And we’re back again! This one is another awesome interview (because everyone who has the guts to do one is awesome!) with Rosa Marchisella, a great author, a good friend and a great client!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hi Michael! Thanks for hosting me. My name is Rosa Marchisella and I write all types of fantasy. From urban and YA to epic and dark. Even my thrillers have some element of magic and the supernatural.
I’ve been writing since the 90’s, if we totally ignore the stuff I started in high school, and have done both fiction and non-fiction. I’ve freelanced, done stage and screen plays, published poems, and educational materials. I’ve even done written projects for the Canadian government.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I don’t have a process or formula. My stories usually present themselves as a whole concept. I sit down and write a very brief outline so I don’t forget. Sometimes, there’s a scene or two that are already fully developed and need to be recorded immediately. Then, I write the story and characters as they unfold in my head. All of it; plot, sub-plot, character growth.
In my read through I may add specific character traits or habits, and I’ll look to make sure there’s no loose ends, but usually that’s all in there already.
Tell the world about your current project!
I am currently releasing a 10 book series title Touch of Insanity [www.rosamarchisella.com/touch-of-insanity]. It’s about a Half-Elf named Kharee, who was created to heal a goddess who is going mad and is spreading insanity via her connection to the people of the world, Besamie. Unfortunately, her parents withheld the ability for her to actually use her powers until they knew she’d grown up to be a decent, sane person.
The series follows Kharee as she discovers her powers, her mission, and her own truth. I’ve tried to keep the story as PG as possible, but she goes through some dark and gruesome experiences as she wades through the madness. For example, there are winged monsters called karpa that impregnate their prey and werewolves which are called Hydan Kin in their world, named after Hydan Speargood, the Elven Mage-Master who first contracted the magical disease. Oh, and of course a vampire lord, because no dark fantasy is complete without one. [laughs]
I’ve been releasing a new book every 20th. Book 4, Each According Their Worth, releases on April 20th and I’m hoping to have a completed collection of all 10 books in one out in time for Christmas. If readers want to know when each book releases, they can sign up for Books2Read notifications https://books2read.com/author/rosa-marchisella/subscribe/1/90818
It’s been very exciting to write and I’m fortunately working with excellent people to bring it to life. You’ve done such an amazing job bringing my maps into creation in a style that suits the feel of my story perfectly. So, please, let me say thank you to you again for the work you do through Fantasy World Emporium www.facebook.com/fantasyworldemporium! Renee Barratt from The Cover Counts www.thecovercounts.com created the dynamic covers. And, both my editor, Lily Luchesi of Partners In Crime Book Services www.facebook.com/PartnersInCrimeBookServices and Stefan Lear from of Dreadnot Interiors www.facebook.com/dreadnotinteriors have done excellent work. I’m so proud of the finish products.
Who would you say is the main character of your latest novel? And tell me a little bit about them!
Kharee is definitely the main character. She’s a Half-Elf in her late teens and she’s pretty intense. At the start, she’s just an easy-going kid in love with her life as a sheep herder’s daughter. She’s rough and tumble, and a little short-sighted. Kharee’s never thought about the future, just assuming her life is always going to be wrangling sheep and wrestling the hired hand for amusement. But, once her parents break it to her that she’s supposed to get married, she’s has this wake-up call. Her life doesn’t make sense. How and when did her parents promise her to some snotty Elf lord? And why? She’s a grubby teenager with nor refinement.
Kharee tries to be the dutiful daughter, but eventually ends up beating the snot out of her finance for being grabby. She decides if her family is so desperate for money that they’re pawning her off on this creep, she’ll go out and earn it the honest way.
She’s extremely moral and earnest. As both a woman and a half-breed, she wants to be taken seriously which makes her a bit intense and at times brutal. She never loses that sense of responsibility, viewing the people she travels with kind of like her “sheep”, which eventually leads to her being a fantastic leader later in the series.
Unfortunately, it also stifles her sense of humour and adventure for a while, until she meets a man mid-way through the series who turns her views upside down.
