Interview Author Nancy Holzner + Giveaway

Filed in Giveaways , Interview , Nancy Holzner , The Geeky Lover Posted on January 4, 2011 @ 7:00 am 29 comments
We are very happy to welcome author Nancy Holzner here at Book Lovers Inc today. Her new novel, Hellforged (book 2 in her Deadtown series) was released at the end of 2010 and today she is here to talk about herself, her books and zombies. Please give her a warm welcome. And keep an eye open for her question at the end of the interview and you might win her newest release. 

Nancy: Thank you so much for inviting me to be here today. I’m a regular reader of your site, so I was thrilled to do an interview with the Book Lovers.
BLI: Nancy can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Nancy: I’ve been a book lover all my life. When I was a kid, my parents had to institute a no-reading-at-the-dinner-table rule because I never wanted to put my book down. I majored in English in college and kept on going through grad school until I’d earned all the degrees I could. I was an English professor for several years, and then I left academia to become a freelance editor and author. I started off writing how-to and reference books (that’s still my day job) and wrote fiction mostly for fun, but always in hope of getting published. I live in central New York state with my husband, who’s the author of more than 130 technical books. We both manage to work from home without getting on each other’s nerves.
BLI: Describe a typical day of writing. Are you a planner or pantser?
Nancy: I fall somewhere in between. I like to start with a loose outline that hits the major plot points, because that gives me goals to write toward. But the outline has to be loose enough that there’s plenty of room for surprises as I write. And the outline is always subject to change, of course. If my characters surprise me and head in a direction I wasn’t expecting, I want to follow them there, not try to force them down a predetermined path.
On my ideal writing day, I get up and take a walk first thing. When I get back home, I consume several tanks of coffee as I write for about three hours. Then I take a lunch break, scan the headlines, check into a few social networking sites, and answer emails. After lunch, I write for another three hours. If I’ve got both fiction and nonfiction projects going, I prefer to write fiction in the morning and nonfiction in the afternoon. But life doesn’t give me ideal writing days as often as I’d like. Usually I start with whatever feels most urgent and find my way forward from there.
BLI: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Nancy: That’s a great question. I’d say a reader enjoys reading, but a Book Lover can’t live without it. A reader usually has a couple of books on her TBR pile, but a Book Lover has to stand on tiptoe to see over the top of hers. A reader picks up a book to relax; a Book Lover routinely loses sleep because she has to read just one more chapter. A reader might belongs to a monthly book club; a Book Lover is likely to belong to a couple of those and take half a dozen online reading challenges each year. A reader asks friends, “How are you?” A Book Lover asks friends, “So what are you reading?”
(I say “she,” but men are Book Lovers, too!)
BLI: Urban Fantasy is a steady growing genre at the moment but the zombie population in it is still the minority. Why did you decide to write a series about zombies?
Nancy: Zombies are an important part of the world of Deadtown, but they’re more the context in which the stories take place than they are central characters. But I put zombies in the series because I wanted to try doing a twist on traditional, horror-move zombies. The zombies of my books aren’t groaning, shambling brain-munchers. They retain the intelligence and personalities they had before they died and came back. They’re police officers, waiters, doormen–even pop stars. I wanted to create zombies who were characters, not just threats or targets.
I wrote about zombies because I wanted to explore how society might react if a large segment of the population suddenly turned into monsters, into “the other.” In a sense, zombies are Deadtown’s lepers. They’re seen as less than human, feared, shunned, and closed off from the mainstream. This conflict becomes both more problematic and more interesting when the zombies are still somewhat like the people they used to be. Plus it’s just plain fun to write about a zombie like Tina, who was zombified at fifteen and above all wants to be a normal teenager, right down to her Barbie-inspired sense of fashion.
BLI: Zombies are sometimes used to reflect the social and political issues of a time. Why do you think they make such a great parable to real life problems?
Nancy: Zombies represent the fear of what could be. This works in two ways, I think. Traditional zombies show what humans could become if all of the trappings of civilization were stripped away. What would we be without morals, speech, thought, social mores, culture, and so on? The answer to that question looks rather terrifyingly like a zombie. Because of this, zombies are the perfect medium to personify fears: fear of death and disease, fear of “the other,” fear of mindless mobs, fear of just about anything people can be or do that scares us. This gives authors and filmmakers a chance to explore how people respond to what they fear.
BLI: What makes your Deadtown special? What else can we find in your novels besides the zombies? 😉
