Please welcome Dia Reeves, one of the amazing Tenners and author of BLEEDING VIOLET! Enjoy the interview below, in which Dia discusses her debut novel, Stephen King, and her next novel (which I’m fairly certain I need RIGHT now!).
A Brief Biography (From AuthorsNow):
Dia Reeves is a librarian and lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Her family, however, grew up in East Texas and has inspired her with many tales from the area.
Give a short description of or a statement about BLEEDING VIOLET that will lure in readers.
Here’s the official summary: A mentally ill sixteen-year-old girl reunites with her estranged mother in an East Texas town that is haunted with doorways to other worlds and protected by demon hunters called Mortmaine. But I always tell people BV is basically Mommie Dearest in the Twilight Zone.
Do you share any traits with Hanna, personality-wise or otherwise?
Man, I hope not. She’s impulsive and sexy and manipulative and aggressive, and I’m the opposite of all that. I’d never write a character who was just like me—I’d bore myself and everyone else to death.
Hanna was a character that I was simultaneously drawn to and afraid of, was she difficult to write, to keep that balance? Or am I just crazy and her character wasn’t necessarily supposed to read that way?
I think you read her right. She can be very charming when she wants to be, but her manic depression makes her unpredictable, even dangerous at times. Hanna wasn’t difficult to write. I let her do whatever oddball thing she wanted to do, but I made sure that the readers at least understood WHY she did strange things, even if they didn’t approve of her behavior. And the WHY, of course, is that she wants to be loved, no matter what. If you understand that, then you understand Hanna.
The monsters in BV are like none I’ve ever encountered before in a novel; had you been brainstorming them for years or did you create them easily?
I brainstormed them a bit; not for years, though. 🙂 I just think of real animals—like leeches and scorpions– and then punch em up a bit with, like, tentacles and the ability to turn people into glass. Easy peasy.
BV does not shy away from the topic of teen sex, or sex in general. Was it natural for you to include sex in the novel or did you debate about its inclusion?
I didn’t debate it at all. Hypersexuality is one of the symptoms of manic depression, which is why Hanna is such a sexual person. People have a problem with it of course, since she’s a teenager (at least, I’m assuming that’s why), but ignoring her sexuality would mean ignoring a huge part of who Hanna is. And just for the record, the actual sex in BV is very slight, fade-to-black kind of stuff, but the way people talk about it, you’d think there was an orgy on every page.
Did you do any research while writing BV? If yes, please explain.
I did a lot of research on manic depression. At the beginning, all I knew was that I wanted Hanna to have a mental illness that made her hallucinate. So through research, I was able to narrow it down to schizophrenia and manic depression. I choose manic depression because I saw Hanna as outgoing and vivacious, and schizophrenes find it very difficult to interact with people in a normal way. Basically, I didn’t want her to be so crazy that no one would be able to understand her. So manic depression for the win!
What was the most difficult aspect of writing BV?
The hardest part was revising it. It took me two and half years and thirty different drafts to figure out the story I wanted to tell. Earlier drafts had twice as many characters, a different villain, a different ending, an extra love interest. At one point, Hanna and some of her friends cooked an octopus; I mean page after page of these kids standing around cooking an octopus. It was just all over the place. But now that I’ve learned to outline, I don’t have that problem of writing useless crap that just ends up getting deleted.
Did you always want to be a novelist?
I have since I was twelve. I read It by Stephen King and decided I wanted to make people feel the way that book made me feel.
What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
I’ve only ever been a librarian. Reading and research help me do my job as both a librarian and a writer.
When and where do you usually write?
On my couch, usually at night. I’m more creative in the dark.
Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
Music. My space heater so my feet don’t get cold. Water and a snack also help—that way I don’t have to get up and go to the kitchen when I get peckish.
What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
Stephen King is easily the biggest influence and the reason I write creepy stuff instead of happy novels about girls getting afterschool jobs to pay for prom and whose biggest worry is that their football hero crushes won’t like them or that their parents are heading down the road to…DIVORCE. *gasp* I’ll take blood and guts over that stuff any day.
Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
I’ve turned in a novel to my editor called Strange Fruit, which is about the two daughters of a convicted serial killer who, like their father, are also killers, but unlike their father, only kill bad guys.
The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
MUSIC!!! It’s how I block out the world and disappear into my own head where all the cool ideas are. Books, as you know, are also an excellent hiding spot—one I turn to often.
Check out my review of BLEEDING VIOLET here!