Come share the Magic with Cornelia Amiri

Ms. Amiri asked me if I would be interested in reviewing her latest book Druid Quest. Due out in August 08. I said yes and asked if she would be willing to do an interview also. She agreed so here it is. Enjoy and I hope you purchase the book. Check out my review in the coming weeks.

I appreciate you taking the time to do this interview with me.

Explain what a day in the life of an author is like? How long does it take from start to finish to complete a book?

When I’m off from my day job, I begin around 8 am, go to the computer, pull up a completed rough draft for rewrites or a new project to write fresh. It depends on how high my energy level is. I usually have one finished rough draft and two with only a few chapters written. So I always have plenty to do. Then I eat and work on my writing some more. I switch over to reading and answering e-malls or sending comments on my space. After super, I watch a little TV or read. Back to writing for an hour or two. I go to sleep and wake up about 4 am and write. I go back to sleep about 6 am, wake up about 8 am, and do it all over again. On my day job days I’m happy with any writing I do. Usually it's about four hours of work, but even if it’s twenty minutes, I’m happy to do some writing. There are times when I may spend the whole night writing with no sleep and still feel energized. But to be honest, those days are rare. There are weak days and strong days but it all balances out. It takes me a year to complete a book, I complete a rough draft in about three months but rewriting takes longer.

How did you decide to choose fantasy over all the other types of genres?

I love history, my favorite time periods and people are the Dark Age and Ancient Celts. It’s a time period few people have accurate knowledge of, so I have to make a world previously unreal to the reader, real to them, just like fantasy and sci-fi authors do. In the tradition of Marion Zimmer Bradley, I use fantasy to bring the readers into the belief system of the characters. I want to make the druid teachings of the times come alive to the readers. So in my books, people can shapeshift, there are selkies, dead ancestors cross over to speak with you and help you out, gods fall in love with humans, and, from time to time, dragons visit from their alternate dimension.

Where do you draw your inspirations from? Who are your inspirations?

The Celtic Warrior Queen Boudica is a main one, she made me start writing. I love history, and in reading a book about the dark ages, I came across Boudica. I was so inspired, I started jotting down notes, but they were fiction (it-must-have-happened-like-this type). Before I knew it, I had written a novel. I thought, gosh I can really do this. So after accidentally writing that novel, I wrote one on purpose, The Fox Prince, which turned out to be my first published book. In addition to Queen Boudica, authors: Morgan Llewellyn and Marion Zimmer Bradley are my strongest inspiration. Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote fantasies, Morgan Llewellyn writes historicals, and I write romances, but like them, I use historical knowledge and realistic fantasy that pulls from the druid belief system, and I have researched the ancient Celts for more than 15 years.

What’s something about you that we’d be surprised to learn?

I’ll give you two, I wrote an erotica/vampire story, Vampire Dancer, and it’ll be out soon in a book called Sleeping With The Undead. It’s still Celtic though, it’s about the Scottish fairy vampires, the baobhan sith (baa’-fan shee). And I wrote a contemporary mystery called Dead End Job, in an anthology called A Death In Texas. Both are coming out in the fall of 2008 with L & L Dreamspell. It’s loosely based on a few dead end jobs I’ve had.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? And what is the worst?

Best: In a creative writing class in 1978, the professor told me the best way to learn to write is to read. It keeps my subconscious mind alert to the writing craft, while my unconscious mind is having fun, there is nothing I enjoy more than a good book, except maybe chocolate and you can eat while you read. Worst: A person who said I’ve been through a lot in my life and should write about that instead of things that aren’t real. For the most part I don’t read biographies that deal with people overcoming difficult lives, those books, all books are great, but that shouldn’t be the only kinds of books available. I like fiction, most people do. It’s not write what you know, but write what interest you. The knowing is a given, it comes along with the interest. All people are experts on the things that interest them. The ancient Celts interest me, so I’ve come to know a lot about them and that’s what I write about

How many books do you usually write a year?

