Monday, July 18, 2011

Q&A Interview and Giveaway with Deborah Cooke

Book Monster Reviews and LITERAL ADDICTION Paranormal Book Club are very proud to welcome Deborah Cooke to our sites today.  

Deborah has always been fascinated with dragons, though she has never understood why they are portrayed as the bad guys.  She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies, is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales, and fantasy novels, and has written over 40 romance novels and novellas, including some written and published under the pseudonyms, “Claire Cross” and “Claire Delacroix”. 

Deborah lives in Canada with her husband and enjoys knitting, sewing and hunting for vintage patterns. 

Deborah’s Dragonfire series has 6 available books and a digital novella, and two more coming in 2012.  The series kicked off in 2008 with “Kiss of Fire”, followed by “Kiss of Fury”, “Kiss of Fate”, “Winter Kiss”, “Harmonia’s Kiss” (the digital novella), “Whisper Kiss” and just this May, “Darkfire Kiss”. The 7th book, “Flashfire”, is due out 1/3/2012 followed by #8 (still without a title) in October 2012. 
There is also a spin-off YA series called The Dragon Diaries, with “Flying Blind” out now, “Winging It” due out 12/6/2011 and “Blazing the Trail”, coming in June 2012. 
If you love magic, dragons, thrilling plotlines, and scorching romance, then the Dragonfire series is definitely for you!  And if you love Dragonfire, then you have to check out The Dragon Diaries. 
Since Deborah has graciously taken time out of her busy schedule to do an Interview with us, let’s get to it, shall we!? 

Book Monster Reviews/LITERAL ADDICTION:  Hi Deborah, thank you so much for joining us today.  We are very excited to get to know you a little bit better, and hear more about the Pyr straight from the source. 

Deborah: Hi! Thanks for inviting me to visit! And thanks also for sending me questions to answer. Interviews are always fun – and give me ideas about what to say.

Book Monster Reviews/LITERAL ADDICTION:  We usually start out our interviews learning a bit more about our Guest Author.

Q1):  Can you tell us 3 things about yourself that we couldn’t find out on the Internet? 

Deborah: Do any of us really have any secrets anymore?! Let’s see – here, at least, are three things that are less well known:

1/ I’d love to write a play. I think it would be amazing to see actors on stage bringing one of my stories to life. I love to write dialogue, and always write emotional intensity, so those are two big steps in the right direction. I know nothing about the formal structure of plays, so there’s work yet to be done, too.

2/ On a similar note, I’d love to see one of my books made into a movie. Not just to see the final product, but I’m really interested in the process of making movies. I’d probably drive everyone crazy on the set with my questions! I suspect that this is because writing is a fairly solitary creative expression, and I’m intrigued by the notion of so many people working together to create something.

3/ If I had a secret life, I’d be a pastry chef. I don’t have an enormous sweet tooth but I like baking and making pastry and creating something visually appealing. I’m sure I’d love going to chef’s classes, learning to make roses of icing and lacy swirls of caramel.

Q2):  We know you like to go hunting for vintage patterns in your spare time.  Can you tell us a little bit more about this hobby?

Deborah: Well, this will sound goofy and maybe as if I’m over thinking things but here we go. One of things that interests me about history and about writing romance is social history, particularly the changing roles of women over the centuries. Change affects not only their notions of love, their ambitions for themselves, but also their ideas of what they can expect from marriage. Those gender roles have changed a lot in the twentieth century, particularly in the second half of the twentieth century. This transformation of our cultural ideas about what women can do, should do, and must do is also, incidentally, part of the reason that the romance genre is so popular. We want to read about women who make it work to reassure ourselves that we, too, can make it work.
We also have a lot more popular media being distributed in the twentieth century, including magazines, books in cheaper formats, and items like sewing and knitting patterns. On the one hand, I knit and sew and am interested in fashion – on the other, I’m intrigued by how women are depicted in the illustrations on these patterns and what that says about their expectations and gender roles. Virtually all patterns from the 1950’s for example, show a woman with a wasp waist and perfect hair who is clearly a stay-at-home mother and domestic goddess. If you weren’t one of those women, popular culture had no images for you. How do you think it felt to be unmarried in that time? Or childless? Or insufficiently affluent to have the house in the suburbs with every convenience? These patterns provide a documentation of social history and a mirror of expectations, in a very accessible and common format. They also give me ideas about stories.

