Dana Davis !!!
Today we welcome back author Dana Davis! Last time in the moonlight she promoted Desert Magick: Superstitions. This time, brings us to the latest edition in that series - Desert Magick: Dream Catcher.
The ease with which Dana can make a character feel real caught my attention from the beginning pages of Superstitions. You feel as though you are in Arizona and inside Daisy's head. The reactions feel appropriate for the character.
While I'd like to go on and on about her book, that's not why you're here, so let's get to the interview. May is loaded with all kinds of interesting holidays (Cinco de Mayo (5th), Mother’s Day (9th), Armed Forces Day (15th), Memorial Day (24th)) and we thought they would make a cool topic, so let's see what Dana has to say!
ME: May 5th marks a unique voluntarily celebrated holiday recognizing the Mexican efforts against the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1962 under General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. This battle is legendary because since that time, not one country in the Americas has been invaded by another continent. Do you and/or your friends celebrate this holiday? Why or why not? If so, how do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
DANA: Hi, Carrie. Thanks for having me today.
I’ve lived the majority of my life in California and the southwest, where large Hispanic populations dwell, so Cinco de Mayo is a big thing. Here in Arizona, where I now live, we have parades and festivals. In fact, celebrations started last weekend. Tonight, hubby usually go to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants for a Cinco de Mayo treat. Party on!
ME: Mother’s Day has become as commercialized as other holidays, but, as far as I can tell, no one seems to mind. Some mothers prefer flowers, some a nice meal, while others prefer gifts like time alone. If you are a mother or wish you were one, what would be your ultimate gift on Mother’s Day? Do (would) you prefer your gifts bought or handmade?
DANA: I’m not a mother, but if I were, my kids would be geeks and nerds and would probably get me eBooks, video games and apps. And I would love an iPhone 3G!
ME: With the situation in the Middle East, more and more people feel the need to demonstrate their support for the troops. Are you among them? Why or why not? If so, what do you, or have you done to show your support? (If you’re not, that’s okay!) Will you be doing anything special on Armed Forces Day?
DANA: My grandfather and my husband’s father served in WWII and I have several uncles who served in Vietnam. I currently have cousins in various armed forces. So, yes, we support the men and women in service. We regularly make donations of goods and/or money. We don’t do anything special on Armed Forces Day, since we show our support throughout the year.
ME: Many people make a point to care for the graves of loved ones on Memorial Day, or have parties and picnics to celebrate them. What about you? What, if any, Memorial Day traditions do you have?
DANA: Well, I’m pretty much in charge of the family tree and various heirlooms but I don’t live anywhere near family gravesites. On Memorial Day, hubby and I like to spend time together, biking, hiking, swimming, or taking in a movie and lunch, just enjoying each other.
ME: There are several games on Facebook (and maybe other social networking sites) that advertise about turning your image into a cartoon avatar, and these next questions find their roots there, but character has been substituted for avatar. If you wrote yourself as a character, who would you be if someone other than yourself? Would you have the same name, physical attributes, anatomy or would everything change? What would your name be and what would your character-self look like? Would you be the heroine or the hero? Why?
DANA: Haha, good one, Carrie! I wouldn’t want to be the hero or heroine because that’s a very difficult life. I would put avatar someplace near the hero or heroine, though, maybe a smart, sassy side-kick. My avatar would spend a lot of time in a museum or library archives, solving riddles and puzzles to help the hero/heroine out.
ME: What about your personality and traits? What would you change and what would you keep? What new traits would you give your character-self and why those traits?
DANA: Hmm, the hiding out in museums and libraries are pretty much part of my own personality. I’m not much of a side-kick in real life, though, so I would have to give my avatar natural people skills. Growing up, I was a shy kid and preferred to play alone or with just one other person, but I had to learn people skills to survive in the entertainment industry. Okay, you’re learning way too much about me here. J I tend to think of great comebacks after the fact, which is why I’m a writer and not a comedian, so I would definitely add a quick mind and mouth to my avatar. And, well, a young, sexy body would be a plus too.
ME: When would you exist? Would you go back in time, stay in the present, or jump into the future? What time period would you pick and why?
DANA: The future, definitely. I’m a geek so bring on the technology and space travel.
ME: What type of story would it be (other than historical, contemporary or futuristic)?
