An Interview with Violet Joicey-Cowen

Violet Joicey-CowenViolet Joicey-Cowen is the proud owner of one rather chaotic life. This includes her son, her menagerie (currently – two dogs, one cat, one guinea-pig, one fish, and five stick-insects), her friends and a rather battered laptop she would be lost without. She lives in North Yorkshire in England. When she is not writing she plays a lot of pool and is on a couple of teams.

She has been writing since she was about ten years old and has always loved escaping into other worlds where the people living there would tell her their stories and she would just have to write them down. She always dreamed of having her stories published so her characters could get out there and meet other people who might begin to love them as much as she does. She loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her wordpress account or you can find her on Facebook.

Q: Your debut novel, Alpha Second, is the first book in a series. Have you already planned what the series is going to look like overall? And if so, will the series focus mainly on the characters we’ve already met?

A: The series is pretty open ended at the moment. There is a general plan on certain longer-running storylines and how they will develop but it is not yet set which bits will happen in which books. Some books will focus on characters you meet in Alpha Second and some will be about people that you have not met yet. New characters are constantly popping up and introducing themselves to me and letting me know they have their own stories on the way. I currently have ideas plotted out for at least eleven further books.

Another WIP I have on the go is to be the first in a trilogy about three princes. I have a very clear picture of what will happen in those books. It will only be a trilogy as each book tells the story of one of the princes. There is a possibility of a related series after that, but it depends how the trilogy is received and if any of the side characters start bouncing around trying to get my attention.

Q: What other genres would you be interested in writing if you decided to write outside the Whithowe Forest Pack series? Do you see yourself always sticking to the paranormal with shifter heroes?

A: When I started writing many years ago, I wrote sci-fi/fantasy. I still love the genre and may return to it at some point, though I think now my main characters would probably be men rather than the teenage girls I used to write a lot about. I am a total convert to the M/M genre. I had an idea for a contemporary novel recently but in writing it down and developing the idea into a workable storyline one of the three main characters somehow turned into a shifter and one of the others turned out to be a vampire. I think there will always be some bent toward the paranormal or fantasy in my books. Not all of the heroes in the Whithowe Forest Pack series are going to be shifters though. There are vampires, elementals, witches, and all sorts of other things still to come with the odd human thrown in. The one I am currently working on is about a shifter and an elemental.

The trilogy I mentioned before is set in another world and though there are magical goings on and certain aspects of the princes’ lives that are dictated by magic, the princes themselves are human.

Q: You’ve chosen to focus on some heavy topics in your first book, including a lead character with a history of rape and other physical abuse. What led to your decision to tackle such heavy topics in your first book, Alpha Second? How did you keep your outlook positive as you wrote about these difficult experiences for your characters?

A: There was no decision as such. With Alpha Second I got one sentence stuck in my head which would not leave me alone until I sat down at my computer and began writing. I am very much led by my characters. They feel very real to me and tell me what their lives are like and what happens to them. There were a couple of scenes, one especially, that I wrote with tears in my eyes. My own life has gone through a few rough patches but I have always known it will get better no matter how hopeless it may feel at the time. You just have to keep going and not give up. I try to keep that in mind as I write about the horrible things some of my characters have gone through.

Q: In Alpha Second, you also focus partly on what it’s like to grow up LGBT-identified with unsupportive parents or without a real support structure. How did you prepare for portraying these types of relationships?

A: Growing up is hard. Most people forget what the emotional storm of being a teenager is like once they reach adulthood and gather responsibilities. When you add on any kind of difference, be it identifying as LGBT or something else then it can sometimes feel downright impossible. My mother did not bring me up but she was always in my life and she had, and still has, psychiatric problems due to many years of drug abuse. Dealing with that while I was a teenager was not easy. When I write some characters and scenes I have to dig up those emotions again.

Q: When you aren’t writing or thinking about writing, what other things do you like to do? Do you consider yourself to be an avid reader?

