Sierra Dean: Author Interview and Giveaway

SierraToday we’re very excited to welcome Sierra Dean to the blog.  Her urban fantasy series featuring half-vampire, half-werewolf Secret McQueen launched in May at Samhain with Something Secret This Way Comes, followed by a prequel novella, The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters.  The newest book in the series, A Bloody Good Secret, is set to release on Tuesday so I pounced on Sierra so we could have some fun and talk about the books and other things.  Since it’s her birthday, she’s giving away a copy of A Bloody Good Secret (I know, the presents are supposed to go the other way) and we’re adding a gift certificate to Samhain.
Barbara: I’m so glad you could be here to chat with me, and on your birthday! Happy birthday by the way – you look fresh and dewy and not a day over 18. It’s that invigorating Canadian air and clean living, I’m guessing.

Sierra: Ha! Thank you. Yes, we Canadians have many secrets for keeping ourselves looking spry and youthful. Free health care definitely helps.
Barbara: So what’s a nice, sweet former historian like you doing writing about vampires and werewolves?Secret Guide to Dating Monsters
Sierra: Well, it’s just so much more fun to write about the things that go bump in the night than it is to write long-winded mini-theses on Russian history (my focus area in university). Plus, this way, no one can tell me I got my facts wrong.

Barbara: Is the Secret series your first published set of books?
SierraSomething Secret This Way Comes is actually the first book I ever finished writing. I have a lot of false starts for other works, but it was the first one I did in its entirety, so it felt like my baby. I was so thrilled I found a publisher who wanted to go on Secret’s journey with me.

Barbara: The series is part of Samhain’s first leap into the urban fantasy arena and a little bit of a departure from their usual contemporary line.  What’s the feedback been like from everyone?

Sierra: Readers and reviewers alike have been incredibly supportive of the Secret McQueen series. I’m often overwhelmed by how gracious people are, and how much they’ve grown to care about these characters in a relatively short period of time. Samhain, my publisher, has been amazing along the whole journey. They really seem to appreciate the series and took a big risk on a new author by signing me. I’m hoping I make it worth their while. They publish such a phenomenal array of books and genres, and I think Secret is a good fit with them because the series is urban fantasy but with a definite sexy twist.
Barbara: You know I personally chase you on Twitter (where you’re funny and sweet, insert a bunch of aaawwwws, fluffy kittens and cyber hugs here). What do you think of that sort of social media for promoting your books? I feel sort of dorky posting my stuff on Twitter because it feels more chatty than professional, but what do you think?
Something Secret This Way ComesSierra: I LOVE Twitter. I spend so much time on there it’s sort of sick. I love it from an author standpoint because I can interact with fans immediately and love to see people posting reviews or tweeting their reactions to the books. I LOVED the tweets I got when people finished reading Something Secret This Way Comes, because the ending blew so many people away. As a reader I can appreciate how great that immediate contact is. I’ve talked to authors who I love, and I know how cool it is when someone you look up to seems to genuinely be grateful to you for reading their books. For me that gratitude is very, very real. I love everyone who has bought and read my books.

Barbara: I’ll drag this ship around to A Bloody Good Secret. You’ve really given Secret a full plate in this book. More complications on the furry front, more on the fang side – how is the poor girl going to keep her day job killing things when she’s got all these guys and their issues underfoot?

Sierra: Poor Secret. My editor’s first comment to me when she finished A Bloody Good Secret was “you sure do like to beat her bloody, don’t you?” The thing I like about writing Secret’s world is that she does have SO much to deal with. The poor girl is just trying to make a living by slaying rogues, and she’s thrust into this world of supernatural power struggles where people expect her to adapt on the fly. She usually does a pretty good job, but she’s still “only human” (though not really, obviously), and she often has difficulty accepting her new place in life. I think it makes her an interesting character, because people can relate to her indecision and uncertainty.

Barbara: Speaking of underfoot, Secret’s ward Brigit pops up a bit more here. She’s what I’d call the anti-Secret and adds a little comic relief. Will she be a series regular?

Sierra: Brigit is easily one of my favorite characters to write. She’s had to deal with a very dark past to get to where she is, but she hasn’t let it dim her cheerful, bubbly personality. She is very much the anti-Secret, and I think Secret needs that polarizing influence to keep her from getting too dark. Brigit is definitely a series regular at this point.A Bloody Good Secret

Barbara: I’ve seen it mentioned that you know how the series ends – but how far do you plan each book in advance? Do you have it plotted in your head already or do you just take it book by book knowing it’ll lead you where you want to end up?

Sierra: I know exactly how the last several scenes in book 8 play out. I’m a definite plotter, and need an outline if I’m going to be able to work through my books, but as of right now I only have the overall arcs of books 4, 5, and 6 with rough ideas of the plots for 7 and 8. I do know exactly what has to happen to most of my main characters, which is essential because I need to start foreshadowing events VERY early on.

