Sunday, November 27, 2011

An interview with urban fantasy author F. L. Bicknell

Every once in a while a book comes along that you simply can't get out of your head. For me, that's the sign of a good one. Recently I read F.L. Bicknell's Ruby, the White King, and Marilyn Monroe and I have to tell you, the story is a keeper. Drawn initially to the  catchy title, I was even more captivated as each chapter rolled on.

Here's the premise:

Reincarnated over the centuries. Stuck with a ditzy Marilyn Monroe lookalike. Falling for a rich albino guy. It’s just Ruby’s luck for Hell’s “real” angels to ride into this life and screw it all up.

Paranormal romance takes off full throttle as demonic motorcycles and their beautiful riders chase Ruby to the rocky shores of Key West for a battle of epic proportions. Are they angels, demons, or something else entirely? Ruby must send them back to a hell unlike anything the world has ever imagined. But will she allow herself to love the White King who has found her again over one thousand years later?

I've known F.L. Bicknell for quite some time, having connected several years ago via the Internet. We've never met face-to-face, but that doesn't matter. I've come to respect her hard work as an author, her determination and perseverance, and her continual striving to move her writing career forward. I think Ruby, the White King, and Marilyn Monroe could be just the book to do that.

Recently I asked F.L. (Faith) if I could interview her hear for my blog, and she agreed. Here's what we talked about:

MJ: You’ve morphed a bit as a writer over the years. Want to tell us a little bit about your writing path?

Faith: Writing is genetic for me. My grandfather wrote a historical novel with a romantic subplot that Disney wanted but being a very poor schoolteacher, he couldn’t come up with his part of the money to publish the book (this was in the 1960s) so it was never published; however, the family has asked me to revise it, so that is yet another project I have to complete in the coming months. In the mid 1970s, my mother gained Harlequin’s interest with a partial ms, but she never finished the book, saying she just wanted to see if she could write one and get someone interested in it (asked her once what she did with the ms, and she has no clue). So, I guess that’s why I’ve been writing since I was about 6 years old—it literally in my blood.

All the way through grade school and high school, I wrote stories and even a high fantasy novel that was passed all over the high school by fellow students. When I was a senior, I wrote a short and sent it to Ladies Home Journal. The chief editor wrote me a personal letter. Although it was a rejection, he took the time to tell me how much the story impressed him. Then again about ten years later, I wrote a personal commentary about the welfare system and submitted it to Newsweek. The editor of the column also replied with a personal letter, stating how he’d petitioned the other editors to publish the piece, but they had commentaries scheduled for two years ahead. Shortly after that, I scored my first semi-pro sale in Christian YA fiction, followed by a professional sale to Gent which led to publications in many other national magazines such as Penthouse Variations. Yeah, I know, I know. Christian fiction to skin mags, ROFL! Oh, the horror…LOL!

I have a wonderful agent. He’s the type who coaches and is a good friend, too. His belief in me “hitting one out of the ballpark” as he puts it is something that keeps me going outside of Indie publishing. However, although I write paranormal/spec romance for my repped work, writing for the Indie venues has allowed me to enjoy the other genres I adore too. So if I write something that’s strictly contemporary, I can find a home for it as well as pure horror—another genre I enjoy writing and reading—or even sci-fi and fantasy.

MJ: What do you love about writing urban fantasy?

Faith: I like putting everyday people or settings in incredible or seemingly impossible situations and watching how it all plays out. Many readers who don’t like fantasy as a genre can more easily relate to the genre if it’s put in a setting they can identify with.

MJ: I like the way you make up lore (The Most Intimate Wish) and turn it into fiction. Was there any particular lore or legend that inspired you when writing Ruby? Or any other books?

Faith: Actually, “Ruby” has been on a long journey. This novel’s final version has baffled me because it’s nothing like I initially thought it would be. When I first started writing “Ruby” nearly eight years ago, I had the idea of a sarcastic, troubled young woman with powers who pairs up with a PITA hitchhiker as they head south only because Ruby is drawn in that direction.

When I wrote the first, unfinished draft of “Ruby” I was pregnant with my last child, so when he came along, I set the manuscript on a backburner. About two years ago, inspiration struck while reading a theologian’s book on the Nephilim (think Sons of God who went in unto the Daughters of Men, which isn’t entirely accurate, so for more info visit this LINK), a book I couldn’t put down. My curiosity and need for knowledge is insatiable, so I poured through Internet page after Internet page on the subject, found more books on the Nephilim, and then realized that “Ruby” had the perfect basis for this premise—thus the demonic motorcycles and their large and very beautiful riders.

This novel also has some light history in it, which works great with the Nephilim plot as well as my being actually related to Alice Nutter in the book (also my mother’s maiden name) and tied to the Pendle Witches of England.

MJ: Ruby is chock full of plot and at least three main characters. How do you keep it all straight in your head?

Faith: I really don’t know. It’s just the way my brain works. I’m often asked if I keep notes, and I do, but for the most part, a good 80% of everything is kept in my mind. When I go around cleaning or crawl into bed at night, my brain processes everything I’ve written for the day, and that’s often when important details come to the forefront that I need to address. I make a mental note, and then the next day the first thing I do when I open the manuscript is update those particular things. Ruby, Maureen, and Solomon were so real to me they were easy to write.

MJ: Do you plot ahead of time, or does the story unfold as you write?

Faith: For me it’s 50/50. I don’t plot, really. Most of my plots pop into my head from the clear blue. I’ve often described it as having hinges on my skull where someone opens it and drops everything in all set and ready to transfer to the computer screen. The few notes I do keep ties everything together, so that’s probably the “unfolding” stage in my writing.

What made you fall in love with the White King. Tell me more about him.

For ages, someone different or unique was always feared or tied to the Devil. I needed a way to connect the White King, an albino in the 9th century England, to my heroine, Ruby. Since history plays a mild but substantial part in the novel, I needed a time period where the White King could enter the picture and throw the proverbial wrench into Ruby’s progression through time. Until the his arrival, she never had time to fall in love. William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy during the early 9th century) and the skirmishes that ensued in that part of England offered an excellent opportunity to bring the White King into the picture. In this case, the White King was so unusual he was revered as the people’s warrior, their protector, and in my story, he was the true heir to the throne but wouldn’t accept it because he didn’t consider himself a leader. He only wanted to love Ruby, and his love is so strong he finds her again over a thousand years later.

His character, whether past or present, is such a strong and simultaneously caring, sweet man that I couldn’t help but fall in love with him, too.

MJ: Let’s delve a little deeper into the mind of F. L. Bicknell. What makes your writer brain tick? What do you read? Fave TV shows, movies, etc?

Faith: I want to know everything. Seriously. My husband and kids call me a brainiac, but I don’t consider myself that at all. When I took history courses at Wheeling Jesuit University, I had two professors who would groan in an amused manner whenever I’d asked questions. The woman professor I had for World History once told me she spent an entire weekend searching for an answer me because it really made her stop and think. My history courses were a huge source of contentment for me—even if I did frustrate my professors, lol. I even got to correspond for a while with Sir Joseph Rotblat (R.I.P. 2005), which I’ll remember forever. So give me history and I’m a happy camper. My older three kids will poke their heads into my room where I have a flat-screen TV and say, “What are you watching, Mom? Oh, never mind. It’s the History Channel…again.” LOL!
There aren’t enough hours in the day for all the time needed to learn what I want to learn. One of the reasons “Ruby” is set throughout the southern states is because I’ve traveled the area and loved the history of those regions from the Castillos de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida to the Southern Most Tip of the U.S. in Key West.

My kids and my father think I’m strange because I soak up anything that’s paranormal, involves lore, legend, mythology, archeology, astronomy, cryptozoology, ufology…and you should see the books I have on topics from demonology to faerie lore to werewolves, vampires, ghosts, witchcraft, and more.

