Who is this chick, anyway?
Here’s the short version: Erin Zarro is an indie novelist and poet living in Michigan. She’s married to her Prince Charming, and she has a feline child named Hailey who she’s convinced is part vampire. She loves all things scary and spooky, and is on a mission to scare herself, as nothing lately has scared her. She writes in the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Her first published novel, Fey Touched, is a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. She is currently working on the sequel, Grave Touched, and is trying to stay out of trouble. Mostly.
Alisia Duval, the Faerie Princess in Pirouette, wanted to interview me for this page. Who am I to deny her? So here it is, unedited and uncut, for your reading pleasure.
ALISIA: Wow, I get to go all journalist on you. What can I ask you that’ll be interesting? Oh, I know! What’s your favorite food?
ERIN: I must have some Italian in me because I love pasta and pizza. I also love chocolate, which is my true weakness in life.
ALISIA: Favorite kind of chocolate?
ERIN: Dark. Or Three Muskateers. Or Candy Corn, but that’s not chocolate…
ALISIA: Favorite drink? I can tell you mine. It’s bloodwine.
ERIN: *smiling* So Lucien finally turned you on to it? Cool. I love diet coke. And Bailey’s Irish Cream.
ALISIA: *rolls eyes* It was inevitable. Let’s see….you’re Irish, right?
ERIN: You know that.
ALISIA: Yeah, I do. But what’s that family rumor you keep talking about?
ERIN: Oh. We’re supposedly descended from Spanish royalty. So if —
ALISIA: –enough royal people die, you’ll be Queen. I know.
ERIN: *shrugs* You asked.
ALISIA: What’s your favorite movie?
ERIN: Fletch. I watched it when I was in college, and I totally love it. It’s one of those movies that never gets old for me. Almost Famous is a close second.
ALISIA: You studied ballet as a child. Tell me about it.
ERIN: I sucked at it. The end.
ALISIA: *rubs Erin’s shoulder* It’s okay. It’s not like you didn’t try.
ERIN: I tried hard, but I’m a klutz with two left feet and two right arms, and no gracefulness whatsoever.
ALISIA: *sympathetic look* Maybe that’s why you made me a ballet dancer….
ERIN: Living vicariously through my characters. Interesting.
ALISIA: Favorite genre of books?
ERIN: *raises eyebrow* As if you couldn’t figure that one out.
ALISIA: Humor me.
ERIN: My all-time favorite is fantasy, hands down, but I enjoy sci-fi, horror, murder mysteries, and paranormal romance as well.
ALISIA: Tell me about Terry Goodkind.
ERIN: He rocks. His Wizard’s First Rule was my first fantasy book ever and I fought my mom not to read it. She’d read it on a whim and loved it, and at the time, I “didn’t read fantasy” and “wasn’t interested.” Heh. I sure ate those words. I fell in love with Terry Goodkind’s books and fantasy as a genre. It was that year that I made the change from writing contempory romance to fantasy and its subgenres. First book of mine to change to fantasy? The Sacrifice, a novel I wrote in 2003 for National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo). I added fantasy elements and renamed it to Eternal Dance. I never did finish it, but have A Plan for it.
ALISIA: How many books have you finished writing?
ERIN: *counts* 3 novels and 3 novellas to date.
ALISIA: Favorite character?
ERIN: You. You’re the only one that came to me fully formed. I didn’t have to figure you out. You were just there and so alive on the page.
ALISIA: *preens* That’s because I rock. Tell me about your writing process. *stifles a giggle* *becomes serious again*
ERIN: Ha, ha. Basically I get an idea and I flesh it out. At this point, I don’t do anything but think. Plan. Visualize. I’m a very visual person. Once I have a handle on that, I might put together a rough outline, or not. It depends on the book itself, what I’m doing, how much prep I need. Then, I write. And write. I don’t edit anything as I go, because that derails me. If I have an outline, I use it to guide me, but it’s never in stone. First drafts to me are exploratory — here’s where I discover the story. I never know it until I’ve written it, regardless of an outline or not. Then —
ALISIA: Here it comes.
ERIN: Once I know what the story’s about, I revise and rewrite to make it all work. I might do this several time (Pirouette is up to 3 drafts now) and then, I’d polish it. Occasionally, if something bothers me enough and it’s really important to the plot, I will rewrite the scene in question. I allow only 3 rewrites, then I move on.
ALISIA: Your characters are like that, too. Except me, because I’m special.
ERIN: *nods* Absolutely. I never know a character until he or she hits the page, even if I’ve planned him or her out. There’s always a surprise.
ALISIA: Which character scares you the most?
ERIN: I can’t pick just one, you know. I write a lot of scary people. Let’s see…Raelan in your book freaks me out a lot. Bossman in Requiem in Blue (2007 novel-in-progress), with his sadistic side, scares me. The Guardian in Survivor. She’s not sadistic per se, but she has a lot of power and will use it whatever the cost. Also, the Torturer. He’s just plain insane. And, finally, Claire from Oubliette, another novel I’ve been working on. She’s not scary, really, but complex, and she surprises me in interesting ways.
ALISIA: Back to the boring stuff. You’re mated — I mean, married?
ERIN: *nods* Yes, I am. To a wonderful man who loves me and cherishes me.
ALISIA: Any children?
ERIN: Just a cat, Hailey, who’s part vampire. *winks*
ALISIA: What draws you to vampires?
ERIN: Well, they’re intriguing. Think of living forever — what would that be like? And drinking blood to survive…kind of gross, but to them, it’s erotic sustanence. And they’re sexy, especially Lucien. Yum.
ALISIA: Don’t even think about it.
ERIN: I created him.
ALISIA: Favorite colors?
ERIN: Green and black.
ALISIA:You have two tattoos. Tell us about them.
ERIN: They’re really cool. My first one is the Tri-ryche, the band Queensryche’s logo. It looks tribal, and I’ve wanted it on me for years. If you can’t tell, I love Queensryche. And I always will. The second one is really neat. It’s a tribal armband that matches the Tri-ryche. But in the center, there’s Celtic knotwork in green to represent my Irish heritage.
ALISIA: Any plans for more?
ERIN: Oh yeah. I’m addicted. I’m currently saving up for angel wings on my back and a celtic cross on my left arm. I’ve always wondered about giving myself a mating mark. That would be neat.
ALISIA: It would be. Without the blood, I hope. Your nashan– I mean, husband — may not appreciate that. You also write poetry.
ERIN: I have since I was 11, when I discovered, to my utter delight, that poems didn’t have to rhyme. It was freeing.
ALISIA: Tell me about your poetry.
ERIN: It’s different. Mostly free-verse but I do enjoy writing sestinas. That’s the only formal poetry I’ll touch. I have a chapbook of poetry available now called Life as a Moving Target. It’s about my struggles with fibromyalgia and intractable vertigo. I have another one called Without Wings that released in April. It explores the dark side of love.
ALISIA: There are some strong poems there.
ERIN: My grandmother was a poet and writer. She used to make us cards that had poems in them and magazine clippings. Gosh, I miss her.
ALISIA: She sounds amazing. Your favorite place?
ERIN: New Orleans. Hands down. In the house, my office, of course.
ALISIA: Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
ERIN: Yep, I get it, but it’s more like getting stuck. Usually that tells me that something isn’t right, that maybe I took a wrong turn somewhere. I figure out where and scrap what’s wrong, then figure out how it should have been. I think a lot. I imagine various scenarios. I listen to music, letting the music guide me. Sometimes time away helps. But lately, I’ve had revelations in the shower.
ALISIA: Now that is cool.
ERIN: Yeah. I read something somewhere that it’s a good time for creativity, something about the water and the unconscious bubbling up. Very cool.
ALISIA: Right up your alley.
ERIN: I’m fascinated by psychology and the human brain. I wanted to be a neurologist, you know. You can tell from my books. They all have something psychological in them, or something with memory or the mind. I revisit those themes all the time.
ALISIA: Tell us five ways to tell if a book has been written by you.
ERIN: Only five? God, that’s tough. Well, the aforementioned psychology or memory thing. Let’s see….the dark side. There’s always some kind of dark thing going on, or a side of a character that’s dark. Blood turns up a lot in my books, but sometimes not as violence. The book itself might be dark, because that’s what I write. I tried writing a comedy and I failed epically. The relationships are always intense, and my characters are intense people. There’s always some kind of connection, a bond of sorts, that they might not even be aware of. And I like playing with established things and twisting them. Like in your story. Or my Lupi in Alpha Female. They’re basically werewolves, but there is something dark (see? It’s everywhere) inside them that must be tamed. It’s very cool.
ALISIA: What do you have coming up the pipeline? Maybe a sequel to Pirouette?
ERIN: That’s in the plan, yes. But presently, I’ve got Alpha Female to finish, as well as Darklight, my new horror novel. I’d like to get another novella of mine revised. Next year, I’ll be tackling a story idea that’s been haunting me for 5 years. And of course, finishing Oubliette. That one is very personal to me.
ALISIA: You mention music as inspiration. What’s your favorite kind?
ERIN: I have a few favorites. 80s hair metal (stop laughing). Heavy metal/hard rock. Symphonic metal which I call my “epic music.” Music is a huge driving force for my books.
ALISIA: Interesting. We’d better wrap this up before it becomes another novel! We learned some new things we didn’t know about you. Thanks for letting me do this. It was a pleasure.
ERIN: The pleasure is all mine.