About the Author, Nina Mason
Nina Mason is a hopeful romantic with strong affinities for history, mythology, and the metaphysical. She strives to write the same kind of books she loves to read: those that entertain, edify, educate, and enlighten. Three of her books will be published in 2014: The Queen of Swords, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance; The Knight of Wands, book one in the Knights of Avalon Series; and The Tin Man, a political thriller about the dangers posed by media monopolies. She is currently at work on Book Two of the Knights of Avalon series and is itching to get back to a book she started a while back about a merman who falls for an oil company spokeswoman after a phantom tanker capsizes on the coast of the Hebrides islands. When not writing, Nina works as a communications consultant, doll maker, and home stager. Born and raised in Southern California, she now lives in Woodstock, Georgia, with her husband, teenage daughter, two rescue cats, and a Westie named Robert.
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ninamasonauthor (@ninamasonauthor)
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve always been a writer, but only turned my hand to fiction six or so years ago. I have a degree in communications and journalism, worked in those fields for decades, and have always been an avid reader of novels. There was still a pretty steep learning curve when it came to fiction and I’ve still got a lot to learn about the craft. The Queen of Swords is my first novel, but not the first version of the novel. I’ve probably rewritten it a dozen times while trying to find a home for it. I’ve completed two other novels in the meantime, another paranormal, which will launch a four-part series, and a political thriller, which will be published on August 30 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly, one of the sister imprints of Vamptasy. What else can I tell you? I grew up in Southern California, but now live in Georgia with my husband and teenage daughter; I’m a bit of a loner and a serious hermit; and I have a sharp wit, a dry sense of humor, and thin skin.
In your own words, tell us a little bit about your book?
The Queen of Swords is the story of two soul mates who can’t resist each other’s pull, whatever the consequences or when separated by death. Graham Logan, the hero, was made immortal 200 years ago by a vampiric dark wizard who has killed his beloved twice before, but he doesn’t know why she was killed or why she keeps coming back to find him. He doesn’t see her purpose as redemptive because he doesn’t believe he still has his soul. She returns, looking the same, but doesn’t know they’re fated to meet, only that she’s always felt a part of her was missing. When they finally meet in this life, she starts having past-life flashbacks and soon puts the pieces together and sets about trying to find a way to make him change his beliefs and free him from his curse.
Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite?
While I love Cat, the heroine, in lots of way, my heart belongs to Graham. My heroes tend to be men I could fall in love with: tortured, deep, intelligent, sensitive, funny, and romantic. Not your stereotypical Alpha males. Personally, I can’t stand that type either in life or the love stories I read, so I hope other romance readers can embrace a hero with more dimension and depth.
What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
This is a tough one to answer, since I’ve not read all that extensively in the paranormal genre and what I have read is nothing like mine. In her review for Parajunkee, Ren made several comparisons, but I’ve not read many of those novels, so couldn’t really say how mine compares. I write what’s in my heart, what I’d like to read, and characters I care about and hope others will, too. I like novels that say something deeper than “wasn’t this a nice little love story.” My books cross genre boundaries, make readers think, and contain underlying themes and symbolism. One of the underlying themes of The Queen of Swords is vampire literature, so I make deliberate nods and references to other books in the vampire genre, new and old. Interpreted at a deeper level, the characters represent new and old vampire archetypes battling for supremacy, as well as the quintessential virginal heroine who’s corrupted by carnal lust and her own dark side. And I love to incorporate mythology and the occult, two things I’ve long found fascinating, as well as pop culture and literary references.
What inspired you to write the book?
I started the first draft after reading Twilight. While I liked the saga, I also found myself frustrated by the lack of sex and Edward’s lack of history. In literature, vampires originally personified uncaged sexuality, so a chaste vampire seemed counter-intuitive to me. Plus, I felt writing an immortal creature provided fantastic opportunities to build an interesting backstory. What had he/she seen and experienced over the centuries? How was he/she affected by it? My immortal characters all have a history tied to the world and what they’ve seen and experienced has colored them in some way.
Is writing your full time profession? When did you start writing?
Yes, though I’ve yet to make any money at it and nowadays it feels as if pimping my book is my full-time profession. LOL. About as soon as I could write the alphabet. When I was a kid, I won an essay contest sponsored by the local library (I was an avid reader and always did the summer reading challenge). Back in the days of typewriters, I wrote a romance novel about a couple of ballet dancers, but never did anything with it. Didn’t try my hand at fiction again until five or six years ago, when I started what is now The Queen of Swords.
What inspires you to write what you do?
All of my paranormal stories are inspired by my love of the history and mythology of Scotland, my interest in the unknowable, and my belief in the redemptive power of love.
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
If I do, I’m unaware of them. I like to use index cards to flesh out the plot and characters, but that’s not very quirky is it?
Are you a careful planner or do you let the story guide you?
I do a bit of both. I work out the characters and their motivations, setting, and where I want the story to go. I also tend to do index cards for each scene or major plot point from start to finish. Once I begin to write, it can go completely off the rails, depending on where the characters want to take it. As long as they’re reaching the touchstones, I let them do what they want. If they go too far off track, I either re-plot the novel or rein them in, depending on which direction seems better at the time.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Diana Gabaldon, Deborah Harkness, Anne Rice, Barbara Kingsolver, Glen Duncan, Jane Austen, Cathy Maxwell, etc., etc. There are too many to name. In general, I like a read that’s dense, lush, and intelligent, and tend to prefer literary novels and the classics. I like a book that’s a seven-course meal, not drive-thru fast food.
What are you reading now?
Funnily, I’m reading Jane Austen and the Archangel by Pam Aares. It was one of the books I grabbed for 99 cents somewhere. I love Jane Austen and angels and thought: this could either be interesting or abysmal. So far, I’m enjoying it. I’m also almost through the latest by Terry Spears, who also writes contemporary Scottish paranormals. Her Scottish werewolves are always sexy.
What advice can you give to struggling writers?
The same advice that was given to me: The only way you can fail is by giving up. Keep trying despite rejections and keep working hard to perfect your craft.
After this, what’s your next project?
My current work-in-progress is book two in The Knights of Avalon series. After that, I haven’t decided. Probably another paranormal romance/urban fantasy. I’ve got a stalled manuscript about an oil company spokeswoman who gets involved with a merman during an oil spill in the Hebrides. Might get back to that one, or write one featuring Benedict and Avery, the secondary couple in The Queen of Swords. I’d also like to maybe write a sequel to The Tin Man, my political thriller releasing in August. It tells of two journalists thrown together to solve a series of murders tied to a global conspiracy to take over the media.
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