Barbara: I checked out your casting for some of the characters in the series. I have to say how shocked I am to see Jon Hamm there (not). Does it help when you write if you have a specific physical image of the character in your head? And by specific, if you want to go ahead and imagine them with their pants off, it’s okay with me since when I read about him I usually imagine Holden only half-dressed.

Sierra: It does help me a lot to have a specific image in my head, absolutely. Some of my characters have stayed the same for my dream cast, others change OFTEN. Desmond, poor guy, had gone through more casting changes than anyone, and I recently found new Lucas and Secret candidates. I have a specific idea of my characters in my mind, and I rarely mould them TO an actor or actress. What happens more often than not is I see someone on TV or a movie and say “wow, they could totally play Secret.”>As for half-naked Holden, after the kiss in The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters I doubt you’re alone in being Team Holden (pants off or otherwise).Brief interlude: If you’d like to have some fun and create your own cast for the Secret McQueen series (or see who Sierra and I picked), go to Something Secret This Way Comes – Story Casting and select some celebrities to play the characters.

Barbara: What other projects do have on your to-do list beyond the Secret McQueen series? Any new genres that you’re looking to dive into?
Secret Santa
Sierra: I have quite a few projects on the horizon. I just finished the third Secret novel, Deep Dark Secret, and now I’m planning to do something non-Secret just to take a breather. I have a contemporary adventure-mystery menage I’m working on, and a new urban fantasy series totally different from Secret that I’m very excited about. Then I’ll be back with Secret #4. I’m a busy girl!
Barbara:  And Secret Santa will be released on November 29th!

 

Okay, now that I have you lulled into thinking that this is a normal interview, let’s play ten random questions:
One: Where’s the one place you want to visit most (and you can’t say Paris, everyone says Paris)?

Sierra: Normally I’d say New York. It is my absolute favorite city on Earth, no lies. But I’ve been there, so that’s sort of a boring choice. If someone handed me an open-ended plane ticket tomorrow and said “Go Anywhere?” I’d be on my way to Moscow in a heartbeat. I love Russia, and have always wanted to go. Ireland is right up there too, but I think Russia is a way less clichéd answer.

Two: If you had hockey tickets, concert tickets or a bottle of wine and remote control for the television, what would your evening plan be?

Sierra: I will take on ALL three of those options, since they’re all things I love. Hockey tickets: Jets game with my friends! I’m a Winnipegger born and raised and am psyched beyond measure about the return of our team. Concert tickets: Ryan Adams or Mumford and Sons would be the top of my list for sure. And an evening with a remote and wine is what I call a great night. Random comedy like Community or a good bad movie, with a nice red wine? Sign me up.

Three: Lefty, righty or equal opportunity-handed?

Sierra: Righty!

Four: You’re on a desert island for two weeks. You have a choice. Jon Hamm for two weeks, Alexander Skarsgaard for two weeks or one with each. Choose.

Sierra: Hot damn that’s a solid question. I know you hate Skarsgaard, but I think I’d have to split the difference. But I’d start with Alexander and finish with Hamm. I think Jon would be more fun to have around in that final week.Five: What’s your most-read book on your library shelf at home?

Sierra: Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy or Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. They’re classics for a reason.

Six:Confess.  How many bottles of nail polish do you own?

Sierra: Hold on, I will actually go count…. Oh wow. 90. Hello, my name is Sierra Dean and I have a problem.

Seven: If a meteor was headed directly for your house and you had twenty minutes to get out, what five things would you grab to take with you? People and pets are a given.

Sierra: My laptop(s). My iPod. My external hard drive. My camera. My letter from Chuck Palahniuk.

Eight: If you were a spy and got to pick your own name, what would it be?

Sierra: You may have actually stumped me. I have NO idea. I want to said Sydney Bristow, but clearly it’s already been taken!

Nine: When you were in high school, were you a nerd, a geek, a popular kid or just an average girl?

Sierra: I was pretty average in high school. Not crazy popular, but I knew everyone and got along great with most people. I didn’t get geeky until I became an adult.

Ten: Do you have any particular mad skillz you’d like to share with the class?

Sierra: I’m an awesome knitter and baker. I guess my biggest non-writing skill is photography though. I do it professionally, so I guess I better be good at it.

I’d like to thank Sierra for stopping by and being such a good sport (and counting all of those nail polish bottles).  Now on to the giveaway!

Sierra is giving away a copy of A Bloody Good Secret (ebook) and we’re adding a $10 gift certificate to Samhain for one lucky winner.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment, telling us what your favorite urban fantasy series is.  Make sure you leave a way for us to contact you!  Giveaway is open internationally and ends Sunday, September 10th.Thank you to everyone who enters and good luck!

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