Q3):  What is your favorite personal quality?

Deborah: Mine? I’m curious. I think that takes me on a lot of adventures.

Q4):  What do you feel is the most important quality or personality trait for a hero or heroine to have and why?

Deborah: It’s important in romance that we as readers make an emotional connection with both protagonists really early in the book, so that we want to read their story. The key to that lies in protagonists (heroes and heroines, in romance novels) having reactions or motivations that the reader understands and thinks are reasonable. A hero, for example, can be really bitter and edgy, but if he’s endured something very nasty and we as readers can think “yup, I’d be cranky too” or “I’d want to get even, too” then we’ll stick with him. We’ll even cheer for him. In terms of writing craft, this means that characters need to spill their secrets a little sooner in romance than in other genres of fiction. Often they do it in their own thoughts, rather than saying it out loud, but the reader can hear that bit.
Q5):  What about Dragons within the Fantasy genre fascinates you the most?

Deborah: I just like dragons. I really always have. I think they’re powerful and beautiful and just awesome. I love that there are so many stories about them, in all different cultures in the world, too. (This means that I’m not the only one interested in dragons!)

Q6):  What are you currently reading for pleasure?

Deborah: Not much! It’s been a crazy busy couple of months. I have a huge TBR pile and am hoping to dig into it in the fall. There’s a lot of YA in there, some romance, some mystery, some fantasy, some literary fiction, some books by friends – yikes, but it’s a big pile! I graze all over the bookstore, so my reading habits are pretty eclectic.

Q7):  Have you ever hated something that you wrote?

Deborah: I think that all writers have hard time seeing their work objectively. It’s because we have so much emotional investment in the work – and when writing romance, we’re even closer to our characters and even more emotionally invested. At this point in time – I’ve been writing for a while – I know when something isn’t quite right yet. Usually that means I’ve approached the scene from the wrong angle, or pushed the character where he or she didn’t want to go. If I leave it a day or two, the better answer will come to me, then I’ll either edit or rewrite the scene. I do know when the entire book feels right to me – then my editor goes to work, making suggestions and asking questions! By the time we’re both done with the book, it’s been buffed to a sparkle. I like the editorial process because of that – there’s always a detail I overlook or forget, so the eagle-eye of my editor is awesome.

Q8):  We would love to hear a little bit more about the inspiration behind the Dragonfire series and how it came to be.

Deborah: You’re going to laugh at this, but the first time I had the idea to write about dragon shape shifter heroes was probably fifteen years ago. I was writing medievals and planning to start a new series. I’d written a cat-shifter romance (THE MAGICIAN’S QUEST) and thought it would be awesome to write about a group of knights who were secretly dragon shifters. My editor at the time thought this was incredibly weird, so weird that she didn’t even want to talk about it. She firmly suggested I write a different proposal for her and we would forget about the dragon shifter one. (I still snuck a shifter into that series: book #2 of the Sayerne series, recently re-released digitally by Harlequin, was called ENCHANTED and featured a hero cursed to become a wolf each day.)
Fast-forward to 1996 or so, when paranormal romance had become hot but everyone was writing vampires. I’m not much for vampires, and I’d written my werewolf story, but I thought about those dragons again. All the paranormal romance was set in our times by then – not historical or medieval – so I created a different group of dragon shifter guys. What’s funny is that the editor who loved the idea and bought it was one of my historical romance editors – not the one who read about my dragons before, though!

Q9):  Do you have a favorite Pyr?  Why do you think they’re your favorite?

