I sat down with Ace Parks to writing, passion and her book, Tiger’s Eye!
When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?
It happened when I was 12 or 13; I finished reading Demon in My View by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and I guess I wasn’t ready to let go of the characters… So I wrote my own version of their story. I only recently realized my journey began in fanfiction which is amusing, but I quickly progressed into writing my own novels.
What has been your best experience as an author so far?
To be honest, I cringe at the thought now, but after I finished my first draft of my first novel, age… 14? I printed it off… and let people read it.
I shudder to think, the quality of it… Looking at it years later, I can’t believe I ever let another living being lay eyes on it – including my English teacher!
The “best experience” part I suppose is that, essentially, everyone (minus the English teacher) raved about it – they loved it. Horrifying to think, but if my writing was loveable then, then I dare say that my writing now must be hella good. It was so encouraging that these people (not all of them were even friends, these were curious ‘acquaintances’ from my class) enjoyed what I was doing. I think it may be what inspired me to pursue it as a life-long dream.
What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?
Self-doubt is always the biggest killer. I went through a long period of writers block because I kept thinking about people I know reading my work and judging me. I’ve only somewhat managed to put that monster to bed lately with my current WIP, content for now that I can keep it all private until I’ve written and rewritten my manuscripts till they shine. We’ll see how I cope when it comes time to publish and my mother wants to read that book of mine with the sex scenes!
How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?
I find it’s a delicate balance. Part of the joy of writing, for me, is the discovery of the story, so over-planning completely destroys my desire to put words on paper – because I already know what’s to come. On the other hand, you’ve really got to have some kind of idea how things are going to play out, or you’ll end up in a rut for five months because you never bothered to decide who the murderer was!
Have you learned anything really cool or interesting while researching your books? What’s been the weirdest research you’ve ever had to do?
I don’t know about really cool or interesting things – though I’m quite fascinated by my naming searches; scrolling through baby-name websites and seeing meanings behind really exotic names is just so… exciting to me. Sometimes I’ll read a name and craft an entire character around it.
As for weird research, I can certainly say I’ve stopped on occasion to think what someone might think if they stumbled across my history… The terms “serial killer” and “Satanist” come to mind. Though I guess it’s not out of the ordinary for writer’s searches. I write mystery and murder novels – and also paranormal and fantasy novels, so the research varies far and wide. Everything from “how many ways can you kill a man with your bare hands” to “Vampire folklore through history”, “Biblical Demons” and “how much do bounty hunters make?” – and then there’s the research on weather patterns in various cities. I recently had to research what it’s like to bleed to death and understandably, kept coming across both messages about therapy and reasons not to commit suicide, and posts about serial killers.
What advice would you give to new writers in the field?
Just write. Don’t think about your audience, who might read it, what people might think or want – you have to write for you, or you’ll suffocate your creativity.
Also, read. Read so damn much – anything you can get your hands on. I don’t care how busy you are; I used to read four to eight books a month in high school, but I stopped because “life got busy” at uni, and let me tell you, it was the worst dry spell of my life. I couldn’t write, for years. This year, I started carrying books around with me – anywhere and everywhere, I’d read in any waiting room, I’d read for two minutes before class starts, I’d read for 5 minutes before starting work. Just anywhere, in any free minute I had. Last week, I wrote 15,000 words.
Tell us a little about your writing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?
Honestly, I kind of wish I had one, but I really just write anywhere. Whenever the need takes me. I won’t go anywhere without pen and paper handy; I keep them in the car, in my handbag, my uni bag, near my bedside, and essentially, all over the house. In high school I got in so much trouble because I would sit and write all through class – and then type it up after school instead of doing my homework; books were really all-consuming back then. I still write through some of my uni classes now – but it’s not the most helpful activity for my degree.
Mostly though, I write in bed, or on the couch. I know there’s all kinds of psychology about not doing anything in bed except sleeping… and you know, one or two other things… but I really can’t help it.
And as for snacks… if I’m really in the headspace, I’ll completely forget to eat. Hot chocolates have gone cold and sandwiches turned stale as I neglect them in favor of spewing words onto the page… I’ll pause for chocolate though… Chocolate I remember.
Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?
Once upon a time, I would’ve said Sebastian, my very first love. He’s the love interest of Forbidden, concocted from the day-dreaming’s of a 13 year old girl – I’m sure you can imagine I may’ve evolved a little beyond that now. He’s a mysterious bad-boy vampire that as an adult I’ve come to view as creepy and sadistic and in thorough need of review.
So I guess I’d have to say my recently-named Keirran from Demons Run, which I’m kind of surprised by. He’s a pretty wholesome guy, a cop, who’s magical power is bound, leaving him almost-human with no memory of what he once was. Super mysterious.
Surprising though, because I’m usually far more into the bad-boy, tall-dark-and-handsome mystery man type. I would name Aiden, the fierce fae male from the tentatively-planned sequel to Tiger’s Eye (Working title: Dead in the Night, so-named when Tiger’s Eye was still Dead by Dawn), except for the fact that at this point his concept is kind of a psychopathic murderer so…
What project are you currently working on?
I have three current “Works in Progress”, my main focuses (and the other forty-something concepts have been shelved). You can find blurbs for these on my wordpress. Tiger’s Eye – my adult fiction, psychological mind-fuck; Forbidden – my waiting-to-be-rewritten young-adult vampire romance; and Demons Run – my newest concept, a demon-hunting demon-witch-hybrid young-adult paranormal romance.
