Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An Interview With Author, S. W. Vaughn

© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

HUNTED, it’s here ...

Look out world, so is author, S. W. Vaughn. Prepare to be drawn and amazed by this talented author. Vaughn will captivate you with a commanding voice, her intriguing plots, and a host of fascinating characters.

Vaughn and I met in 2006 when I joined an online critique group. I was new to the writing scene, still learning the ropes and to be honest, didn’t even know if my work was marketable. More times than not, I wanted to quit, but Vaughn wouldn’t hear of it. This generous soul is too modest to acknowledge the fact that if it hadn’t been for the encouragement given to me in the developmental stages of my writing journey, I wouldn’t be a published author today.

Ask any author about their personal story, they each have one that highlights the ups and downs they encountered on the road to getting their novels published. One day they’re on top of the world and then next, the rug was be pulled out from under them. But Vaughn is proof that success is achievable for those who dusts themselves off and jump back into the game. There is no better role model than this writer. In spite of all the rug pulling—and there have been many, Vaughn never gave up on the dream. Imagine what a joy and honor it is for me to post my interview with friend, S. W. Vaughn and to share in the excitement of her release of HUNTED.

Q: S.W., I know how excited you are to share the news about HUNTED with our readers so let's start by asking you to tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey.

A: That’s a long story! The short version is that it took me ten years and eleven novels to get here, but I’m grateful for (almost) all of it. Except the parts with the clowns. I still have nightmares about that...

Q: Why this book? What prompted you to write it and what do you hope your readers will get out of it?

A: I had been struggling with a thriller series for several years, and needed to try something new. I wrote a romantic suspense, was more or less happy with it, but it still wasn’t “right.” I’d been reading and enjoying a “new” genre called urban fantasy, and decided that’s what I wanted to write. And I hope readers will find something new in this book, since it’s not the standard vampire or werewolf UF.

Q: Tell us a bit about your protagonist, Grace Carrington.

A: Grace is a nineteen-year-old runaway who’s never had real friends. Her mother is a socialite with no time for her daughter (except when she thinks she can get something out of the relationship), and since Grace turned thirteen and her eyes started glowing, she’s been compelled to avoid getting close to people. She has no idea where her unusual abilities came from – which include mind-reading and the ability to mentally control machines – and she’s survived so far by manipulating slot machines for money and avoiding social complications.

Q: The blurb on your website reads: “Some angels do not suffer their children to live. Grace Carrington has never been normal -- she's a Nephilim, half human and half angel. The same psychic powers that make her a freak also make her a target, and she's on the run from an exploitive mother and two enemy beings whose powers far exceed her own. One of them controls the Stalker, an inhuman killer no Nephilim has ever outrun. How long can a woman survive when angels want her dead?”

This is such a mesmerizing story line. Please share with our readers a little more about the plot, the characters, the setting, etc.

A: Through the course of the story, Grace discovers that her father, who she’s never known, may have been an angel. And worse, there are other angels out there whose abilities are far stronger than hers – and at least one of them wants to kill her. She meets Megan, a girl with similar abilities, and together they have to escape the murderous angel and a deadly cult that is collecting people like them for unknown purposes.

Q: What has been the most difficult part of writing and what do you do to overcome it?

A: The hardest thing for me was realizing, after I’d written a few novels, that I wasn’t as good as I thought – and making the switch from “misunderstood genius” to working writer, putting in a ton of effort to better my craft, and realizing that I will never, ever stop learning and struggling. I’ve not only accepted that fact, I’ve learned to enjoy the journey.

Q: You have a young family, you’re a freelance writer, and you also work outside the home. How do you balance your time to make room for writing?

A: What is this time of which you speak? The “trick” is simple: make writing a priority (in my case, THE priority). Realize that if you’re going to be a writer, you have to write. That means the actual act of writing is right up there with eating and sleeping ... and most of the time, you can forget about sleeping.

Q: What impact would you say completing HUNTED and getting it published has had on you personally and on your writing?

A: I’m proud to have this story out there, and I hope that a few people I’ve never met pick it up and enjoy it. I’ve already proven to myself several times over that I can complete a novel (though it’s never the same path to completion twice) – so now, like a kindergartener with a plate of cookies, I’d like to share.

Q: With respect to your writing, please give us some insight into your writing process. In other words, did you outline the chapters? Did you think about the plot for a while before writing it? What steps did you take before you wrote the first sentence?

A: Wow – this one might be tough to answer. Since I never write novels the same way twice, it’s difficult for me to remember how I got from Point A to Point Holy-Crap-It’s-Done. All points in between tend to blur together! Basically, this story started out completely different. The main character was Silver. Grace didn’t even exist. I had originally focused on the world-building with my vision of angels and Nephilim (half-angels). But it wasn’t working. About two-thirds through the first draft, after getting stuck a thousand times writing myself into endless corners, I ditched 200 pages of material and started over with Grace. From there, I finished and was querying in four months.

Q: What are you working on now? What's next?

A: At the moment, I’m working on a sequel for an urban fantasy that’s contracted to Simon & Schuster under my real name. This project involves the djinn (genies, for you Disney-minded folks), and represents my first foray into first-person POV. There may be a third book in that series. I’ve also got a book and a half left to write on my thriller series (slated for future publication through Lyrical), and a sequel to Hunted tentatively titled SANCTUARY, and at least a dozen more standalones and series ... so I’ll need to stay alive for a few hundred years to finish everything. Anyone acquainted with a vampire: can you hook me up with immortality?

Q: Any words of wisdom and advice to fledgling writers?

A: Turn back now before it’s too late! Uh ... that came out wrong. Truthfully, it’s hard to offer advice, because so many writers (myself included, especially in the early days) are resistant to it. Everyone wants to believe they’ll be one of the exceptions. There’s nothing wrong with that – but probably the most important bit of advice I can offer is that writing is work. You need to love it to be involved in it, but you also have to be willing to sweat. You have to be willing to put aside your ego, fragile as it likely is, and become objective about your writing. Strive for constant improvement. When you can toss two hundred pages of your own words without looking back, you’re on the right track.

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About the author:
S. W. Vaughn writes stories that refuse to fit the mold, no matter how much she bangs on them, yells at them, or threatens to virtually rip them up and toss them into that Great Recycle Bin in the Sky. She has given up on trying to produce an urban fantasy, a thriller, or a romance. These days she's resigned to writing urban thrill-mance action crossover potpourri surprise novels (with a twist of lime). Vaughn has a thing for dark, scarred heroes and heroines, and feels that torture - whether psychological or literal - makes her characters more interesting. They all hate her for that. She expects to some day become the first victim of homicide by fictional character. Visit online at for more information.

Hunted is available now in e-book format from Once Upon a Bookstore.


s.w. vaughn said...

Aww, shucks. :-) Marta, thank you for that phenomenal introduction! I'm just so pleased. You do a great interview!

Marta Stephens said...

My pleasure and it's all true!! I'm SO happy for you. :)

Keith Pyeatt, author of paranormal thrillers said...

Congrats, S.W.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Loved this interview, Ladies. And isn't it true that some people, (like SW) are just made to help others? SW helped me immensely in every facet of my writing career. I'll always be grateful. ;o)

s.w. vaughn said...

Thanks, kap!

Aaron - right back atcha! You've been right there for me, too. :-)

Sheila Deeth said...

Loved the interview. Glad you kept writing, and I love urban fantasy.

s.w. vaughn said...

Thank you, Sheila! Glad to see you're a UF fan. :-)