Monday, March 8, 2010

Guest: Skyler White

Please welcome Skyler White to VampChix!  Author of the stunningly gorgeous and Falling Fly, she's graciously answered some of my questions, but I wanted to start out by featuring the book trailer for and Falling, Fly.  The music captures the mood of the story.  And what a perfect book to feature during angel week since White blends angels and vampirism so elegantly.  One lucky commenter will receive a copy of and Falling, Fly, so give Skyler some love in the comments!  [Winner announced on Wednesday].  Find a review of the book following the interview.

Now on to the interview...

Q: Where did this story come from? Personal interests? Or mad dreams?

SW:  Yes.

The beginnings of ‘and Falling, Fly’ came out of a conversation I was having with a group of friends about Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons! book. We were all playing with naming our own personal demons and I had one called “Too Much is Not Enough”. Talking to him led to questions about the fundamental nature of feminine desire – how it was different than a man’s, what it means when desire is thwarted or corrupted. Olivia, as the fallen angel of desire, came out of that conversation and ended up needing a cast of characters and a universe of her own.

Q: Must you be an angel to be vampire and vice versa?

SW:  In my little world, all vampires are angels, but not angels are vampires.

Q: Would you say the core theme is love and desire? Acceptance?

SW:  That’s tricky. Probably desire. That was where the book started anyway, wanting to turn desire around in my mind, see it from different angles, its gifts and problems.

Q: You incorporated touches of biblical lore nicely into the story, along with mythology. Is mythology key to the basis of this story?

SW:  I think so. Certainly the mythological mindset is central. I’m curious about whether writing can be non-naturalist and still compelling. We tend to write even the most outrageous situations in a very realistic way. How would the werewolf have felt in that situation? So I’m wondering, can you do anything other than psychological realism in a novel? I’m not sure I know yet, but I’m interested in the question.

Q: The Watchers; mentioned briefly. Can you tell us more about them? Or will we learn more in future books?

SW:  I’m not sure whether they’ll show up again. They’re sort of like putting a section of the audience on stage. Does it change the reader’s experience if you suggest that there might be not only the world they’re looking into, but another one beyond them, looking into theirs? I didn’t want to dwell on it as an experiment, or have the idea get in the way of the story, so, for now, it’s just a little aside.

Q: Is there a series planned? Is IN DREAMS BEGIN part of this series, or stand alone?

SW:  ‘In Dreams Begin’ isn’t part of the same series, but it inhabits the same story-world, and there’s a little bit of overlap in characters. ‘In Dreams Begin’ is a time-travel story that moves between contemporary Portand, Oregon and Victorian Ireland, England and Paris. Laura, a modern graphic artist, wakes up on her wedding night channeled into the body of the famously beautiful Irish political revolutionary Maud Gonne. In Maud’s body she meets and falls in love with the poet WB Yeats. Yeats’s involvement in the occult and Laura’s inability to control whether she wakes up in the present with her new husband or the past with her poet allows me to play with changing ideas of beauty and fidelity, romance, body image and possession.

Q: What is your typical writing day like? How do you balance writing with family, raising children?

SW:  I think I balance writing with family (to the extend I do at all) by not having a typical writing day. I have a few pseudo-rules for myself, but unfortunately, routine is something to which I still aspire. When I’m working on a first draft, I try to touch the manuscript every day, even if it’s just to re-read whatever I wrote most recently. I try to keep Tuesdays reserved for writing, and do almost nothing else. It’s really helpful to be able to plunge in for five hours at a stretch. Ideally, I edit or do research Monday and Wednesday, and write Tuesday, Thursday and one weekend day, but it doesn’t always work out like that.

Q: Who are your influences, in fiction, in life?

SW:  Oy. I think everything influences me. I’m a magpie. I’ll pick up anything interesting. My parents, certainly. First. My mom read to us, read a lot of poetry and exposed us to really good children’s books. In fact, she emailed me after she read and Falling, Fly. She said she was glad to know, at least, that I had been paying attention in Sunday school.

