Somewhere in the woods, there’s a sign with a flagon with a dragon. Underneath, there’s an arrow. Aspen deLainey saw it and traipsed through the door to see if I still had my own single volume of Shakespeare’s complete works. She found herself seated in a rather uncomfortable chair and lit by a spotlight. Since she was there, I asked her some questions. Don’t worry, no pirates were harmed in the conduction of this interview. By the way, the answer is yes.
Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
I breathe to live. I have to write. It helps keep me sane. Just how long do you think I can walk around with these visions of other worlds, these scenes with characters talking away, living their lives in their alternate reality, and not write them down so they’re out of my head, making room for other scenes and stories? I’m not, as some authors I’ve met, one who talks about their characters as if they live right next door. I still can separate reality from stories. But if I didn’t write them down, maybe I’d have problems in dissociating too.
If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last? (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)
Sacrilegious! Even to think of such a thing! Ok, I understand. To stay alive I must burn my friends. I’d weep as I threw my extensive library onto the fire. I’d mourn as I threw each book, singly, onto that life-giving fire. I can replace most of my books, maybe some with more difficulty than others. But I’d have to be freezing to throw any of them into that fire.
I’d probably hold back my main dictionary, my Oxford volumes – do they count as one? I have the complete works of Shakespeare, in one volume. I’d have to keep that. I have illustrated copies of My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead that I have to keep. That makes four. That last book? I have to ponder hard. Which can I not live without? I think I would save my copy of Danny Kaye’s fairy tales. That’s a book I’ve had forever. I don’t remember when I got it, but I can’t let it go.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?
I moved over two thousand miles, far from my family and friends, to join my husband-to-be many years ago. I left the area around Toronto, Ontario to live in Calgary, Alberta back when Calgary didn’t even have a population of five hundred thousand. Leaving the big city with every entertainment I could wish to partake in just a short walk away, to a small cowtown at the ends of civilization. I traveled from a metropolitan airport to a metal Quonset hut posing as an airport, from a nice mild spring to the bitter end of winter, from lakes and trees to a landlocked prairie with pretensions of forests, all for love. My homeworld had seasons, four of them. Out here, in this wide-open space, I had to get used to freezing springs, broiling hot, short summers, leaves changing color and being blown away before I got used to seeing their drab golds, and that surprising change into instant winter. Now that’s a challenging change. And all for love.
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
I cannot stand the phrase ‘no problem’. What ever happened to ‘you are welcome’, or ‘it is my pleasure’ after you receive a ‘thank you’ for something you’ve done? Nice polite phrases. No, nowadays I hear ‘no problem’ so many times I want to scream. If you are helping me enough to have me say ‘thank you’, please acknowledge my thanks with even a tip of your head. Don’t say ‘no problem’. It makes me feel like my need of whatever you did to help was worthless time spent to you. Maybe that’s my problem.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
So far none of my characters are my favorite. But I am getting more intrigued by Gareth’s appearance in Love ‘n Lies, and my new novel Howling Hearts, where he appears even more. He owns and operates the bar Leticia sees her friends in, the only supernatural-friendly bar in Calgary. As I write the snippets of scenes he’s in, I build his backstory, his history. And I can see a story about him working its way to the forefront of my mind.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or Why not?
At the edge of the town where I grew up, there was a run-down house. Some of its windows were boarded up, but the door hung open. The kids told horror tales of kids walking in and never out. My parents warned me, like other kids’ parents warned them, about the dangers of going into that house. I think they meant the floors were rotten, the stairs might give way at any time. But that’s not how we heard those warnings.
One Halloween night, some friends and I had to go in. Maybe we were dared. I don’t really remember. We crept in just after dusk, during that darkening gloom. There was a breeze, I remember, but not enough to close doors or slam shutters. Anyway, we crept in, slunk from room to room until we got to the massive living room, lit a small fire in the fireplace and sat around trying to pretend we weren’t scared. All of a sudden the living room door slammed closed, the fireplace belched smoke into our faces, shutters slammed against the walls, the house creaked like something huge had started to move and this eerie laughter seemed to come out of the walls. Someone tried the door, but she couldn’t budge it. The laughter came again, this time with the house creaking harder, almost shaking.
We hit the windows, knocking the board completely out, ran screaming into the night, through the prickly hedges and onto the sidewalk. We split up, each of us pedaling for home. Took me hours to stop shaking. Even now, years later, I don’t know what really happened.
I’ll always remember that night. And no, so far I have not found a spot to describe that piece of creepiness in any of my stories.
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
For one of my stories, that I haven’t rewritten yet, I got a rejection that said “You had me up to the last paragraph. I expected more of a twist. Rework the end and send it back.” Well, I haven’t yet. I’ve come up with several endings that might work, but I’m not happy with any of them. One day.