Deborah: LOL. My favourite Pyr is always the one whose story I’m in the midst of writing. I really do fall for each of them in turn. Lorenzo (FLASHFIRE) has made my heart go pitapat this year. It was time for a bad boy Pyr and he has charm to spare. I love how smooth he is – and how much Cassie throws his game. I’m also quite taken with Jared – who isn’t Pyr – in The Dragon Diaries. Dragonfire readers might remember meeting him as a small boy in KISS OF FURY. (There’s a trivia question.)
It’s interesting to see how readers respond to the different dragon shifter guys. Rafferty was a favourite from the outset – maybe because he was the idealist who believed in romantic love. Lots of people didn’t warm up to Niall until they read his story in WHISPER KISS – or maybe until Rox got done with him! I hear all the time from people who want Thorolf’s story and Sloane’s story, but I’m kind of curious about Drake and Marcus, too. (Maybe because I’m not sure I know their stories…yet!)

Q10):  What scenes seem to be the hardest to write (action, love, etc)?  Why do you think that is?

Deborah: I like writing all kinds of scenes, but some take me longer than others. Fight scenes probably take me the longest. There are a lot of readers who love the eye candy of the dragon fights, so I want to make sure they’re not disappointed. Also, there tend to be a lot of participants to keep track of, never mind which form they’re in at each point of the fight. I edit fight scenes over and over (and over) again!

Q11):  What has been the biggest surprise in your writing career so far?

Deborah: There are a couple of things that I didn’t expect to happen. The first thing I find surprising is the amount of work I’ve published, and its wide variety. The first book I sold was a medieval romance, and it was published under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix in 1993. (It was called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE.) I pretty much assumed that that would be what I continued to write, and that if I was very lucky, I could maybe write in one other subgenre of romance. I did write a lot of medieval romances as Claire Delacroix, and a lot of that medieval romance had fantasy elements. But I also wrote fantasy with romantic elements as Claire Delacroix, and ultimately, future-set paranormal romance (post-nuclear but pre-Apocalyptic, featuring fallen angel heroes.) I also wrote time travel romances as Claire Cross, then the Coxwell series, which was mainstream with romantic elements, also as Claire Cross. And as Deborah Cooke, I’ve written Dragonfire contemporary paranormal romances, the Dragon Diaries paranormal YA with romantic elements, and one vampire short story.
The second thing that surprised me, and this is a development over the past ten years, is the amount of self-promotion authors are expected to do. When I began, I thought authors concentrated on writing their books and that publishers did everything else. That’s not the case. While I enjoy doing promotion, especially interviews like this one, it does impact how quickly I write new books. Authors have to wear a lot more hats than I’d originally assumed and need to balance their time.
The final astonishing thing is the sudden explosion of digital publishing and the popularity of digital books. This has become a market force so quickly. The great thing about it is that there are all these interfaces that make it easy for authors to self-publish work. I’ve been digitally re-releasing a lot of my Claire Delacroix backlist this year. It’s really fun to have control of the cover process especially, and to manage all the details. Those books are available both on Amazon for Kindle (look in the Kindle store to see my new covers), at Smashwords, and also are being distributed by Smashwords to Barnes & Noble, Sony, Diesel and Apple.

Q12):  What is the most common thing you hear from your readers?

Deborah:  “When is (insert name of favourite Pyr) going to have his firestorm?!” I’m tempted to keep a chart of who is most popular now that Rafferty’s had his firestorm – but if I had to guess, Sloane would be in the lead.

Q13):  How is it writing a series?  How do you keep all of your thoughts in order, know where to tell a certain story, which order you want to introduce your readers to each character, etc?

Deborah: The challenge of this particular series is that it’s been a long one. In the past, I’ve written linked trilogies, which puts some nice boundaries on the number of continuing characters and the over-riding arc of the story of the series. In a trilogy of romances, there are three couples by the end of the trilogy and maybe half a dozen continuing characters. I’ve learned to manage their respective “air time.” With a longer series and more players, it gets a lot more complicated to keep everyone in their respective places and keep the balance. Every reader has his or her favourite and would like to see at least a cameo from that character. Many readers expect to see all the characters come together at the end. It becomes a question of stage management.
For example, I just wrote Dragonfire #7. That gives me seven couples, plus the unmatched guys - Thorolf, Sloane, Marcus, Brandt, Brandt’s son Brandon - plus Drake and a small company of Dragon’s Tooth Warriors, plus a whole bunch of kids as continuing characters. Yikes! Giving each his moment in the sun has become a bit unwieldy in terms of keeping the focus of the story on the central romance. With DARKFIRE KISS, I very deliberately introduced some dissent among the Pyr in order to have fewer continuing characters onstage. The fact that the next Pyr to have his firestorm is Lorenzo – who isn’t popular with all of the other guys – also means that there are fewer Pyr who come to his firestorm, which in turn sharpens the focus on the core romance. Of course, they’ll get over their differences and unite again for the big finish.
There are also all the details to track. I got into the habit with trilogies of keeping a big binder of all the continuing story elements, the timeline and the nitty gritty about the characters. It’s my guide to the world I’ve built, and let’s me quickly look up details.