I love to read anything and everything from fiction to non-fiction, so I have many favorite books from A Rose in Winter to It to Odd Mom Out. As for TV shows, I’m hooked on Ancient Aliens, Haven, The Walking Dead (love the drama in that one), and watch all the learning channels from History Channel to Green to National Geo and Discovery. I like SyFy too, but I watch it more for various programs like Paranormal Witness and Fact or Faked because I’m not a fan of B movies.

Hmm, fave movies? The Fifth Element is probably my all-time fave flick; I’ve worn out a VHS tape and now have the DVD, lol. I write sci-fi, too, and I’m a huge fan of any sci-fi book or movie that sucks me in where I forget about reality.

MJ: Tell me something wacky you’ve done in your past.

Faith: Well, I’ve done some stupid things over the years, lol, but something truly wacky, no. Having four kids, maybe? No, wait. That’s insanity, not wackiness. If anything, the closest to wacky that I get is my view on life, my sarcasm (hello, Ruby!), and warped sense of humor. And trust me, it can be very warped and sometimes dark, depending on my current mood.

MJ: What gets you going in the morning? Coffee? Diet Coke? Chocolate? Sex?

Faith: I’m a devoted coffee drinker. Love gourmet blends, but for a staple coffee it’s Folger’s Black Silk. I am also a whiskey drinker. And if people from my church read this interview, I imagine there will be a collective gasp that knocks over the pulpit.

I’m not much for chocolate, preferring things like cake and pie, although I do love chocolate ice cream with the thick peanut butter swirled through it.

Sex? Well, I’m blessed with a husband who has an incredible libido. So much so that I take a necklace of garlic and a cross to bed with me when I want him to let me sleep.

MJ: Where do you see your career in 5 years?

Faith: Well, that depends on the Mayan calendar. I might not get a chance to do anything after December 21, 2012. LMAO. Sorry, couldn’t resist. In five years I see dozens of books, several completed series, and a lot of traveling from one book signing to convention after another.

Thanks, Faith! It was great talking with you and learning a little more about what makes you tick! 

Faith has also decided she'd like to host a little contest for my blog readers. Here are the details:

In celebration of my latest release, Ruby, the White King and Marilyn Monroe, I'm having a little contest. Go HERE for more details, or see below.

Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, "like" my facebook author page OR sign up for my author newsletter and be entered to win any one of my backlist titles on either of my two websites OR

READ AN EXCERPT OF Ruby, the White King, and Marilyn Monroe.

Buy from the following retailers:  Turquoise Morning Press . Amazon . Barnes & Noble . All Romance Ebooks . Bookstrand


Ana Lee Kennedy said...

Thank you for having me on your website!

Maddie James said...

Hi Faith! So happy to have you hear on my blog. What a fantastic book Ruby is. I sure hope others try it out to see what a fantastic storyteller you are!

Janice Seagraves said...

Maddy, I want to tell you, I love your header. It's one of the prettiest ones I think I have ever seen.

Faith, you rock and I'm sure Ruby is a winner. Good luck with the release.


Maddie James said...

Janice, thank you so much for stopping by, and for your nice comments on the header. It's pretty new, so it's nice to get comments. Thank you! (and yes, Ruby and Faith are book awesome!)

Suzanne Lilly said...

I hear what you're saying about not enough time in the day to learn all the things you want to learn. But how you do it with four kids is amazing.

I love the cover of The Most Intimate Wish. It's beautiful, and after reading your notes about it, I'm going to have to go buy a copy!

Maddie James said...

Hi Suzanne. Thanks so much for stopping by! I think either book -- The Most Intimate Wish, or Ruby, the White King, and Marilyn Monroe -- will provide you with a very entertaining and interesting read. I love Faith's storytelling ability!

Ana Lee Kennedy said...

Wow! Thank you all for the beautiful comments! You've put a huge smile on my face!