Alix Welcome! And Congrats on the release of Fire is Magic, Book 3 in the Hearts of Magic Series! It was just released today!!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much for having me. Let’s see, I like to say I write “suspenseful, cathartic romance from the bleeding edge of reality.” What that means is that I try to present a fresh take on paranormal themes by incorporating a lot of ideas from psychology, true crime, horror, and the occult. At the same time, since this is romance, the relationship is the main storyline and love has a supernatural agency all its own. So a recurring theme in my book that “love is magic” is meant quite literally in a world of vampires, demons, and werewolves. Love can conquer all.
Currently, what are you working on?
Right now, I’m working on the fourth book in my Hearts of Dagon series, called Dawn is Magic. It’s a second chance romance between Armando—the head of the Braden vampire clan featured in this series—and a woman who is more than his match, Ursula, the Vampire Queen of Dagon. Not only do they have that dynamic going on, it’s a second-chance romance, because their love goes back a couple centuries. Can they get it right this time?
After that, I’m doing a bridge book or two featuring the series’ designated bad girl Cherise—it might be a tough making her likable, as readers do not like her at all and for good reason—before moving on to the next vampire clan in the grand scheme of things, a family closely allied with the Bradens called the Eibons. Which means, of course the Bradens will return in supporting roles and cameos in those books. It’s like an extended family.
That sounds interesting. I love the side stories, because you get to know that characters a little better. Tell us a little bit about your main characters
I mentioned Armando and Cherise already; the other Bradens include Colin, an Irish gentleman who sweeps Rowan off her feet and off to Paris in Blood is Magic, the first in the series. Then there’s Desiree, a vampire who hates undead life and is stuck in a rut—until her clan tries to pin a murder on this fantastic sweet mortal guy she just met—that’s told in Night is Magic.
The third book just out [August 31st] is Fire is Magic. In this one, George ‘Dreck’ Braden is searching for his sire’s killer in underground fight clubs. Imagine Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine as a vampire pit-fighter and you get the picture. While making the rounds, he falls for a tough, no-nonsense woman of faith named Jordan Rivers—who happens to be a vampire slayer. Things heat up, cool off, and burn up from there.
Alix, how did you decide on what to title each book?
I work on the series name first, then play around with ideas for the titles. I’ve got a Word document with a dozen possible series names and numerous titles either attached to a series or usable as standalone names. Making titles is tons of fun and while I don’t always get it right, it’s enjoyable like poetry. I love your title Sunwalker ’by the way, it’s great.
Thanks so much! I find sometimes it hard to pick between two title. Sometimes I get outside advice. Is this a stand-alone novel or part of a series?
All four of the novels mentioned—including Fire is Magic, just out, and Dawn is Magic, my current work in progress—make up the Hearts of Dagon series. All of my paranormal romance and urban fantasy series (I shade far more toward UF than eRom or New Adult in my books) all fit into the same universe, so just because the four-book Braden series is over doesn’t mean I’m done with that setting, those characters, or the overarching storylines. My ultimate goal is what I like to call a ‘supernatural Sopranos’ or a ‘paranormal Game of Thrones.’
I am always amazed when authors can hold a story together for so many novels. I've never been able to get past the trilogy. That's impressive. Alix, what is the easiest part of the writing process? What is the hardest?
Ideas, characters, brainstorming, worldbuilding—these are the fun parts of the job! I’ve been doing it so long it’s second nature to me and my primary hobby, and I’ve got enough ideas jotted down even if I never came up with another idea, I could still write 100 novels across a variety of genres. I literally have a document called “100 ideas for a novel.” So ideas are the easy part, the hard part is the marketing. Writing itself is fun, it’s not so difficult either once you’ve broken those barriers of a few hundred thousand words, half a million words, which I have on other pen names in other genres. Even revisions aren’t such a slog. The hardest part of the writing part is still the copy-editing and proofreading. I can read through my manuscript between ten and twenty times and still have a ton of errors come back from the proofreader. I wish I wrote cleaner copy, but I also write fast so it’s a tradeoff.
Do you have people read your drafts before you publish? How do you select beta readers?
I think a beta read is vital and while I’ve advertised for more beta readers, I’m still building up that team. I’m also open to critique swaps with other offers, with a preference given to those writing vampire fiction and paranormal romance authors.
I agree, betas are super important. I too am looking for a couple more. What was your writing process like?
On days when I do get to write full-time, I roll straight out of bed and onto the computer. I don’t want anything else in between me and the story. I want to get 4k to 5k words in by lunchtime. Then I can focus on correspondence, marketing, freelance projects, social media, and all the other time-eaters. The remainder of my day is then either more writing, Photoshop work, revising, plotting—there are about a hundred things that have to be done.
In your novels, which character is your favorite?
