In Their Words: Colleen Gleason

The Rest Falls Away: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles (Signet Eclipse)Rises The Night: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles

I first encountered Colleen Gleason and her wonderful vampire series when someone recommended her work in the comments of this blog. A short time later, she herself commented here, and we’ve exchanged blog comments ever since (though, that’s only been a few months). She is warm, funny, and completely approachable, and even though I confess to not being a particular fan of the regency period, I have become a fan of her series because the themes she addresses are universal, though her approach is completely original. I’m tickled, then, to offer this interview on the very day the third book in the series is being released.

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Name: Colleen Gleason
Most Recently Published Work: The Bleeding Dusk: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles (#3)

Colleen’s brief bio:

Colleen was born and raised in Michigan, and worked in the health care industry in sales and marketing for more than fifteen years before selling her first book. She currently resides near Ann Arbor with her family and is working on the fifth book in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles.

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Interview Part One | Interview Part Two

In Their Words: Colleen Gleason (Part 1)

Intro | Part Two
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What question are you never, or rarely, asked in interviews, that you really wish people would ask? How would you answer it?

Hmm. I really can’t think of anything that I haven’t been asked. I must have good interviewers.

Conversely, what question are you often asked, that you really don’t like to answer? What don’t you like about that question (no, you don’t have to answer it)?

How are sales/how’s the book doing–mainly because, unless the book hits a best-seller list, it’s pretty hard to tell how a book is really doing (and what does that mean, anyway?) for at least a year. It’s a nebulous question, and there’s not an easy answer.

Who in your life was/is the greatest influence – good or bad – on your writing?

I think my agent had a big hand in helping me to get my writing to a different level. When she first took me on, I was writing well, and that’s why she wanted to work with me. But we had several conversations about–literally about–word choices. Very specific ones, and those conversations helped me to see a fairly simple but effective way to bring my writing to another level. It sounds like such a small thing, but in a way, it was a big thing.

I’ve also been influenced by my favorite authors, because I see their techniques and learn from them, using and adapting to fit my own stories, as far as craft goes.

And other big influences are my two critique partners, who read everything I write, every week, and really support and motivate me to keep writing. They’re tough, and they know their stuff. I don’t think I’d be here without them.

Do you write in longhand first, or do you compose at the keyboard? Tell us about your preferred pens, ink, paper, or platform and program.

I write everything in Word on my Macbook. Then I transfer it to my iMac and fine-tune it. I write one draft, massaging, muscling it into shape as I write–instead of writing one complete draft, then going back over it. I’m constantly editing/rewriting, tweaking, fine-tuning. At the end of the book, I do make a final pass for things like consistencies…but usually that’s pretty minor, since I’ve been pounding the book into shape all along.

What do you consider a “full day’s work” of writing? Do you measure by number of hours, or number of words? Do you spend time doing mundane chores so that you don’t have to write?

I am a great procrastinator! (I think many writers are.) There are so many other fun things to do on the computer besides write–read/answer fan mails, emails from my editor or agent, blogging, “researching” on the Internet, reading gossip columns (ahem). And if I’m sitting at my computer, I’m at least “at work” even if I’m not working.

So, I usually do a great deal of writing away from my desktop, and on my laptop, in a place where I can’t get internet. I often sit in restaurants and/or coffee shops and put my earphones in and plug away, without distractions.

As for a full day’s work…well, I like to try for 5 pages a day, but at the beginning of the book, I definitely chalk up fewer pages. But I make up for it when I get near the end, sometimes doing 10-20 pages in a day.

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Intro | Part Two

In Their Words: Colleen Gleason (Part 2)

Intro | Part One
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What are you reading these days? Or, what types of things do you like to read when you have time?

I read a variety of things, but I generally stay away from books in the genre that I write–namely, at this time, vampire books. I like to have a clean slate in my head when writing, and not worrying about what’s been done before or what hasn’t. It allows me to be freer in a way.

I’m currently reading A Mortal Bane by Roberta Gellis, who wrote The Roselynde Chronicles — one of my all-time favorite series of books. I recently finished Jamaica Inn by Daphne duMaurier and Duchess on fifth Avenue by Ruth Ryan Langan.

Got tunes? What’s flowing from your headphones or speakers while you write?

Lately I’ve been listening to either Michael W. Smith’s praise and worship music, or a party shuffle from my iTunes library.

How do you start a project? Do you begin with a random idea or an urge to cover a topic, or does research inform your choices? Once you’ve got an idea, do you outline, or just write what comes?

Since I’m writing a series now (and in fact, am writing the last book in the series), I’m already in the middle of one long story, so to speak. So I have a better idea of where it’s going than when I start a brand new project. However, even so, I still don’t plot very specifically before I begin. I have a basic idea of where the story is going and what’s going to happen, and I fill in the details as I write. And sometimes, I take a detour, or the book goes in a different direction than I’d planned….but I still end up in the same place.

When I’m starting a brand new idea, I generally sit down and just write–the first chapter or two–and then I sit back and try and figure out who these people are and what they’re doing. Then I write some more and come up with a general synopsis, and away we go!

Describe your ideal book signing. Is it in a large chain bookstore, or a smaller independent one? Is there a café? Do they have food and drinks that tie in with your book? What is the audience like?

Oooh…fun question!

It doesn’t matter to me where the signing is, or whether there’s food or drink (although I’m never one to pass up food OR drink!).

I have no problem speaking in public, especially about things like my books. So a setup where I can talk and take questions from the audience is wonderful for me. I love to have both readers/fans and non-readers, so that the conversation can go in different directions–some specifics about the books, and some in general about writing.

Tell us a bit about your current project. What’s it about? When is it coming out? Is it drastically different from your last work, or continuing a similar theme? What do you want prospective readers to know?

My newest release, The Bleeding Dusk, is out on February 5, and it continues the story of Victoria Gardella Grantworth. It’s the middle book of the five about her, and in many ways, it turns several aspects of the series on its head. I just finished writing the fourth book, When Twilight Burns, which will be out in August 08. And I’m currently writing the fifth and final book about Victoria.

As for prospective readers…the books can be read out of order, but I don’t suggest it, only because it is one long on-going story about Victoria and her struggle to balance her life with her calling as a vampire hunter in Regency England. So I recommend starting with The Rest Falls Away because then you get to see how she grows, changes, matures throughout the series.

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Intro | Part One