"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Susan Goggins, the real name of Raven Hart, has
been a newspaper reporter, a speechwriter for a K Street PR firm
in Washington, D.C., and for most of her career, a technical
writer. Believe it or not, though, writing about how to keep
your crane hoist in good working order didn't satisfy her
creative urges. So she decided to become a novelist, at least
part-time. Since the romance genre makes up half of all
paperback fiction, she figured her chances of getting published
there were somewhat greater than those of being hit by a meteor.
So she joined Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of
An Interview with Raven Hart
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Raven H.: I’ve been writing stories almost since I started reading. Back then, mysteries were my favorite so I wrote stories which I thought similar to my favorites, like the Trixie Belden books. Going to college and starting a career got in the way of my fiction writing for a few years. Then I started going to writing workshops and taking classes, but I didn’t start writing seriously until about 1990.
PNR: Could you tell us about your writing routine, how do you balance writing and personal time? What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Raven H.: I quit my day job last September to write full time. I’m very much a creature of habit. My day starts with two cups of coffee and the newspaper. Then it’s a light breakfast, email, 45 minutes or so of exercise while listening to an audio book, work, lunch, more work, dinner, more work and reading myself to sleep. Occasionally I treat myself to a class in bead jewelry making which is my other passion. If I’ve been nice and productive for several days in a row, I might also take a day to comb through some thrift shops looking for funky clothing and bargains. It’s like being on a treasure hunt!
PNR: What is the best part about being a writer? The most frustrating?
Raven H.: The best part of being a writer is when the ideas and the words are coming so fast and furious you can’t type fast enough to capture them all, when plot points are falling into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and you’re really cooking. The most frustrating part is getting started, getting up to speed.
PNR: Which author(s) is your favorite? And who or what has most influenced you work? Who or what has been your biggest support?
Raven H.: In the vampire genre that I’m in, my two favorites are Anne Rice and L.A. Banks who writes the Vampire Huntress series. For the southern writing that I do, my biggest influence is a man named T. R. Pearson who is a wizard with language and has a terrific southern gothic sensibility. My biggest influence where comedy is concerned is Carl Hiaasen. My biggest supporters are my friends in Georgia Romance Writers.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Raven H.: As a reader, I like a great cast of characters you can really care about. I like characters who are eccentric but not stupid. I can forgive anything character-wise except stupidity unless that character is supposed to be a bumbling villain. I like a complicated plot where activity is happening on more than one front at a time and weaves together seamlessly at the end. I also like humor, pathos, emotion, all that good stuff.
PNR: Congratulations on the release of THE VAMPIRE’S SECRET from Ballantine Books, readers and reviewers are excited about this second title in your Savannah Vampires Series; could you tell us where the idea came from and a little about your vision for the series?
Raven H.: Gin Ellis was my writing partner for the first two books, and we came up with the ideas together. The ideas came about with she and I brainstorming what could happen to these two vampires who are sire and offspring who don’t always get along, but who need each other to survive. Gin passed away last year, so I’ll be continuing the series alone. My vision for the series will focus more on the relationship between Jack and his human cop girlfriend Connie and his pal Seth the werewolf.
PNR: Your stories take place in a unique setting, Savannah’s high society. Can you tell us about the challenges you face in world building and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? Do you write your characters to fit the world you have created or vice versa?
Raven H.: World building is one of the most fun parts of writing a fantasy series. And I must admit I tend to bend reality to the breaking point in order to make it fit what I want my characters to do. There’s always at least a grain of truth, though. For example, the tunnels underneath Savannah that my vampires use to move about during the daytime really do exist. However, I’m not sure they always go to each and every place I want my blood drinkers to go, so I might stretch the truth a little bit there. I guess that’s the challenge. Preserving that little grain of truth. As the series goes along I hope to visit Savannah again soon for additional ideas I can use. Sometimes a setting can inspire all kinds of ideas.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Raven H.: I think that my books are more and more character driven. When you write a series you really get to know the characters and what makes them tick. So all you have to do is throw them into a heap of trouble and see what they do to get themselves out. I don’t really consciously try to balance the two elements.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Raven H.: To flesh out your characters, you have to give them a lot of baggage, events from their pasts that shape them into who they are with their own individual goals and motivations. After that, just make them act in a way that’s true to who they are. I really love writing Jack the most because I created him and I think he has an amusing take on the world and his place in it. He’s also conflicted because as a vampire, he’s a killer and he really doesn’t want to be. He’d rather be a human again, but of course that’s not an option for him. Writing William is more challenging because he’s an aristocrat and I can’t relate to him as easily as I can to the more working class Jack. He also has a more historical voice, but that can be fun sometimes too.