DANA: Hmm, maybe a space mystery. Anything that would let my avatar solve puzzles and travel in space exploring lost alien civilizations. Ooh, maybe my avatar would be a space archaeologist, who falls in love with a hunky scientist while on a secret mission to an alien world. How’s that for a plot?
ME: Would you have companions (family, friends, pets, children) or would you be the loner-type? What companions would you have and what would they be like? What, if any, special qualities would your pet have if your character-self had one?
DANA: Well, I’d bring the hunky scientist along for sure. And a small dog. I had a dog as a kid but don’t have time for one now, so my avatar would definitely have a canine companion. A couple of close friends to run the ship, because I would be too darn busy having my head stuck in an artifacts room.
ME: What about a love interest(s)? What type of relationship(s) would it (they) be? Would it (they) be anything similar to what you have now (or want to have), or would you be radical and change things up? What would he/she (they) look/be like? What would it be about him/her (they) that attracts you? Would he/she (they) have any traits you don’t like or would you make him/her (they) completely perfect? What traits and why?
DANA: Okay, the hunky scientist would definitely have some of my hubby’s traits, like brains, a sense of humor, and be a great friend. I love that about him. And while my husband is an attractive guy, he’s not the muscular type, so my avatar’s honey would have tanned muscles in all the right places. Of course, with that body, he might have a tendency to be a bit self-absorbed, but my avatar would know how to get his attention in the lab and in bed. Hey, this is a fantasy world, right?
ME: We’ve had our fun now, so let’s put the focus on your writing. What is your main genre (erotica, erotic romance, romantic suspense, etc.)? What was the draw for you?
DANA: Science fiction and fantasy. As a kid, I fell in love with the Grimm’s fairytales my mom read to me. Not the watered down stuff. The real scary stories that didn’t always have a happy ending. In elementary school, I loved Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Alexander Key’s The Forgotten Door. TV played a huge part in my growing up years and I watched Bewitched, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Star Trek reruns. I really, really wanted to be Tabitha when I was little, which is probably why I enjoy putting magic into my fantasy novels.
ME: Besides your main genre we just discussed, what elements do you prefer to use in a story and why those elements over others? Any elements you would never use? Why or why not?
DANA: I write a lot of cross-genre stuff with paranormal, mystery, horror, adventure and humor elements. Though I’m not a romance author, I have relationships and sex in my novels. I give my main characters various human traits, even if they’re aliens and come from a different world altogether. Readers need to identify with the main characters somehow. Even the bad guy needs a soft side. I’m open to just about anything as long as it fits my characters and the story I’m telling. I don’t write stuff just for the shock of it or for political or religious preaching. That’s just not my thing.
ME: In your opinion, what author or story had the most influence on your writing? What about their writing or that story did you find so influential and why?
DANA: Well, it wasn’t just one author who influenced me, but several. As I stated above, the Grimm brothers’ stories were big in my young life, as well as Tolkien, Key and various television shows and films. As I got older, I loved reading David Eddings’ epic fantasy novels and Anne Rice’s witches. Some of my favorite authors today are Robert Charles Wilson, Alastair Reynolds, Elizabeth Haydon and Manda Scott. I have read so many books over the years, that many authors have influenced my own writing.
ME: While authors and stories can definitely influence us, inspiration can be everywhere for a writer, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits or things that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, Desert Magick: Dream Catcher, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?
DANA: Dream Catcher is the second book in the Desert Magick series. I have to say that living in the desert had a huge influence on this series. I don’t think I would have written it if I were still living in Los Angeles. But my historical studies and Celtic background play a huge part too. Greek, Celtic, and Native American mythologies are interwoven throughout the books, along with paranormal creatures like witches and ghosts, and I take a lot of liberty with them. After all, it’s a fantasy. I have a couple of dreamcatchers that I purchased from local tribes hanging in my own home, as well as one my mother made for me, so I can honestly say they gave me inspiration for this particular book.
According to my family, I have two Native ancestors. While this may be true and they lived in areas with high Native Indian populations, I have yet to find documentation that either ancestor was actually Native. Nevertheless, my family passed these stories down, and I grew up believing them.
A dreamcatcher is a Native American tool that is hung over a bed to trap nightmares. This way, only good dreams filter through to the dreamer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamcatcher
ME: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)
DANA: This second book has two main characters, unlike the first one in the series. Daisy Hammel-Kavanaugh is the witch-turned-reluctant-heroine, who lives in the Arizona desert. She just wants to heal from her recent encounter with an enemy that was bent on destroying her family and get back to a normal life with her husband Noah.