Q14):  Is there a specific book of the series so far that you’re particularly proud of?  Why?

Deborah: Oh no! You’re asking me to choose between my babies! “Which one do I love best?” How could I possibly choose?
Actually, one of the things I really like about the Dragonfire series – and something I’m quite proud of – is that the books are so different from each other. The characterizations of the heroes and heroines are different each time and their external conflicts are different each time. As a reader, I dislike when linked books are similar. I want each book to be fresh and new, so I’m pleased to think that I’m achieving that with Dragonfire.

Q15):  If you could spend a day in the Dragonfire world, who would you want to spend it with and what would you make sure to do while you were there?

Deborah:  Oh, I’d want one of the guys to take me for a dragon ride. How could I choose between them? Hmm, maybe they’d each have to give me a ride!

Q16):  Can you give us some more in depth details about the new YA spinoff series The Dragon Diaries and “Flying Blind”, the first book in the series?

Deborah: This is a story that grew organically out of Dragonfire. Let’s talk a bit about the world of Dragonfire, so you see what I mean. In Dragonfire, there are dragon shape shifter guys called the Pyr. All of the dragon shifters are guys – except that at any given time there is one female dragon shifter. She’s called the Wyvern and is pretty mysterious to the guys. Traditionally, the Wyvern was reclusive - a Pyr could live his entire life without ever seeing the Wyvern. She has additional powers to the guy dragon shifters – she can take the form of a salamander, for example, and is supposed to be able to dispatch dreams and see the future.

In Dragonfire, there was a Wyvern named Sophie. This isn’t really a spoiler, but she died in book #3, KISS OF FATE. (It’s not a spoiler because you’ll have to read the book to find out why and how she died.) Each Dragonfire book is a paranormal romance, so it focuses on one dragon shifter guy and his “firestorm”, which is the sign of his meeting the human woman who can bear his child. The sparks of the firestorm flare until the couple consummate their relationship, and a child is immediately conceived. (“First time, every time,” as Thorolf says, with a big thumbs-up.) The shifting power passes through the male line, so these guys have sons. But in KISS OF FATE, Erik and Eileen conceived a daughter. The dragon guys assumed this must be the new Wyvern, but the dragon sons come into their powers at puberty. They’re going to have to wait to find out whether Zoë is the Wyvern or not.

When I realized this, I saw that Zoë’s story was a coming of age story, and that she’d have more on her plate than most teenage girls. I made her period start late so when we meet her at the beginning of FLYING BLIND, she’s well aware of her father’s expectations and her own inabilities and muttering “No pressure.” Everything begins for Zoë at the start of FLYING BLIND, when she partially shifts for the first time in defense of her best friend, but that’s not half of the challenge before her. No one really knows what the Wyvern can do, let alone how she does it, so Zoë doesn’t have an easy time mastering her new powers.

So, this series is set in 2024 and 2025, since Zoë was born in 2008. I decided that high school wouldn’t change that much by then, keeping the focus on what’s strange and unusual about growing up a dragon shape shifter. What’s fun about this series is that Zoë has known dragon shifters all her life – she’s grown up with a kind of extended family, which includes guy shifters who are roughly her age. They’re buddies and this is a real contrast to the older Pyr in Dragonfire, most of whom grew up isolated from other dragons. I enjoy the bickering and camaraderie between the younger Pyr, the way they challenge each other and the kind of confidence they have in themselves at a comparatively young age.

Q17):  What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, logistical, censorship, etc) in bringing The Dragon Diaries to life?

