Thursday, April 5, 2012

WICKED AS THEY COME, by Delilah S. Dawson

This week's feature is WICKED AS THEY COME, a delightful mixture of paranormal, steampunk, and romance. I received an ARC for review, and I can't put it down!
Here's the synopsis, from Goodreads:

Have you ever heard of a Bludman? They’re rather like you and me—only more fabulous, immortal, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.)

Delilah S. Dawson’s darkly tempting debut drops her unsuspecting heroine into a strange faraway land for a romantic adventure that’s part paranormal, part steampunk . . . and completely irresistible.

When Tish Everett forces open the ruby locket she finds at an estate sale, she has no idea that a deliciously rakish Bludman has cast a spell just for her. She wakes up in a surreal world, where Criminy Stain, the dashing proprietor of a magical traveling circus, curiously awaits. At Criminy’s electric touch, Tish glimpses a tantalizing future, but she also foresees her ultimate doom. Before she can decide whether to risk her fate with the charming daredevil, the locket disappears, and with it, her only chance to return home. Tish and Criminy battle roaring sea monsters and thundering bludmares, vengeful ghosts and crooked Coppers in a treacherous race to recover the necklace from the evil Blud-hating Magistrate. But if they succeed, will Tish forsake her fanged suitor and return to her normal life, or will she take a chance on an unpredictable but dangerous destiny with the Bludman she’s coming to love?

Below are Delilah's answers to my interview questions:

Your website bio states that you have a BA in Studio Art. Has this background influenced your writing and can you tell us more about your journey toward becoming a writer?

Well, I definitely have a penchant for pretty things! My hope is that the world of Sang comes across as rich and immersive, with colorful details that make it an escape from real life. I took art history classes, painted murals, and taught children's art classes, and I always hope I can paint a picture for the reader of what I'm seeing, feeling, and even smelling. As soon as I wrote my second book, I realized that I was a much better writer than I was a painter. I've written several books since then and haven't painted a thing-- I just totally switched gears. So I guess you could say that I paint my pictures with words now. It's much tidier.

Having read half the book already, I can attest that Sang comes across exactly how you intended. It completely jumps off the page! Who are some of your favorite authors and influences?

I love sweeping sagas about feisty women, like the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Into the Woods series by Sara Donati, and the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn. I adore Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate and Meljean Brook's Iron Seas and both of Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter series. I want to lose myself in books and read stories that stay with me forever. And Joss Whedon is one of my biggest influences. From Buffy to Firefly, he's a master storyteller with complex and intriguing characters. Criminy Stain, the male lead of WICKED AS THEY COME, has more than a little Spike in him.

We have similar reading tastes! Diana Gabaldon a favorite of mine as well--I especially love the intricate world-building in her books. I'm also a fan of Gail Carriger, and featured the Parasol Protectorate in a previous post.
WICKED AS THEY COME has a great premise. What elements and themes of the book do you feel are most important, and what do you want readers to take away from the story?

I want readers to fall into the world and love it as much as I do! Sang is so real to me, and I hope I've captured it exactly, the fun and danger and strangeness of it. If I had to admit a takeaway, I suppose it's that you have to fight for what you want, that easy things are worth nothing. I also like Criminy's attitude, his mix of ferocity, humor, and optimism, and how it affects Tish. She's coming out of an abusive relationship, which is something I've experienced personally, where you're scared to trust anyone with your heart. In Sang, there's hope for everyone, love waiting in all shapes and sizes. But mostly, I just want to make people smile and look forward to the next book.

Tish is definitely relatable--those who've experienced abusive relationships definitely need a strong woman like that to look up to!
What advice (if any) do you have for aspiring writers, particularly those wanting to break in to the paranormal genre?

Get obsessed! You have to be obsessed to start writing, to keep writing, and then to polish your draft until it shines. And you have to be seriously obsessed, not to mention tenacious and thick-skinned, to query agents. As far as genre, I actually lucked into paranormal romance. My first draft was straight-up paranormal fantasy, with black-out scenes that I was goaded into fleshing out for the romance angle. You've got to have a unique and exciting hook, I know that much. And don't write to trends, as today's trend was actually sold two years ago. Make your own trend! I recommend were-narwhals. I'd buy it!

Were-narwhals definitely sound intriguing (though I'm curious as to what they'd look like!).
WICKED AS THEY COME is part of a trilogy. Can you tell us more about the sequels and any other projects you're currently working on?

I'm almost done writing the second book, WICKED AS SHE WANTS, which is out in Spring 2013 with Pocket/S&S and excerpted at the end of WICKED AS THEY COME. It's the Sangish version of the lost princess Anastasia... if she drank blood and was forced to hitch a ride on an airship brothel. There's a novella out next fall with a hot romance in Criminy's Clockwork Caravan. The third book will be a twist on Moulin Rouge and Paris. Also in the works are a YA paranormal based in Savannah and a clockpunk romance version of Robin Hood, although neither of those are ready to shop yet.

Thanks for interviewing me, and I hope y'all enjoy WICKED AS THEY COME! I'm always glad to answer questions on my blog, or on Twitter, @DelilahSDawson.

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