Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, Angel.
The best thing about being me right now? I’ve “retired” from the rat race to write full time. No more evil day job. Otherwise, I’m not terribly interesting. I went to college (many years ago, the school mascot was a trilobite and we had a triceratops instead of a bus) for Biology but left with a degree in English Lit. I’ve job bounced all my adult life, always gainfully employed, never quite satisfied.
I still live in the town where I grew up. My parents are here and his parents. As long as they need us, we’ll be here. It’s not too shocking then that I love to travel and have been all of the US, to Europe, Canada, and China. The world is an astounding place.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
There are probably two things. One is that I joined the National Guard to pay for college. People see me as sweet and quiet and, above all, peaceful. They don’t see me on the firing range. It wasn’t easy for me, but I trained as a medic and then as an LPN in the military and hope that I did my part as well as I could.
The other thing people often don’t know is that I was diagnosed with MS a few years back. The symptoms are well controlled right now, but only if I do all the things I’m supposed to. I’m a big advocate for invisible disabilities. You just never know what’s going on inside someone and we have to learn to be more patient and understanding with each other.
When did you start writing, is it something you've always been interested in, or did it develop later in life?
I’ve always written. Short stories. Poetry (ugh, dreadful poetry it was). Partly due to job frustration, I started to write novel-length fiction in the late 1990s, scribbling madly at lunchtime and on plane rides, waiting for meetings to start and in the evenings. I was just writing. It was just an outlet for a soul dying in the corporate wastelands, until a friend read some of it, just for fun, and started badgering me about publication. It was too good not to try, she said. Mind you, I had no mentor and no advice, so it took years, but my first story sold in 2005, and here we are. I’m still learning, but it’s an ever-changing marketplace. We all should be learning still.
Has it been everything you thought it would be or not?
It has been many things I thought it would be, and many I didn’t think it would be, but most of us come into publishing with some misconceptions. Probably what strikes me as most surprising is how hard authors have to struggle to make a living wage. When people think of authors, they think of the rare few who hit those lightning strike moments in the public’s mind, who get that rare synchronous combination of right book, right time, right publicity to ride the wave and actually make money. The vast majority of authors will never hit that wave. Most of us have to scramble to earn enough to consider writing a primary (below the poverty line) income.
How did it feel when you realized that your very first book was going to be published?
Absolutely over the moon. Someone wanted my work, words that I had put together, herded and wrestled into this strange order to tell a story. I had my foot in the door and was going to storm the battlements! That’s what you get for mixing your success metaphors. There were some startling awakenings soon after, but that initial moment is still untarnished and full of innocent bliss.
What's your favorite part of writing a book?
The end. I know that sounds trite, but when I’ve reached the end point the first time through, I know I have all the structure in place. The characters have grown into real people, the plot points are all laid out, and the story’s ready. Now I can go back in and make it work. While I do edits as I go, sometimes obsessively, getting the story all out there, glorped out onto the page, is such a feeling of relief. I did it! A whole story! Yes. Still. After all these years, it’s still an amazing feeling to reach the planned for ending.
Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
I do. Reading is one of the greatest joys in life and a write who claims they don’t have time for reading is cutting off a limb or two. I love science fiction and fantasy, a bit of paranormal now and then, mystery and suspense, both mainstream and gay romance/gay fiction. I’ve recently discovered that gay historical paranormals are a legitimate sub-genre and have been enjoying the hell out of those.
Are there any other genres you'd be interested in writing?
I’m pretty entrenched in the Science Fiction and Fantasy camps. Have yet to write a Mystery, which would be wonderful, but I may not have the right brain for it.
Please tell us a little about your most recent release.
Dragons, Diamonds and Discord is the third story in the Brandywine Investigations universe, in which the premise is that the gods still live with us in the modern world, but most of them are no longer needed in their traditional roles. They take jobs and own corporations, each according to his or her talents and preferences.
The first book in the series, Canines, Crosshairs and Corpses, follows Hades as he tries to recover from Persephone serving him divorce papers. Kicked out of his own obsidian palace, he has to find something to do. With the support of his nephews, Hermes and Dionysus, and his faithful friend Charon, he opens a private investigations firm, starts looking for a murderer and picks up a human foundling in an alley one night.
The second story, No Enemy But Time, concerns Hades’s son, Zagreus (Zack) and his fallen angel lover, Michael. This one is considerably darker than the first story (strange, because there are so many deaths in the first one) and examines how we sometimes have to make horrifically hard choices to save the ones we love. I had to come up with a new ending type for this one since it’s not HEA and not really HFN – it’s Hopeful For Now.
Dragons, Diamonds and Discord, then is a combination of the two things readers asked most: when can we have Hermes’s story and what happened to Zack and Michael? This story answers both questions and gives cocky, smartass Hermes a run for his winged-shoed feet.
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
I always have far too much in the pipeline every year and so far, this year has been no exception. The next things I have coming in probable succession:
• “A Message from the Home Office” – coming 4/1/15 in the Wilde City anthology Foolish Encounters (all the stories were written to April Fool’s prompts.) This one is a science fiction humor piece, written in the same universe as “A Christmas Cactus for the General,” though readers will not see Teer in it.
• “Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters” (Offbeat Crimes) – probably releasing this summer from Amber Allure. This is a paranormal humor story about a group of psychic cops with less than useful powers (a vampire who can’t drink whole blood, a firestarter who can’t get a spark if it’s too damp or humid, etc.)
• Flax’s Pursuit: AURA 2 – the second AURA novel comes out 6/12/15 from Totally Bound (7/10 is the general release date.) Urban fantasy with elves as specialized cops. Fun stuff.