Nancy: Readers have told me that they enjoy how Deadtown, the place, works: the policies and politics involved in maintaining a cordoned-off section of the city for paranormals. I’ve also gotten a lot of positive feedback about how the books use Welsh mythology as a background and how I’ve developed the Cerddorion, Vicky’s race of shapeshifters. Vicky is a fun character, too. Whether she’s entering a client’s dream to exterminate a pod of dream demons, shifting into another creature, or fighting off Hellions with a flaming sword, her life is full of thrills and adventure. Many readers have told me that my books are one-sitting reads.
BLI: Your books have a strong mythological background. Why did you decide on a Welsh legend?
Nancy: I began my career as a medievalist, and I always loved the legends of King Arthur that are rooted in old Welsh stories and legends. Back in 2006, when I was developing the idea for Deadtown, I knew that I wanted my protagonist to be a shapeshifter. I remembered the story of a shapeshifting contest from the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh stories dating back as far as the 11th centuries. I reread parts of the Mabinogion and realized what a rich source it could be for contemporary fantasy: it’s got demons, prophets, witches and wizards, shapeshifters, a spooky realm of the dead. I continue to draw from it for later books in the series.
BLI: Your heroine Victory Vaughn is Boston’s only professional demon slayer but there is more to her than you can see at first glance. Can you tell us some of her secrets? What makes her special in your eyes?
Nancy: I’m still discovering Vicky’s secrets, myself. One of the fun things about writing a series is how my knowledge of the characters deepens as the series continues. Vicky harbors a lot of guilt about her father’s death ten years ago, which she believes was her fault. She suffers from rages caused by the demon mark that binds her to a Hellion called the Destroyer. For years, Vicky has cursed the Destroyer for causing these rages. Secretly, though, she enjoys the release they allow her. Imagine if every time you lost your temper you could blame it on a demon. 🙂
In terms of what makes Vicky special, that’s a little like asking me what makes my daughter special, but I’ll do my best to answer. 🙂 In Vicky, I tried to write the kind of heroine I most enjoy reading about. She’s brave (in ways I’m not) and loyal. She’s smart and skilled at what she does. Beyond that, she’s a different kind of shapeshifter from others I’ve seen in urban fantasy. As one of the Cerddorion (descendants of the Welsh witch/goddess Ceridwen), Vicky can shift into any sentient creature, up to three times per lunar cycle. She can choose what she becomes, or sometimes strong emotion can force a shift. During a shift, the animal brain takes over (this effect is strongest at the full moon). I think this makes Vicky’s shifts interesting–and challenging to write!
BLI: Which 4 characteristics should a perfect heroine have in your opinion? And do you think Vicky fits this description?
Nancy: A perfect heroine is a boring heroine. Especially in a series, I think it’s important for a main character to make mistakes, learn, and grow through experience. So I guess that means a “perfect” heroine can’t be perfect; she needs to have flaws that make her believable and that she struggles to overcome. Coming at the question from that angle, my perfect heroine would be flawed, brave, smart (I don’t enjoy characters who are “too stupid to live”), and loyal. As I mentioned above, I do think Vicky has those qualities. She has problems with anger (thanks to her demon mark) and guilt that she carries from her past. Those flaws, at least as much as her good qualities, make me cheer for her, because she tries to overcome them.
BLI: What can we expect of Hellforged?
Nancy: In Hellforged, Deadtown’s zombies are dying mysterious deaths–for good this time. And the Hellion Vicky thought she’d banished to Hell is back, haunting her dreams. When Vicky realizes that she’s the only connection between the murdered zombies, she suspects that the Hellion is somehow working through her dreams to attack them, but why? To find out, Vicky must travel to Wales for further training with her aunt, a formidable demonslayer. There, she must read an ancient book determined to keep its secrets; battle her demi-demon “cousin,” who believes she’s fated to help him rule the demon kingdom; and hold back a force more terrifying—and deadly—than anything she’s fought before.
BLI: Will there be more books in this series? What is next on your schedule?
Nancy: There will be at least two more books in the series, and I’d like to see it continue for a total of seven. I’m currently working on Bloodstone, the third book, which is due out next fall. I’m also working on an idea for a dark historical fantasy that’s a standalone.
BLI: Now the mean questions. We apologize in advance.
Can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?
(1) They’re straight-up urban fantasy that’s pure escapist fun.
(2) They’re contemporary stories with roots that go deep into medieval Welsh legends.
(3) They’re fast-paced, with a cast of quirky characters. Ilona Andrews called Deadtown’s characters “so realistic they almost jump off the page.”
BLI: Can you summarize your book (and/or series) for us twitter style (140 characters or less)?

