Over to you, Nessa.
When and why did you begin writing?
Wow. Um. All my life, really. I seriously started writing and finishing things back in 2002 when I joined the Lord of the Rings fandom. I wrote fanfiction for a while (still do, actually) because there were stories I wanted to read that weren't out there. So I decided to see if I could tell them myself. Turns out my parents and teachers were write in school when they told me I had some talent at it! From there, it just grew, and I can't imagine not writing now.
What inspires you to write and why?
Everything? Honestly, like I said, I can't imagine not writing. I have so many stories I want to tell, and there's just this need to get it out. Sauntering Vaguely Downward was actually inspired by a friend who wanted a story about people falling in love at a convention. She suggested San Diego Comic Con, but I made it Dragon*Con as that's the one I've been to.
Really, though, there isn't much that can't inspire me. I love wine, and I'm plotting a story about that. I love fantasy, so the strangest thing can turn into a story idea. I actually wrote fanfic once about otters who fell in love and got turned into humans. Yeah, crazy, I know.
What is the best piece of advice you received before you got published?
To listen to my editors. I don't always do what they suggest, but I always seriously consider it, and make sure I have valid story reasons not to take their advice. I've had beta-readers who have said things that make me want to cry sometimes, but in the end, the story is better for it.
Do you have any rituals to start your writing day?
Not really. I just settle down on the couch and make sure the television is off. So long as I have a drink and my computer, I'm good. I do like to engage fellow writers in "word wars" so sometimes I see if someone wants to have one with me, but other than that, there really aren't any rituals. I don't listen to music while I write, and it's just me and the cats, so there's not much else to worry about.
What are you currently writing?
Currently, I'm working on a fan-fiction story for charity. I'm working on editing a murder mystery involving Greek gods living in modern times called Stamp of Fate, and also editing a sort-of dystopian science fiction story with psychic bonds and people who can control dreams called To Dream, Perchance to Live. I'm still trying to decide what to work on after I finish the fan-fiction story: either a f/f story involving a banshee and a descendent of the family she kens for, a science fiction story set on a world that is overwhelmed by terrible storms, and a contemporary romance about a wine shop owner and a customer who keeps pretending to be clueless for a chance to flirt.
How do you find your names?
Oh, wow. I hate naming characters. Honestly, the best part about fan-fiction is that you don't have to!
Seriously, though, I use baby naming websites, mostly. For Stamp of Fate, I wanted the characters to have names with Greek origin and appropriate meaning—that was hard! Usually, though, I just make a list and start flipping through websites. I also deal with mail lists in my day job, so sometimes I look through those for inspiration, though I'm careful to never pair a first name I find on there with the corresponding last name.
What is the most interesting piece of research you’ve done so far?
It was probably for Stamp of Fate. I've always been a big fan of Greek mythology, but I did a lot of research into the lesser-known aspects of the gods and into several myths. I wanted to make sure that I got the layout of Hades right, for example, and I tied the motive for the murders into one of the myths.
Do you include your life experiences in your books?
Sometimes. Sauntering Vaguely Downward definitely has a lot of real life experience in it, as it's set at Dragon*Con 2009, and I was there that year. Sadly, I did not meet the love of my life there, but outside of the romance, most of the stuff is actually things that I experienced, and the rest of it is things that my friends told me about.
Similarly, I drink a lot of wine and go to a lot of wine tastings, so the wine shop story will also include a lot of real life influences. Other stories, however, not so much. There isn't as much that I can pull into science fiction and fantasy stories, though in To Dream, Perchance to Live I did include some of my nightmares in one scene. So, I try.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Terry Pratchett. Or Neil Gaiman. Honestly, both. (I adore Good Omens. Sauntering Vaguely Downward is sort-of an homage to that.) I find their writing funny and intriguing, and I'm never bored. I also love following Neil Gaiman on Twitter—he cracks me up every time he "Neil web-fails" something.
What do you do to relax?
I go to wine tastings. I read. I travel. I love going to visit friends in different parts of the world. I watch TV. I really like shows that teach me things, and science fiction or fantasy shows.
Where can we find you on the web?
All over the place?
I'm on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nessalwarin
My blog is http://nessa-l-warin.livejournal.com
I'm also on Facebook and GoodReads as Nessa L. Warin
Author's Bio: Nessa L. Warin lives in southwestern Ohio and enjoys reading, wine tastings, and watching fantasy movies and television. She also participates in role playing events and can be found running around in costume during at least one Renaissance festival and one fantasy convention a year.
When she's not playing, Nessa works in the corporate office of a large life insurance company coordinating the production and mailing of marketing materials. She shares her home with two cats that enjoy getting in the way when she's trying to write and owns far more books than she really has room to keep.
Buylink for Sauntering Vaguely Downward.
