Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, M.D. Grimm – M.D. Grimm has wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that her dreams are finally coming true. She enjoys writing romances because they always guarantee a happy ending, since real life often doesn’t have those. M.D. earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and is glad to put the degree to use with her own literature.
Thanks so much, M.D., for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
M/D. Grimm: a. Second grade. No joke. We had a silly writing assignment where we had to use certain words in a short story, and it had to be about a page long. I loved it. As I grew older, and after a few more writing assignments, I realized I might want to be an author. I’ve always had an overactive imagination, and it usually came out when I played with my sister. We had dolls and horses, and all sorts of other toys. We created storylines, and character profiles… and yes, we were both still in grade school. And when we were done playing we’d often say “to be continued” or we’d end the play and start a new “game” the next time we played. I have to say my sister helped me a lot to understand the importance of storylines, characters, and drama. We never just played “dress-up.” Our play had to have a point.
b. I think being “good” at being an author is relative. I like to think I’m good at it. But how do we judge what is “good” and what isn’t? Is it the way with words, the storyline, or the characters? Okay, I’ll stop being philosophical about it. I think when I started to have a few fans, a few positive reviews on published works, I realized I could be good at this “writing thing.” Having the support of my parents was great, and my mom tried to read a few of my stories. But it took me a while to develop my style—and I’m still working on it—so the first stories were rough and needed a great deal of smoothing out.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
MDG: Good question. No idea. *laughs* My genre is mainly romance but I will be branching out into more urban fantasy without romance in a series I hope to work on soon. But my romances always have elements of fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, or something along those lines. I’m in love with the “other” or the unknown and mysterious. I’m a huge fan of ancient mythology, of gods and goddesses, monsters, and heroes, and I want to include such elements in as many works as I can.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
MDG: My first published work was “A Giant’s Friend” with Torquere Press. It had its flaws but I still love and appreciate that story. It’s not on sale anymore because it’s not one of my best, and I only want to put my best forward. However, I’m playing with the idea of editing it and then offering it as a free read on my website.
The fantasy story is about two best friends who end up in a war together and they fall in love. One of the friends has giant’s blood in him, making him large and prone to anger. His best friend is a regular human, but a strong man in his own right. It’s a fairly simplistic story, but I was super proud of—and still am—but some were less than kind when reviewing it. Those reviews nearly made me cut short my author career, but I realized I just needed to keep growing as an author. I know I’ve made great strides in writing and editing since then, and I tell myself I can only get better.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
MDG: One word: outline. Outline. Outline! I am not a pantser. While there are times my characters do their own thing, and I have to change my outline, the main plot points stay the same. I do give my characters breathing room, allowing them to adjust things here and there if they need to. I tend to think about scenes as if they’re a movie in my head. When I listen to music those moments become easier to visualize. I just let my characters do and say what they need to, and then I write it down on a notepad to put in my computer later. That process has created some of my best scenes, whether it be dialogue or action—in fact, the best way for me to write fight scenes (or sex scenes) is to let it unfold in my head first.
JSC: Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
MDG: While I can’t say how unique or quirky it is—I tend to obsess over new things I discover and like. When “The Lord of the Rings” came into my life—when the first movie was released—I spent the next three years of my life completely obsessed and devoted to learning everything I could about Middle-Earth and Tolkien. I even drew the map of Middle-Earth from scratch for goodness sakes! *laughs* Still have it I think… was super proud of myself. I was in eighth grade when all this started and now it’s simply a part of my life. I have a section devoted to LOTR/Tolkien, and I’ve read “The Silmarillion” about four times, and I almost like it better than LOTR. Go figure. But such obsessiveness occurs with other books, music, shows, you name it. I have to let myself ride through the obsession all the way until the end. There’s no use in fighting it. The biggest problem is, my obsessions get in the way of my writing time, so sometimes my muse just has to sit back and scowl at me until I find my way back to her…
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
MDG: J.R.R. Tolkien. Absolutely, positively. And I wouldn’t ask him a thing. I’d just let him talk to be about languages, fairytales, Norse mythology, and whatever else he wanted to tell me. Whatever it was, I’d listen in rapt attention. Yeah, I have a wee bit of a crush.
