Today’s featured author is Tiffany Apan, author of “Decent” which is part of The Birthrite Series and will be featured in a special Halloween Go Indie Now! Box this October! I am in love with her work and her dark writing style, and I am sure that you will fall in love with them as well! Keep an eye out for her book and featured items in the box this October!
1) What is the first memory you have of writing?
First off, thank you for featuring me and my work here!
I have been writing for quite some time and doing so for as long as I can remember. I was always coming up with stories, whether writing them down or having my toys re-enact them. I always loved stories, music lyrics, and poetry, but I didn’t really have a turning point until my fifth grade English class. At that time, we got to learning of and studying the principles of poetry, so naturally writing a poem was one of the assignments in the class. Because I had an obsession with Norway and Vikings (and still kind of do), I wrote of a Viking sea adventure (when everyone else chose to write of a family member or pet…are there any other ten-year-olds out there obsessed with Vikings or was I the only one?). My English teacher said that I had a great talent for writing and encouraged me to continue from there.
That particular poem, among some of my others, did garner much praise from my English teachers and at times throughout the years, my writing was called ‘ambitious.’ Given the monstrosity of a series I’m currently writing, it looks as though that hasn’t changed all that much!
2) Which authors inspire you, and why?
It’s a toss up between Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Bronte. While there are contemporary authors that I do enjoy, I am quite taken by our writers of yore. Poe is just brilliant to me.
With Emily Bronte, the fact that her work, Wuthering Heights, is often so misunderstood and misinterpreted fascinates me alone. I’ve also been reading a lot on her life, those of her sisters Anne and Charlotte, her brother Branwell, and her father Patrick. It is quite interesting finding out what inspired them to write as they did.
Also Tolkien. Because Tolkien reigns supreme.
I also enjoy H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Zane Grey, Rod Serling, Washington Irving, Oscar Wilde, Clive Barker, Mary Shelly, Anne Rice, Shirley Jackson, Charlotte Bronte, William Shakespeare, George Orwell, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, CS Lewis, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, among others. Any author or writer that can tell a good story with vivid characters and a plot that makes you think (possibly even questioning your own sanity and the world around you) is more than okay by me!
3) What is your favorite genre to read, and why?
All kinds. It depends on my mood, really. I love Horror, but I also love Romance, Historical Fiction, anything to do with the paranormal and supernatural, Gothic Fiction and authors of bygone eras (Poe, Lovecraft, Brontes, Austen, Grey, Shelly, Stoker). Even the horror from the 1800s is so beautiful and has much romance in the way it is written. And of course, I also enjoy historical fiction.
I’m also reading a lot of non-fiction (mostly history), especially with the amount of research that goes into most of my stories. It’s never boring as I am constantly uncovering new territory.
4) What is your favorite genre to write, and why?
I love dark (Gothic) fiction, because for me that is the genre that fully encompasses human strength and frailty. A lot of the Gothic Fiction I’ve read has shown some of the best depictions of the human experience. And that is the journey I enjoy going on when I write.
5) Do you like writing alone or collaborating, and why?
I tend to be a bit of a hermit when I write and for me it is a very solitary activity (with the exception of my characters, of course). But I have also been a part of anthologies, so I don’t mind doing some collaborating either.
6) How did you get the idea for Descent?
How Descent (and The Birthrite Series in general) came about is a story in itself!
Back in late 2011/early 2012, I had a rather vivid dream that stayed with me and I found myself unable to let it go. The dream entailed me in deep conversation with a person that would later be a key character in The Birthrite Series. And it’s interesting, because what was originally supposed to be a more fun and adventurous time travel romance under the working title Through Time eventually morphed into something completely different. In fact, NONE of the main characters from the first book in the series (Descent) where even a thought as I wrote the original draft and concept (which is odd since now I can’t even imagine the story being without any of them!). But as I was writing Through Time, it just didn’t feel right. Yes, the general idea was there and, yes, pretty solid but something was definitely missing.
At the time, I was also reading Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. In one passage, he compares writing a story to discovering a small fossil, and then continuing to dig until the whole dinosaur is uncovered. Sometimes it will seem as though you are shoveling nothing but crap, but eventually you will make the great discovery. For me, that is exactly how writing Descent was.
As time went on and I allowed the story to just develop naturally, more characters seemed to just “walk on,” and characters I thought were just going to play minor roles ended up being major key characters. When this happened, it was a little scary but instead of fighting it, I allowed the characters a voice in their stories and ended up being pleasantly surprised with the results.
The story seemed to build upon itself, especially as I was doing more research to create the world in which the characters inhabit. It was then the story started going from being a fun adventurous romance to one that was still fun, adventurous and romantic, but darker and with a lot more mystery. Add to that my passion for history and the process of researching it and I was having a blast with it.
Because of the new direction the story was taking, the working title obviously had to change. Bloodlines was the new working title (which I knew would also eventually change since there already are so many projects out there with that title).
7) I absolutely love how the book deals with insanity. What made you want to delve deeper into this concept?
Thank you! It certainly seemed the natural way to go. As I was doing the research for the book and going through the characters, their backgrounds and journeys, I kept returning to the concept of sanity vs. insanity. I started delving deeper into the following questions: What makes a person ‘sane’ and who really dictates that? Is all that we see really what is around us or is it a mere illusion? Perhaps the one who is seen as the most insane is simply open to another reality that the rest of us are closed to.
It was a fascinating concept to delve into, and seemed appropriate for the characters and their journeys. It was also fun to invade the minds of my characters and really get into what made them the way they are.
8) How many books are you expecting to be in The Birthrite Series?
I expect to write five full length novels with a couple of novelettes, novellas and shorts in between the books. I don’t, however, believe in confining a story. Plus there is a lot of back story and history, so there might even be room for a prequel or spin-off Birthrite-verse series. We shall see. 😉
9) How long did it take you to write, and put together, Descent?
Well, as I said, the original idea came to me back in late 2011/early 2012 via a dream.
In early 2013, I was fleshing out what would be the official first draft. During that time I started posting chapters and excerpts of my WIP onto what is now my official blog as a way of gaining perspective on how much interest there might be in the story. Well, the interest seemed to be there, so in the midst of that little experiment, I started getting it print ready. I also knew by then that there was so much story that it would have to be a series.
Finally, I believe in early 2014 (or late 2013), I settled on the official series title, The Birthrite and decided to call the first book Descent. Then I decided to release a spin off novelette titled Sacred Atonement: A Novelette (The Birthrite Series, #1.5). In December 2014, the beginning of the series was officially available (softly launched as I wanted to be on the verge of releasing the second book before I started to really promote it), both digitally and in paperback format. So the book took about 3-4 years to write, including the research, writing, character and world building, and a lot of revising. When I look at the first draft of Descent now, it is exciting to see how much the story and characters have evolved. But like most first drafts, it’s definitely rough!
The next two installments (a full-length novel titled Kindred and a novella called Saturn Sun) are set for release later this summer.
And for those wondering, yes, the characters from the original Through Time draft will be appearing in the later installments of The Birthrite. The gist of their story is the same, though there had to be some changes…
10) Even though your novel is labeled as occult horror, it also grapples with historical fiction. Did you do research before starting your series of the 1800s time period that you chose?
Sort of. Through Time actually didn’t go that far back in history. It wasn’t until the story started to evolve in a new way that I started a more in depth research, especially of certain key events that took place during the time periods. There was a time when I did take a break from writing and thew myself into research mode. That was when the characters’ stories (particularly those of Nicolae, James, Jonathan, and Dorothy) really started taking shape, and it was a lot easier to write their stories and how they related to others after that. I was led down many rabbit holes in the process.
I was also starting to work for the Depreciation Lands Museum at them. It’s a historical museum dedicated to bringing the 18th century to life. I will add that even with all the intense research I did for The Birthrite, working for this museum has given me even more access to sources that allow for a much deeper research. Those running the museum also take care to immerse the workers in all thing centuries old, including offering training in period tasks such as cooking over a campfire and hearth oven to drop spindle classes to weaving. Since The Birthrite Series delves deeper into history as the series continues (half of Descent, takes place in the mid 1800s and the latter half in 1931), I feel this will add new layers to the story and my writing in general.
As a side note, the more research I do, the more I am fascinated by how distorted many events and eras have become over time. Combine that with my love for Tolkien, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, the Brontes, Wilde, and dark romantic stories, and you pretty much have my inspiration for the series.
I also blog and video blog about these things and you can check out more of my work at the following sites (we can also be Facebook and Twitter Friends!):
Facebook Artist Page
The Birthite Series Facebook Page
*Photo Credit: Malcolm Gittins