Monday, 9 May 2011

Author Interview with Sierra Dean + Giveaway

Today I am very happy to welcome to Ex Libris a new favourite author of mine whose debut novel will be released tomorrow (on May 10) and which blew me away! (You can read my review HERE.) Of course after having read Something Secret This Way Comes I had plenty of noisy questions I wanted to ask Sierra and she was sweet enough to answer them all, so read on, discover all about Secret and enter the giveaway, because trust me: you don't want to miss out on this fantastic new urban fantasy series!

Please give a warm welcome to

Sierra Dean!

Stella: Hi Sierra, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Sierra: I’m one of those people that has always tried to be good at everything I do. Sort of the idea that anything worth doing it worth doing well, I suppose. In my daily life I’m a lot of things: retail assistant manager; professional wedding photographer; music geek and sarcasm savant. But writing has always been my first love, and what I knew I wanted to do forever.

Stella: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?

Sierra: I try to be a planner, I really do. For me, I do best when I give myself a few hours in a day and say “okay, time to write!” I’m also super ADD, so I need to disconnect from distractions in order to get work done. I’ll either run off to Starbucks and write with pen and paper, or take my laptop somewhere with no wifi. Otherwise I spend all my time on Twitter.

Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?

Sierra: There are casual readers, those who will pick up a book based on a recommendation or a review, and may only read a dozen books in a year. I think lots of people like to read, but given how busy everyday life can be, they maybe don’t make it a priority. A Book Lover is someone who needs books to live. The stories created by the written word are so important to them, books become like oxygen. I’ve always been a Book Lover. I remember leaving school sick one day and stopping to buy L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries vol. 1 so I would have something to spend my time with that afternoon. For a Book Lover, the memories of times you spend with a book can be as important as the moments we share with friends.

Stella: What can we expect of Something Secret This Way Comes?

Sierra: A fast-paced, often funny, sometimes scary urban fantasy with a heroine who is conflicted about what she is and doesn’t know where she belongs. It’s the first book in a new series and I hope it will draw people in.

Stella: It’s such a cool, attention grabbing title! Did you start with the title and then constructed the story around it or was the story idea there first and then you searched for a suitable title?

Sierra: Actually, you can thank my editor at Samhain, Sasha Knight for that title. The original title of the book was Once Bitten, then it was changed to Life Lives in the Dark. Sasha immediately told me we needed something that would incorporate Secret’s name. I loved what she came up with and the rest is history.

Stella: What would you say to readers, in what aspect is your novel different than other UF novels?

Sierra: I tried to create a unique world, but at the same time one that readers could easily be absorbed into. I think Secret is a relatable character that people can connect with. She’s got a hard edge, but she’s like the rest of us – just trying to figure out where she belongs in the world without losing herself along the way. I like that my world blends everything from werewolves and vampires to half-gods and fae. It gives the world a lot of room to grow.

Stella: Your cover is fantastic: bold and vibrant yet dark and atmospheric, Chas and I were wondering whether the cover model represents how you pictured Sierra? Did you have any input in the cover creating process?

Sierra: Oh man, how lucky am I to have that cover? It was designed by the brilliant Kanaxa ( who I am lucky to call a friend. The cover model is gorgeous, and she definitely has that badass vibe to her that screams Secret. Having now had a preview of the next covers for the series, I can honestly say I can’t picture anyone else as Secret. I wish her hair was a little curlier, but that’s such a small thing. My publisher, Samhain, is really awesome about giving authors input on their covers. Ultimately the final say is up to the art department, but they definitely give their authors a lot of say, creatively, in what they want to see on their covers and I couldn’t be happier.

Stella: Your heroine is called Secret and her mother Mercy. Love these speaking names, were they the original names of the character or did they start out as Lauren and Mary (just kidding ;-) ?

Sierra: Every single character in the novel has the name they started out with, with one exception. Secret was always Secret, and I had one beta-reader tell me potential publishers would probably make me change her name. I’m so glad I didn’t listen. The only name that got changed during the writing process was Desmond’s. That poor man had more names than I care to admit. I read rough drafts now and ask, “who is Dorian?” I’m glad he ended up with the name he did.

Stella: Secret is very unique in many ways and I’d bet we are still in for many surprises, would you like to introduce your heroine to those who haven’t had the chance to read your novel yet?

Sierra: Secret McQueen is a half-vampire/half-werewolf hybrid. The blending of the two monsters was the result of a vampire attack on her pregnant werewolf mother. Because of the combination, she finds herself unable to fit in with either society and exists on the fringes. She hunts rogue vampires which makes her persona non grata in polite vampire society, and she rejects her werewolf connection because her mother abandoned her. She’s a complicated girl, but she knows her friends and she has a sense of humor.

Stella: Why urban fantasy? Is it a genre you also enjoy reading? Did you set out to write a novel in this genre or somehow the novel just became this story about vampires and werewolves?

