Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
I've always been a bit of a "dark fantasy" sort of person. I liked Grimm's fairy tales and Disney movies with the evil sorcerers and black magic, like Maleficent, or big, mysterious legends like the Beast and his castle. Otherworldly creatures always fascinated me, too: I remember a friend telling me about "changelyngs" once, when I was very little, and I adored the whole concept.
What inspired you to write this book?
Many different inspirations came together to create His Cemetery Doll. The characters are ones my husband and I crafted together when we were very young, and they evolved (with us) to become something more complex and dynamic over time. The music of Repo! The Genetic Opera, and later Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd, all played a part in shaping the plot in my mind. Inspiration also came from friends and our role-playing group, who were the first to investigate the mystery of Broken Doll and bring the dark past of the graveyard to light.
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 do a little bit of all these things. It's important the character's name match their time period and region, first of all, to maintain good foundation. If you're writing a fantasy novel or one taking place in a fictional realm, this is a bit easier, but still you must be mindful of the "sound" of it all. I definitely search for the meanings behind names: "Conall", for instance, has a meaning pertaining to soldiers and warriors. The character of Conall is best signified in my mind by his "warrior" personality...and so I named him for it. I absolutely love names, because they always tell you a little bit more than you think.
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
Broken Doll did turn out somewhat difficult. In her case, I think it pertained to the fact she doesn't speak for herself, but must communicate through other means. This proved a challenge, but a good kind of challenge; I liked being stretched to show her intentions and emotions more through body language and reaction than anything else. Fred, the priest, also became very difficult to write at sometimes, but not so bad.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
Again, Broken Doll comes to mind, and perhaps for the very reasons I also listed her as the most difficult. I loved discovering how she communicated. I had a very easy time with all three main characters, though: Conall, Shyla and Broken. They spoke very easily to me, and had a lot to say. Their characters were very vibrant in my mind.
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?
Characters "introduce" themselves to me as I go, honestly. I get a little bit of a concept in mind – for instance, I started out knowing my story would follow the adventures of the gravekeeper, and that he'd have a daughter – but their personalities come together through events more than anything. I do have a form, called "99 Character Questions", which I usually use when its time to create a new role-play character, but occasionally I go to it to help shape something in the book, if I feel the need.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
I'm a fan of the first romantic scene, where Broken Doll comes to Conall in his home. The strangeness of her, in his house, unexpectedly, and the eerie familiarity she shows as she comes right to him... I think there's an aspect of the Doll's character brought out by this scene, a vulnerability behind the paranormal, and I like the way it leads them into the first beginnings of their affair.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
I rather enjoyed learning about the different divisions of the European forces during World War II, especially the Special Air Services, which is the division Conall served with.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
Before I began publishing with Breathless Press, I worked on a supernatural western series, something I lovingly called "Cowboys and Indians meets Witches and Warlocks". The magic in this world could be tied to Norse runes and rune-casting. I developed a habit where at any point a character was consulting the runes for divination, I'd pull out my own rune-stones or rune-cards and do the divination as the character did. I'd then input the reading I received, exactly as it fell for me, for the character to have to deal with. I really liked the way that shaped the story. It took me on some wild turns, but I think it shaped the details well!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
I do suffer from writer's block, quite often. My go-to solution is to take my dog for a long walk, and listen to music or an audiobook, to refresh my brain.
Do you write in different genres?
Supernatural/Paranormal are my favorite, but I do like to and want to switch it up from time to time. My second novel was fantasy, of course, and my next will be as well. I'm hoping to also put out some steampunk down the line.
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
I have more trouble with some genres than others, but writing in multiple genres, in general, doesn't bother me much.
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in
life? I'm an artist, both drawing and painting, and working in photoshop with stock art of my personal sketches. Art is great for helping me to relax. I'm also a tabletop role-player.
What was the last amazing book you read?
The last really amazing, steal-your-breath-away book was Affinity, by Sarah Waters. That novel struck me so hard, even though I've been tempted to re-read it, I've avoided it because I'm not sure my emotions could take it.
What can readers expect next from you?
I'm working on the sequels to my first two books, Lotus Petals and Goblin Fires. His Cemetery Doll is a standalone for now, so readers can enjoy it without having read any of my other works. For National Novel Writing Month I am working on a fantasy/historical BDSM novel, as well.