The story covers about 2 years of her life, but in that time, she has a huge growth as a person while she’s discovering her powers. She has to intentionally kill for the first time and that messes with her. She learns the difference between being in crush with someone because they’re nice to you and deeply loving a person for who they are. She learns to find fun and humour even in the dark times, and that sometimes you have to let go of the people you care about so they can grow at their own pace. And, she discovers the greatest secrets about suffering and facing our own darkness, which she’ll need to understand before she can do what she was created to do; heal a broken goddess.
Have you been to any conventions? If so, tell me a little about them!
I have not. They actually scare me a little bit. In my other work, I’ve been to fairs and run booths, but they were all local and I had a team with me. The thought of having to travel on my own or with my kids to man a booth by myself is frightening.
So, I’ve decided that until I can actually afford to consider it as an option, I’ll put it on the backburner so I don’t freak myself out. I’m looking into online options, especially now that everyone is in self-isolation.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
That’s such a slippery question for me. I’ve always been a story-teller, but it was frowned upon. In high school when they wanted me to pick a career and the two I wanted to follow were acting and fiction writing. Both were quashed hard core. I needed to pick “real” jobs.
After graduation, I just kinda floated for a few years from job-to-job just trying to keep my head above water. I was writing short stories and poems, but wasn’t selling them. I wrote a couple books and couldn’t sell them either, even though agents and publishers were constantly telling me how much they loved my work.
I did some acting, which I love more than I love oxygen, but the lifestyle and crap pay that came with it didn’t appeal.
I worked for a bit as screenwriter and doing freelance or contract work, but it’s only been the past few years where I’ve been able to sit and focus solely on fiction writing that I realize; YES! This is exactly the life I’ve always wanted. Writing is one of the few things I feel I do really well and that makes me very happy.
So, I guess the short answer is; I’ve always know, but only have recently believed.
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
Huh. Good question. When I do write in our world, I keep the locations generic so they could be just about anywhere in North America. I mean, I write fantasy so I’m not in the world. [laughs] But if I could be somewhere to write about it and personalize it . . . That’s tough. Scotland and Ireland are steeped in fantasy, but Southern France has its appeal.
What advice would you give new writers?
Learn your craft. Learn all the rules and master them. Then break those rules. Bend them. Twist them. Make them your slave so people read who your work and say, “Holy crap! What a refreshing story! How did this author ignore all the rules, yet still make this mind-blowing story? What’s their secret?”
That is the secret: Master your craft, first. Only then can you create something true to you that works.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world-building?
History. I’ve done research on castle building and fortifications, knights, armor and weapons, ancient gods and religions . . . I mean, they don’t inspire me. They’re my homework for building a solid world, but for the sake of the interview, I’ll call it same-same.
What inspires you to write?
Everything: Dreams, my kids, misheard things, song, some stupid joke make while goofing with others, the news, memes, sneezing. Dude, ev-er-y-thing in creation inspires me. I can’t turn it off. My WIP list is almost 200 projects long.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Marketing. Ads. Walking away from writing long enough to focus on interacting with my audience. I’m thinking about keeping a camera on me while I work so people can see I really exist [laugh].
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
Butt in chair, fingers typing. That’s it. I make sure I have a drink handy, but no snacks. If I get hungry, it gives me the chance to step away, stretch, look out a window, interact with other humans . . . [laughs]
I work from home and home school my two kids, so most people think I have it out scheduled and in order. None of us work well on a schedule. We have a daily routine which we keep flexible. So, sometimes I sit and write all day while they doing their schooling. Other times, I don’t get to write until they’re in bed.
Sometimes listening to music is nice. Other times the music interferes with the flow of the story. Sometimes I do a work out before I sit. Other times I have to jump up in between paragraphs and do a work out. We just flow here. It’s more productive for all of us if we’re not fighting the clock or locking ourselves in to habits.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in any of your books, and why?
