Blood of the dragon--Bewitching interview with francesca quarto, autho r of the Witch of appalachia series!
Aye and begorrah me hearties!
As spring embraced us and we celebrated the ‘wearin’ of the green’ we looked forward to today with excitement, so we could lower the plank for another auspicious Guest Author whose Irish lassie protaganist dabbles in Celtic Magic: Francesca Quarto. We welcome her aboard as we spotlight her latest release, ”Blood of the Red Dragon.”
WEST MEETS FAR EAST
A mysterious delivery during a snowstorm…
A magical artifact full of power and potency…
An evil that if unleashed might well destroy mankind…
…Cathleen O’Brien, ’THE WITCH SLEUTH OF APPALACHIA’, is on the case!
“Chung Wu wore semi-formal court robes, in a soft apricot yellow. The rich garmet was decorated with a Dragon motif and an impressive depiction of the cosmos. This garb signified his high station at the Court, as only the nobles were permitted the privilege of such robes. The Dragon symbolized the Emperor himself, the Son of Heaven. Only he could have granted this honor to Chung Wu, but that would have been hundreds of centuries ago!
How old is this guy? I wondered in amazement.
After a slow, dignified bow from the waist, the shimmering image stood erect and spoke in perfect English, with only the slightest hint of an accent. His cultured, deep voice filled my kitchen.
“Cathleen O’Brien, daughter of Liam and Brighid, Celtic Wizards of the ancient clan of Brian Boru ,High King of One Ireland, I humbly greet you.”
1. A family history of Celtic Magic figures prominently in main character Cathleen O’Brien’s background. What drew you to this theme?
As a young Italian girl going to Parochial schools, my head was filled with ceremony, mystery and a litany of the wondrous deeds of every mortal that performed miraculous acts. St. Patrick was definitely no piker in my eyes when it came to things magical, no matter that his works were deemed sanctified by the good sisters trying to dissuade me from such heretical views. Our school always marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and I wore my green shamrock and green sash as proudly as any red headed lassie!
I have never lost my affinity for things Irish. I’ve always been charmed by its people’s history and gorgeous countryside. I am especially attracted to an ancient culture that embraces Faeries and naughty Leprechauns, magic and folk tales that Chaucer would love. The castles that dot this beautiful land add greatly to its mystical and haunting allure. How could I not love the magic of the Blarney Stone as a writer?
2. Did you enjoy the skillful world building in ,’Blood of the Dragon’, and what tips do you have for emerging authors attempting to build their own worlds?
I think I spend a good bit of my life rummaging about inside my head. When I conceived the third book of my series, “Blood of the Dragon”, I wanted my protagonist, Cathleen O’Brien to find herself in an exotic, unfamiliar place. Her home in the rugged mountain forests of Appalachia were too much like a fortress to my idea of vulnerability. Hence, the historic setting replete with a foreign or transplanted culture; China Town, San Francisco.I didn’t think the present day sprawl of China Town would create the shadowy, alien ambience I needed. I have visited those streets many times and the only scare I ever experienced was the smoke coming off my charge cards.
Cathleen was put deep into the China Town of old, the historic town that teemed with immigrants, bulged at the seams with gambling parlors, brothels, opium dens and the usual assortment of gangs, pimps, pick-pockets and corrupt politicians. This China Town was buried in 1906 along with unknown, unnamed thousands of people. For Cathleen, I reinvented that world for her and for my reader.
I would recommend any emerging author rely on solid research to support your underpinnings of your world-vision. Then, stretch out the facts like silly putty until they take on the look and feel of your created environment.
3. At what point in your writing career did you ‘feel’ like an author?
Feeling like an author, is a concept I still struggle with as I read some of my favorite writer’s work. I have always been in awe of the perfect choice of a word or phrase. I am currently writing two books in different genres so I guess I’m either an author, or avoiding housework.
4. Attention to detail and your inclusion of many mysterious cultural elements in ‘Blood of the Dragon’ engage the reader from the get go—how much research went into your most recent release?
While I don’t totally ascribe to the old adage of writing about what you know, there is definitely some value in the level of comfort it affords the writer. For me, I am an old and frequent visitor to the City by the Bay, finding San Francisco full of diversity and color. I have drawn upon personal experience to recapture some of the ambience of the crowded, smelly, noisy streets of China Town and instilled those impressions into my story’s many flavors. By necessity, I did some significant research into the history of the first Chinese dynasty as well as the folklore surrounding Chinese vampires. All research helps with color and helps glue together plot description.
5. Just as your own books are inspirational to other authors, what authors have inspired your own writing?
Being an eclectic reader opens my imagination like that famous box of candy where you never know what you are going to get! I love Poe and still cringe. I read anything by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; together or separately for they are both masters of suspense. Robert Parker, Cormac McCarty, Wilbur Smith, Amy Tan; each has focused on the human condition more brightly than I could see alone. I believe my love of Sci-fi and fantasy fueled my efforts to move in that direction, but Ann Rice helped “put some teeth” into my work, so to speak! I will always love the Harry Potter series and admire J.K. Rowlings’ well-crafted world-building.
6. When did you first begin telling stories? Who encouraged and supported you on your journey to becoming an author?
One of my earliest memories of storytelling is of my dad giving my twin brother and me a bath. He was telling us one of his remarkable stories of the adventures of his invented hero. This was a tiny Italian boy who was constantly in need of rescuing by his best friend, a giant black bird. I guess at three years of age, my father planted the seeds of storytelling while cleaning behind my hungry ears! As I grew and bath time became a solo gig, my parents both encouraged me to write. Over the years as I expanded from poetry into articles and essays, their support gave me the courage to peel back my imagination a little more to see what little treasures I could unearth. Naturally, family and friends encourage my work, but it’s still the new Quarto fan that keeps me dedicated to the dream.
