Today I have the honor of interviewing Angela Roquet in addition to a review of her books. But first, let's get to know Angela a little better.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I live in Sedalia, Missouri with my husband and son. When I'm not swearing at the keyboard, I enjoy painting, goofing off with family and friends, and reading books that raise eyebrows.
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
I am a freelance graphic designer by day. I design real estate guide books, vinyl signs, web sites, and lots of other fun things. When I’m not writing or working on a design project, I enjoy playing with my son and husband and doing random craft projects.
When did you first start writing and who was a major influence or supporter of your writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I started out writing scripts and storyboards, because I originally wanted to create cartoon shows. When I was sixteen, my high school English teacher told me that I should write a novel. So I did. Then I wrote another, and another, and I haven’t been able to stop.
Is anything in your book(s) based on real life experiences or purely imagination?
There are some vague elements that are based on personal experience or knowledge that I already possessed and that I didn’t have to research, but for the most part, I have a hyperactive imagination.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I read mostly urban fantasy, so it felt like the natural path to take. I really enjoy the way that particular genre sucks a reader in. The realistic and modern elements have a way of making the fantastical elements more believable. It’s the best kind of story to get lost in, in my opinion.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I really enjoyed coming up with the different businesses in the afterlife. My graphic design work is mostly marketing material, so it was a fun way to use those skills and apply them to Lana’s world. I even have slogans and logos for some of the businesses, and I have a Cafepress store (Limbo City Gift Shop) with merchandise like drinking glasses from Purgatory Lounge, a bar my characters frequent, and tote bags for Athena’s Boutique, a popular clothing store in Limbo City.
How did you come up with the title?
My main character is Lana Harvey, and she works as a soul harvester for Grim at Reapers Inc. So the series title “Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc.” is what I imagined Lana’s business cards might say. The individual titles for the books usually have some sort of double meaning to them. The first book is titled “Graveyard Shift” because as a low-risk harvester, Lana collects most of her souls in graveyards, right before burial. Her career progresses throughout the series, and the second book “Pocket Full of Posies” reflects the name of the specialty unit she eventually joins, called the Posy Unit after the nursery rhyme associated with the black plague. The Posy Unit harvests bulk souls from natural disasters and epidemics, like the plague. The third book “For the Birds” is a reference to the stork mythology that comes into play in the book. The titles also have a universal death association, since the series deals with reapers and the afterlife.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’ve gone back to different characters throughout the series, and I’ve found it difficult to dismiss some that I thought I would be cutting out in later books. One of the ideas I enjoy working with is the uncertainty of what happens when an immortal dies. I like for my characters, who include angels, demons, and deities, to have the same sort questions and concerns about life and death as we mortals do.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I’ve put my graphic design skills to good use, and I’ve created bookmarks, posters, and merchandise to help promote my series. I’ve done book signings in several states, and I’ve had some online collaboration with other authors doing giveaways and interviews. I’m also really getting to know the online book community through book blogs and Goodreads. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube have really opened up the possibilities for lots of things, and it makes it easier to get to know readers and other authors too.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I haven’t had too much tough criticism. I had one reviewer comment that I wouldn’t be receiving any literary awards for a particular book, but they still gave me a high star rating, so it was hard to take it as an insult. My mother didn’t care for how I portrayed the archangel Gabriel as a drunk, but she still comes to my local signings and supports me. I have a really great family. I think the best compliment I received came from a judge of a Writer’s Digest competition. In the first printing of “Graveyard Shift” I had a disclaimer in the front of the book, expressing how I hoped readers would realize that my work was fiction and not take offense to how I portrayed certain historical or religions figures. The judge told me that I should remove it from future printings and that I should never apologize for my work. It really made an impression on me, and I took his advice.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
“For the Birds” is the third installment of my “Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc.” series. Lana has just been promoted to captain of the Posy Unit, a specialty team that takes care of mass soul harvesting as a result of natural disasters and epidemics. She’s doing her best to prove herself to the rest of the reaper community, but things get a little complicated when rebel demons start sabotaging her harvests and a sneaky thief begins collecting valuable relics from various afterlives.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Edit, edit, and edit some more. Especially if you’re publishing your work on your own, like so many authors do these days. I had three editors for my first novel, and I still ended up with a few typos. One of the good things about self-publishing, especially with companies like Amazon’s Creatspace, if you do find typos later on, you can always go back and upload a corrected version.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thanks for taking an interest in the crazy people and the crazy world I dreamed up. It tickles me that so many of you enjoy visiting Limbo City too. Feel free to drop me an email. I love talking to readers and other writers!