His Cemetery Doll
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Publisher: Breathless Press
Date of Publication: 10/24/14
Number of pages: 173
Word Count: 53,000
Cover Artist: Happi Anarchy
There's a woman in the graveyard.
Conall Mackay never put stock in ghost stories. Not even after thirteen years serving as the cemetery keeper in the village of Whitetail Knoll. But things change. Now, his daughter is dreaming of a figure among the tombstones. The grounds are overrun by dark thorns almost faster than Con can clear them. White fog and gray ribbons creep up on him in the night, and a voiceless beauty beckons him from the darkest corners of the graves.
When the world he knows starts to unravel, Conall might finally be forced to believe
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/cKCkDLFP9KI
He hadn't slept long before he heard sounds from down in the kitchen below.
"Shyla!" he called gruffly. "Weren't you heading into town?"
No answer came from below, but the sounds of pots clanging told him his daughter toyed about down there. Perhaps she'd decided not to leave him after all and taken it into her head to now re-organize the house, since he'd so clearly wanted her to stay out of the cemetery. With a low groan, Conall rolled out of bed and stepped out into the hall.
"Shyla!" he called again, coming to the head of the stairs. If she had stayed home, she could at least do it without making a lot of noise.
He staggered then, as the hallway dimmed. Afternoon light flickered strangely, lightning cracking a dismal sky outside, and in the space of time afterward everything else darkened. Conall darted a glance around him as the house fell into shadow.
From the top of the stairwell, he saw the first whispering tendrils of white fog.
The heat of adrenaline shot through his limbs. Conall stumbled back into his bedroom, even as the fog pursued. His gaze shot to the window as the last gray light of day faded away and eerie darkness replaced it, like an eclipse sliding over the sun.
More cold mists veiled the glass, dancing and floating. Trembling overtook him as he spun to find another escape.
He froze, finding himself face-to-face with the broken mask of the cemetery doll.
"You—" he gasped. His breath came out white as the fog enveloped them both, leaving a space of mere inches between them, so he could still see her expressionless face. Gray ribbons wound and curled through the air around him.
"Who are you?" he asked.
The doll stared up at him. He sensed her searching, looking into his eyes even though hers remained covered. She held him there with her unseen gaze, until her cool, cold hand came up to touch his bare chest.
Conall let out a low breath. He closed his eyes, and a shudder of strange ease rippled through his body. The cool pads of her fingers ran down his sternum, to his navel. The silky ribbons brushed along his side.
Then he noticed her other hand. She lifted it up, to her own chest, and she held something tightly in her fingers: Shyla's stuffed dog.
"I made that...for my daughter," he whispered. The woman with the broken mask tilted her head down toward the small toy, studying it. For a fraction of a second, her fingers appeared to tighten around it. She returned her gaze to him, then, and the toy fell from her grip into the fog, forgotten.
"Wait—" he said, but she brought her other hand up to his chest to join the first, and he recognized eagerness in the way she pressed her icy skin against his. Her face tilted to him, and then came her lips again, ivory and flawless.
"I—" Conall breathed. "I...don't understand..."
Her fingers slid up, around his neck, but he pulled away.
"No, this...this can't real. I'm asleep. I must be."
Gray ribbons danced, pulling him back to her, and she stroked his face. He sucked in a breath at her touch and found his own hand coming up to brush hers.
"You're so cold," he said. "Like stone...but..."
Her cool touch thrilled him; it made his skin tingle and the heat of his own body sing. Her perfect flesh did, in fact, prove soft under his hands, as if the contact with his worn calluses infused cold ivory with yearning. She caressed his cheek, and Conall leaned into it. Before he could stop himself, he bowed his head to her and kissed her frozen lips.
About the Author:
When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours watching Futurama, Claymore or Buffy the Vampire Slayer while she writes or draws.
In addition to her novels, Brantwijn has had several stories published in anthologies by Breathless Press, including the 2013 Crimson Anthology and 2014 Ravaged Anthology. She's also had a short story published in the Cleiss Press Big Book of Orgasm and the anthology Coming Together Through The Storm. She hopes to have several more tales to tell as time goes on. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work.
Her short stories occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com
Brantwijn's Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/qf2bzwk
Foreplay and Fangs Supernatural Romance: http://tinyurl.com/q2cmnep
Brantwijn's Foreplay and Fangs blog: http://tinyurl.com/ljvvl6p
Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/n4rnjqx
Goodreads Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/mxv9bmr