What’s next for you?
Well, hopefully, completing a polished manuscript to be published. It’s every writer’s dream, is it not?
Ace (born November 8th, 1995) is a New Zealand paranormal romance and mystery writer. Currently studying a double major in Creative Writing and Psychology at Massey University
Tell us a little about your Work in Progress: Tiger’s Eye
Tiger’s Eye is an adult fiction paranormal mystery romance, featuring tiger-shifter Olivia Fairwood, a trained assassin trying to escape a traumatic past of fighting for survival. Someone is killing people of her kin, life-long trained assassins, and she’s forced into betraying her ‘family’ to help law enforcement catch the killer.
I refer to it as a “psychological mind-fuck” because I’m looking to explore some really hard and taboo concepts. I want to show how someone can be a victim of their upbringing and show Olivia’s struggle to recognize moral rights and wrongs as she grapples with the in-grained loyalty to her kin against the need to escape them forever. She’s a traumatized, angry character who is essentially everything society shuns – she has racist ideals and a very twisted moral compass, which is challenged over and over again as she learns that the way she was raised is even more messed up that she thought.
It includes psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, pedophilia, sadism, and all those dark horrible things in the world (I’m a psychology student after all, with a fascination for psychopaths).
Where did your inspiration for the book come from?
Olivia’s character kind of evolved out of Riley Jensen (Full Moon Rising, Keri Arthur) and Anita Blake (Guilty Pleasures, Laurell K. Hamilton). I really liked the feel of their characters and adapted the ‘feel’ to create Olivia. While they were the inspirations for Olivia, I feel that – especially with her background – she’d evolved well beyond the original concept they gave me.
I’m also an abnormal psychology student; I’m… interested in how minds tick, including the really dark and twisted things in life, but I also have a message I want to come across in the books. In psychology, it’s important to understand not just how, but why people hold the beliefs and morals that drive them. Tiger’s Eye forces the reader to get inside the psyche and sympathize with a racist who blames a victim for their abuse; I want to make them understand that people are victims to the way they are raised, the things they are taught – but also enforcing that these ideals are wrong, and while not her fault, are something she must – and does – work to change. People condemn those who have done bad things in their life, and I want to bring understanding that people can change and move beyond their bad history.
Did you outline the story, or dive right in?
I was taken by the desire to write Olivia’s character in a certain scene from the book (but they involve spoilers, so that’s all I can say on the matter), after which I mapped out an idea of her past and upbringing as well as a rough storyline.
Actually, the scene I began with has since been moved to book two, as it skipped into Olivia’s future life and I decided it was both really important to write and also really fascinating to craft, how she came to be in the position, so the concept shifted, and then there were two books.
How did your characters come to life?
This is hard to say… I think most of my characters begin with the inspiration for a specific scene, but beyond that, there’s a period of discovering them as a character where they aren’t yet their own entity and I kind of feel them out as I throw them into situations.
I can’t really say how she came to life, so much as explain when I noticed she had. I was attempting to write a steamy scene I’d planned forever ago, and quickly found Olivia getting in the way of things. She didn’t – couldn’t – behave the way I’d imagined for the scene, and that was when I realized she’d evolved into her own entity.
Did you do any cool or interesting research for this story? What did you learn?
This story has involved a lot of research on killing; I’ve researched things like “how many ways can you kill a man with your bare hands?” and worse. I’ve also read and watched a lot of literature/film on psychologically disturbed people, to try and lend as authentic a feel as possible. I’ve also done a lot of research on cops, geography, Michigan, mountain ranges, and what skills make the ultimate assassin.
What’s your favorite part of working on this story? What’s the most challenging?
My favorite parts are always the sex scenes. I mean, come on. But essentially, I love the action parts – scenes where everything’s on the line, where every moment counts, where Olivia’s next move will make or break her.
The challenging parts are filling in the gaps. Sometimes I get over-enthused about a specific scene, and I’ll write it in advance, to weave into the story later. The problem parts are the weaving; the quiet transitions – which I know are really important for fleshing out the story and giving depth, but when I’m raring to write that upcoming shower-sex or close-encounter, it feels like I’m slugging through mud to get the words down.
What’s next for this story – is it part of a series?
Tiger’s Eye is about two-thirds written. My goal is to have the draft finished by the end of the year and have it revised, primed and polished before midyear 2018.
You bet there’s a series. I have the sequel mapped out and a concept for a third – possible inklings of a fourth book, depending how the next one goes. I’ve also conceptualized a spin-off involving supporting-character Marianne’s twin daughters, gifted with psychic abilities.
Share an Excerpt:
The earth began to smoke, the dirt blackening as heat blazed up, scorching Olivia’s skin. At this rate the psycho bitch was going to burn down the entire fucking forest.
Anora drew symbols in the air with her wand, trailing a shimmering glow so she could almost make out the what the markings were before they faded. In the pit of her stomach Olivia felt this ritual was about to reach it’s crescendo, and if it did she wasn’t sure there was any hope of escaping with her life.
With a rumbling vibration, cracks began to appear around them; the earth was trembling from the force of whatever was coming, as if the pits of hell were rising up to meet them.
Follow my progress and stay up to date with my WIP’s HERE