In Boston’s paranormal ghetto, shapeshifter Vicky Vaughn kills other people’s personal demons, battles Hellions, & tries to get a life.
If you’d like to learn more about Vicky and her world, you can read the first chapter of Deadtown here, and the first chapter of Hellforged here.
I’ve got a signed copy of Hellforged to give away to one book lover, open worldwide. To enter, just answer this question in the comments:
If you lived in Deadtown, the district where all Boston’s paranormal residents are required by law to live, what kind of paranormal creature would you be and why?



Nancy is generously offering one signed copy of Hellforged to one lucky commenter.

All you have to do is answer Nancy’s question at the end of the interview. 
(you can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave us a way to contact you
(email in blogger profile or twitter name-
no way to contact you – no entry).

This giveaway is open worldwide!

Giveaway ends on Thursday, January 13th
and we will announce the winner on Friday.

Good luck!

About Susi

Susi is a geeky vegetarian from Gemany. She just finished university and now works as a civil engineer in steel construction. Besides her reading addiction she also knits like a maniac while listening to audiobooks. Susi also blogs at the Secret HEA Society.

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Join the Discussion
  • supergannet January 4, 2011 at 8:46 am

    If I lived in Deadtown I would love to have the Paranormal power to Shapeshift that way i could be various paranormal creatures, I would definatly use my power to its full advantage.. like a raging flying Squrrel or a blood thirsty eagle or a fire breathing dragon. That would be AWSOME!!

    Twitter @jessbatfink thank you (",)

  • debbie January 4, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I would be a shapeshifter,one that could shift into anything, not just animals. You would be able to blend in with anything that way.

  • nancyholzner January 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Thanks so much to Susi for inviting me to stop by and for the great interview questions!

    I'm with Supergannet and Debbie–I'd want to be a shapeshifter, too. Part of the reason I made Vicky a shapeshifter was I thought it would be interesting to have her respond to different situations by shifting into different creatures (love the raging flying squirrel, btw–I haven't tried that one yet, but coincidentally my daughter dressed up as a vampire flying squirrel thie past Halloween LOL). And it's interesting to write from Vicky's perspective during a shift.

    Of course, I couldn't make it too easy on her, so in my series shapeshifting comes with some restrictions: a shapeshifter can change up to three times per lunar cycle; when the moon is strong, the animal brain takes over more; sometimes strong emotion can force a shift (whether or not the shapeshifter wants to change); and shapeshifters are females who lose the ability to shift if they give birth. Those restrictions put, I think, some interesting pressures on Vicky.

  • Bethany C. January 4, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I think being Cerddorian (crap, I probably spelled that wrong) like Vicky would be cool, because it's such an interesting and original premise! And it wouldn't hurt to have that power in your back pocket for when demons show up. Because being a zombie for me is not an option. I need to maintain my intellectual superiority over my husband when we're watching Jeopardy (though I don't recall your zombies losing any brain power unless fresh blood's around.)


  • Victoria January 4, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I would be a Valkyrie. Those women are beautiful and can really kick butt.
    They also love shiny things 😉

  • LunaMoth January 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

    there are so many things id want to be! but i guess i would be a powerful demoness. Not the bad kind though, i would be good and help others and not wear skanky clothes (lol!)


  • LSUReader January 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I'd want to be the kind of clever witch Vicky turns to for help figuring out the really tough cases ever so often.