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
MDG: I think both my real first name and my pseudonym would mean “geeking out over obscure mythical or magical facts and figures.” That would definitely fit my pseudonym since “M.D.” stands for Medea Drago. Medea not only means “dragon queen” but is the name of the sorceress who helped Jason and the Argonauts in Greek mythology. But her story wasn’t happy: she was the lover of Jason and they had two sons, but Jason married a princess to gain prestige. In a rage, Medea drowned their children to punish Jason and ran off. Yeah, fun times. Yeesh, those Greeks. “Drago” means dragon in Italian.
JSC: What kind of character or topic have you been dying to try to write, but you’ve never worked up the courage?
MDG: I can’t say it’s because of lack of courage, but lack of mental focus. I have two YA novels planned for the future. Both have major fantasy settings, and one is especially about the bond of family and how important it is. I’m trying to include characters from all walks of life in my stories, and that takes a lot of research, which is alternately great and exhausting.
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?
MDG: While I don’t believe in looking back in your life and regretting or wishing you could have done something different since that’s impossible (since time-travel is just a theory right now), I’d have to choose the year when I visited Ireland for a month. I did a Study Abroad program in college to Ireland, and I would love to do it over again and pack it full of more travel, and to create deeper bonds with the people I traveled with. But I plan to go again sometime in the future, so I know I’ll get to go to the places I missed the first time around.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
MDG: Well, that’s a can of worms! What am I not working on? Okay, you asked for it *deep breath*: the next two stories in my “The Shifters” series with Dreamspinner Press, tentatively titled “Feather and Scroll” and “Kindred Truths”—hopefully for a 2017 release; the seventh book in my fantasy “The Stones of Power” series, titled “Lapis Lazuli: Forgotten and Remembered”—also hoping for a 2017 release; working on a romance/sci-fi saga. Already have the first book done (had to split into 3 volumes because of the length) and now working on the 2nd book.
But I have so many more stories hopping around in my mind, and I wish there were more hours in a day to write and write and write! I work a full time job, so I don’t have much time, or energy, to devote to my muse. She’s learned to deal.
And now for M.D.’s new book: TITLE:
Trystan is an unchosen angel—shunned by society, bullied, and without a future. In a hidden well, Trystan discovers a carving of a dragon, who were once the commanders of demons and now believed extinct. But Trystan learns the carving doesn’t depict an ordinary dragon. Stories tell that millennia ago, the great dragon Asagoroth and his demon army nearly conquered the three realms but he was killed by the five elders. The powerful angels combined their life forces to cast a spell, sacrificing their lives.
But history is full of falsehoods. The five elders only managed to imprison the dragon, and Asagoroth had cast his own spell—one of releasement. It only needs the blood of an angel to liberate him from his cage….
Asagoroth, enemy of angels, conqueror of realms, is free. But even as the angels prepare for war, the great dragon surprises them with an ultimatum: hand over the angel who awakened him or face annihilation.
Trystan absently scratched his wounded hand, which was nearly fully healed. But the itch was persistent and he scowled faintly, rubbing it through the wrap. Literature class was nearly done, and Trystan hadn’t paid attention to a damn word. He sat in the back, head down, attempting to hide. But he couldn’t stop his gaze from finding its way to the window, looking out. He could just make out a small corner of the Center Garden, and he could only too well see in his mind’s eye what lay beneath it.
Also—that sex dream wouldn’t leave him in peace.
That big, scary blue eye was achingly familiar. He could have sworn he’d seen it before. But that was impossible. In the painting in the book he saw in the library, the artist hadn’t colored the dragon’s eyes. The carving also didn’t give any indication as to the color of the eye. So why? Why did those sensations and kisses seem so familiar?
Trystan hunched his shoulders and rubbed harder at the itch on his palm. Then he froze. He sat up, staring hard at the bit of garden he could actually see.