Deborah: The main challenge for me was structuring the stories. Dragonfire books are paranormal romances, which means the arc of the story goes from roughly when the couple first meet until they decide to spend their lives together. The Dragon Diaries trilogy is paranormal YA with romantic elements – the entire trilogy is a coming of age story, so structurally, the arc is that of Zoë’s emotional journey and it extends over three books. Having crushes is part of that journey, but it’s not the only element. Once I realized that the structure of Zoë’s trilogy would be similar to the women’s fiction books I’ve written (The Coxwell series, by Claire Cross), except with dragon fights, I was away to the races!

There’s also a question of balance, particularly with regard to parental involvement. In many YA books, parents are absent even though the kids are minors. That makes sense in a boarding school, but Zoë doesn’t go to boarding school. I had, though, an ongoing them in Dragonfire of Eileen (Zoë’s mom) thinking that Erik (Zoë’s dad and the Pyr in the family) pushes their daughter too much, in his hopes of her becoming the Wyvern sooner. I let them really fight about this, which keeps them busy, while Zoë – who is a typical independent teenager – slips away to follow her own agenda.

Q18):  This is one of our staple questions…  What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview but have never been asked?  How would you answer that question?

Deborah: Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?
Actually, my fave is butterscotch ripple. J

Q19):  Is there anything special that you want to make sure to tell your readers while we have you with us today?

Deborah: Just thanks for being my readers! There’s nothing more wonderful than hearing from a reader that he or she has really enjoyed a book. In fact, that’s one of the wonderful things about the internet. People can leave comments on my blog or on my Facebook page. The contact is great. 

Book Monster Reviews/LITERAL ADDICTION:  Deborah, thank you so much again for joining us today!  We’ve really enjoyed hosting this web Event for you and getting the word out about Dragonfire and The Dragon Diaries.

Deborah:  Thank you so much for having me visit! And wow, what an interview! I’ll pop back in a couple of times later today to answer any additional questions anyone might have. Until then – and until next time – happy reading, everyone!

If you want to find out more about Deborah's DragonFire Series or her new YA series The Dragon Diaries you can follow her on the following websites:

Deborah's Website:

CONTEST: Deborah is giving away a copy of DARKFIRE KISS to a lucky Book Monster Follower.
TO ENTER:  Leave a comment on the interview post with a valid email address.  You must also be a follower of the BMR Blog. 

Make sure you drop by the LITERAL ADDICTION ( as well.  Deborah is giving away a copy of FLYING BLIND over there!!!


Cath said...

I have had this series on my 'to get' list for ages and now they are going on my GOT.TO.GET.THEM.NOW list!!!!!!
They sound amazing and the YA series.....omg I'm in love with Zoe already ♥ I really want to get stuck into this series.
Thanks for the great interview

Michelle said...

I'm starting Flying Blind today after spending some quality time with Rafferty earlier :)

Great interview, I do enjoy chatting to Deborah on facebook. Looking forward to Flashfire...

kellieanne1977 said...

I have recently came across your books and love the concept of using dragons over the typical vampire, werewolf etc (dont get me wrong im a huge fan of vampires and werewolves) but its brilliant finding a new series of books thats unique and off the norm....
great interview by the way its so nice to get to know the person behind the stories.

legallycaz said...

I've been reading this series for a few years now and recently read flying blind. I love the world of the Pyr and the stories just keep getting better and better! I really enjoyed flying blind and it let us see what the characters were like years later :)

Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

crystalbell1059 said...

I'd Love to read your books Deborah It would be an honor too.

Keep up the great work if i had an award i'd give it to you

mrsworldwidewebb said...

Okay..Thanks for giving me another author that I am nowgonnahaveto read.... Great interview and maybe I can like dragons after I read your books!


Trish said...

Thanks for the interview.

Kathy Meyers said...

The interview was great. Love getting some inside knowledge to the author of the books I love. I too have a love for dragons so I enjoy these books very much and eagerly look forward to the next in the series as well as other books that Deborah writes! Thank you. I love reading. It's what takes me away to a fantasy world and actually helps relieve stress for me !!

