Please welcome Lauren M. Roy to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Night Owls was published on February 25, 2014 by Ace.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Lauren: Thank you for having me! I'm not sure I could put a finger on when I first put pen to paper to tell a story. Some parents store up embarrassing baby photos to show to their kids' friends. I suspect mine have a box of really terrible third-grade story attempts somewhere, laying in wait. I've never NOT been writing. As for why I started -- I love reading stories, hearing them, watching them play out. At some point I realized I wanted to tell stories of my own.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Lauren: I'm a weird hybrid of both. I'm a linear writer, so writing scenes out of order is very hard for me to do. I tend to plan two or three chapters ahead, then when my draft catches up to my outline, I look ahead another few chapters.
However, when I'm not in front of the keyboard working on a project, I do have a habit of emailing snippets to myself to keep in mind for later. Those range from bits of dialogue to character descriptions to plot reminders: "Character A is lying and gets caught out."
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Where do you write?
Lauren: Making the time for it. I work full-time, so most of my writing gets done at night and on weekends. I've sacrificed many a sunny summer Sunday to wordcount.
I bounce between the desktop in my study and the laptop in our living room. I also carry a hardcover notebook with me for longhand writing. Every now and then if I get stuck, the switch from screen to page is the change of brainspace I need to get the words flowing again.
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Lauren: Does everyone list Stephen King as an influence? Because, er, Stephen King. His books taught me so much about voice and pacing. Madeleine L'Engle's another. I'm pretty sure my name took up half the checkout card on the school library's copy of A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET.
Pinning down my favorite authors gets harder: Robert R. McCammon, Christopher Moore, Seanan McGuire, Elizabeth Bear, Chuck Wendig, N.K. Jemisin, Scott Lynch. (Seriously we could be here for days.)
TQ: Describe Night Owls in 140 characters or less.
Lauren: Val tried leaving her monster-hunting days behind, but a girl named Elly comes to town with them on her heels and leads them to Val's door.
TQ: Tell us something about Night Owls that is not in the book description.
Lauren: There's a third POV character in the book, Val's Renfield Chaz (aka her human minion and bookstore manager). He thinks he's pretty savvy about how the vampires operate, but he's about to find out just how much he doesn't know.
TQ: What inspired you to write Night Owls? Why did you choose to write Urban Fantasy? Do you want to write in any other genres or sub-genres?
Lauren: Night Owls started as a bit of write-what-you-know. My first job was in a bookstore, so I was aiming for a funny supernatural spin on bookseller life. For a long time, I had the first chapter (which is actually the start of chapter two!) sitting on my hard drive in need of a plot. Later, I was writing what was supposed to be a short story about a girl running away from a Creep, and realized oh hey, maybe this is the same world. Everything clicked from there.
I usually begin stories with characters and situations, and the genre comes along as I figure them out. So I didn't set out with UF specifically in mind, but I'm a fan of the genre, so I hope NIGHT OWLS is a fun read for other fans!
I've written a YA fantasy and a MG fantasy-with-steampunk-elements, and am eyeballing some adult horror with my friend and writing partner Hillary Monahan (who, if shameless plugs are allowed, has a debut YA horror coming in September called MARY: THE SUMMONING.)
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Night Owls?
Lauren: I didn't know it was research at the time, but the subject of my college thesis was the female vampire in literature. (The English department had no idea what to do with me...) A lot of what I learned for that came back around when I was thinking about how I wanted the vampires in my world to work.
I've also been delving into Russian history, since one of the groups of vampires Val deals with lived through great big swaths of it. Though I don't necessarily go into it in NIGHT OWLS, it informs their characters.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Who is your favorite good guy, bad guy or ethically ambiguous character?
Lauren: Chaz was the easiest. He lets me channel my inner smartass and get back in touch with my bookseller side -- I worked in an independent bookstore through high school and college and miss it terribly. He was also the character who got to ask the neat questions and react as someone new to the world.
Elly could be tough to write sometimes. She's been through a lot, and she tends to play things close to the vest. Her unusual upbringing means she feels out of place in a lot of social situations, but when it comes to the supernatural she's nearly as confident as Val. Balancing those two aspects of her personality occasionally got challenging.
It's not easy to pick favorites with an ensemble cast, but because I've been in her headspace a little more recently, I'm going with Katya, the second-in-command of the South Boston vampires, as my favorite ethically ambiguous character. She revels in who and what she is, she's not a very nice person, but there's more to her than meets the eye.
TQ: Give us one of your favorite lines from Night Owls.
Lauren: A smart vampire would have gone home and gone to bed.
No, a smart vampire would have built up her wealth over the years, amassed a small army of devoted minions, and built an impenetrable fortress-mansion somewhere exotic. I went with the “sink all your money into a bookstore and barely scrape by in a quaint college town.”
And she’d sent her one minion home
TQ: What's next?
Lauren: I'm putting the finishing touches on the first draft of the sequel to NIGHT OWLS (currently called GHOST TOWN). It should be on shelves in early 2015. After that, I'm poking at a straight-up fantasy involving faeries on the open sea.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Lauren: Thank you for hosting me!
Night Owls 1
Ace, February 25, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
Night Owls bookstore is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk…
Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away as possible from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren. She’s experienced that life, and the price she paid was far too high for her to ever want to return.
Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.
When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safekeeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors…
Lauren M. Roy has flexed her literary fantasy muscles over the past several years contributing to various role playing games, including Green Ronin's Dragon Age Set 3 sourcebook, Pelgrane Press' Mythos Expeditions anthology (part of the Trail of Cthulhu line), and Green Ronin's Song of Ice and Fire. NIGHT OWLS is her first novel.