Growing up in North Beach during the late-70s/early-80s, Gianna fell in love with writing at the precocious age of seven, when her mother bought her a diary for Christmas. Gianna used her diary to pen short stories with dark undertones, influenced by two of her favorite TV shows, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Twilight Zone, as well as her favorite author, Edgar Allen Poe.
I had the good fortune of meeting Gianna in May of 2012 at the awards ceremony for the San Francisco Book Festival, where her debut novel, Blood Life, was being honored. We got along like old pals, talking about writing and publishing and vampires, among other things. We've stayed in contact since the ceremony in San Francisco and I'm very pleased to consider her both a friend and ally. So, without further ado, here are 10 questions Gianna Perada.
1. What would you like readers to know about Blood Life?
Originally entitled Vrykolakas, which is an archaic Greek term for vampire, Blood Life is a book I initially completed close to 15 years ago. I had serious issues with letting it go. It was an enormous part of my soul. I’ve revised and downright rewritten it countless times since, never really ready to call it done. This was my way of truly finishing it. I have a huge file of rejection letters from queries I’ve sent out over the years. I did eventually land a New York agent at one point somewhere in the middle, but after doing more work than he ever did with it in two years’ time, I terminated our contract and decided to continue myself.
2. Who are some writers that have affected your storytelling sensibilities?
Oh, so many have fueled my inner fire! Anne Rice is definitely at the top of the list. Others include Poppy Z. Brite, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Anne Bishop, Anaïs Nin and Pauline Réage.
3. As of this interview, your book as been honored in both the San Francisco Book Festival and the New York Book Festival. Has this newfound notoriety affected your writing?
I don’t think it’s affected my writing per se, but it has definitely motivated me to keep writing. Every author is insecure about their first born; I don’t care what they say. And I don’t care if they’re published by a big house or self-published. All of them have reservations and anxiety at some point: How will it be received? Should I really say that? Will people understand what I’m trying to get across? Will readers be forgiving of any slights in the text? What happens when I get my first one-star review? It seems like these two little awards, which are huge to me, lessened those insecurities. I definitely feel like I won’t be quite as affected by any negative reviews or strong/harsh critiquing I receive.
4. What methods and strategies have you employed in order to promote both yourself as an author, as well Blood Life?
I created a Facebook Fan Page; I placed a very targeted ad to help build a following there (which was surprisingly affordable and nicely aimed at the right audience since I set all the filters carefully). I joined Twitter which I was totally against, being a Facebook whore, and taught myself how to use it because it looked like Chinese to me. I set up my first live book signing, which doubled as a local book release party, at my favorite local indy bookstore: Copperfield’s Bookstore in Petaluma, CA. I just signed up with Amazon’s KDP Select program; I have a love/hate relationship with it, but I decided to give it a go.
5. Writing a book is such a complex exercise that I imagine no two authors do it exactly the same. Can you summarize your process for me?
I do not outline my work. Instead, I have a few works-in-progress, or books that I’ve sat down and started writing from the beginning. Depending on the mood I’m in, I pull up a given file, sit at my keyboard, and channel the muse. Then my fingers start moving on their own and I just go with it. That is always how it is. Half the time, I go back and read what I’ve written and decide if I’m elated or disgusted and then act accordingly.
6. What separates Blood Life from the slew of other vampire novels currently on the market?
Well, the easy (maybe egotistical) answer is that I feel it is bringing vampires back around to how they were originally perceived: as manipulative predators. And mine are not sippers; they tear humans apart and drink to the very last drop. Also, I threw in witches for good measure, and the interbreeding of the two races: the Combined. New, unique, and wildly conflicted, with a Goddess of their own. It also feels like there are a zillion YA vampire stories popping up everywhere; my book is NC-17.
7. What drove you to write Blood Life?
Blood Life began as a short story I went home and started writing directly following an incident at my JC Creative Writing class. The professor, a horrible bitch that was fired the following year for having too many complaints filed against her, gave us a writing assignment and instructed the class to choose any topic we wanted. She said it just like that, too, and people ooh’d and ahh’d about it. The point was to cite references used in the paper to other writers and their respective works. So… I chose vampires as my topic and cited authors such as Montague Summers (who wrote some non-fiction on the topic back in the day) and well-known fiction authors on the subject like Anne Rice and Bram Stoker. During the oral presentation, I had the class going strong! It was great. They were very much into it and asking a million questions which I answered to the best of my ability regarding vampire lore both in fiction and non-fiction. When the class ended, the teacher asked me to stay after class. When everyone was gone, she said, “I’m giving you a D on your assignment.” I asked why and she said, “Because I didn’t like your topic. I felt it was totally inappropriate and not at all what I asked you to do.” Confused and irritated after clearly doing so well, and exactly what she instructed, I flipped her off (making sure she understood my gesture by promptly telling her to fuck off), ripped my paper out of her hand, and left that class never to return. But, lucky me, because Blood Life may not have happened at all if it hadn’t been for that incident. Come to think of it, I should hunt her down and send her a copy with a little thank-you note.
8. Where do you see your writing career five years from now?
I see myself writing a minimum of one book per year, so five years from now I should be on my fifth story! Also, hopefully with a movie contract behind me because Blood Life is such a candidate for the big screen! Oh, and also a big backing publisher paying me fat advances so I can write full time. If I get that, I’ll easily give ‘em two books a year. Happily. Bring it!
9. What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a book called Devendra, which is a prequel to Blood Life.
10. What advice would you give to an aspiring author who hopes to see their work published one day?
Keep writing no matter what! And have as many eyes that you trust look it over to offer feedback so you can fine-tune your craft. Don’t be afraid to say things you wouldn’t normally say in life, and never, under any circumstances, sell yourself out for fear that the world won’t accept you. They will. You’d be surprised. Your niche will come to you. Dare to be different! And READ READ READ. Reading nurtures a writer’s soul like nothing else. We all learn from each other and I love that.
And there you have it. I’d like to thank Gianna Perada for taking some time to hang out on Inside Martin. If you’d like to learn more about Gianna and her writing, you can visit Gianna Perada: Official Website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, as well as Facebook.