• “The Pill Bugs of Time” – the second Offbeat Crimes story, takes us back to Vikash and Kyle and the rest of the squad of paranormal misfits. Still working on this one.
• Brandywine Investigations 4 – as yet untitled. This will be the story for Dionysus and his new love interest. Not going to say more about that yet but it won’t be what you expect.
Anything you want to say to your readers?
Buy a book, feed an author? Seriously, I’d like to say thank you to everyone over the years who has taken the time to say kind things about my work, to support me when things looked less than stellar, and to stay with me when the sequels happened slowly. Without readers, we’re just crazy people whispering in the dark.
Angel's recent release:
Dragons, Diamonds And Discord
The most valuable pieces of jewelry are vanishing from the god Hermes’ Manhattan stores and the security feeds only pick up clouds of smoke. While the god of thieves, messengers, and commerce doesn’t appreciate someone stealing from him, he’s intrigued by this thief’s ingenuity and skill. When he enlists his family to trap his burglar, he gets the surprise of his immortal life.
Fafnir just wants to be left alone. Doomed over the centuries to a never-ending cycle of violent death and painful rebirth, he had hoped to find an escape in the quiet life of author and illustrator. But there are forces at work he doesn’t understand, and his peace is shattered by the return to old cycles and the sudden interference of a beautiful and incredibly irritating Greek god.
Excerpt from Dragons, Diamonds And Discord:
The last of the daytime lights shut down in succession, signaling the departure of the last employee. Velvet dark descended, with only the security lights illuminating the empty cases and the exits. The presumed target, locked away in the safe behind the case, was a marquis cut pink diamond of incredible clarity, set in a choker of white diamonds and pearls. According to Hermes’s calculations, this was indeed the third most expensive piece for sale in the city. The most expensive one left now, actually.
“I hate waiting,” Dio whispered as he hunkered down behind the screen.
Hermes shot him an irritated look. “Yeah. Big shock. Why are you here, again?”
“I think they stole your sense of humor, too,” Dio grumbled.
That hit too close to home. Hermes ran a hand over the back of his neck as he tried his best to unclench every tightened muscle. “Sorry. You came to help. That was uncalled for. There’s just something wrong about this whole thing. Has me in knots.”
“S’Okay. After we catch the creep, why don’t you bring your guitar, come jam for a few hours? I’ve got some good red stocked. We could see if Orpheus is up for it, too.”
Hermes bumped shoulders with his favorite brother. “Thanks. That might be just the thing. Let’s see what happens here first, right?”
Dark eyes huge in the dim light, Dio nodded and quieted. Yes, he was the family party boy, but he was also still half-wild. His nerves would be humming with the thrill of the hunt. There was the difference, Hermes realized. Zack, Dio, Uncle Hades, even Charon—they were all hunters and warriors. This sort of set up excited them, invigorated them. Hermes, jittery and slightly nauseous, was starting to think he should have waited in the van with Hephaestus.
An hour passed, then half an hour more. Just as he was convincing himself his thief had taken the night off, the door to the employee entrance clicked. Alarms should have sounded. Either the person had a key and the alarm codes, or the thief had disabled the system.
Or they were already in place before my staff left? But he’d still have to disable the alarm. Maybe I have to start designing magic-proof security systems. Wonder how much of a market there would be?
Dio gripped his arm and pointed. A shadow slid along the far wall, possibly a large man but the strange lighting could have added the perception of mass to a small one. The shadow stopped. Soft hissing drifted across the room, the same they had heard on the sound reconstruction the previous evening. And cue the smoke…
Creepers of gray slid along the floor toward the safe. They climbed over the cases, moving, ethereal vines obscuring the glass, and edged up the walls to block the security cameras. The soft rhythmic hissing slowly evolved into whistling, Peer Gynt again but the more haunting melancholy of Solveig’s Song instead of the Mountain King’s menace. Strange choice. The whistling became humming, the thief making no effort to hide his heavy footfalls. Hermes caught a glimpse of Doc Martens, size thirteen at least, before the boots vanished into the smoke surrounding the little room with the safe.
Tumblers clicked. The clank of a safe handle echoed through the smoke-shrouded quiet. That strange hollow laugh, bone deep and mirthless, emanated from the vicinity of the presumably open safe.
“Now, Zagreus!” Uncle Hades bellowed. A sharp snap followed, then the susurration of thousands of metallic links swiftly dragged upward. The thief’s roar rattled cases, an impotent storm of fury as Heph’s magical golden net snared him and hoisted him, struggling and snarling toward the ceiling.
Hermes uncoiled from behind his screen, prepared to confront this being who dared to steal from a god, even indirectly. He strode toward the center of the showroom while Dio called a breeze to clear the smoke. Flashes of black clothing and dark red hair flickered through the gold mesh as the captive thrashed, his large frame only hampering his struggles.
Hands on his hips, Hermes shouted up to the net, “Give me one good reason I shouldn’t call the c—”
Another roar deafened him, vibrating through the floor tiles. The body in the net began to expand. Instead of glimpses of black cloth and red hair, now gleaming red-gold hide sparked in the mesh. A huge claw poked through the side of the net and sliced the links open as if the magically forged gold were nothing more than pudding. Hermes could only watch in horror as a sinuous head emerged from the opening, followed by yard-wide, scaled shoulders and…wings.
The thief leaped free, plunging, then rising in the air as his wings unfurled. With one final roar, he arrowed toward the windows at the front of the shop and crashed through, leaving a dragon-sized hole in his wake.