Sierra: Initially the story was pure paranormal romance. I started writing Secret’s world over six years ago, when she was only a rough idea, and I’d write a chapter here or there and go on to other projects. I loved paranormal romance novels when I was in high school, but it wasn’t until about five years ago or so I discovered urban fantasy as a genre. In that time I’ve devoured everything I can get my hands on, and I knew it was what I was meant to be writing. I like that urban fantasy allows you to create whole worlds rather than just focusing on the romantic elements. Yes, Secret has a messy love life, but there is so much more to her and her world and I can’t wait to explore it with my readers.

Stella: Speaking of vamps and weres: which one would you pick and why? (Me I am partial to werewolves: they are passionate, loyal, warm, fiercely protective, possessive and monogamous!)

Sierra: I know when it comes to movies I always sway towards the vampire side of things, but the realistic part of my brain says a werewolf is a better choice. With a vampire you have to deal with the hard issue of them living forever while you age. With a werewolf, you just need to worry if he’ll try to bite you during the full moon. And as Willow famously said on Buffy, “let’s face it, 3 nights out of the month I’m no fun to be around either.”

Stella: You have two droolworthy werewolf hunks as main characters in your novel, any hint how the love triangle will play out? ;-) (I know, I know but I just had to ask)

Sierra: Oh I know exactly who Secret ends up with, but I’m not telling anyone. Even my editor has no idea who she has her happily ever after with.

Stella: What was the most fun part of writing Something Secret This Way Comes? And your favourite scene (or character if you have one)? (any quirky supporting character you just had a blast writing? I can’t wait to see more of Holden in later books!)

Sierra: My favorite part of writing Something Secret was the end. For those who read it, they’ll immediately understand why, and to them, I apologize. But it was more than the ending itself that had meaning, it was getting to hit the save button and announce “I’m done!” This is my first book, and knowing I’d finished it felt better than anything I’ve experienced before.

As for characters, there are a few secondary characters I adore. Sig is such a cheeky bugger, I have so much fun writing every scene he’s in, because I need to think about his motivations and what drives him. And Brigit is a blast. Her roll expands a lot in book 2, and I enjoy writing her.

Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?

Sierra: My schedule is insane, so I hope you no one gets sick of seeing my name out there. July 19 is the release of the prequel novella, which I’ll discuss in length below. Late September is the release of A Bloody Good Secret, Secret McQueen Book #2. And I’ve just wrapped up Secret Santa, which is a Christmas novella that takes place between books 2 and 3, and will come out this winter. This summer I’ll be writing Book #3, and working on a non-Secretverse novella. Then this fall, time willing, I’ll start Book #4, as well as a non-Secret UF book I’ve been plotting. Busy, busy, busy.

Stella: The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters a Secret McQueen novella will be released in July, can you briefly hint what it will be about?

Sierra: For those who’ve read Something Secret This Way Comes, there’s an oft-mentioned event from Secret’s past that has gotten her into a little trouble with the council. The prequel explores this event, in which Secret is contracted to kill a West Coast rogue, who happens to be an A-list actor. To make matters worse, she must do it while she’s on a blind date with an NYPD detective.

Stella: Can you summarize Something Secret This Way Comes for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?

Sierra: Badass bounty hunter, sexy werewolf love triangle, lots of action and romance. Something for everyone.

Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Something Secret This Way Comes?

1. This heroine is awesome. Seriously. She’s cheeky and tough, but also sensitive.
2. There’s a man in here for everyone. Vampires, werewolves, white knights and bad boys. Every reader will have a Mr. Right to root for.
3. For readers who love ongoing UF series that follow the same heroine, it’s a great time to start. 4 releases out this year for this series means you won’t be kept waiting.

Now time for some secrets of your own:

Stella: Can you share with us some behind the scenes secret about either the writing process or how the story was shaped?

Sierra: My writing process is sort of hilarious. First I come up with a general idea for the book. Then I create a detailed plot outline which is the skeleton of the story, so I know how to get from point A to point Z. Often I make detours and change things completely, but it’s like a road trip that way. As long as I end up at the right destination, it’s fine. Then I write. Sometimes I’ll do a chapter a day, sometimes I’ll do six. I work best with deadlines, because otherwise I tend to daydream too much, so I set an end date that the book or novella needs to be completed by, and judge my daily workload accordingly.

Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?

Sierra: My friend Curtis once called me the youngest grandmother he knew. I love to bake (I even invented a recipe for Lucas Rain cookies that I may post on my blog… they have cinnamon chipets in them.) and I am an obsessive knitter who drinks a LOT of tea.

Aside from that, I live for travel. Last year I went to the Northwest Territories, and New York City (my new favorite city on Earth… seriously, if I could spend half of every year living in Brooklyn I’d be the happiest girl alive). This year I went to LA and then I’m running off to Peru for my 28th birthday this September. I want to do at least 2 trips a year for the rest of my life.

Thank you Sierra for stopping by Ex Libris and answering all my questions! :-)

You can reach Sierra at her website :  and Twitter:


Sierra has generously offered an ebook copy of Something Secret This Way Comes to a lucky commentator.

Something Secret This Way Comes

All you have to do is:

1) leave a question/comment for Sierra, or answer this: which would YOU choose to be with: a vampire or a werewolf? And why?

2) leave a way for me to contact you if you win (e-mail address or Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 20 May 2011.

Good luck! :-)

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