Kathy Meyers

BlackwaterMama said...

First, let me say that I love Dragons too!! That is the reason I picked up your books and thank you. I love this series & I can't wait for the next one!!
jlkg102961 AT yahoo DOT com

Debbie said...

Thanks again for a really great interview & contest. I am really getting into this series and having a hard time putting it down. I am really going to be sad when I have to wait until Jan. for the next book. lol. Do you have plans to write the"next part" of Sophie and Nicholas's story?

Vamp Vixen said...

I read this series a while back and the way i picked it was from the cover. And I just feel in love with all the characters! Please keep writing them! I so love a good dragon once in a while! But I have to say I reread them and they were even better the second time around!

Vamp Vixen said...

I read this series a while back and the way i picked it was from the cover. And I just feel in love with all the characters! Please keep writing them! I so love a good dragon once in a while! But I have to say I reread them and they were even better the second time around!

rachel445 said...

I have Flying Blind on my kindle right now! I'll have to add Deborah's other books to my TBR pile, too. Dragon stories are fascinating to me. I haven't come across that many.


Patti said...

I really enjoyed this interview. I am a little shamed to say I didn't even know about this series until this post. I am losing it for real. I LOVE anything dragon! Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. Although my husband begs to differ. Reading is my addiction. I can't wait to get my hands on these.
From here I am going to goodreads and put these on my to read list!

Thanks again!

Patti P
musicalfrog at

Deborah Cooke said...

Hi everyone -

Thanks to Carla for inviting me to visit! I'm glad you all enjoyed the interview and that so many of you are enjoying the series already. :-) YAY! This makes me happy.

As for filling the time until January, I do have a lot of backlist titles that I've re-released this year. Not the same as dragon shifters, but there are going to be similarities in all my work. Look on my alter-ego's site: for more info.

And Debbie, Sophie and Nikolas' story gets resolved in Zoë's YA series. It only makes sense that the new Wyvern could set things straight for the past Wyvern, don't you think?


sandrahorn63 said...

Your books sound very interesting! Hope I win the contest!

Lori in Philly said...

Can tell you live and love in your books . I love your covers will of course have to put them on my list. I have so many great reads now must get myself going. Thanks for all you do and to BMR and LAPBC .

Gisselle said...

Thank you so much for the giveaway!

LIESA said...

Deborah, I love that you chose Dragons!! I will be reading your books soon!!
Great interview!

dpbussie said...

Your book covers are gorgeous. And this series is DEF on my TBR list. Great interview and thanks for the giveaway. So hope I win!!

rhomitz said...

Oh my gosh, these books look so good, and sound even better. It was a great interview, thank's Deborah Cooke. I love the cover's on all your Dragonfire Novel's. I would be so ecstatic to win any of these books. Thank's for a chance too.

lindsey hutchison said...

i love this series. awesome interview i have the first 3 books and have the rest on my TBR wish list. ive been a fan for a while.


Wendy N said...

OOOOO, Dragons! LOVE!!!

wennbella at hotmail dot com

alainala said...

i love these books!!

good luck everybody!

Theresa said...

I have not read any of your books, but they look ssooo good!! I definately will be putting some of them on my TBR shelf!!

Natasha House said...

Great interview, I'm freakin in love with those covers!! So awesome!!


Deborah Cooke said...

Thanks everyone!

You're right - I've been really lucky with covers. I adore the Dragonfire covers, which have all been done by artist Tony Mauro (at least so far). Here's Tony's site:

Good luck everyone! And thanks for inviting me to the blog. :-)


blackroze37 AT said...

im very interested in paranoraml books

Chrisbails said...

would love to win so please choose me for this giveaway.

Megan@Riverina Romantics said...

Awesome interview!

rootml1 AT hotmail DOT com

Just Another Face said...

Another awesome looking series to add to my ever growing list! I love the name Zoe!

Kelly Lynn Benson said...

I have a few of her books in my TBR pile... but I think they are going to the top of the pile now :)

Kelly Lynn Benson said...

books4me said...

There are few dragon shifter books and they are so unique! I love the YA series too...something my daughter (and I) can enjoy!

GFC: books4me

books4me67 at