Welcome, Ally Shields, to my virtual couch! Please, tell us a something about yourself?
Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest, taught school on the East Coast, has visited forty-two of our states, and currently resides near Des Moines, Iowa, with her miniature pinscher, Ranger. Writing has always been a part of her life, and in late 2008, after a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing. Her first urban fantasy novel, Awakening the Fire, was published in 2012. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ally enjoys talking with readers and is active in social media.
What are the genres of your book or books?
I have two published series. Both are urban fantasies, although they involved different types of supernaturals. The main characters in the Guardian Witch series are a fire witch and her vampire love interest, and there are plenty of shifters. The Elvenrude trilogy revolves around a race of dark elves, very human-like beings with magical powers.
I’m preparing to look for a publisher for a non-paranormal series: an espionage thriller with a female ex-CIA assassin who specializes in the fight against domestic terrorism.
I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first full length story at the age of nine. But the first time I considered myself an author was the day my first book appeared for sale on Amazon in September 2012. I have to admit I still pinch myself to see if it’s real.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
From everywhere. Most of my plots are whispered in my ear by characters who just pop unbidden into my head. But it can also be a casual word, a news headline, even a movie or song. I ask a lot of questions wherever I go. My friends and relatives have grown wary of accompanying me into public. They even bought me a t-shirt that warns the unsuspecting: “I’m a writer. Anything you say to me could appear in my next book.”
Oh, I want a t-shirt like that, too! Which one of your characters would you like to be and why?
One of the strong women, but I can’t choose among them. Ari is a favorite, because I’ve known her the longest. I most admire her fierce loyalty. Kam is a spunky gal in spite of growing up in the elven aristocracy. I love her determination to be her own person.
I bet you’ve dreamed about getting your books on a big screen. Do you have a list of your dream cast?
Too bad! But maybe sometimes in the future… Okay, think big…where do you see yourself in 2020? Red carpet… Number 1 on NY Bestseller list… Partying in Maui… 🙂
On a beach somewhere, still writing. I write because I love it, not for the public recognition. I’d love, love, love for millions of people to read my books, but I don’t care if they even know my name.
Have you ever had writer’s block and if yes, how did you make it go away?
I’ve suffered writer’s procrastination and writer’s frustration but never writer’s block. Sometimes I need to take a break, do something different, or sleep on it. I’ve even solved tricky plot points in the shower. But mainly I just keep writing. The problem will eventually work itself out.
Do you have any weird writing habits? Perhaps something you always have to do before starting to write or a secret vice? A weird place to write…
Weird only in the sense that I surround myself with distractions: tv running in the background, the dog begging me to play tug, two or three browsers open – currently one of them is monitoring a live stream from the Decorah eagles nest. For some reason all this “noise” helps me to concentrate on the story. I guess that is rather weird…
Yep, I agree! What’s your most listened song on your playlist right now?
I’ve become a big country music fan. So Blake Shelton’s Lonely Tonight and Carrie Underwood’s Something in the Water are high on the list.
I just released the final book in the Guardian Witch series, so I’m concentrating on finishing the Elvenrude Trilogy. Book two in the series is due to the publisher on June 1, 2015. I also have a ghost story that’s running around in the back of my head. 🙂
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Since I’ve been published, nothing has been really awful. I try not to read any reviews that are hateful. I think my fans and friends worry more about those than I do. As long as the criticism is by someone who’s actually read the book, I can deal with it. I ignore the trolls.
But I once had a creative writing teacher tell me I should stick to writing legal briefs because I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. I hope he was wrong. 🙂
What has been the best compliment?
Oh, the ones that love my characters, of course! I loved it when a reader wrote to tell me that Ari would never have used a certain word in dialogue (it wasn’t even a swear word). It showed how invested the reader was in the character!
Do you have any words of wisdom for the other writers?
Persistence. Just stick with it. Keep writing and keep sharing it with others you trust and getting feedback. You develop a thick skin and learn a lot along the way.
And find other writers. I belong to several online groups. They are incredible resources for information and support, and that’s how I found my critique partner. I wouldn’t dare submit a manuscript without her reviewing it.
It has always been “Carpe Diem” – seize the day. I admire the strength and the determination embodied in those two words.
The quick ones:
I love…Downton Abbey
Favorite person? No fair. I can’t pick one. There’s a long list.
Favorite creature? vampire
Night or day? Night
Cat or dog? Both
High heels or flip flops? flip flops
I believe…chocolate can cure anything.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Ally-Shields/e/B009AKNDZU
Do you want to tell us something about your book?
Eternal Fires is the finale of the Guardian Witch series. Since there is a continuing story line, I always recommend that you read them in order: Awakening the Fire, Fire Within, Burning Both Ends, Blood and Fire, Fire Storm, Wild Fire and ending with Eternal Fires.
Eternal Fires blurb:
It started with the murder of a stranger. Then the crows appeared…
Ari and Andreas know the O-Seven will never leave them alone. Ari is carrying Andreas’s mortal child, but the vampire elders are convinced the child will be the first vampire baby and are out to posses it. Or kill it. Either way, Ari and Andreas will do anything to keep their unborn child safe, even if it means Ari has to go into hiding and leave Andreas exposed to the O-Seven alone.
But then the O-Seven call on the Mahmo magic that can turn an elder into a winged killer, and each time Ari runs, they find her again. The only way to protect their child’s future is to defeat the O-Seven, once and for all. And to do that, Ari will have to face the elders head-on in their castle stronghold deep in Germany’s Black Forest…
Excerpt (first 500 words):
Nothing like starting the day in a cold morgue room. Arianna Calin shook off her primal reaction to her surroundings—stark, white walls, sterile steel counters, drainable floors, and the heavy scent of chemicals that didn’t quite mask the odors of death—and studied the body on the table. The victim looked like a small human, a preteen child, but the magical aura that hovered around her even after death told a different story. The cherub features with the soft wisps of silver-blonde hair curling across her cheeks belonged to a nymph. She’d been cruelly assaulted, leaving gashes and puncture marks across her face and body. She seemed vaguely familiar, but it was probably just the hair, a color common to her race.
Ari curbed a flash of sadness. It wasn’t the worst she’d seen in her years as a supernatural cop for Riverdale’s Magic Council, but death never got easy. “What killed her?”
Dr. Onway paused his inspection of the victim’s left arm and pushed his glasses to the bridge of his nose. “Hard to say. She’s been struck or stabbed multiple times with an oddly shaped instrument, but none of the visible wounds killed her.”
“These look like claw marks.” Ari narrowed her eyes and pointed to three deep linear gouges on the victim’s upper arm. She leaned forward for a closer look, looping her blonde hair behind her ears to keep it out of the way.
Her human partner, Ryan Foster from the local PD, peered over her shoulder. “An animal did this? Is this postmortem damage by scavengers?”
“No, Lieutenant, there was extensive bleeding.” Onway pursed his lips and probed the wounds with his fingers. “Perimortem, I’d say. Part of the killer’s fatal attack. They weren’t made by mammal claws or human fingernails. Reptilian, maybe. Like a large lizard?”
He gave a deep sigh, straightened, and pulled off his gloves with a snap. “Or something I’ve never heard of. The puncture under the arm might be the mark of a fourth toe.” He made a claw of his hand with his thumb demonstrating the fourth toe position. “I’ve contacted the Magic Lab’s forensics people to take over. Perhaps they can give you a better cause of death. I don’t think my medical degree is going to explain this.”
Ari cocked her head and frowned. There weren’t any large predator lizards in the Midwest, supernatural or otherwise. Certainly nothing that would have attacked this childlike being or left such deep puncture marks. A thread of unease shot down her spine. The only creatures with three toes forward and one underneath that came readily to mind were the wereraptors who worked for the O-Seven, the brutal vampire elders who’d tried to kill her more than once. Ari dismissed her concerns as quickly as they’d risen. At seven or eight feet tall, the raptors were too big to have caused this damage. Besides, the pre-pterosaur creatures rarely left the O-Seven’s stronghold in Germany, and they certainly couldn’t wander around the American countryside without drawing attention.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/a43a-ZUBUpc
Etopia Press: http://www.etopiapress.com/brands/Ally-Shields.html
Thank you so much for visiting us today. I wish all the success for you and we’ll see again on Wednesday!