Blurb for Sauntering Vaguely Downward: Dylan Rojers is excited about Dragon*Con—a huge convention in Atlanta celebrating pop culture, science fiction, and fantasy—but he and his last-minute roommate, Brendan Stone, get off on the wrong foot. It seems that every time they manage a tentative truce, something happens to set them back, and by their second day at the convention, both think there’s no way they can get along.
But maybe Dylan and Brendan have more in common than they thought. Once they start talking, the sparks that were starting arguments ignite a different sort of passion. Through the four fabulous days of parties, shopping in the Dealers Room, costume parades, and discussion panels, Dylan and Brendan grow ever closer. There’s just one problem: they live in different cities, and Dragon*Con doesn’t last forever. Will Dylan and Brendan risk a long-distance romance or is a lasting relationship just one more all-too-brief fantasy?
Excerpt: Brendan is already awake when his alarm goes off Saturday morning. He’s pretty sure Dylan is too—he’s heard him moving over the past half hour or so—but he immediately rolls over and grabs the phone anyway. If Dylan has somehow managed to fall back asleep, he doesn’t want to wake him.
It ends up being a moot point.
Dylan is staring at him, his eyes wide and alert, though his expression and posture both say that he’s really not completely awake. He smiles when Brendan glances at him, though, and Brendan’s heart starts beating faster in his chest at the way Dylan’s whole face lights up.
“Morning,” he whispers, his own lips curling up into a wide, excited grin. Just looking at Dylan is making him feel giddy now, and if he hadn’t already agreed to meet up with his friends for the parade—and they didn’t already have a set of kick-ass coordinating costumes—he would skip it in favor of staying here all day. He and Dylan definitely have a lot of, ah, talking to do about what happened last night, and Brendan wants to get moving on it as quickly as possible.
“Good morning.” Dylan sounds about as awake as Brendan feels. His voice is soft and hoarse, as though it’s protesting being used so early. “You goin’ to the parade?”
“Yep.” Brendan’s grin widens as he situates himself on his side so he can be comfortable while he watches Dylan. He tucks his left arm under the pillow, propping his head up some, and lets his right leg fall forward so he’s half on his stomach. The three-foot gap between the beds is about all that’s keeping him from wishing Dylan a proper good morning, but since he’s not quite ready to crawl out from under the covers—even to make out—he’ll settle for watching Dylan wake up. “You?
“Absolutely.” Dylan flops over so he’s lying flat on his stomach, one cheek smashed into his pillow and his arm dangling to the floor. “Marching in it.”
Brendan shifts, already feeling restless and wanting a better view of Dylan. This is bound to be good. “As?”
“Sam Vimes.” Dylan rubs at his eyes, blinking a few times before letting his hand fall back to the floor, his gaze following it. “I know it’s unoriginal, using two characters from the same series this weekend, but Sabrina said she’d be Lady Sybil, and Kelly and Val said they’d be Cherry and Angua.” He looks up, meeting Brendan’s eyes with an expression that begs for understanding. “We’ve got a Carrot and Detrius too.”
Brendan’s grin grows as he gives in to his restlessness and sits up, pushes the covers back, and crosses his legs. “Captain Sam Vimes, Commander Sam Vimes, or His Grace, the Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes?”
Dylan looks flabbergasted as he pushes himself up, mimicking Brendan’s cross-legged pose and staring at him across the gap between the beds. “Sir Sam,” he says in an awed tone. “How did you…?”
“Just because I prefer Gaiman doesn’t mean I’m ignorant about Pratchett. I told you I’d read a few of them. Besides, my sister, Mel? Total Watch Girl.” He leans forward, his lips twisting up teasingly. “She would love you,” he singsongs, grinning wider when Dylan blushes.
Dylan turns bright red as he rubs at the back of his neck, but when he meets Brendan’s gaze, there’s fire in his eyes. “Yeah, well, no disrespect to your sister,” he says, crossing the gap between the beds and putting his hands on Brendan’s shoulders, “I think I prefer her brother.”
“Is that so?” Brendan tries to make the question a teasing one, but his voice hitches as he meets Dylan’s smoldering gaze. Everything else he was going to say gets stuck in his throat as Dylan moves in, brushing his lips tentatively across Brendan’s as though everything from the night before never happened.
Brendan freezes for a second, but as he feels Dylan about to pull back, he manages to make his limbs cooperate and he grabs Dylan’s shoulders, holding him in place as he deepens the kiss. Dylan responds enthusiastically, and soon they’re lying on Dylan’s bed, making out like horny teenagers.
Dylan is an enthusiastic kisser, all over-eager hands and questing tongue, but once he finds a rhythm, he’s good at it, and his fingers and tongue are almost magical with how quickly they get Brendan panting and gasping, his heart racing as most of his blood goes straight to his dick. He pushes his hips upward as he tangles his fingers in Dylan’s hair, and they both moan as their groins brush together.
“Fuck, Brendan,” Dylan mumbles, kissing his way up Brendan’s jaw to his ear. “So hot.”