I was born in New Jersey, but grew up in western Pennsylvania. I started writing in High School. I wrote comedy sketches and song parodies with a friend of mine, just for fun. I majored in theater at Point Park College in Pittsburgh and moved to NYC to pursue an acting career. After I graduated from college, I started writing plays, but I didn’t get serious about writing until I was in my thirties. Around the time my son turned two and started to be a bit more independent, I felt a strong urge to do something creative again. I wrote a couple of plays and had an original one and an adaptation produced. Cara Mia developed in those years. I read a lot of Anne Rice around that time. Vampire stories have been a passion since I was a little girl and a fan of Dark Shadows on TV. After Rice killed off a favorite character of mine, I had a dream about a female vampire and this inspired my heroine, Mia.
I currently live in Ohio with my husband of twenty years and my teenaged son. We’re all roller coaster fanatics and spend a lot of summer weekends at amusement parks. Our vacations usually consist of hopping from one park to another in two or three states. When I write, I like to sit curled up on my sofa with my laptop and a couple of my seven parrots.
Tell us about Cara Mia.
Cara Mia, Book One is the prelude to the Immortyl Revolution. It’s an urban fantasy with a rather strong science fiction component. The story deals with Mia becoming a vampire and her struggle to survive as a modern woman in an ancient culture. Along the way she meets another slave, Kurt, in whom she finds a sympathetic friend and lover. She and Kurt steal the secrets of immortality from their Immortyl masters and strike the first blow for freedom for the downtrodden of their society.
Mia and Kurt’s story brings together two people who have “suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Both are in their sixties when they finally pair up, so this definitely isn’t a teenaged relationship. The strong bond that develops between these two characters is very important to the entire series. In Book Two, Twilight of the Gods, Kurt rises to become a charismatic rebel leader and Mia, as his consort, is forced to navigate a minefield of vampire politics.
My publisher is L&L Dreamspell, and it’s been a very positive experience to work with them.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Great question, Susan. My ethnic background is a very important part of my life. My Dad was a first generation, Italian-American and my Mom’s grandparents came from Germany. I love to flavor the dish with tidbits of Italian culture and phrases. Some of Cara Mia is set around Naples, where my grandmother was born. Mia is a very earthy heroine with strong passions. On the other hand, Kurt is pragmatic, methodical and logical. He likes to use the occasional curse word auf Deutsch.
My theatre background pops up a lot in my writing. You’ll find lots of theatre and art references in my work. Mia was an actress in New York in the 1950’s and Philip, her kinsman was an Elizabethan actor. Kurt is a musician. Mia is performing in Ibsen’s The Master Builder when her master Ethan first encounters her. This play is an important thematic element in the book.
What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?
Mia is fiercely independent and smart, with a strong sense of justice. Nothing bugs her more than the strong preying on the weak, which is the way of most of her kind. She will risk her life to protect others. On the negative side, she’s cantankerous. Mia flies off the handle, makes hasty decisions and is prone to rather acerbic comments that make her prickly. Kurt brings out the best in her. He understands that her tough exterior is a protective skin and loves this complicated woman for who she is.
How do you develop characters? Setting?
I fall back on my theatrical training and create a complete backstory for each major character, even if it never is meant to be in the book. I find out everything about this person, such as likes and dislikes, relationships to others, deeply held beliefs and moral philosophy, all the way down to their favorite foods and clothing. Quirks are what make a character come to life for me. Mia and her kinsman Philip tease one another a lot. He calls her “wench” and she calls him “an Elizabethan artifact”. These little relationship details make a story real.
I always think of my vamps as people, even the really bad ones have driving passions. The trouble ensues when the heroine and hero get in the way of the villains’ agendas. I like to give my villains interesting quirks or make them charming in some way. The most important part of developing a character and a story for me is to be able to articulate in a single sentence that character’s internal conflict or what we call in the theatre, the “super objective”. Mia is a vampire who wants to walk again in the sun.
