Deborah Cooke is the author of the Dragon Diaries series. The first book, FLYING BLIND, came out this month and I reviewed it here. But some of ya'll might already be familiar due to her paranormal romance series, Dragonfire. She also writes as Claire Delacroix, has a large backlist available in various places, and spends her time doing crafty things like knitting.
1. FLYING BLIND is set in the same world as your adult paranormal romances (the Dragonfire series). Do you think the audiences for the two series will crossover?
I have no idea. I try not to think so much about marketing stuff - I'm just a writer, following the stories.
2. You've written before about writing books in a series to be "the same, but different." Do you hold to that concept when writing books in different series, but the same world?
Well, sure. There has to be a thread of continuity through any author's work, in order for readers to know what to expect from that author. I think that happens automatically at a high level - there are certain kinds of stories and certain kinds of story elements that appeal to certain authors. I also, though, think that series in themselves have to have a stronger thread of continuity - so, all of the Dragonfire books are romances, for example, and each one features a dragon shape shifter hero. They feature a cast of continuing characters, occupying the same fictional worlds. These books also are sensual, but I think the action scenes (the dragon fights) are a big part of what makes them distinct for readers. On the other hand, if we look at Dragon Diaries, the books are structured as Zoë's journey, or coming of age. They're all written in first person, and have romantic and paranormal elements. Structurally, they're different from Dragonfire, even though they take place in the same world with a number of the same continuing characters. One thing I did think about in writing the YA series was the action, which so many readers expect from Dragonfire books. In a real sense, fighting is part of the dragon nature, so I thought there had to be action and fight scenes in the YA too. I'm not sure how typical that is in the broader YA market - I haven't read many YA's with a lot of fight scenes - but it's a continuity element from the Dragonfire world which I believe is a reader expectation.
Which is a long-winded way of saying "yes"!
3. Your biography states that you read medieval vernacular literature, which tends to be overlooked even by English majors. What are some of your favorite works? Medieval writers tell stories quite differently from modern writers. (For one thing, there's no interest in explaining the psychology of the characters.) Do you think your interest in medieval fiction affects the way you write?
What's wonderful about medieval literature is that it shows the assumptions of contemporary society quite clearly. As you note, they don't explore psychology of the characters much, because it's a given to them that this kind of person would act in that kind of way in a certain situation. A knight, for example, presented with a beautiful lady who desires him, would hop into her bed. There's an ideal of behaviour or expectation that's a given. That's interesting, especially when the stories change or take a different focus. My favourites are the ones we'd now call paranormal or fantasy romances, and they first appear in Europe during the crusades - this is when real people are encountering foreigners (for lack of a better world) for the first time, and trying to make sense of their own reactions. Marie de France tells a story, for example, about a knight who shifts to a wolf. It's called Bisclavret. I think this is a thinly veiled story of an outsider - a foreigner - becoming a landholder and nobleman, and the distrust of some people toward him and his differences. (And of course, Marie told her stories at the Norman court, and the Normans were outsiders in England who ruled the country.) As a nobleman, this hero is a great favourite of the king, but his wife betrays him because of his nature. She thinks his nature is wicked and she's justified in stealing his clothes, taking his property and marrying another guy. The end of the story is very hard on the wife. The shifter hero gets his land and title back and the wife is both scarred and exiled - the implication being that outsiders can be noble and heroic, they can be property holders, but marriage with the locals probably won't work out well for them.
I do think that medieval stories affect my own writing. There's a very strong thread of morality in these stories, of the importance of acting honorably, and there's also a lot of action and humour. The stories are entertaining, but often leave the reader with something to think about. I like that balance, too.
4. Why dragons?
I just think dragons are so cool. And a hero who could shift to a dragon would be one sexy beast, as far as I'm concerned.
5. Your blog is titled "Alive and Knitting," making one of your hobbies clear. How did you get into knitting? What's the most complicated project you've finished?
My grandmother taught me to knit when I was about four. It's one craft that I come back to over and over again. I think that's because it's so flexible - once you understand the structure of knitting stitches, so much is possible. Kind of like words and stories.
6. In addition to FLYING BLIND, you've recently released DARKFIRE KISS and you've been rereleasing your backlist on Smashwords. How do you promote several books at once?
Well, I don't! Promotion isn't really my best trick. I'd rather write! I do my blog and also keep my Facebook pages - there's one for Deborah Cooke and one for Claire Delacroix - plus update my websites. I'm indebted to Teen Book Scene for setting up this blog tour for me - otherwise, I wouldn't have known where to start. As for the re-released backlist, that's mostly a favour for readers so I haven't done much promo at all for those books. A lot of those older titles are unavailable in print and were never available digitally. Some fans want to read them all - when I have the rights and the digital file, it's pretty easy to pop the book up on Kindle and Smashwords, to make it available to people.