A: I am always thinking about writing. I take a notepad with me everywhere I go and have one beside my bed for if I wake in the night with an idea—this happens a lot and is how I got the idea for a story I just began co-writing with a friend.

I have been a bookworm all my life. E-books have made my life so much easier, in one way at least. Though I still love to read a paperback or hardback, e-books are clutter free! I no longer feel like I am going to end up on the book edition of Hoarders one day.

Q: What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned about/from writing that you didn’t know when you first started?

A: I have learned how amazingly supportive other writers, both aspiring and professional, can be. The development of the internet and social networking sites have enabled us to make friends with all sorts of people we would otherwise never have known. Many of the friends I have made since I began writing M/M are other authors in the genre and they are all lovely. Also, I don’t feel like such a weirdo when talking about my characters as if they were people I could bump into on the street. Lol. Other author friends talk about their characters in the same way.

Q: Tell us something we don’t know about you that might surprise us.

A: I’m epic. Well that’s what my son says when I tell him I am going to make bacon sandwiches anyway. I also play pool. I play it a lot! I am on two teams, one league team in my home town and a county ladies team which plays once a month.

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?

A: When I was eighteen, a guy my mother had dated for years went after her with a carving knife. This man had begun dating my mother when I was twelve and had made a pass at me when I was fifteen but thankfully had not pressed the issue. She was fine and mostly unhurt physically but I was terrified. I was in the kitchen next door when things started. He walked in with a totally blank look on his face and went over to the knife block, then back out again with the biggest knife he could find. The sound of her screaming at him not to kill her will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Q: What qualities do you think are important for the hero in a romance? Are there types of men you prefer to write about?

A: The hero needs to be relatable. If you read a romance there needs to be some kind of connection to the characters or you just won’t care what happens to them. I like my men to be honest people who do not play games with each other, unless it is the fun kind. :) Misunderstandings are one thing, but deliberately messing around with someone else’s head and heart is unacceptable. I like my men to have strength of character but also some vulnerability. They need to be able to show their softer side to the person they love.

Q: Do you have a favorite theme to read or write about?

A: I adore “reunited lovers” stories, especially where there was some huge misunderstanding that tore them apart. It doesn’t matter if the couple in question was ever actually intimate or not.

Q: Do you have any favorite books outside the genre that particularly stand out for you?

A: I have been such a big reader from such a young age that my house rather resembles a library. There are a few though that I return to over and over. There is the Earth’s Children saga by Jean M. Auel. I picked up the first book in that series when I was eleven or twelve and have gone through several copies of the first few, the last couple are newer and have not had the chance to be read and reread until they fall apart yet. There is also The Margarets—a stand-alone novel by Sheri S. Tepper, the Lilith’s Brood trilogy by Octavia E. Butler, the Giants series by James P. Hogan, and just about everything ever written by Anne McCaffrey. I could go on for quite a while here.

Q: And in the genre?

A: My bank account must be getting a little annoyed with me. I have discovered so many authors in the last year, since I started reading M/M. There are too many to name them all but some of the names/series on my must read list are Lynn Hagen’s Brac Pack books and the related series, the Midnight Matings series by Joyee Flynn, Stormy Glenn, and Gabrielle Evans. I love other books and series by those three authors as well.

Other authors include Cardeno C., Toni Griffin, Cameron Dane, Amber Kell, Sloan Parker, J.P. Barnaby, Stephani Hecht, and Erica Pike. There are loads more though.

Q: Tell us about your typical writing day

A: Some days I get up, send my son off to school, and go make a cup of tea. I take my tea into my study, fire up my computer, and that will be it for hours. Sometimes I am lucky if I come up for air long enough to realize lunchtime has been and gone. Other days I do not head into the writing cave until later and I am frequently to be found curled up in different parts of the house with my laptop until all hours of the morning. I always like to have music on when I write and have pretty broad tastes. My current playlist includes songs by Seth Lakeman, Caro Emerald, Ke$ha, Robin Thicke, and Calvin Harris.