I do a lot of research on history and cultures. I like to create characters from periods that I find interesting, like the Civil War or the Holocaust. Kurt was imprisoned in Dachau as a boy of fifteen. His experience there has filled him with an intense desire to right wrongs and protect others.
In choosing my setting, I couldn’t think of a better place to set an urban fantasy than Manhattan. I spent many years in the NYC area and it is my favorite place. New York after dark is a character in her own right. The rich ethnic and cultural tapestry gives a writer a lot of material for settings and characters. Even though I now live in Ohio, I go back to NY at least once a year to take photos and do research. The art deco building across the street from a friend of mine’s apartment inspired “The Vampire State,” the building Mia and Kurt use as the base for their revolution.
Book three, Fearful Symmetry, which I’m putting through my critique group. It’s set in near Calcutta, India. I had to do loads of research, but I’m still hoping to get there!
Were any of your books more difficult to write than the others?
Well, the first was a challenge because I’d never written fiction before, but I’d have to say Fearful Symmetry. Cedric MacKinnon the POV character is a nineteen-year-old prostitute, dying from AIDs. He’s playing his guitar in the London underground when his master finds him. Raj plucks Cedric from the streets and makes him immortal. Cedric typifies the lost boys and girls of my books. To me, the vampire is a metaphor for man’s inhumanity to man. Kids and young adults are trafficked in horrible ways in the real world by the human “vampires” that prey upon them.
Raj takes the boy to India where he is trained as an adept of the ancient arts. An adept is an Immortyl temple dancer, singer and courtesan in the service of a tantric cult of the goddess Kali. Because of Cedric’s profession there is quite a bit of sexual content, but it’s not written for purposes of titillation. Sex is part of the tantric religious rituals, but the boy is used as a political pawn in the chief elder’s intrigues. Cedric often suffers abuse from those he entertains.
The scenes aren’t explicit in a clinical way. What is going on in Cedric’s head is the important part. Although he’s a rather irreverent lad, his story has a tragic element. It’s a fine line to tread. On the other hand, I’ve found the challenges of writing this book to be an enjoyable experience. I really have to give some credit to my writer’s group, the North Columbus Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers for helping me to develop this one.
Book Two of The Immortyl Revolution, Twilight of the Gods will be out this fall. I’m currently working on it with my marvelous editor Cindy Davis. I’m doing revisions on book four, Ratopia. I’m also working on two other novels outside of the Immortyl Revolution series. One is a magic-based urban fantasy with lots of paranormal creatures and the other is a paranormal romance parody, called Betti Loves Yeti.
Where could folks learn more about your books and events?
I’m at www.deniseverricowriter.webs.com
I’m on Facebook almost daily: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Immortyl-Revolution-Fans-of-Denise-Verrico-author/290431344200?ref=ts
Signed copies of Cara Mia are available for sale through links on my website and blog. My books are found in trade paperback and multi format e-book, including kindle at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Borders and Fictionwise websites.
Thanks for the information, Denise, and I wish you the best of sales!
Folks, here's more about Cara Mia:
Reviews of Cara Mia:
With delicious descriptions and characters that the reader can really sink his or her teeth into, this story is page-turner. Denise Verrico cleverly incorporates unpredictable plot lines that weave through tones of the ordinary and provocative. The novel has a lot of meat to devour and I enjoyed the twisting journey of the characters--Hot Gossip Reviews
A great number of the novels that focus on vampires fall prey to certain cliches. Cara Mia is a wonderful exception with an intricate, unpredictable, and intelligent plot and well-developed characters--author of Midnight Reflections, Katrina Michaels
If you like your vampires with a mix of science fiction then Cara Mia Book One of the Immortyl Revolution by Denise Verrico is the book for you. The story begins with a fast pace and holds the reader until the end- -Lexington Vampire Examiner.
It was a thrilling read that kept me glued to the pages. I cannot wait to see more from this author- My Immortal Stories
The characters are well written and the story is different from what I usually read which was a nice break from the norm--Paranormal Haven.
It's been a pleasure, Denise. I wish you well.