The stone had absorbed his blood.
Trystan looked down at his hand at the same time a deep rumbling sounded in every direction. Their teacher called for silence as the spire began to rattle, the rumbling growing louder, a drumbeat against his bones. Trystan stumbled toward the window as the teacher tried to rally the students, who began to panic. The shaking grew worse, cracks forming along the walls as the sound of an explosion rattled the air, shattering the windows inward.
Trystan flung himself away, hunching his shoulders, and threw his hands up to protect his face. Glass flew everywhere, shards hitting delicate flesh. Screams mixed with the noise, the shaking, adding to the chaos. Trystan gasped for breath, fear whirling in his mind. His wound suddenly flared hot, and then it was gone: the itch, the pain. He spun around toward the window in time to see a massive—an enormously massive—black shadow burst out of the Center Garden, shattering it, crumbling the pillar the garden once sat upon. Stone was flung everywhere, some pieces smashing into the surrounding spires. Their own classroom shook violently as the spire began to sag to one side.
Trystan lurched toward the other students as the room abruptly tipped.
“Come with me!” the knowledge keeper screamed. She shoved students out the door, her wings shimmering into visibility, her eyes bright with fear. “Go!”
Trystan followed the crowd, the corridors packed with screaming, crying, terrified angels the same age as him and younger. All the knowledge keepers were doing their best to control their own fear, to corral the students to safety. But where was safe?
You couldn’t hide from a force of nature.
Mind still whirling, Trystan lost focus for a few moments before snapping back as he heard a loud humming, felt the crackling of energy above him. He’d only heard and felt that once in his life, when he was a young boy. It was the sound of the dome barrier snapping shut, a barrier their armies launched when a deadly threat—usually a massive wave of demons—swarmed against Emphoria. He knew they’d also be sending distress calls to the other cities, alerting them to danger.
Trystan tore away from the stampeding crowd and found a window, the glass shattered, and leaned out, trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening. What he saw stopped his breath.
A searing fireball of blue darted toward the high chancellor’s residence, a golden spire that rose above all the others. Trystan could actually feel the heat from the fire despite the considerable distance. The fireball managed to make it through before the pale-green dome snapped shut, encircling the city, deflecting all other attacks. The fire blasted against the spire, creating cracks and dents, melting the gold eagerly, hungrily. Trystan watched with his mouth open as that massive shadow sped over the gold spire, outside the dome, circling like a predatory bird. Darkness seemed to follow the beast, blackening the sky, creating dread and terror as if sending an emotional plague down on those below.
Trystan trembled with knowledge, confused at his sudden exhilaration and joy. He felt fear, but that rational reaction was nearly drowned out by irrational ones.
Then the black shadow hovered a good distance away before perching on the only spire outside the dome—an outlying guard tower. But even then he was enormous, a noticeable feature in the star-strewn sky. Trystan leaned farther out the window, seeing more details now that the figure had stopped flitting around. It was, indeed, a dragon. A big, black, horned dragon… and he was pissed.
He certainly didn’t send that fireball as a warm greeting.
The dragon folded his wings and then a voice—smooth, massive, power in every note—boomed over the surrounding area. The spires shook slightly against the force.
And—the Light Bringer help him—Trystan knew that voice.
“I know you can hear me, angels,” Asagoroth said. A hush fell over everyone. The entire city seemed to stand still. “If you have any intelligence in your tiny brains, you know who I am. You would be wise to heed my demands, or I will unleash such wrath upon you that I will disintegrate your ethereal souls.”
Trystan pressed a fist to his chest, his eyes locked on Asagoroth’s form. The dragon’s voice shook with power and rage. Deep, boiling rage was in every word, every sound, every inflection. But it was contained and controlled. Trystan couldn’t help but admire that control.
M.D. Grimm has wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that her dreams are finally coming true. She enjoys writing romances because they always guarantee a happy ending, since real life often doesn’t have those. M.D. earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and is glad to put the degree to use with her own literature.