Cassandra Pierce has been a fan of Gothic literature for most of her life, even studying the origins of the genre in college and graduate school. Before long, she got the urge to create paranormal romances of her own and is now hard at work on several new projects. When she is not writing, she teaches English at a small New England college and is active in a charity that rescues and rehomes abandoned pets.
Q: How did you get into romance novels?
A: Romance novels have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother used to buy bags of them at tag sales, and our shelves were always overflowing with the thick historical ones that were popular in the ‘70s. I used to skim them for the naughty parts—which was good training for writing modern erotic romance, I would say.
Q: When did you start writing them?
I tried my hand at writing romance novels as a teenager, but of course I lacked the experience and perseverance to get through a full manuscript. Then came college, then graduate school, and finally a teaching career, with a lot of half-finished projects along the way. Finally, two summers ago, I bought a laptop and vowed to use it to organize my notes and finish at least one novel. I accomplished that, and more. I’m now writing every day and meeting my word-count goals, I’m happy to say.
Q: What do you find most rewarding and most difficult about writing?
By far the most rewarding part of the process is feeling the characters come to life during the first months of drafting, then turning the plot over to them and letting them resolve the conflicts I’ve set up for them. Rewriting is like spending time with old friends. It can be exhilarating, though exhausting.
The most difficult part is getting the project underway. Like many of my own students, I find a blank page or screen absolutely terrifying. Yet every day, I force myself to put down a few random words, a doodle, anything to get started. Eventually something coherent starts flowing. My mind is always teeming with plot ideas, half-formed characters, and snatches of dialogue, so the well is never dry. It’s just a matter of tapping into what’s there.
Q: Where do those ideas come from?
Sometimes entire scenes just occur to me out of the blue, complete with dialogue and characters’ names. This often happens in the middle of the night, which isn’t terribly convenient. At other times, I try to find interesting names and create characters, then think up things for them to do and people for them to fall in love with. At other times, I dream up a setting first and then populate it with conflicted personalities. I’m lucky to live in New England, an area rich with creepy Victorian houses and gloomy cemeteries dating back to the 1700s. Some of the early settlers actually believed in vampires, which isn’t too surprising when you imagine the long winters in isolated farmhouses with the wind howling and the moon casting odd shadows through the trees. It can make anyone’s imagination run wild, though in my case that’s a good thing.
Q: Why do vampires make good romantic heroes?
For me, it’s because they represent fantasy without boundaries. They’re the ultimate bad boys—phenomenally strong, hypnotically attractive, and their passions rage larger than life. They will be young and handsome forever. All that can pose quite a challenge for a heroine. She needs to be feisty and smart to hold her own with a guy like that. As far as the writing part goes, it never gets boring because there are so many directions to go in. Vampires may be cold to the touch, but I would say plenty of women find them scorching hot!
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