I had some hugely influential teachers in school. My friend Molly, with whom I did the modified angels project which, to some extent, lead to writing the novel. My husband and my kids. As far as writers … Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne Rice, Tom Robbins, Margret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Neil Gaiman, Mihaly Czisentimihyal, Joyce, Charles de Lindt – the list is almost endless.

Q: Your biography states you are a dancer. Does dancing fuel your creativity when it comes time to conjure story?

SW:  That’s an interesting question. I don’t know. I think it’s easier for me to block a scene in my head, to visualize bodies in space as a result of my choreography training, maybe. But dance is meditation for me. It’s how my brain shuts off. I know I don’t write as well when I’m not getting to dance class regularly.

Q: What's the craziest thing you've done in the name of research?

 SW:  I don’t even have to think to answer that one. The craziest thing I’ve ever done in the name of research got me this:

It’s a picture of the interior of the crypt Maud Gonne built in Samois, France for her two year-old son, Georges, and in which she had sex with his father on Halloween night, more than a year after the child’s death, trying to reincarnate him.

And that’s not the crazy part. That’s just history. But when history hands you something like that, you’d be stupid not to write it into your novel, so off I went to Samois.

Now, I speak no French, and I don’t have a big fat research budget, but when it turned out that my daughter was going to do a student exchange in Germany in the fall of 2010, and that I was expected to deliver her to Basel, Switzerland where her exchange family would be meeting her, I couldn’t resist tacking on a little research trip.

Turns out Kaki didn’t want to do our Big Weepy Farewell in front of the Germans, so we said good-bye in London, she got on a puddle-jumper to Basel and I flew to Paris. I got into Charles de Gaul airport, took a bus to the train station, took a train to Avon. I almost missed my stop because they are announced only in very fast French, and it was late and dark and I couldn’t read see the station name from the train. Then I got very, very lost – on foot. Dragging my suitcase through the dark, deserted and cold streets of Avon for two hours was not a great introduction to France.

It didn’t get better the next morning when I discovered the bus I was planning to take from Avon to Samois ran only twice a day. I had missed the first one and the second one didn’t return to Avon until the next day. So I walked. Two miles. But I the walk was through the Fontainebleau woods, along a quiet road, so it was beautiful and very calming. I found the cemetery at Samois without too much trouble, and it was mind-blowing to be standing on the spot where Maud must have stood many times. I touched things. I touched the door knob and the railing around the crypt. I tidied up. But what I really wanted was to understand the mechanics of how she’d done what I’d read she’d done. I need to see inside. It took me four flying leaps at the side of the building to catch the window ledge firmly enough to be able to scramble my feet up the wall and reach my free hand, holding the camera, through the window. So that’s the picture. Taken blind by a footsore woman barely clinging to the outside of a grave in a foreign country – in the name of research.

Q: What's with the cows? :-)  (Featured in and Falling Fly; this interviewer got a giggle out of them.)

 SW:  The cows are real!

They kinda freaked me out when I trekked across the field to wander around this deserted abbey in Ireland, and I transferred some of my anxiety onto Olivia. Also, my husband grew up on a cattle ranch (yes, he’s Texan), so it’s a bit of a head nod to him. Finally, I wanted to highlight, a little, Olivia’s non-humanness. She doesn’t eat burgers or drink milk. A cow is an irrelevant being to her. They are to humans as humans are to vampires. Having Dominic give the cow Olivia’s apple was me completing the circle. Just playing, really.  

Same 5 questions we ask every guest:

Dark or Light?


Historical or Modern?


Fav Movie/TV vamp?

Dude. Eric Northman.

Bagged or From The Neck?


Dead or Undead?

Undead and Reborn, Damned, Cursed and Misbegotten.

