Happy April! This month I interview Lori Sjoberg about reapers, her new book Grave Destinations and how a birthday present inspired her new book.
So let's begin…
1. Let's get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?
I was born in Massachusetts, lived for a few years in Vermont, but have lived most of my life in central Florida about an hour away from Disney World. I write paranormal romance and urban fantasy.
2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
Well, I guess I'd blame it on the need to share my stories. Like most authors, I have an overactive imagination and needed an outlet for my creativity. And since my day job is fairly analytical by nature, writing gives my mind a chance to run wild after a long day at the office.
3. What do you like most about the genre's you write? What do you like the least?
I love writing paranormal fiction because the only boundaries are the ones I create. I can design whatever kind of world I want and fill it with the most fantastical characters—vampire, werewolves, aliens, demons, as well as my favorite, reapers. The downside is I have to keep it all straight in my head—the characteristics of each race, their hierarchies and limitations, etc. That can become challenging when you’re working on a four-book series!
4. Is there an element about paranormal romance or urban fantasy that you find is overused?
I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the Mary Sue element that’s present in some stories. That’s probably because I prefer my female protagonists to be three-dimensional and self-sufficient. They may get saved by the hero from time to time, but they’re much more likely to figure a way out on their own.
5. What things influence your writing? And have you ever written them into a story?
Pretty much everything influences my writing. What I read, the people I talk to, weird stories I see on the news, things that happen at my day job, etc. It’s all fair game when I’m working on a book! The setting for GRAVE DESTINATIONS was largely influenced by the cruise my husband took me on for my birthday. My mood also plays a heavy influence. Rough day at the office? Time to kill someone on paper. Great day? In that case, I’ll be writing something more upbeat.
6. Was there any one influence that made you want to write?
As strange as it sounds, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich played a huge role in my motivation to start writing fiction. A friend of mine badgered – oops, I mean talked me into reading the series. I was reluctant at first, but I eventually gave in and was immediately hooked. After I read all of the books (I think it was book eight or nine at the time), I hopped online and discovered the wonderful world of fan fiction. After a while, I developed the urge to write some of my own, and the rest is history.
7. Let's talk a little about your latest project. What is the title and what is it about?
My latest project is Grave Destinations. It’s the story of Ruby, a reaper assigned to harvest a soul on board a cruise ship. Most reapers would love that kind of gig, but boats remind Ruby of the chain of events that resulted in her becoming a reaper. She finds distraction in the form of follow passenger Jack Deverell, but there’s more to him than meets the eye. Jack’s harboring a few secrets of his own, including the curse that’s plagued him for nearly a century. And when people who weren’t on Ruby’s list start dying, Jack becomes the prime suspect.
8. What do you hope readers will find interesting or unique about your story?
My reapers are damned mortals who have been given one final chance to earn their salvation by collecting the souls of the recently departed. They work under the direct authority of Fate, who is far from a gentle mistress. The hours are long, the assignments are often dangerous, and they have to work under the radar to avoid mortal detection. Each book focuses on a particular reaper and his/her journey toward redemption and a happily ever after.
9. If you were given the opportunity to write a fan-fiction novel, who is the author you would choose, and what would be the book?
Anne Rice. I loved the early books in the Vampire Chronicles. (The later installments…not so much.) And ever since I read The Vampire Lestat, I’ve wanted know what the vampire Gabrielle (Lestat’s mother) was up to during the centuries she was on her own. She’s my kind of gal – tough, smart, and independent, with a whole lot of gray to her character. I have a feeling she went on a ton of adventures, and it would be a blast to ride shotgun for a few.
10. Is there a genre that you would like to write? Something you would find a challenge?
I’d love to take a crack at science fiction. Most of the “what if” questions in my head fall under that category, and I think it would be great to explore some of them on paper.
Where to find Lori online: