I grew up moving around a lot as an Army brat and now live in Tennessee with my husband and our Yorkie. Urban fantasy seemed like a natural fit for me because I always read a lot of paranormal and horror books and loved anything to do with those genres. I was reading Stephen King and Anne Rice in middle school. I love the fact that urban fantasy is set in our own recognizable modern world, but that it also presents a peek into all these possible hidden worlds full of vampires and magic and other supernatural things. I think that makes for very rich storytelling and I love reading it as much as I love writing it.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write an urban fantasy with a female character who was a little bit different from the “leather pants tramp stamp kickass” mold that had become so prevalent. Roxie Mathis is a paranormal investigator who uses her ability to see auras and spectral energy along with some hoodoo folk magic to deal with supernatural problems. She wears glasses and is a bit of a music nerd. She’s got a lot of strength but I think more of the personality kind rather than physical. I do love the kickass heroines this genre has given us but I wanted to do something different.
Please tell us about your latest release.
In Mojo Queen Roxie is hired to help a group of college students who got in over their heads playing around with dark magic. One of them is possessed and the entity is wreaking havoc. Roxie puts everything she’s got into stopping this demon, but her efforts are complicated by her increasing attraction to the shady sorcerer who spear-headed the group.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
I don’t worry too much about the meanings of names. I have used a baby name site that could tell you what names were most popular in what year – that’s pretty handy. Sometimes for surnames I have borrowed from my mom’s genealogy research. She gave me the last name of Roxie’s vampire ancestor Daniel – an old family name, Rambin. Mostly I just want a name that feels right for a character.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
Blake Harvill, the shady sorcerer mentioned above, was probably the most difficult. He was supposed to be a bad guy at first but as the story went along he became a love interest for Roxie. It was difficult to find the right balance between “bad shady Blake” and “sexy attractive Blake.”
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I love Daniel. He was created in large part as my own personal backlash against the overwhelming number of brooding emo vampires out there. At first it was just fun but he has become one of those characters that haunts a writer, and I keep thinking up more and more of his history.
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
I start with a very bare bones idea of who the person is and I don’t really get to know them until I write them for a while. I use character worksheets mostly for continuity purposes – don’t want to forget what color somebody’s eyes are – because I have found that trying to create a character from a list of attributes doesn’t work for me. We have to spend time together.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
The sex scene between Roxie and Blake. Well, you did ask. :-) The reason for that is because it was so difficult for me to write so I was proud of the accomplishment. Writing first person sex scenes is, um, weird. But I looked at what the scene needed to accomplish, what each character needed to reveal about themselves and what they needed to get of the scene. Other than, you know, sex. Heh. So it turned out to be a really good writing experience and I think it’s a good scene too.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
The hoodoo aspects of Roxie’s magical practice came about because I gave her my love of old blues. I knew a little bit about hoodoo to start with and learned a lot more over the course of writing Mojo Queen. I really enjoyed researching hoodoo and I think it was a good choice for an urban fantasy set in the south.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
Mojo Queen is set in a closed world so knowledge of the supernatural is very limited. Roxie’s abilities and work have led her to be estranged from her family, which is one reason her relationship with Daniel is so important to her.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
The only thing really is music – Roxie loves blues and so do I, Daniel loves classic country and that’s the only country music you can get me to listen to. I love music and it’s pretty much impossible for me to write without the influence of music working its way into a story somehow.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
I kill it with fire. Actually, I’ve started writing something that is strictly for fun with absolutely no plans to submit it, so being able to write without any of that self-inflicted pressure to produce is really freeing. Since I started this I’ve noticed I’m more productive in both my fun project and the work in progress that I plan to submit.
Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?
Not really. I have a pencil that I play with when I’m thinking, when I’ve paused to work out a sentence or the next action. That’s the only thing I’ve noticed myself doing as far as writing quirks go.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
I’ve considered myself a writer for a long time, but I didn’t use the word author until I was first published. That was how I made the distinction in my head.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
Hawaii Five-O. Don’t judge me, Alex O’loughlin is hot!
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
Music would be the big thing, especially music history. I’ve been to several music-related sites in Tennessee as well as Mississippi, have probably a hundred or more books that are music biographies or histories or analysis. Boxes and boxes of CDs, all digitized now of course.
What was the last amazing book you read?
Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler.
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
I’m happy to read anywhere.
What can readers expect next from you?
I’m currently working on a follow-up to Mojo Queen. It’s challenging because I am really putting Roxie through the ringer in this one.
Where can readers find you on the web?
Readers can find me at www.sonyaclark.net. There they can find links to my Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Goodreads, as well as read my blog. And I have a Free Reads page with two Mojo short stories featuring Roxie and Daniel that are available as free downloads.
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Here’s a little teaser of a confrontation between Roxie and the demon:
“You’re pretty good at amateur hour, sweetie, but do you really think roots and leaves are any match for me?” A nasty derisive laugh slipped from her cotton candy mouth. “I mean, seriously? Do your friends call you Polk Salad Annie?”
Something flared out from me, cracking through the mojo hand’s protective wall and slicing open a cut across Delia’s cheek. It happened so fast I didn’t realize it until blood welled on her skin and fury turned her eyes black. I wobbled a little. That unintended spike of energy had cost me.
Hoodoo and high magic are on a collision course.
Roxanne Mathis isn't like everyone else. Not only can she see auras and spectral entities, she can mix herbs and roots for spells to do good or ill. She can even light a candle without the benefit of a match. But when she’s hired to exorcise a demon from a young girl, she discovers the limits of her powers.
With her vampire cousin at her side and a sexy sorcerer chasing her on the rebound, Roxie sets out to send that evil entity back to where she came from.
Nothing is as it seems and Roxie’s in over her head. It’s not going to be enough for her to just be a paranormal investigator and old school root worker – to defeat this demon, she’s going to have to be the Mojo Queen.