Today we welcome bestselling author Claire Delacroix / Deborah Cooke to RE. Welcome Claire, tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Do you have one of those day-jobs?
Thanks for inviting me to visit! I’m Deborah Cooke, and I also write as Claire Delacroix. I live in Canada and have been published for a little more than 20 years. I used to have one of those pesky day jobs, but quit a few months before making my first book sale. Ever since, I’ve been a full time writer, which is a dream come true.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve always written stories, but I got serious about trying to become a published writer in 1989 or 1990. When I was a kid, I’d been told that being a writer was an impractical way to make a living and was a better hobby. So, I had a day job, which ended up being pretty frustrating. I had started to write stories again in the evenings, and (here’s a cliché) when I read several books in a row that I wanted to improve, I decided to pursue publication. It took me about two years to sell my first book—I had three books in the works, and would revise one, send it out, then revise the next. The response times worked out that I just got everything submitted again and the rejections for the first one started to land in the mail box. Ultimately, I sold the medieval romance, which was called The Romance of the Rose, to Harlequin Historicals. It was published in March 1993 under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix. The other two books never did sell to a publisher, although one of the stories still haunts me. One of these days, I’ll dig it out and revise it—telling it well was beyond my capabilities twenty years ago.
Tell us about your latest release?
My current Deborah Cooke release is the tenth book in my Dragonfire series of paranormal romances featuring dragon shape shifter heroes called the Pyr. Serpent’s Kiss is Thorolf’s book, and since Thorolf is the “bad boy” of the Pyr, it was a lot of fun to write. My Pyr dragon shifters experience a firestorm when they meet the woman who can bear their son, and I knew all along that Thorolf’s would be a different and special firestorm. Chandra is more than his match, and there’s more to her than meets the eye. She catches his attention right away, and makes sure she keeps it. My next Claire Delacroix release (coming in August) is the third book in my medieval romance series The True Love Brides, and is called The Frost Maiden’s Kiss. In this book, Malcolm returns to Ravensmuir after serving as a mercenary, intent upon rebuilding his legacy. He’s troubled by what he’s done (and his family certainly doesn’t approve) but it takes Catriona, a pregnant serving maid, to give him not only a reason to live but the chance of a future worth fighting for.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
I write fiction. That said, I believe that compelling characters can only be created by writers who pay attention to how people are, how they act and how they think. So, even though none of my characters are ever based on a specific individual I’ve known, I try to make them all realistically human (even when they’re dragon shape shifters or goddesses!)
Where did you get the idea from?
I have literally zillions of story ideas. The trick isn’t getting an idea—it’s choosing between them.
Your write as Claire Delacroix, Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. Does each name go with a different genre? Or why do you use several pen names?
Well, once upon a time, each author name went with a different publisher and a different subgenre of romance. Since I’ve published more than 50 books, though, things aren’t as clearly delineated as once they were. I’ve also been trying to make readers more aware of my work under different names in recent years, am have pulled everything together onto a single website. To simplify my life, Claire Cross has gone away – I wrote 8 books under that pseudonym, 4 standalone time travels and paranormal romances (the woo-woo books) and 4 linked contemporary romances. I’ve republished the time travels as Claire Delacroix books and the contemporary romances as Deborah Cooke books. Most of my books include both romance and fantasy elements: the rough guide is that Cooke books have contemporary settings and Delacroix books are set in other time periods (usually in the Middle Ages, although I have one Delacroix series set in the future.)
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?
Actually, my challenge right now involves storytelling and the structure of books more than the challenge of any individual character. I’m finishing up a couple of series that have been going on for a while – Dragonfire, for example, includes 9 full length books, three linked novellas gathered into a collection, and a short story. The True Love Brides, which will ultimately be a 4 book series, is strongly linked to my Jewels of Kinfairlie series, which includes 3 books and a short story, as well as my Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy of romances. The challenge in both series is keeping all of the characters straight, and giving each of them a bit of a spotlight in each book, as well as maintaining continuity in the overall storyline and characterization. (Plus they all have lots of babies. Family trees abound!) As much as I love both of these projects, and the freedom I’ve had to develop more dimensionality over those longer storylines, I will be ready by the end of the year to dive into an entirely new project or two. I suspect I will work in trilogies in future.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
I’m a pretty temperate person, so I think it would be fun to be Thorolf for a day, at least the way he was before he met Chandra, and indulge in every pleasure I could imagine. I wouldn’t want to be him the next morning, though!
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m finishing up The Frost Maiden’s Kiss. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a new collection of my own previously published novellas and short stories, which is called Beguiled. I’m used to working on multiple projects simultaneously, so I’m also scribbling notes for Firestorm Forever (the next and final Dragonfire book) as well as The Warrior’s Prize (the fourth and final medieval romance in the True Love Brides series.) There are some other projects in development that are demanding attention, but we’ll wait until 2015 to talk about them. 🙂
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
I read a lot of fantasy as a teenager—Tolkien, in particular—and also many mysteries—Agatha Christie for straight mysteries, as well as gothics by authors like Phyllis A. Whitney. I’ve also always loved to read fairy tales. I think that combination has shaped my desire to blend elements in my books, having a bit of mystery and/or fantasy elements along with the romance. I read a lot of science fiction in my twenties, which is probably what led to my future-set dystopian Prometheus Project series with fallen angel heroes—of course, love conquers all in my gritty future world!
If you could have dinner with any writer living or dead, who would it be and why? Right now, I’d love to chat over dinner with Charles Dickens. He was both prolific and talented, and serialized his work. I think he’d have some interesting ideas about publishing in digital-first.
Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?
No one who reads my blog would be surprised that I’m a bit obsessive about my knitting.
Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
A glass of red wine usually makes the world appear a bit more sane.
What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did?
LOL! Not really. The only questions I haven’t been asked are the ones I wouldn’t want to answer!
Oh, another Agatha Christie fan! Thank you so much for stopping by today, Claire.
You can find Claire:
About the Author:
Bestselling author Claire Delacroix sold her first romance, a medieval called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE, in 1992. Since then, she has published more than forty-five romance novels and numerous novellas. She has also written under the names Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. THE BEAUTY, part of her successful Bride Quest series, was her first book to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books.
She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies, and is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels. She makes her home in Canada with her husband and family. When she isn’t writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.