’re all spaced out around two years apart. They were my best friends growing up, and they’re still my best friends today (outside of my husband and son). And I’d die for any of them.

Just don’t tell them that, or they might test me on it. ;-)

Annabell: If you could join one of the fight club houses in Broken Angel, which one would you choose and why?

S.W. Vaughn: I’d have to say Pandora. I’ve had a longtime fascination with and respect for traditional Japanese culture, especially the ways of the samurai. The concepts of honor and discipline are important to me, and I love that the Japanese emphasize them.

Also, they walk around barefoot in the house all the time—and I hate wearing socks.

Annabell: Who was your hardest character to write in Broken Angel and why? Who did you bond with right from the beginning?

S.W. Vaughn: Jenner was probably the hardest in the beginning. There’s a fine line between “awesomely evil” (like Severus Snape) and “so horrible that everyone wishes you would die” (like Dolores Umbridge), and I had to make sure that he never crossed that line. He did get easier as the series went on and I got to know him.

It was easy to love Gabriel from the start. He’s always felt like an old friend, the kind of guy you could meet up with at Denny’s and sit there talking until the sun came up. Some of the things I had to do to him in the service of making a good story broke my heart.

Annabell: If you could create a soundtrack for Broken Angel, what are some songs you would want included?

S.W. Vaughn: I actually made a playlist for this book—I make playlists for all my books, because I’m a dork like that. :-) This one included:
Megadeth – “Crush ‘Em”
Breaking Benjamin – “Cold”
Nirvana – “Heart Shaped Box”
Seether feat. Amy Lee – “Broken”
Coolio – “Gangster’s Paradise”
Disturbed – “Down with the Sickness”
Maroon 5 – “Harder to Breathe”
Linkin Park – “In the End”

Thanks so much for having me over, Annabell—this was the funnest interview ever!

Annabell: BIG thank you to author S.W. Vaughn for stopping by and giving us an inside behind the scenes look into her book Broken Angel!

Get a FREE copy of Broken Angel on Amazon! Will only be available for free from March 5-March 9, 2013!

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to check out S.W. Vaughn's guest post on writing dark themes!

About the Author: S.W. Vaughn lives in central New York and writes thrillers. The House Phoenix series started with the last line in Broken Angel and grew from there.

Where to Find the Author

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Annabell! I'll be around, if anyone has questions. :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

TeamNerd Features!