Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ROCCO welcomes author Delia James!

Meow, my guest is author Delia James!

ROCCO interviews author Delia James

  • Welcome Delia! Tell us a little about your background.
     I started writing early.  I knew by the time I was thirteen it was what I wanted to do.  In fact, I got my first professional rejection in high school.  I went through college on an eccentric program I more or less made up myself, trying to get as much practicle experience as I could and came out with a communications degree, and spent the time after that writing and submitting.  I sold my first novel in 1994 and since then have written in about every genre; starting with science fiction and fantasy and moving through romance, young adult and mysteries.
  • Tell us a bit about your Witch’s Cat series.
     The witch's cat mysteries follow the investigations of Anna Britton, who is in order, a freelance artist, a new resident of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and a witch.  Her partner in solving crime is her magical familiar, a large, highly intelligent cat named Alistair.  It's sometimes tough to tell who has more attitude, but between them they manage to get in and out of a whole lot of trouble.
  • You’ve written other series under other names. Can you tell us about those?
     Well, as I said, I've written in just about every genre.  Using different names helps the stores know where to put the books.  You don't necessarily want the romance mixed up with the Young Adult.  As Sarah Zettel, I've written science fiction and fantasy, a fantasy series for young adults calle The American Fairy trilogy, and most recently a set of historical mysteries called Palace of Spies.  Under the name Darcie Wilde I write regency romances and the Rosalind Thorne mysteries which are also set in Regency England.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
     I take a lot of notes and a lot of long walks.  Mostly, I start a book with a particular scene in my head.  It might be from any point in the plot, even the end.  Then, I'll work my way back; who the heck are these people and how did they get here?  The details usually fill themselves in fairly randomly once I start asking the questions.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
     A little of both.  I sort of sketch.  I'll write some chapters in details, and rough out others.  When I'm writing a mystery, I need to work out a pretty detailed plan for the ending, so I know where I'm going while I'm working.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
     That's like asking which is more important; breathing in or breathing out?  You cannot separate them and still have a good, complete story.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
     Starting over.  As a writer you're doing it constantly and usually on more than one level and in all kinds of circumstances.  It can get extremely frustrating at times, and staring at the blank page can feel like the worst thing in the world.
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
     Let's see if I can do the short version.  I'd actually written and submitted a (very bad) romance novel, and to my shock I got an offer on it.  A friend of mine had just signed with a prominent agenct and I asked him to ask her if she could recommend someone who represented romance.  He did and she did -- herself.  We started emailing and she thought she could get me a better offer for the romance.  I mentioned I also had some science fiction projects.  The romance (thankfully) never sold (nothing against romance but this was really bad), but the sci-fi sold in three months and we were off to the races.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
     Right now I'm working on a piece of suspense and a young adult fantasy series.  After that...your guess is as good as mine.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
     I am lucky enough to be able to write full time.  I keep office hours, usually 8 to 4 weekdays, and I write at a co-working space, which is great because it gives me a chance to be away from the house and in a work-focused environment where I'm not worried about all the laundry that's not folded. 
  • If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
     Oh, help.  What day is it?  Okay.  Watership Down by Richard Adams.  The October Country by Ray Bradbury.  Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier and as much Georgette Heyer as I can sneak in the bottom of my suitcase.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
     Learn to finish what you start.  Everything else is secondary.  If you can't finish, you can't submit, and if you can't submit, you can't sell.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
     Become a writer.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
     I'm a good baker and a lousy gardener.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
I honestly have no answer for this one.  I've been asked such a wide variety across the years, and the genres.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
You can find out everything about Delia James and the Witch's Cat mysteries at www.deliajamesmysteries.com.  To learn more about Darcie Wilde and the Rosalind Thorne mysteries, go to www.darciewilderomance.com.  All other inquiries should go to www.sarahzettel.com

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  .Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I plead the Fifth.
Beach or Pool?   Beach.
Steak or salad?  What are you kidding me?  Steak.
Favorite Drink?  Again, are you kidding me?  Coffee.
Favorite Book?  Jeeze, making me choose again.  It's a toss up between Watership Down and Rebecca.
Favorite TV Series?  Doctor Who.
Favorite Movie?  The Prestige, if it isn't The Heiress with Olivia deHavallind, if it isn't The Big Sleep with Humphery Bogart and Lauren Bacall, if it isn't The Barretts of Wimpole Street with Norma Shearer..
Favorite Actor:  Oh, lordy.  Pass. 
Favorite Actress: Yeesh.  I'm a movie buff and you want me to pick just one?  I'd need to narrow it down to an era.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Coffee.  I don't drink...alchohal.
Hawaii or Alaska?  Maine.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Charlotte Bronte
If I had just one wish, it would be to know how best to use my wishes.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be : I've just spent five minutes thinking about this, and you know what?  I wouldn't trade.  I'd have to stop being myself, and I like me.

Penguin has donated a copy of BY FAMILIAR MEANS to give to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave a comment with your email addy in our comments section!  Contest ends midnight, December 2!


  1. Everyone must be shopping! I find that starting, or reading over whant I wrote, overcomes anything like 'writer's block'. And I salute you; I found it complicated to write under different names, so I use my maiden name.
    I wish you all the best with your work,Delia

  2. Love your interview answers!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  3. I love these interviews. It's fun finding about an author's experiences...beach, steak, and coffee, oh my!

  4. Thanks so much for these interviews. I always enjoy finding out information about an author and their talent they put into their books. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  5. Nice post! My family enjoy Doctor Who, too.
    lorih824 (at)yahoo(dot)com

  6. I've really enjoyed reading your Witch's Cat books. Now I will be looking up your other books for more fun reading. I do love a good mystery.

  7. I would love to read this book! Zeta(at)iwon(dot)com

  8. What a interesting book and series. Fingers crossed. vlhcats@gmail.com

  9. Fun interview, and thanks for the contest. mbradeen@yahoo.com

  10. I will have to check into some of your other genres---I just thought you wrote this series!

  11. Thanks for hosting Delia James on your blog today. I enjoy this series and loved hearing about the latest. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

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