Joining Curiosity Quills for another edition of our Author Spotlight: Question & Answer Coloumn, is Vicki Stiefel, author of newly released fantasy romance Chest of Bone, which hit Amazon on February 14, 2017!
In the comments, please join us in asking Vicki Stiefel anything you’d like to know about writing, her new book, and life in Glendale, CA. Or you know, just throw something completely random at her to keep her on her toes!
Who are you and where do you call home right now? Who am I am - a philosophical question. I suppose I’m different things to different people. A mom to my sons. A teacher to my students. A friend to my pals. I fulfill different roles for different people. But on the inside, I guess I’m a bunch of puzzle pieces. Sometimes they all go together smoothly. Other times, they’re a hot mess. Objectively, I’m a lot of things - writer, teacher, scuba dive shop manager, actress, introvert, learner, truth seeker, Game of Thrones fan, not to mention Guardians of the Galaxy fan. Maybe I don’t know who I am. Maybe I’m still finding out. That can be a lot of fun!
I just moved to LA., and I remain surrounded by boxes while I work on the third book in the series. If anyone out there volunteers to help me unpack, please send them over.
Tell us about your latest book: one of your inspirations for it, how you got through your most difficult challenge in writing it, and what you love about it?
Chest of Bone started out as a mystery novel and evolved into a fantasy suspense romance novel. My books always evolve. This one evolved a lot! It started with a dead body, per usual, that of a woman’s mentor. Once I fixed in my head the “why” of it, I was off. I always have to know why someone dies or is murdered, before I can write the novel.
The most difficult challenge in Chest of Bone was the book kept trying to switch genres. I didn’t want to switch genres. I have creds in the mystery-thriller realm. But the novel kept wanting to do things - like magic - that don’t fit with a down-to-earth mystery. So I wrestled the beast. And the beast won. And I’ve embraced it! I had a ball writing a fantasy. So the beast was right, even if I did fight him to near death. I love the inventiveness of fantasy, and I’ve always filled my reading plate with tons of fantasies and sci-fi. Most of all, I love exploring the human condition—tragedy and joy, love and hate, terror and calm. Doing that is a delight within a fantastical context.
What are a few of your hobbies? Writing - because I tend to do it 24/7. Even when I’m not physically tapping the keys, I’m thinking about my newest work. Knitting, of course. Photography. Studying people. Then again, that leads right back to my writing.
If you had your own food truck, what would it serve?
Maine lobster and chocolate.
What do you want to get better at doing, writing-wise? Everything! I’m fascinated by words and their shades of meaning, and how when you string some together, they can make magic. Each and every day I want my writing to improve. I want my characters to be more nuanced, my plots to move faster, my stories to be richer.
What TV series are you into right now and why?
Binging on Buffy until the start of Legion, a new FX series I’m going to try. Dan Stevens leads, and I adored him in Downton Abby, and it’s a Marvel comics series connected to X-Men. So how could I resist that?
What movie do you quote the most? Gone with the Wind: “Tomorrow is another day.” When things go all to hell, the quote comes in handy.
What do you collect, even a little bit? Tell us about your favorite one.
Zuni fetishes. They’re carved by the Zuni Indians of New Mexico. Each one individually crafted and unique. They’re carved in everything from turquoise to amber to found stone. The fetishes represent animals, mostly, but mysterious creatures, humans, and symbols, too. The carvings play to my love of rock and crystal, my love of animals, my love of beauty, and they hint at the spiritual. The original Zuni fetishes are used in Zuni religious ceremonies and sacred objects. The ones I collect have been carved for sale. Many believe the spirit of a particular animal resides in the fetish it represents. Perhaps it’s true. A favorite? Impossible.
What’s your preferred genre of book when you just want to escape? I read what I write. So I devour fantasy and science-fiction and paranormal romance for pleasure. Mysteries, too. Lots and lots of them.
What do you like to do on vacation? Visiting the strange and the unusual. On my last vacation, I visited a butterfly “zoo.” The inside of the place was a verdant jungle, and I walked the paths surrounded by butterflies from all over the world. Magical.
Is there another genre you’ve been itching to write in? Not at the moment, but if the itch strikes, I’ll scratch it.
What unusual object do you like to bring with you if you leave the house? I always carry at least one Zuni fetish with me, usually an amber bear. And I often bring my dog, Penny. She’s quite unusual, too.
If you had a champion racing pigeon, what would you name it and what would its tagline be? I’d call her Tweety Bird because, gosh, I really love that bird. Tagline? To infinity and beyond! Oh, that’s been done. Right.
Finally, give us one recommendation for something - movie, TV, game, food - that you enjoyed recently. La La Land, Stranger Things, The Crown. I know, that’s three. Oops.
About Chest of Bone
As magical and mundane worlds retwine, empath and unawakened Mage Clea Reese must team up with the secretive and complex James Larrimer to hunt her mentor’s killer and stop the forces of corruption from obtaining the elusive Chest of Bone, the ultimate source of otherworldly power.
As Clea’s beloved mentor Dave Cochran lays dying, tortured by a sadistic killer, he unlocks her nascent Mage powers, tasks her to find a mysterious chest and guard his daughter, Lulu.
Not that Clea believes in “real” magic or understands she’s becoming The Key. She’s focused on revenge—on ending the man who destroyed her world.
Point man in hunting Cochran’s killer, James Larrimer is a predator who pursues endangered-animal traders. Or so it appears. Unbeknownst to Clea, Larrimer’s prime directive is to obtain the most exotic creature of all—Clea Reese.
Forces both powerful and strange align against them, as they, too, seek the all-powerful Chest. Only Clea and Larrimer stand between these malignant forces—self righteous in belief and unfettered by conscience—and their ruthless quest.
None of the players are prepared for the fusion of Clea’s and Larrimer’s song, a wild and harmonic resonance which can bind one to the other.
With the lives of those they love at stake, drawn inexorably to one another, will deception and death destroy Clea’s and Larrimer’s song? Or can they ferret out the killer, reclaim the Chest of Bone, and defeat their enemies, the most powerful of which may be their own conflicted natures?
The next installment awaits...Author Spotlight Question and Answer: Bob Defendi