Friday, May 25, 2018

Guest Blogger: Monette Bebow-Reinhard





Please tell us about your latest book.
Adventures in Death & Romance: Vrykolakas Tales is one in a series of adventures for the vyrkolakas (Greek Vampire) Arabus Drake. At first wrongly called a paranormal romance, this is a historical adventure of a man’s search for love and acceptance across time—a man who hated being resurrected as a vampire, and works hard to control these demons inside him. This first series of adventures details how he comes to terms with his desire to find Althea again, and the unusual solution he has for a mortal love partner. This is not a romantic genre read, but it is filled with love, action and adventure. The history should feel real to you.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working simultaneously on his two further adventures. One is Misadventures in Death & Friendship, with is a similar adventure across time, involving his quest for friendship. There is a sub-plot of romance throughout. And the third is his contemporary romance, related to the first two and to a novella that’s available online, called “Isinis Connection,” which is a romance between Arabus Drake and an alien that uses the theory of a universal source for human consciousness. This contemporary literary romance is called “BloodLove.”

How do we find out about you and your books? I have a website at www.monettebebowreinhard.com where I recently posted the first part of BloodLove. I’m seeking a beta reader. I am doing another edit of Misadventures and hope to have a beta read ready soon. There are sample chapters of all my published novels there as well.

Why did you decide to write “Arabus” novels?
For the longest time I thought of them as paranormal romance, but several who asked for a free copy to review found how different it is, so the best way to describe it is literary historical. Arabus Drake came to me in a dream, and came to life when I decided that Armand Assante should play him in the movie version. (Yes I am working on the script of the first story in Adventures.)

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I think that I tend to write a lot about death and the human consciousness from a pagan perspective because that’s what I’m most interested in. You’ll find out that Arabus was Mikos in his mortal life and he was a coward, even though he was a brave Turk soldier in the Ottoman army. We are all flawed beings, and in Arabus, his Mikos soul is trapped so he can still feel human, even though he needs human blood. He’s so different – and I believe so much more real – because I tend to believe I can feel what it’s like to be dead. He has numbed skin, which cannot heal because the blood he takes keeps the corpse from disintegrating. His organs don’t work, he doesn’t breathe, and he cannot eat or drink, except blood. He doesn’t have to sleep in a coffin but does have to keep his skin covered from the sun’s burning rays, as sunburns do become harsh and don’t heal. I’m also doing research on the source of human consciousness and some of that shows up in my work.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I was five when I found out I was a Grimm. That’s why I decided I had to write my own short fairy tale collection. It was finally published in 2016. I was six when I started writing short Bonanza stories. In 1999 I published my first Bonanza novel, as the only authorized Bonanza novelist in the world. Because of Bonanza, and because of Arabus Drake, I earned a master’s in history in 2006.

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Oh, forever! History books need a lot of research. I can’t write straight genre, although I would love to try my hand at a murder mystery.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
Pretty much feel I have to write all the time. I’m lucky to have a job where I spend a lot of time waiting to be contacted, and can work on editing there. Otherwise, I don’t watch much TV, and my husband does, so that gives me a lot of spare time.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?
To work on it exclusively until I get stuck. When I get stuck, try to figure out why. Right now my unfinished novel has been put aside because I don’t know if I want it set in Wisconsin or Missouri. Fortunately I have enough other projects to work on. Along with my two Arabus novels in edit, I have a major nonfiction to market and a lot of little stuff, along with the one I feel is done that I’m marketing, which is a literary historical thriller. So to keep going I fully believe in having more than one project alive at a time.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
My cat loves to pester me when I’m writing! Not any other time. I got her an office chair to sit on, and she loves to be spun around. She’ll come in and pester me until I play with her for a little while. Then she’s happy again. My husband will sometimes ask me to watch something on TV with him, but I’m free to say no.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Read. I do have some favorite Netflix, and DVDs. And go to movies. I’m also working on a film career. I’m waiting to hear back on whether I got a speaking part in a professional full-length film.

Where do your ideas come from?
I like to say that whatever I write about is in honor of someone in my life. My historical thriller I call a fiction memoir, so it’s an interesting way to include my own life experiences in a completely new character. Arabus Drake is a compilation of Adam Cartwright and my father, who died when I was 14.

What kind of research do you do?
Before you start a new project, you should know enough to be able to figure out if your idea will even work. For instance, in Dinner at Marshall Field’s (also available for beta read at my website), I’d never written a historical set in the 1900s before, so I started digging around to figure out what I could and couldn’t do. I started writing what was in my head to get the idea out, and then I wrote the story treatment. More research can fill out the novel along the way. One for instance is I had to know what day of the week Bobby Kennedy died. It’s fun that these things can be found out online.

What do you think of critique groups in general?
I think they can be helpful if you’re willing to be critiqued and aren’t just looking for praise. I ran a writer’s support group for three years, but the problem was that no one wanted to hear the difficulties of being a writer, and all ended up just wanting to self-publish. I ran a book fest for three years, and after I turned it over to self-publishing, they weren’t able to get the fourth one off the ground. If you don’t want to know the difficulties, if all you ever want is the easy way, you shouldn’t be writer.

There is no easy way.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Getting ready to accept an Academy Award for best screenplay! Seriously, I hope I’m still writing, and getting published.

How many books have you written, how many have been published?
Along with the one published at Solstice in 2016, I’ve had two at All Things that Matter Press (in 2016 and 2017) and the two Bonanza novels were published in 2001 & 2005, and 2009; that publisher retired so I put them up myself as SP at KDP. I also have one as SP only one because it is co-authored and he became too impatient. I always hope to find publishers, preferring not to SP, but I’m also a professional editor; the problem is in knowing when my work is ready. I put an Arabus novella at KDP because the comments from editors indicated it was ready, just “not for them.”
I’ve got another five that are finished and in edit, and another two that are unfinished. And more ideas! Darn it.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting? What are the elements of a great romance for you?
Character first. Arabus came in a dream. The Cartwrights were well established, I just needed new storylines. In Grimms, most of those were situation first, I think. I wanted a fairy tale-esque kind of setting that the characters could walk into. Dancing with Cannibals was researched by Dicho, who was looking for someone to turn it into good English. He needed a lot more than that! I also created a character I felt the book was missing, but most of it was within the universe he created. Saving Boone is my most recent novel, a historical about a “half-breed” in the 1800s who loses his mother and is off alone at age 12. Character came first here, because I was already researching the time period and wanted to explore real-life experiences of people called “half-breeds.”
A great romance involves trust. You’ll see that so clearly in Saving Boone. In Arabus’s tales, he wants women to accept him for what he is and that seems pretty illogical, but I think you’ll understand where he’s coming from, because he talks most about love with the soul.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
I think about that when sales aren’t going well. I should just give this up. I’m reading “Light Between Oceans” and wonder why people respond to this (over 13,000 reviews) and not to Arabus. If I don’t get it, should I even be a writer? Maybe it’s just my eternal quest to “get it” that keeps me going.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
You may feel you don’t get it, but if you want to, if writing burns inside you so hot it hurts, then keep writing. If you find you are easily distracted from your project, put it away until it calls to you. A writer without the passion to write really should find something else to do. There are all kinds of ways to be passionate. Right now I’m volunteering for the local library on a transcription project, and I’m loving it. Learning the truth about history is another of my passions. We all have more than one, and we are best able to contribute to the world when we follow our bliss.

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