    Thanks for visiting. I'm looking forward to reading Hellforged.

  • nancyholzner January 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    @Bethany C: You were close on Cerddorion. 🙂 (And in case anyone's wondering, that "dd" is a single consonant, a voiced "th" as in "then.") Your Jeopardy comment made me laugh.

    @Victoria: Good choice! And no need for horned helmets in a modern setting. 😉

    @LunaMoth: I love the idea of a style-setting demoness.

    @LSUReader: Are you psychic? I was just working on a scene where Vicky does precisely that.

  • donnas January 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I agree with Bethany. A Cerddorion would be cool. Seems like a good choice for keeping alive around there.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  • Estella January 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I would be a shapeshifter—probably a large cat. I love cats.

  • nancyholzner January 4, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Hi donnas and Estella,

    Shapeshifters rule! 🙂

  • throuthehaze January 5, 2011 at 2:01 am

    I would definitely want to be a shifter…maybe some type of bird so I could fly.
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  • Tore January 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I would definitely be a shapeshifter who could be anything they want to be. I would be able to blend in almost anywhere. Please enter me in contest.

  • Maureen January 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I think I would want to be a shapeshifter because it is a great way to get out of some sticky situations.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  • Redd January 5, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    This was a very kewl interview. Read Deadtown on a whim and enjoyed it immensely!!

    Alot mention shifter..*smiles* I'd prefer lycan, myself. Or werewolf. =)

    @unbrknwyld (twitter)

  • natalie23 January 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I have to say that twitter description would have had me running out to buy both books if
    a) I didn't already have one
    b) Was getting the second as a gift.

    When I read the question, my first thought was mermaid, mermaid, mermaid.

    Then I thought, but how could a mermaid live in Deadtown? How would I move around, I would be stuck in one place.

    But I just couldn't give up on the mermaid idea, so I would be a mermaid who could also walk on land sometimes.
    Possibly this would make me a shapeshifter, whatever, just so long as I get my mermaids tail.

  • Barbara E. January 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    If I lived in Deadtown, the paranormal creature I'd be is a shifter because being able to shift into any sentient creature would be fantastic – you could experience what the being that animal would be like.


  • heatwave16 January 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I love the idea of a shifter that can be anything. Run…fly…swim…:) Being near the ocean how great would it be to be a dolphin.


  • mariska January 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I've been wanting to read this series for months !

    to be a shifter sounds 'safe' here 🙂 you can be any thing you wanna be, gonna choose, as an Eagle. you can fly and pretend to be a bird 🙂

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  • EVA SB January 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    If I was trapped in a ghetto I'd wat to be able to shift into a creature that could fly and find some freedom in the air.[@]gmail[.]com

  • mbreakfield January 9, 2011 at 7:01 am

    I would be a shifter. I love shifters.

  • Angie D. January 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I'd like to be a witch.

  • Anonymous January 10, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.

  • -petit January 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I would like to be a shapeshifter, but not a animal shifter. I would be a shifter who can transform in other people. I would be a good spy hahaha
    Thanks for making this giveaway worldwide 😀

  • Ina January 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I would love to be a shifter to see the world through the eyes of animals – it must be a fantastic experience!!
    congrats on your newest release, Nancy! I can't wait to read it 🙂
    greetings, Ina

  • Kulsuma January 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I think I would have to be a shifter to escape Deadtown if I wanted! But being a witch wouldn't be too bad.

  • Suzanne McLeod January 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Great interview, thanks Nancy! If I lived in Deadtown, I'd like to have Vicky's shapeshifiting abilities, though I'd want to be able to change more than 3 times a month 🙂

    Good luck with Hellforged!

    twitter – @Suzanne_McLeod

  • Jolene Allcock and Family January 12, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I've never read a book with zombies in it and now I have to read these. I'm all about exploring out of my comfort zone and these books sound amazing. I would have to say I would want to be a shape shifter, most likely of the bird variety so I can fly out of the danger zone 🙂

  • Laura H. January 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Thanks for another great giveaway! I would be a shape shifter so I could shift into anything or anyone I wanted, depending on the circumstance or the mood I'm in.


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