Not fair. That’s like asking which kid is my favourite. [laughs] I’ll narrow it down to just the Touch of Insanity books. Sheesh, Michael! That’s hard. I mean I really enjoyed writing about unstoppable Orc army, gory werewolves, and brutal enemies. That was fun. But . . . what I really loved writing was Kharee slipping into a healthy, loving relationship . . . while already engaged to someone else.
Moving her through the mental and emotional process of discovering herself and what she wants, handling big-girl decisions, making sacrifices, and dealing with consequences was not what I expected to write in a fantasy adventure. But, it’s so important to her being able to actually do her job as the Healer. I’m finding these parts of the story deeply satisfying and really hoping the readers will love it, too.
Did you learn anything from writing your latest book? If so, what was it?
I’ve learned that just because I planned for a book to be about X and titled it accordingly, doesn’t mean that’s actually what’s going to happen. I’m currently writing book 9 of the Touch of Insanity series. I bravely called it, Tarna’Hala after the Elven city she’s supposed to visit. I’m 13 chapters into it. I need another 6 thousand words, but I feel done this part of the story and Kharee only spent ONE chapter actually in Tarna’Hala. The rest of the time, she was busting someone out of prison and dealing with ghost pirates. [face-palm]
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
YES! I usually have multiple projects on the go and my stories usually come to me as a whole concept with clear ending. So, I outline everything immediately so when I get to it, I have all the information I need. I learned the hard way that if I don’t write it all down, I’ll forget where the story was supposed to go or what it was about. Even if I only have a concept, I write it down with as much detail as possible.
Sometimes I have certain points I need to hit and other times, I have a vague concept. But, I have it written down. From there, I pants. I just let the story flow to fill in the blanks. The more blanks, the more pantsing.
If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions, or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?
Drinks is the only thing I need. I can, and often do, go without music. I keep snacks away so I purposely have to get up and walk away from my desk because some days I’m there for 8-10 hours with a few bathroom and meal breaks. But, I need to stay hydrated.
Which is your favorite season to write in, and why?
In real life season? Winter. I can’t go outside because the old hurts me, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life.
In story season? Anything except winter so I can keep the location generic.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I don’t have this problem. Between acting training and spiritual work, I can slip into any character, mind set, and emotion fairly easily. From sweet and innocent to the darkest evil. I’ve owned all that in me, so I can access it when I need to.
No, I need to make a correction on that. Racism. I still can’t freaking wrap my brain around that mindset. I can comprehend fear and disgust toward something unknown or vastly different in morals or heinous actions. I get having negative reactions toward something in another which reminds me of what something I hate about myself . . . But, I don’t think that’s the same as vitriol against another Being for existing as a different colour. I can emulate it superficially for character purposes using what I’ve just said, but racism / xenophobia is . . . foreign to me. I feel false when I try to write about it.
What are your future project(s)?
I’m in the air about that. I have a huge WIP list and some of them are just so much fun. Do I want to do the sci-fi comedy? Pirate adventure? Dragon brothers lost in our world? Gosh, I love my life. [laughs]
Putting my serious hat on; The next project I need to finish is a supernatural thriller trilogy, the Harper series www.rosamarchisella.com/harper-series based on some ridiculous nightmares I had. It’s about a psychic woman named Hannah Harper who is guilted into helping the police solve a series of strange murders. She finds the guy quick enough, but then ends up as his next target. Things go sideways from there as she ends up in a mental institution where she’s hunted by the supernatural.
I have the first book done and most of the second book, so I’ll probably clear that off my plate before jumping into any of the others.
What is your favorite book ever written?
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. It was a mandatory read for grade 7 English. That book had such a profound impact on me that it’s literally echoed through my life. The power of words, owning your Shadow, and maturing to a point where you don’t have choices. Not really. All the fluff falls away. The drama disappears. There’s just you and the path you were always meant to walk.
Who are your favorite authors?
So many good ones, but for the sake of brevity, the well-known authors hogging all the space on my shelves are; Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Tanya Huff.
What makes a good villain?
Guts. Having the darkness to totally ignore boundaries while still having your own moral code. Like if your villain can totally eff up people and the reader is like, “I get it and it scares the crap out of me because if my morals were slightly different, that would be me.” then that’s a good villain.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Pretend I’m not thinking about writing. That’s always good fun. [laughs] I play games with my kids, take them for walks in the park, hang out with friends, and read.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Acting. It’s my second greatest love and I’m so dang good at it.
Coffee or Tea? Or (exult deep breath) what other drink do you prefer, if you like neither?
Tea; orange pekoe or green.
You can travel to anywhere in the universe. Where would you go, and why?
All of it. If I could go anywhere, then why stop until you’ve been everywhere?
Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?
I do not. I mean I like read posts from Chuck Wendig and Renegade Mothering, but those aren’t “writing” blogs.
Do you have any writer friends you’d like to give a shoutout to?
I have so many writer friends, it would be long list, but if I have to pick three off the top of my head, I’d start with Ramona Mainstromwww.facebook.com/RamonaMainstrom. Romance who writes some pretty unique paranormal romance stories. I love everything RobRoy McCandless www.facebook.com/RobroyMccandless has written so far. He’s fantastic with action and keeping a story moving. And, I fangirl every time Shawn Cosby shares his work www.facebook.com/blacklionking73. It’s gritty and real, and drags you right into the moment.
The trouble with having so many author friends is that you love ‘em all, but can’t name them all when asked. [hides face]
Pick any three fiction characters. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
Bold of you to assume I can answer this without getting lost in a plot idea for the next half hour. [laughs]
Off the top of my head, Mr. Darcy From Pride & Prejudice, Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, and Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter from The Deed of Paksenarrion. We’d get on that bus and go on that trip to everywhere we were talking about earlier, so I can watch Mr. Darcy bumble his way through the universe.
What superpower would you most like?
Flight. My favourite dreams have always been the ones where I can fly over cities at night to look down at the beautiful lights and just dance in the sky.
What are two of your favorite covers of all time? (Not your own.)
I have several that I absolutely love, but there are two books on my shelf I bought simply because I loved the covers. Lucky for me, the books were just as good as their covers. [laughs]
The first was a two-in-one book by Susan Carroll called, Brighton Road/The Sugar Rose. I didn’t even read the back cover before I bought it. There was just something about it that grabbed me and I wasn’t a fan of romance, so I felt silly buying it. It was worth it. Both stories are great.
The second one was The Barbed Coil by J.V. Jones. This time it was actually a genre I read. [laughs] It’s a fantastic fantasy story, so well done that I’ve read it several times.
I think they’ve both been redone by now, but I’ll share photos of the covers with you.
It’s a very difficult time right now for the world. When quarantine and pandemic comes to an end, what is the first thing you would like to do?
The first thing will be to go with my neighbour. It’s a ritual we started last summer where we sit in her front yard with hot drinks and just do nothing. It’s really hard for me because I’m almost always writing, so those visits are good for me. For both of us. We talk, sometimes we putter in our gardens. But mostly, we focus on unwinding and simply being in the moment.
Winter was hard on us because neither of us got to do that and we were looking forward to spring so we could visit again. It’s silly, but it’s not the same when you sit in the house to “visit” as it is to be outside under the sun. I think we both cried when our local self-isolate period was pushed to the end of April. And, today they just announced it’s being pushed to June 30th. Dude, I’m crying. I called it weeks ago that it’ll be mid-to-late August before they life isolation rules, but I’m still crying about it.
Finally, what is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
Readers can check out by books at my Official Website www.RosaMarchisella.com
BookBub BookBub www.bookbub.com/authors/rosa-marchisella
or Books2Read https://books2read.com/ap/8Z2MY8/Rosa-Marchisella
But, the best place to follow me or get in touch is on Facebook www.facebook.com/iamrosa.fanpage
If readers want to keep tabs on my new releases, they can sign up for Books2Read notifications https://books2read.com/author/rosa-marchisella/subscribe/1/90818