I had the opportunity to talk with fellow urban fantasy writer Sami Valentine about her Red Witch Chronicles series. If you're interested how a writer dreams up a snarky heroine embarking on a paranormal adventure with vampires, steam, and action, read on!
What is your book series about?
A Witch Called Red is the first book in the Red Witch Chronicles. This is a supernatural thriller about a witch trained as a supernatural bounty hunter, where she came from is a mystery. Each book in the series has its own plot and conflict to solve, the overarching mystery is Red discovering exactly who she is and why she was left for dead with amnesia outside Eugene, Oregon. In the first book, Red and her mentor come to Los Angeles to solve the mysterious murder of a model left drained on the beach. Red gets in over her head as the murder investigations takes a hard turn into a conspiracy with the local vampires.
Why did you choose to start your series in Eugene, Oregon?
I am not from Oregon, but I have family and friends in the state and have always admired how friendly the locals are. I think the idea might have been seeded in this very strange roadtrip where I had to drive a widow and nearly a dozen rabbits from Portland to a ranch near the Arizona-Mexico border. I drove through the country side and found it pretty and almost gaudy in the greenness. I was struck by how dark the sky seemed to my Arizonan eyes which is used to the sun feeling a foot away. I am also creeped out by forests because I don't like how you can feel penned in. In the desert you can see to the horizon. I also love the idea of small towns that attract weirdness for some reason like Sunnydale, Bon Temps, Salem's Lot. I guess someone along the line, Oregon became an ideal place for supernatural things to hide.
Every author does something different with urban fantasy, what is your twist on the genre?
In the first book of my Red Witch Chronicles, I was inspired by those noir films like Double Indemnity and Kiss Kiss Bang Band LA so my UF has a gritty realistic flavor. My style of urban fantasy could be described as character driven-thrillers.
What inspired you to write this book?
I am really interested in identity and memory and how it affects someone's personality and choices. A big theme in the Red Witch Chronicles is the struggle in being yourself and it's interesting to explore those themes with a character who has no memories.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I love research! Most of it doesn't end up in the books so no one has to wad through infodumps, but I usually do extensive research on stuff that 99.9% of readers won't notice. For instance, I did a lot of research to try to figure out which model of Winnebago would go through a mystical portal the best. I went to school for library science so I am pretty handy with a reference database. I also have more metaphysical books and folklore texts than one person needs. I did my undergrad studies in history so I still have a lot of my textbooks. One of my in-progress projects is a historical series that is set during the Victorian age so my studies definitely influenced my later work. I also am an avid traveler so I have been fortunate to visit many of the cities that I write about.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
If we count the fanfiction too, then a lot! I usually just work on one series at a time so I am focused on the Red Witch Chronicles, but I do have two spin-off projects in the works. One focuses on Red as a teenager with her memories so it's an interesting challenge to write a character who has almost two personalities.
Find out more at the Sami Valentine website!