How did you get that scar?
I’m surprised you could see it. It’s so tiny, almost a dimple on the curve of my chin. We, my younger brother and I, were playing pirates on the middle landing, between the upstairs and the main floor of our home. There was a window, with a full, old-style wooden frame several steps below where we’d erected our ‘ship’. I’d started a sword fight with some make believe buccaneers trying to board our vessel and slipped. I sprained a finger on that windowsill, trying to keep my face away. The sharp corner of the sill caught me full on the jaw, puncturing my skin. Face wounds bleed a lot. My father had to be called home from work to take me to the hospital when my mother panicked because the blood really poured out. It wasn’t big enough to require stitches, and I know my father was angry at having to come home for ‘nothing’.
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
I think I’d like to hear the Sorcerer’s Apprentice music, swirling all around me, urging me to step into fantasy rather than any semblance of reality.
Promote yourself and/or your writing
This is me learning. I have a Facebook page that I’m rarely on, a Twitter account that I occasionally remember to post on, and several blogs I have to start visiting on a regular basis. I promise I will get better with these social networking sites. But being on a dialup connection makes going to those sites very time consuming. This is not a choice I made – the dialup, I mean. We live out in the boondocks, beyond any beaten path. I know our government promised that all residents would have high speed connection, awarded one company the rights to hook us up, but that’s as far as everything went. I live one third of the way down the north side of a massive hill, a tiny foothill. If I lived on the south side, I’d have high speed, no problem. To get me connected, I have to erect a tower over sixty feet tall. My county has rules about that because my area still uses small planes for crop dusting. So, maybe one day…
And now, a word from the publicist…
Synopsis for Love ‘n Lies
Gaining weight is a human problem. At least that’s what Leticia always thought. But when this vivacious vampire wakes from her year-long slumber and discovers that her formerly svelte frame has retained a few extra pounds, it becomes apparent that something has gone amiss.
A girl just can’t wander around the Calgary Stampede in clothes that don’t fit! So she sets about the task of shopping and working out a low-cal diet of humans she can live on. When her friends notice how depressed she is, one of them suggests she adopt a tomcat named Justin to keep her company. Little does she know that she would fall madly in love with her new kitty. The moment she does, the spell cast over Justin is broken and he takes his true form – a long, tall, dark haired man with an insatiable sex drive. Letty is more tempted than she ever thought possible and can’t keep her hands off him anymore than he can keep his off of her.
After taking him back to her childhood home, Evermore, to consult with the head wizard Silvius, she soon discovers the Warlock who cast the spell over Justin isn’t letting him go so easily.
Throw in a nasty twin sister who’ll do anything to get her hands on what Letty has, including Justin’s more than hot body, and you end up with Love… ‘n Lies!
Aspen lives in the Foothills of Alberta with her husband, two of her four children, a dog, a lovebird and a glaring of semi-feral cats. You will often find her watching the wildlife happily feasting in her vegetable garden in the early morning dawn. Being a lover of nature, and all things natural, she wouldn’t trade her country lifestyle for all the beans on the stalk.
A die-hard believer in fairy tales, Aspen hopes her fairy godmother is the Muse. Lending credence to this notion is one of Aspen’s earliest memories: writing a story for her little brother in crayon on a favored picture book and earning a spanking as her first critical review. Never deterred, Aspen continued to make up stories, and hone her craft, until finally letting a few escape her clutches in 2010.
Love ‘n Lies is Aspen’s first work in The Evermore Chronicles, the concept for which was developed while she was employed in the seniors’ medical field. Do paranormal beings suffer from medical problems also? What happens to aging Vampires, Wizards, Trolls and the like? The questions begged to be answered… And of course, their stories needed to be told.
Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
Love ‘n Lies is a tale about a vampire beginning her adult life in the big city of Calgary Alberta Canada. I introduce not only Leticia and her enchanted cat Justin, but other supernatural dwellers. Gareth runs the only supernatural-friendly bar in town, Silvius wows us with his magi powers, Esmeralda glides into the story to help Leticia find her wizardly paternal-gene roots, Rand bounds in to let us see a friendly werewolf companion, Ren secures Leticia’s house with his gargoyle employees, and many more supernatural beings come and go, introducing themselves at the Evermore Keep and beyond. I plan on telling the tales of many of these creatures, setting them in a series of stories all part of the Evermore Chronicles. Hope you enjoy them all.
Thank you, Ms. deLainey. It’s been a pleasure having you visit. For your exit, I would advise against stopping in at the haunted house along the lane. But if you find the rotting shutters and creaking door too much to pass by without taking a closer look, I’ll send out my minions when the screams start. I would give you a map, but it seems they’ve all been misplaced. Just remember to keep whistling and pretend you aren’t scared.