Skyler White is author of dark fantasy novels ‘and Falling, Fly’ (Berkley, March 2010) and ‘In Dreams Begin’ (Berkley, March 2010).She lives in Austin, TX.
Please visit her at her website:

Lush, decadent and dark, and Falling, Fly is a heady undertaking, and masterfully done.  Turn back the cover for a giddy tumble through Skyler White's veins, from which gush drops that spatter the page with madness, menace, and gorgeous eroticism.  At times the reader will wonder what to believe, and who to root for, the fallen angel heroine, or the Reborn neuroscientist, Dominic O'Shaughnessy.  At no time will you ever guess what the next page will bring, or how you're going to explain this all to your friends when you tell them to go buy the book.  A study in Desire, White examines it from both mythological and scientific viewpoints, and ultimately allows the reader to decide.  I highly suggest you read this book slowly to savor every delectable word.  ~ Michele Hauf for VampChix

In a dark and seedy underground of burned-out rock stars and angels-turned- vampires, a revolutionary neuroscientist and a fallen angel must put medicine against mythology in an attempt to erase their tortured pasts...but at what price? 

Olivia, vampire and fallen angel of desire, is hopeless...and damned. Since the fall from Eden, she has hungered for love, but fed only on desire. Dominic O'Shaughnessy is a neuroscientist plagued by impossible visions. When his research and her despair collide at L'Otel Mathillide-a subterranean hell of beauty, demons, and dreams-rationalist and angel unite in a clash of desire and damnation that threatens to destroy them both.

In this fractures Hotel of the Damned, Olivia and Dominic discover the only force consistent in their opposing realities is the deep, erotic gravity between them. Bound to each other finally in a knot of interwoven freedoms, Dominic and Olivia-the vision-touched scientist and the earth-bound angel, reborn and undead-encounter the mystery of love and find it is both fall...and flight.


Marianna said...

Love the pics, they definitely add something of the author's personality to the interview.

mariska said...

Oh, I want to have this book.
And I just know that you are a dancer ! wow !

- what kind of dance that you do ?

Kirsten said...

Hi Skyler! I enjoyed the interview. Amazing what you did in France in the name of research. I hope you still enjoyed some of the trip. Your book sounds intruiging and I would love to read it. Take care, Kirsten

heatwave16 said...

Hi Skyler,

I just love the vamp/angel mythology you use. Its so different from anything I have ever read before. I can't wait to read it. :)


van_pham said...

Great interview, looking forward to reading your book :)

van p.

Skyler White said...

Hello all!
Marianna: Thanks!
mariska: I was trained in classical ballet, but I don't do that anymore. Now it's mostly for fitness. I love a good Nia class when I get fit one in though!
Kirsten: Yes, absolutely! I had an amazing time on that trip. Ireland, particularly was incredible.
heatwave16: and thank you.
van_pham: and you!

Terri said...

Heard some really great things about this book! Would love to win a copy!

Spav said...

Great interview! Lately there are a lot of nice reviews about this book. It looks so good!


Andrea said...

hi skyler!
I love the cover its awesome!
angel/vamp sounds like a promising concept really looking forward to it!
Have a great day!

Marquetta said...

Sounds like a great book! I'm slowly getting into the Angels thing. It's great!

lovetoreadforfun (at)gmail (dot) com

throuthehaze said...

Great review! This sounds like a great read!
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Meandi's corner said...

great interview loved the pics


jmspettoli said...

They say that angels are the new vampires but why not be both?? Awesome interview. I've been hearing lots of positive reviews for this book so its definitely on my TBR pile!

spettolij AT gmail DOT com

Shauna Kemp said...

This looks amazing! Great interview! :)

Shauna Kemp said...

Also, I know I was super late to the party here, but I did find it interesting that you were/are a dancer too! I was a dancer since I was 5 until back surgery took me out of the game, but I find that it helps me visualize scenes in my head quite well. It's getting them on the pages that is what I'm now working on as the "dance of writing". Anyway, it is fascinating to learn about your story. Thanks again! slk

Roxanne Rhoads said...

The cow scene made me giggle too that was just funny.