1) You’ve worked in all sorts of writing areas, but writing a fantasy novel is new. What drew you towards writing an urban fantasy novel with a spunky female lead as your first fantasy?
My first two were a lot more serious, and I found myself increasingly just wanting to write something that was fun. Plus, as a fan of urban fantasy, I was starting to be frustrated by a lot of the female leads out there – they either seemed incredibly wimpy, or so impossibly kick ass it was hard to identify with them. I wanted to create a female lead who you could imagine going for a drink with, and one who has (or at least develops) strong female friendships, which seem really lacking in the genre.
2) Did your experience with any of your previous writing areas help with the creation of this book?
I think all writing is good practice, so yes; it all feeds into any piece of work.
3) As someone who loves Buffy and Supernatural, I got a kick out of the pop culture references. At the same time, I wondered: does it concern you that you might date your novel by putting so many references in? Is there a concern that readers who haven’t watched these shows might be turned off?
In terms of dating it, no – I think if you write with one eye out for posterity you’re setting yourself up for failure anyway, and in terms of the main things referenced in the book – Buffy, Star Wars, The X-Files, Doctor Who, Twilight – these things are part of our cultural landscape now, so they might not be cutting edge, but they won’t really date. One of the key things I wanted to do with the book was create a world where vampires existed but make it recognisably our world – so it contains the same books and TV shows and films, and the vampires have seen them, too.
In terms of putting people off, I hope not – I think that even if you only get a tiny fraction of the references, there’s hopefully still a story there that will grip you and characters that you like. I think if it in the same way I see the setting: I deliberately set it in a part of London that I’m very familiar with, and was careful to get those details right – so if you know that part of London, you’ll see that, you’ll hopefully enjoy seeing it reflected in the book, but if you don’t, it doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the story.
4) Will Cassandra be able to keep her dating business going after all of this turmoil?
The next book, Wolf Night, will be dealing with a lot of the fallout from Dark Dates, in terms of the decisions Cass has to take to keep her business afloat. It’s important to me that Cass isn’t just someone who runs around dealing with supernatural crises – she has a business to run, she has bills to pay, her friends have jobs that they can’t ignore, and like the rest of us that means she sometimes has to make sacrifices or compromises, and we see more of that in the sequel.
5) When can we expect the next Cassandra Bick novel? Or any other current writing projects you want to talk about?
Well, since I published Dark Dates I also put out a couple of short stories – A Vampire Walks Into a Bar, which is set straight after Dark Dates and deals with Laclos and Cain being forced to work together – so that was enormous fun to write – and a Vampire Christmas, which is set a few months afterwards and deals a little with the aftermath of the events in the first book. The sequel to Dark Dates, Wolf Night, is out in the next few weeks and sees Cassandra and her friends dealing with another supernatural threat, but this time it’s much more personal.
Tracey Sinclair works as freelance copywriter, editor and legal directories consultant. A diverse and slightly wandering career has included writing factsheets for small businesses, creating web content for law firms, subtitling film and TV and editing one of the UK’s largest legal directories. A keen blogger, she regularly writes for online theatre site Exeunt and science fiction site Unleash the Fanboy and her blog Body of a Geek Goddess was shortlisted in the Cosmopolitan Blogger Awards 2011. Her work has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies and her short play Bystanders was premiered in 2011 as part of the CP Players New Writing Season at Baron’s Court Theatre, London. She has published two small press books (Doll and No Love is This, both Kennedy & Boyd) and is now dipping a toe in the digital self-publishing world with her new urban fantasy novel, Dark Dates.