Enter Daisy’s younger cousin Zoey Vega. Zoey is a college student with a hunky boyfriend and anger and abandonment issues. She often tries to hide behind humor and admires her kick-ass witch cousins. Though Zoey and Daisy live in the same city and see each other periodically, they’ve never been close. A disturbing family secret changes all that, and the two end up working together to fight off the latest villain.
Excerpt –Zoey and Daisy at a medium’s house.
It looked like any ordinary bathroom in any ordinary house. Except for the sheet that covered the entire mirror. She’d heard about the dead using mirrors to contact the living, a portal or something between the worlds. That served to creep her out, so she hurried to do her business and scooted back out to her cousins, where she felt a tad safer.
When she stepped into the family room, the women stood and began clearing the coffee table. She followed their examples and helped.
Daisy caught up with her in the kitchen. “You ready for this?”
“Yeah. I think. Yeah. I don’t have much choice.”
Those kind eyes found hers and Daisy smiled. “We’re right here with you. I promise not to let any spooks take advantage of you.”
That broke her sour mood and she smiled. “Well, if he’s a really cute dead guy…”
ME: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)
DANA: Bridgette, Daisy’s sassy redheaded cousin, has a tendency to steal scenes in the first novel, but in this book, I’d have to go with Helen, the ghost of Zoey’s great-grandmother. This character bullied her way into a scene as I was writing it. I had planned for another character altogether. Helen was so determined that I just had to give in. What’s a writer to do?
Excerpt: Helen, Zoey, and Scarlet (the medium)
Helen’s eyes flamed in their wrinkled sockets. “I might just take up haunting your mother when I find out where she’s hiding.” Even in death, she revealed power that had nothing to do with being a paranormal. Zoey certainly wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. “Might give her a tannin’ too.”
Zoey smirked. Definitely don’t want to get on Grammy Helen’s bad side.
In the time it took Zoey to blink, the old woman changed back into her youthful image. She stepped toward Scarlet and leaned down to study her face. She whistled. “So you’re the medium I’ve heard about. Mind if I keep you on speed dial?”
Scarlet sighed. “Sure. Just don’t go bothering me when I’m sleeping or in the bathroom. I hate that.”
Helen stood straight and crossed her arms. “I might’ve been raised on a cattle ranch, but I’ve got more manners than that, young lady.”
ME: Want to read more? Well, let's check out the blurb and excerpt.
BLURB: Arizona witch Daisy Hammel-Kavanaugh recently survived a terrible enemy that threatened her family. She has the physical and mental scars to prove it. Now, with the aid of her husband Noah and her feisty redheaded cousin Bridgette, she’s turned her sights on a siren who has taken up residence in the Phoenix area. But just when Daisy thinks she’s getting her life under control again, her college-age cousin Zoey reveals a disturbing family secret.
Two years ago, Zoey Vega lost those closest to her. Now, in the process of moving on with her life, she attends Arizona State University and has a hunky boyfriend to boot. But a family secret revealed on her twenty-first birthday puts Zoey at the heart of a struggle that will determine the future of all humanity. In her desperation, she reaches out to her kick-ass witch of a cousin for help. But Zoey is young and inexperienced. Even with Daisy’s assistance, she might not overcome what awaits her. And if she fails, humankind will suffer a most terrible fate.
EXCERPT: If you have to hook up with a siren, at least get a damn good-looking one. Of course, from what Daisy had read about them, yummy pretty much described sirens in general, male and female.
“Can I help you?” the siren said in a seductive voice that made her skin hum.
Noah, who stood next to Bridgette out of sight of the door, gave Daisy a worried look, but she offered a discreet wave of her fingers. He’d taken days off here and there to help, ever since the siren had landed in Phoenix. Daisy was glad to have him here today, especially since a male siren’s powers would have no effect on him.
In three steps, Bridgette joined her, eyes narrow and dangerous. “Actually, you can help me.”
Recognition crossed the siren’s face and he opened his mouth. Daisy’s ears rang with the most beautiful singing she’d ever heard, a soothing tenor voice that elicited sex and joy. No words, just beautiful notes that filled her with warmth in all the right places.
Want to read more? Check out Dana's website: www.danadaviswriting.com