If I said Cherise, readers would revolt and for good reason, but what’s interesting about her as a recurring villain is that because she’s young for a vampire—only nineteen and still a fledgling—she’s not taken that seriously. There’s also a good reason she keeps popping up: she shares the Braden bloodline, she’s part of the Braden clan, and she lives Braden House with everyone else. Everyone but her sire Armando despises her, but for now they’re stuck with her. So that’s a fun dynamic, as opposed to having some Big Bad who’s off in a secret lair doing evil things unrelated to the clan.
That said, she’s not my favorite—she’s too damn evil. I’ll go with Colin. He’s the family rock, the steady reliable anchor of the Bradens. Between George’s lone wolf act, Desiree’s shy sadness, and Armando’s moody hedonism, the clan needs that steady middle. Unfortunately, due to the way I wrote Blood is Magic, Colin didn’t get a viewpoint even though he was the male love interest! All the remainder of my books alternate viewpoints, but Colin got short shrift in my first one. Sorry, Colin!
Since you wrote in this genre, do you think you will ever write in other genres?
– I love paranormal romance, urban fantasy, secondary-world fantasy, horror, and science fiction. So I read and write in all those genres and let the ideas cross-pollinate back and forth. There’s much to be learned about convincing, suspenseful, and original portrayals of magic in different fantasy fiction, for example, while reading horror can help you work in that creepy, frightening atmosphere that can work well in paranormal romance.
I enjoy fantasy too because there are no limits except your imagination. What advice would you give someone who is considering publishing? Should they consider traditional or self-publishing?
Go ahead and try self-publishing first, the main reason being that trad markets are tight and getting tighter with a lot of lines closing, particularly in romance. And nowadays, a lot of times when trad publishers or even agents are evaluating new authors, they’re also evaluating what kind of mailing list you have, your social media presence, your discoverability, your website, your Amazon page, and other branding you already have in place. Because for the majority of their authors, they won’t do anything to market you anyway. It’s up to you. So even if you want to go trad, it doesn’t hurt you at all to do indie. That may not be true of every genre, literary maybe, but for genre fiction it’s a great way up. You’ll also learn a lot about writing and get market feedback a lot faster than if you’d went the traditional route, which can take years in cases.
Share a short excerpt from Night is Magic –
Desiree sprinted down a silent, suburban street before dawn, chasing fear.
The old man’s fright hung in the wind, mingling with the crimson sweetness of his wounds. He left a scent-trail so palpable, so easy to follow, she could have chased him blindfolded. She could have ditched her underworld senses and tracked him by the blood drops alone.
Her sister Cherise was toying with their victim, slashing at his heels, dancing around him, driving the old man past the point of exhaustion. Sis leaped from car to car, a vampire in black leather, smirking with delight. Boot heels clattered over car roofs and hoods. A knife glittered in her fist—because fang marks gave the game away.
Dez strained to keep up. Tennis shoes slapped on concrete. Her denim jacket flapped in the cold night air. Time to end this barbarous sport. This time, sis had gone too far.
Not ten minutes ago, Cherise had kicked the man awake, slashed his face with the knife, and told him to run. That act was so unexpected—so unspeakably vile and violent—it made Dez want to puke.
But there was a method to sister’s madness. Fear sweetened the blood. Fright pumped adrenaline into the bloodstream, giving it a powerful, almost intoxicating kick. Most vampires craved that terror buzz, but it was an acquired taste.
One she never picked up, thank god. Hunting people was barbaric, something she’d avoided for years. Even drinking medical supply blood made her queasy. She could only force it down by mixing it with tomato juice, red wine, strawberry ice cream—anything to kill the cloying sweetness of stolen life. Blood tasted like guilt, like death, even though it kept her alive. But it wasn’t a life worth living.
Now this. The thought of killing anyone—even someone on the fair game list—made her sick. But running someone down in the streets like a dog before murdering them in a vacant parking lot and drinking raw blood from their veins—it was monstrous. Unconscionable. Her stomach tightened and her throat gagged. “Cherise! Stop!”
The other woman spun about, glaring. The hunting knife gleamed. Though still a fledgling, Cherise was vicious and bloodthirsty, everything a vampire should be. Everything Desiree was not. Green eyes flared in the dark.
“What?” Sister’s words took on a cold sneer and the hunting knife blazed in her hand, save where blood darkened the blade. “Out of breath, Dez? Can’t keep up? Want to run home to daddy?”
As a matter of fact, going home sounded great. But first, this had to end. A weapon hung in her fingers too, a butterfly knife with a silver-gilded blade. It weighed cold and heavy against her palm. Their sire had given it to her only hours ago, marking the anniversary of her turning. She swallowed hard but looked Cherise straight in the eye.
“We’re not killing this man.”
(end of excerpt)
Night is Magic – FREE from August 31 – Sept 4
Fire is Magic – LAUNCHES August 31
Hearts of Dagon series page:
The cover designer of the Hearts of Dagon series: