Tina Frisco is an author, singer-songwriter, RN, activist, a student of shamanism, and our guest here today. Born in Pennsylvania USA, she attended nursing school in New York and lives in California. She began writing as a young child and received her first guitar at age 14, which launched her passion for music and songwriting. She has performed publicly in many different venues. Her publishing history includes book reviews; essays; articles in the field of medicine; her début novel, Plateau; her children’s book, Gabby and the Quads; and her latest novel, Vampyrie. She enjoys writing, reading, music, dancing, arts and crafts, exploring nature, and frequently getting lost in working crossword puzzles.
Thank you so much for hosting me, Cathleen. I appreciate your support and the opportunity to be featured on your wonderful blog.
It’s my pleasure to have you here, Tina. Let’s dive right in. Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far and why?
Phoebe, the protagonist in my latest novel, Vampyrie. I call her a reluctant genius and compassionate hothead. She’s impatient and abhors feeling daunted, both of which compel her to act before considering the consequences. Ghosts from her past loom at the edges of her consciousness and become ever more demanding as the story progresses. In short, Phoebe grabs the reins before knowing what beast she’s seated upon and often finds herself in uncharted territory. I love this scenario, because it gives ample opportunity to dissect the components of fear and move a character through the elements of growth.
Yes, once you get over writing protagonists as wish-fulfillment avatars, it’s great to work with characters who have ticking time bombs or a nose for trouble. It opens up the story possibilities. I find that my tales are often born of an interesting person dropped in a unique situation, normally found researching. What’s been the most memorable piece of research you’ve turned up?
Being a nurse, I should say it was the research involving retroviruses, antiretrovirals, and genetics. But what actually popped into my mind when reading this question was all the research I had to do on swords, sabers, scabbards, sheaths, belts, baldrics, back mounts, and metals! Even though this took a full day’s work to complete, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tell us about your latest published work, please.
What if vampires were not the undead, but rather the dying? What if there were two factions among vampires: the sustained and the unsustainable? And what if those factions were at war with one another over the life of a young woman who promised them a future? Vampyrie brings the myth of the vampire into the realm of possibility. Phoebe Angelina Delaney is a reluctant genius and compassionate hothead. She finds herself in a pitch-dark underground and doesn’t remember how she got there. Did she drink too much alcohol and wander off in a stupor, or was she kidnapped by a malicious element determined to make her life a living hell? Sir Michael Alan David is a vampire – an enigma, charismatic and mysterious, who weaves in and out of Phoebe’s life. Does he intend to use his title as a ruse to draw her closer to an unearthly fate, or is he a cloak-and-dagger knight in shining armor? Too many secrets have been kept for too long. Phoebe must unravel the mystery in order to survive. Two major characters from the author’s first novel, Plateau, join forces with Phoebe to battle the demons in Vampyrie.
It sounds like you’ve got some unique world-building for that one. Tell us about your other books, if you would. And what project are you looking forward to next?
A third book to complete the trilogy I’ve yet to call a trilogy.
I wrote and published my first novel quickly, because I wanted to put a message of hope into the world before December 21, 2012 – a date purported to be Armageddon by many self-professed doomsday prophets. Plateau is set in a village amid mountain ranges and rivers, sequestered from the outside world. All the characters are indigenous and lead simple spiritual lives. I had no intention of writing a sequel, although many readers have said they’re looking forward to one.
Two years later, after one niece had quadruplets and another had triplets, I published a children’s book: Gabby and the Quads. A child’s moral compass develops early, and I wanted to write a book that was ethically as well as traditionally educational.
Then one day during my morning walk, I began musing about the myth of the vampire and wondered how the phenomenon could actually exist. This spurred me to write my second novel, Vampyrie, which is set in a city that harbors historical architectural secrets. I still had no intention of writing a sequel to Plateau, but thought it would be interesting to bring two of its major characters into Vampyrie – the unadulterated meets the contaminated!
Now I’m considering a third novel where the two characters from Plateau return to their village, accompanied by a few major characters from Vampyrie. I think it would be interesting to see how that plays out.
Series are supposed to be the way to go, and I like that yours is organic and story-driven, which I would consider to be good advice for anyone writing in series. Do you have any advice for us? Any basic writing philosophy or tips?
Write first, edit later. This advances the free-flow of thought and prevents stifling creativity. Remember, this is a draft. So give yourself permission to write freely.
Have a dictionary and thesaurus at hand, as well as a grammar and style guide. When reading a book, nothing irritates me more than incorrect grammar and usage. I’ll stop reading if errors are glaring and persistent.
Before writing each day, read aloud what you wrote the day before. You can also add Speak command to your Quick Access Toolbar in Word. This is how:
- Next to the Quick Access Toolbar, click Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
- Click More Commands.
- In the Choose commands from list, select All Commands.
- Scroll down to the Speak command, select it, and then click Add.
- Click OK.
- When you want to use the text-to-speech command, click the icon on the Quick Access Toolbar.
Don Massensio wrote a great two-part article on writing tips that many might find useful: 10 More Handy Writing Tips that I Regularly Use.
And here’s a tip I learned the hard way: Track all details in your book, e.g., character traits, eye and hair color, height, dates of significant events, weather, where people first met. Chart these on a graph or in a way that provides easy access for reference as you write. Consistency in details is just as important as correct grammar. Here’s a terrific article by Janice Wald that covers the basics: How to Make Sure You Publish Error-Free Writing.
Now there are some helpful tips–thanks so much for the links. What about the pesky detail of naming characters? My story never comes into focus until I have. How do you come up with character names?
When writing Plateau, I created a language for the characters. I really don’t know how I devised this; it just happened, as if a beneficent entity were dropping the words into my mind. When I wrote Vampyrie, I named four of the major characters after my cats! For others, I chose names I like or names I felt suited the bearing of the character. I also chose names I like for the children in Gabby and the Quads, because my niece preferred I not use the babies’ real names.
Other than character names, how do you manage world-building? Is it all thought out ahead of time, or do you make it up as you go?
I’m pretty much a panster and make things up as I go. It’s as if I’m writing in sync with the Universe and collaborating with spirit. I love the feeling of moving with the flow of the cosmos. This is in direct opposition to how I conduct my everyday life; or at least it used to be. It seems the older I get, the less I care about controlling things. As we grow in spirit, we shed the outer layers of the façade we’ve been conditioned to believe is “self,” and we eventually begin to see a glimmer of our true nature. And my true nature loves a good rollercoaster ride!
What has been the hardest thing about publishing for you?
Formatting! Gabby and the Quads eBook was a challenge due to all the illustrations. I had to change the dpi to 300 for all 32 of them, as well as make changes in Word’s Advanced Settings. But I had no problems uploading for print. Formatting for my novel, Vampyrie, was just the opposite. The eBook was a cinch, but I burst a few brain cells formatting for print; specifically over headers, footers, and page numbering. I think it’s simply a matter of doing it enough times for it to become second nature. Plateau, my first novel, was published by a company in Canada, so I (gratefully) didn’t have to deal with formatting.
I’m with you. I hate formatting headers, footers, and other pesky details. What about those out there wondering if they should take the plunge? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Follow your passion and don’t give up. The more you write, the more fluent you’ll become. Set up a blog before you publish, and write to it. Make friends with other authors and develop a following by visiting their blogs, commenting, and sharing. Host other authors. This not only will give you another opportunity to write, but also will forge and strengthen friendships. The author blogging community is extremely supportive. Read books by the authors you befriend, and then write and publish reviews. All of this will support you in your writing and encourage your pursuit.
What is the single most important quality in a novel–what must an author do to win you over?
Write well, consistently, and on point. If a book is poorly written, I’ll put it down. If an author isn’t willing to put in the time to publish a well-written book, I won’t put in the time reading it. I know that sounds harsh, but maintaining a writing career as well as a life leaves no time to waste.
If your writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do with your success?
I’d set up a foundation to help abandoned and abused animals. I’ve been an animal rights activist all of my life, and that’s where my heart lies. It’s interesting to note that helping nonhuman animals also helps humans, because we’re connected via heartstrings.
Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
There’s some controversy regarding the author of this quote. It appears to be a synopsis of Edmund Burke’s letter to Thomas Mercer some 200 years ago; yet it certainly is apropos to the climate of world affairs today.
To find out more, you can connect with Tina via an impressive menu of social media possibilities:
Website – http://tinafrisco.com
Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/TinaFrisco.Author
Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/TinaFrisco