We all know there are six elements of fiction. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is plot. What's your take on this?
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
A. Okay, this will get "weird" right out of the gate! My characters come to me in dreams, daydreams while awake and actual dreams while asleep. You can call it "my Muse" speaking to me or "channeling" speaking through me, I'm okay with either. What is perhaps more unusual is that I have no way to know WHY I'm writing them into the novel, often until much later. Roger, the research physician was a perfect example. In the first book he becomes not only a key player but an extremely important friend to my character "Gary." I don't let friends die without a fight so I had to try to keep him "alive" didn't I?
2. Do your characters come before the plot?
A. Yes, they introduce themselves in my dreams, I write them down, then the actions they perform "come" to me often well after they're introduced. A "bit player" can suddenly become a key element to the action later in the novel in which they are introduced or even in a later novel.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
A. The basic "plot" is revealed when my characters "visit." This is why I can tell you the title of the forth novel in the series before I even type one word into my computer. The title is, "Immortal Relations, REVENGE!" Spoiler Alert: the mates of the Vampire Gang that was destroyed at the end of book one are out for vengeance and so are leaders in both Communist China and Marxist Washington. Not a healthy combination being on the "hit parade" of a group of pissed-off vampire females and nations with major military power who want your head on a plate!
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
A. Because of the real-world "tryst" my late father had at the end of WW-II while he was stationed in Prague, CZ that had to be the starting point for "Immortal Relations" the first novel. The actions in both England and Russia, with a little in other European countries, such NATO Headquarters in Harlen, a part of Brussels, Belgium, came out of the actions in that first setting. The second novel, "Immortal Relations, Love and War" again started in Prague with major action in areas of Russia, NATO HQ., China and its waterways, Japan and to a far lesser degree Washington D.C. The setting for the third in the series, "Immortal Relations Coming Out," where the guardian vampires (having saved mankind from a possible nuclear war) discuss coming out to the human world, takes place starting in Prague but quickly moving to Cayuga, Canada (fairly close to Ontario). Washington D.C. is involved (not in a good way) but a wedding takes place in Russia with a honeymoon in Las Vegas (in a very good way). Spoiler Alert: Terra Firma is not the only place from which threats to mankind can come!
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
A. This will sound somewhat egotistical, but militarily I have a great deal of knowledge and also know how, for politicians and others, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Having been in the field of psychology and studying in the field of human growth and development my knowledge in the field of medical research is fairly good as well. Where research is needed, I tend to go on-line and "Google" the specific topic. I'm now working on a story for my granddaughter (totally removed from my normal vampire genre') about dinosaurs - my granddaughter loves dinosaurs. When I need the name of a specific dinosaur I look it up in a book I purchased, "Uncover the Prehistoric World, DINOSAURS" or "Google it" for additional information.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
A. To the extent that I feel comfortable altering the story (I felt totally uncomfortable altering the "explicit togetherness" in the first book - the sex got a bit "over the top" for my prudish upbringing and my wife was NONE TOO PLEASED). I tried to explain that the sex wasn't meant to be salacious but to show that vampires don't have the sexual "hang-ups" of humans. I believe she was most upset by the fact that she knew that "Gary" was ME! I did try to tone it down, but just really couldn't do much...it was like I was altering the story as it was "given" to me! The characters develop the route to the end, I'm just a scribe when it comes to a lot of the story, but I can flesh out some details. In the second book, the one I recommend as a starting point for those who have a dislike of sex in stories, I was allowed to tone-down the sex because the first book had established the difference between the views on sex between vampires and humans. Spoiler Alert: In the second book, Gary has read a vampire novel in which the mated vampires exchange "love-bites" which heightens the experience; Magdalena confirms that this isn't just some author's creation that exchanging both blood and venom in this manner can indeed increase fervor, but while when Gary and Maggie try it the sex is even more fantastic, Gary has no memory of what transpired after the fact. Thus, since the novels are "first person" the only descriptions are what Gary is told. This greatly reduces the "explicitness" in the second and third books.