My books take me a year to write. I work at a full time day job for one thing, that limits my time. But I go at a rather slow pace on the rewrites. Once I finish the rough draft, I like to set it aside three weeks, if I can, so when I go back to it for the first read, I can do it with some detachment. So I’m more open about what has to be kept and what has to be deleted and how to work the in-between stuff. And I don’t even know how many rewrites I do, but it’s a lot. Every time I go back into the work in progress, I see things to improve. I don’t want to call it finished until I feel it’s the best work I can do at that time.

If you could be one of your characters – Who would you be? And why?

Ricole in One Heart One Way. She’s so adorable and bubbly as well as uncomplicated and confident. Life is fun for her. She is zany, full of energy, and everyone loves her. She makes the people around her happy, her positive personality brightens their day. She’s like a Welsh daffodil.

For readers who might not be familiar with your books. Can you please describe them and what they should expect from them.

The’re tales of long swords, hot heroes, and warrior women. The first, The Fox Prince, is the tale of a 5th century Celtic Prince who searches for and finds his true love. But she, a Saxon slave, is not happy about the match. Aelfrida must choose between vengeance or love. The second, One Heart One Way, is a tale of an ancient god, a magic sword and a hot prince named Blaise. The third, Danger Is Sweet, is a tale of a mysterious, dark warrior, a fiery Pict Princess, and the shadowy secret standing between them. The forth, The Vixen Princess, is the tale of Nesta, a fiery, voluptuous, middle-aged widow, who joins the new war leader, a 15-year-old lad named Arthur, to fight Saxons. There she meets the king’s champion, Mabon, a hardened warrior. But to Mabon's horror, a ghost is called forth from the grave as a match maker for these two. But the ghost has his work cut out for him, as Nesta and Mabon care more about war than love. And the 5th, Druid Quest, takes the readers into the myth, magic, and adventure of ancient Britannia as two druids fight for their lives, their faith, and their love. And my novella, A Fine Cauldron of Fish with Eternal Press is a funny vampire story which takes place on the Isle of Man.

What do you love most about the book you’ve just written/released?

I love the opportunity it gave me to transport readers to the Celtic World of the first century AD. An unspoiled land of mist topped mountains, thick oak forest, and the beautiful people who worshiped and lived in harmony with nature. I love that both of my characters are druids. I didn’t take my sacred druidess and throw her to a Roman lover. Her man is an arch druid as strong and powerful she is and vice versus. They have a stirring, timeless story to tell of hope, faith, and love.

What is your favorite genre to write? How about to read? And if they're different, why?

I love the romance genre because I want to give my characters happy endings. Also I like the challenge of thinking like a man, because in the romance genre you present inner thoughts of the hero and heroine in an equally shared portion. I like reading nonfiction history books including archeology reports and books on writing. In fiction, I like historical, fantasy, paranormals, Sci-Fi, and all the above cross genres of romance such as historical/romance, fantasy/romance etc. I like books with strong characters and I like to write strong characters, it’s their story I’m telling. In fantasy, historical, and sci-fi you have to create strong characters, you use the readers’ connection to them to bring the reader into a different place or time and make it believable to them.

If you could save three books from burning, which three would they be?

One would be Geoffrey of Monmouth’s history of Britain, it’s my favorite book. It inspired many of my novels. Though it was hand inscribed by a monk and written before the printing press, it was the first best seller. And it’s the first written record of the Arthurian legend. Another is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury because once anyone, with any sense, reads that, they will never stand for book burnings. And then there’s Charlotte’s Web, which I read when I was eight. The first book that made me cry. It changed how I viewed reading, to me, books became a powerful art that had to be included in my life.

Check out Cornelia Amiri's MySpace page


Linda Jacobs said…
Thank you for this well-written and interesting interview!

Fantasy is not my favorite genre (I think I'm the only person in the world who hasn't read the Harry Potter books!) but this interview has piqued my interest in the Celtic legends.

Just last month we received an invitation to a wedding that is going to use some Celtic marriage rites in the ceremony. Funny how things like that happen!
naida said…
Great interview, I like the questions you asked her. The book sounds good!
J. Kaye Oldner said…
Sorry I haven't been here in the past few days. Haven't been on the computer much and I am trying to catch up on all my blog reading today.

Great interview! :-D I look forward to reading your review.

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