Naima Haviland likes dead people. Fictional dead people, that is, and the twisted people who make them dead (or undead). She is the author of vampire novels and a dark fantasy anthology: Bloodroom, The Bad Death, and Night at the Demontorium. She takes as inspiration the Southeast United States, including her home in the Florida Panhandle, an ocean paradise with a not-too-distant past full of eccentrics, explorers, pirates, ghosts, and UFOs.
What inspires you to write?
This might sound crazy, but Netflix inspires me to write. I watch great dramas and want to try my hand at creating a story THAT good. For instance, BBC and Masterpiece Theater productions of classic novels allow the characters to shine as writers intended. (The books do this too, of course, but sometimes I find the Victorians’ complex phrasing a distraction.) I get caught up in the characters’ conflicts and the intricate web they spin into a plot, and think, ‘I want to do that!’ Modern serial dramas such as Revenge and The Killing demonstrate how irresistible villains, cliffhangers, and extended story arcs come together.
Tell us about your writing process.
I plan out my novels, but understand that my creativity will probably take me in directions I didn’t anticipate. For my novel, The Bad Death, I drew timelines on paper because characters did things separately from each other. I’d have a timeline for Anika, a timeline for Julian, and so on …pencil lines running parallel to each other across page after page that I scotch-taped together and rolled up in a scroll. Each day, I’d unroll the scroll to see where we all needed to go next. With the next novel I wrote chapter summaries in Microsoft Word, instead. Time will tell which method is best! I don’t create character sketches manually because they tend to sketch themselves in my mind or evolve while I’m writing.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I fall in love with my characters. I mean that literally. You know when you’re in love with someone you think about that person 24/7 and are always projecting, analyzing, fantasizing. That is how characters come to life for me.
What advice would you give other writers?
Set a writing schedule and stick to it whether you feel inspired or not. Don’t panic if you sit there and no idea strikes. Just don’t let other things distract you. If you must get up and move around, keep your brain free to imagine. Sometimes I talk to my dogs as I mindlessly clean house: “So, dogs …Julian needs to swim past the vampires who have shapeshifted into sharks without becoming chum. How do we do that?” And they just look at me. But by the time I’ve done a load of laundry, my brain has figured out how to get Julian past those vampire sharks. Sometimes I play solitaire with a real deck of cards while listening to music until the idea strikes. Whatever you need to do; just don’t turn on the TV, answer the phone, or leave the house.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My ultimate goal is to share my stories, and the quickest route is self-publishing under my own imprint, PH Press. Self-publishing offers more creative and financial control than I’d expect from a traditional contract. I pay professionals to help me turn out quality books. I get a higher royalty than traditional publishers pay, so I think it’s a good tradeoff.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Now traditional publishers are watching the sales figures of self-published books and offering contracts to bestselling authors like Amanda Hocking and E.L. James. The stigma of self publishing is fading to the point that it’s becoming possible to self-publish some books and have others contracted by publishers. I do not think print is dead, nor do I think traditional publishing is dead. I think the future is now, and it offers multiple options for readers and writers. And that’s great!
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Horror, Dark Fantasy, Gothic Romance
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print