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level of your books; do you find it challenging to write the love/sex scenes?
Raven H.: Writing the sex scenes is the most challenging part of what I do. It’s difficult to find different ways to write about the same, um, activities, and make it interesting. Having said that, however, the reviewers have tended to think that the level of sensuality in the first two books is high.
PNR: Why do you feel the vampire is such a popular character in books, movies and television?
Raven H.: The vampire is sensual, seductive, powerful, immortal. Yet he is the ultimate outcast, always on the outside looking in, cut off from human society and from the grace of God. So although he is a killer, we feel sympathy for him. I just love vampires!
PNR: Paranormal romance is experiencing an incredible surge in popularity, what do you feel accounts for the sudden wide spread interest in the genre? What is it about the paranormal genre that captures your imagination?
Raven H.: Speaking here as a reader, all I know is that books about normal people with normal lives don’t interest me that much anymore. After all, I’m a normal person with a normal life and I don’t think I’m all that interesting! I have to have characters who have paranormal powers and otherworldly challenges! I think there are a lot of readers like me out there.
PNR: What is your favorite genre to write? Is there any style or genre of book that you would like to try but haven’t yet?
Raven H.: The vampire genre is my favorite. Besides that, I would like to write a really funny southern novel. In fact I have one in the works, but it’s too early to talk about.
PNR: THE VAMPIRE’S KISS, book three in the Savannah Vampires series will release from Ballantine Books in December 2007. What dark delights do you have in store for your readers? Can you give us a sneak peek perhaps?
Raven H.: The action takes place both in Savannah and in London, where William goes to rescue a kidnapped voodoo princess. Meanwhile, Jack has to deal with a pack of meth cooking werewolves who decide to challenge his control over the nonhuman population of Savannah when they hear that William is AWOL. I will introduce a really HOT werewolf lawman named Seth who has a history with Jack’s girlfriend Connie, so look for some sparks to fly there. And the ending is a shocker. I’ll try to have an excerpt on my website soon.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Raven H.: I’m writing book 4 of the series now, as yet untitled. And I’m also working on that funny southern novel I mentioned.
PNR: Thank you Raven, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Raven H.: Visit my web site at ravenhartbooks.com. You can write me from there. Thanks, Dee!
For Additional Titles from
Featured in this issue:
March 1, 2007
Once a mortal with a beloved family, William Cuyler Thorne is now a vampire on the prowl for blood and beautiful women. He has the perfect cover as an admired citizen of Savannah society. Though Reedrek, the ruthless old-world vampire who tried to destroy William has been defeated, he still has his followers–and they will settle for nothing less than all-out war.
To counter this vicious band of European bloodsuckers, organizes a vampire empire, which includes the handsomely slick Jack; William’s newly made eternity mate, the luscious seductress Eleanor; and a wannabe-badass named Werm. But as William and his team prepare for the ultimate showdown, the only hope for victory may lie with one woman, a vampire with unusual powers who holds the vampires’ fates in her hot little hands.
March 1, 2006
When it comes to a wild and seductive nightlife, Savannah has bite. Older than the United States and wealthy beyond his years, playboy William Cuyler Thorne is a vampire with a nice long undead life—one that includes a steady stream of admirers, a consistent supply of rejuvenating blood, and, best of all, a cover as one of Savannah's most prominent pillars of society. But all good things must end.
Now an ancient enemy has come for William from across the seas. It is his sire, Reedrek, the vampire who created him. And Reedrek will stop at nothing until all that is precious to William—his beautiful mistress, his stable of willing female victims, his glorious estates, and his good- ol'-boy vampire sidekick, Jack—is within his voracious grasp. But William has an arsenal of his own—one that is enhanced by the power of voodoo. And when these two bloodsuckers meet, there will be hell to pay.
December 26, 2007
The Savannah Vampires series continues as William goes to Europe to rescue a kidnapped voodoo princess. Hearing William is AWOL, a band of mangy, meth-cooking werewolves challenge Jack for dominance of Savannah's unhuman underworld.
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