Thursday, February 19, 2015

Queen of Clubs: Cora by Katie de Long: Interview with Excerpt and Teaser


Welcome!!  Thank you so much for stopping by. 
How did you start your writing career?

Well, my man-beast writes fiction as well; it's a huge part of his identity. As our relationship went on, he started giving me more and more stuff to offer plot feedback on and edit, to the best of my ability. I had a knack for it, and eventually he insisted I tag along for NaNoWriMo with him. For those blessed people who've never seen a NaNo, it's a writing marathon to produce the first draft of a 50,000 word novel in a month. It's grueling for professional writers and amateurs alike, but is a great way to explore a new idea and test yourself.

Anyways, the idea he gave me to write ended up being shorter than the goal; it wrapped up neatly at about 37k words. But he was happy with it, and insisted I continue writing alongside him. For us, it's a social activity, working with each other. Even if I never published another word, I'd still be thrilled to continue our back and forth.

What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?

He loves it. He's a writer too, though of more traditionally masculine genres. But we trade ideas, collaborate on a lot of the aspects of the work. I help him close up plot holes in his stuff, and he inspires me for mine.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

Most certainly. Michelle Browne, my editor, sees probably two or three drafts before one comes that she can actually tweak. She sees the ideas when they're barely seeds, sees passages that are just “how much can I write today” challenge sprints. And overlooks the terrible flaws in said first drafts without teasing me. Sometimes my man-beast peeks at things too, but he freely admits romance is not his genre, and he wouldn't know where to start with feedback. Sometimes a project will go up to other people for beta reads, mainly when it crosses genres enough that I'm looking for quantity feedback on which genre to lean into.

How do you describe your writing style?

This is kind of a hard one-- in general, I'm hugely inspired by unreliable narrators and the film noir aesthetic. And somewhat sarcastic narrators.

Add a weakness for hugely flawed, struggling characters, and you have a style that my editor describes as “very Lana del Rey”.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

Always. I'm an incredibly musical person. Trained as a classical musician and all. The playlist varies by project, though.

For the Queen of Clubs novels, since their music is as much a part of their personality as their costumes, their hustles, their makeup, I keep thorough playlists for all the girls. These get shared on my website when the stories are ready to go out into the world.

For some of my dark fantasy or noir inspired stuff, the playlist might be different-- less upbeat, darker. But not always.

What songs are most played on your Ipod?

That's a tough one. In general I'd say Lana del Rey, Lykke Li, Puscifer, Angel Haze, Kali Uchis, The Black Keys, Tori Amos, all of those guys pop up pretty often. I like jazzy or bluesy edges, raw lyrics, and somewhat medium tempos.

But I'll also say that if I go on my ipod and search “F-U-C-K” I have probably more than 50 songs pop up. So that says something about the rest of my music tastes. I've got a lot of artists who have one song that captivates me, and that one song will be played on repeat for days. It drives my man-beast batty.

And I talk about music a lot-- anyone who wants to steer me to new stuff, or hear my current brainworms can hang out with me on facebook, or check out playlists I regularly add to on youtube.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

 No, not really. Sometimes it might be a character trait I want to explore, and I build a story around that aspect of my main character. Other times, it might be a particular conflict that later defines the characters.

As far as developing the plots, I usually start with something short- one or two sentences, and use that to build a scene out, test the characters' voices. Usually that gives me the impetus to outline the full story. And especially in Queen of Clubs, since the characters shuffle around in the background, their stories are already somewhat defined by everyone else's. Queen of Clubs: Tori, for instance, introduces some stuff that has fallout for Cora, the heroine of Queen of Clubs: Cora, the first Queen of Clubs story. So, both of them receive sequels, of sorts, in Season 2. The conflicts were already dictated for those stories.

I started out as a developmental editor, so breaking down plots, outlining things, identifying pacing problems before they start is pretty intuitive at this point. I sometimes pants a short story project, but that's fairly rare. Most of my projects are blurbed before they're ever written, since I focus so heavily on story.

If you could select one book that you could rewrite and add your own unique twist on, which book would that be and why?

Does a series count? If so, Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I'm a sucker for urban fantasy, but I've had a hard time getting into that series entirely because of some of Butcher's indulgences for a very outmoded way of relating to women. Even putting aside the limitations in roles he allows female characters, there's a lot of edges to the writing that reinforce it.

Basically, he spends just as much time talking about even minor female characters' bodies as he does his main male hero's body. Every woman's appearance is described, rehashed, and is just as prominent as the one man he spends the most time describing. Even if she's only there for a scene with maybe two lines of dialogue. The supporting male characters barely get a descriptor or two about their looks. It's improperly balanced, and just dehumanizes these women. I don't need to know about the good detective's haircut, unless she's missing a chunk where a perp grabbed it when struggling with her.

The stories are great, and fun; undoubtedly some of the genre-defining classics of urban fantasy. But c'mon, Jim-- can't you just let a woman be a person, not a mother figure, femme fatale, or a body in the fridge?

Queen of Clubs: Cora

by Katie de Long

The exotic dancers and employees of the Queen of Clubs walk a fine line, with only wits, beauty, and market savvy to keep them from toppling into the shark pit. Ride shotgun through lapdances, romance, and sexual awakenings. Don't worry, these girls won't ask what your hands are doing under the tip rail.
Cora, an adventurous student, finds herself auditioning for a stripping gig...and it comes with more than the asking price, including a very attractive DJ.
Queen of Clubs contains adult content, and is intended for mature readers. Each Queen of Clubs title is a standalone novella length work.
I prayed the song wouldn't end. Would the next one jar me out of this rhythm? Would I wake up and discover it was a dream, that I was still the awkward college student I had to be the rest of the time? I slid the straps of my bra off my shoulders and undid the catch, but hesitated to let it fall away from me.
I looked toward Kirk and met his eyes. Fuck. He'd been staring, a combination of lust, pride, and approval in the small smile on his face. It reassured me, and against my better judgment, I grinned back.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Katie de Long lives in the Pacific northwest, realizing her dream of being a crazy cat-lady. As a kid, Katie flagged the fade-to-blacks in every adult book she encountered, and when she began writing, she vowed to use cutaways sparingly. After all, that's when the good stuff happens. And on a kindle, no one asks why there's so many bookmarks in her library.
Stay in touch with Katie:
Buy Cora:
Queen of Clubs is currently published monthly. Visit for preorder and purchase links, or sign up for the mailing list, to be notified when new titles are available.
Katie de Long will offer a signed paperback of Queen of Clubs: Cora and a swag pendant to one randomly selected commenter and will offer a signed paperback of Queen of Clubs: Cora and a swag pendant to a randomly drawn host (US only).

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