7. Tell us about your writing process? Any quirks? How often do you write?
I always, always, keep a dictionary on my desk, a notebook on my left, and pens everywhere to hand, before I begin anything. Discipline of form begins and ends there. I seldom work directly from an outline; preferring instead to commit my characters to the notepad as they make their appearance in my story. I also note their characteristics e.g. hair, eyes, mouth. Important plot shifts are marked down along with page and chapter references to guide me later. This is a rogue approach to writing, but it works for my brand of thought process. It has its pitfalls if I’m not alert though. Plot twists can trip me up when I’m not paying close enough attention to the flow of action. Guess my approach is quirky come to think about it! I write every day; starting at 6:00 a.m. until around 7:30 and then off and on as I can make the time. My personal elixir? Coffee! I enjoy the solitude of what I call my “Willow Room” where my PC sits humming and ready for a new adventure.
8. Is there a certain type of scene that you find more difficult to write? How would you describe boyfriend Jason and Cathleen’s relationship?
I am comfortable with any scene if it conveys my character’s situation and frame of mind for the reader. To me, every word needs to be a mirror reflecting the many faces and passions of being human. I just finished the first draft of a rape scene in a Paranormal Romance Thriller I’m writing. It felt right to use the words to describe the horror of the experience, especially since I knew this would not be an act of violence that would go unpunished.
Cathleen and Jason have moved from deeply attracted, to feeling sexy around one another. I needed to let them grow into that comfortable and romantic state and was reminded by my editor, it was normal for heaven’s sake! They respect and admire one another as strong individuals. Cathleen has said that Jason “gets her”. Jason understands Cathleen is a witch on a mission. He’s ready to let her give an order and man enough to follow it. Strong woman, strong man; perfect partners.
9. Plotter or pantser?
Finding the plot of a story is like kicking up a clod of dirt, and unearthing a diamond. You know you have something really good in your sights, but it needs refinement, cleaning, weighing and measuring, before it amounts to more than a dirty stone. I like to begin with a title that buzzes me like a mosquito. I think about what that triggers in me when I say it to myself. If it comes back like an echo loaded with ideas reverberating around my head, I’ll let it take hold. Guess I drive my books by the seat of my pants; fast, furious, fun and frantic! The last one’s for my editor!
10. What is your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
No one who ever says, “I want to become a writer” should ever begin the process without first reading everything from the classics to the Bible. Seriously. I have personally gone through cycles of reading nothing but Science Fiction, moving on to Romance (a definite correlation there) then on to Paranormal Thrillers, Mysteries, Historic Fiction and so on. I like to read two books at the same time now, mixing genres for the sake of variety and time. So many books, so little time!
Besides reading voraciously, an aspiring writer needs to be patient with her muse and when it comes to the final draft of a work, do one more and be ruthless! Not every word is sacred, only those that bind and tell the story. And for the love of the gods, learn from your editor!
11. What projects are you currently working on? Can we have a teaser quote from one of your current works in progress?
I am continuing my “Witch of Appalachia” series with book four, “Bringing Forth the Dead”. I mentioned I am also working on a Paranormal Romance Thriller to keep my muse busy and out of mischief!
From “Bringing Forth the Dead”, Book IV
Cathleen and Jason talked in lowered tones even though no one was about. The fireplace crackled in the background, fragrant smells rising off the burning pine cones Flannery had added earlier.
They moved onto the oriental hearth rug, sitting close together watching the flames. Jason shifted onto his back, laying his head in Cathleen’s lap. She leaned down and they were kissing deeply, his hand gently, but firmly keeping her head in place.
They were too engrossed in their passionate interlude to notice a dark face beginning to take shape, leering out at them from the swaying flames.
Jason had bent her back until they were both lying down on the carpet. Cathleen laid her head on Jason’s chest, her arm wrapped around him, a leg flung over his. The only sounds, their whispered words and the snapping and crackling of the logs as they burned.
Cathleen had begun to drift off and Jason was already breathing heavily. She moved her foot away from the hearth, feeling the heat had grown too intense. Somewhere in her floating mind, she realized this wasn’t a natural occurrence and she disengaged herself slowly from Jason’s arms to sit up.
The soothing scent of the pine cones and firewood was replaced with a heavier, sharper smell that hung in the air around them. She looked into the stone hearth a few feet away and its dancing fire for an answer.
The face of the Necromancer smiled back at her through the jagged tongues of fire.
hear about the entire series from the author
After learning of the disappearance of an ancient Chinese artifact, “Blood of the Red Dragon”, Cathleen O’Brien accepts her next investigative assignment from the mysterious Dr. Chung Wu.
She must secure the statue that holds the Perverted Blood Magic of the Artist, Feng Xi. If he controls the statue, his power over all natural life in the first realm, would be godlike and unstoppable.
To complicate her search, Cathleen discovers her family is pledged to render one service upon request, to the beautiful Vampire, Lady Bao. She covets the statue of the Red Dragon to enhance her own powers and to bring about the ultimate destruction of her Master, Feng Xi.
If Cathleen can’t discover the hiding place of the deadly statue, this realm will belong to a Vampire or a demented Wizard! Either way, she’ll first lose two people she loves and probably her own mortal existence.
Author reading--blood of the dragon
Keep up with Francesca on social media!
It is with regret that we bid a fond farewell to Francesca Quarto, and thank her for her company and her parting gift of her epic tale,’ Blood of the Red Dragon’. It is great Fortune we be wishing her as we heave ahead to explore the literary high seas in search of more tall tales to fill our sails and tickle our imaginations.
Here our ways divide, until next we meet me hearties!
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)