Today I’m delighted to welcome D B Nielsen to One More Page to tell us about her new adventure series Keepers of Genesis. The four-part series perfect for fans of Twilight and A Discovery of Witches. A magical blend of romance, fantasy and fascinating ancient history. The second part, SCROLL, publishes this week. Welcome to One More Page!
Please could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in British Hong Kong and immigrated to Australia with my family when I was six-months-old. I spent much of my childhood travelling the world with my family as my Dad is an architect. Now, I divide my time between Sydney and London, and enjoy visiting the cathedrals, crypts and museums all over the world. My dream project is to do a series of book tours in the Champagne region of France and High Tea establishments everywhere.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a princess, a ballerina, and eventually a children’s doctor. But I always enjoyed writing. When I was in high school, I would write short stories and poetry for the school magazine and even entered a few newspaper/ magazine writing competitions.
I never formally studied creative writing – I think if you love to write (and have people read your work/s) then you’re a writer whether you’re published or not. Instead, I studied Humanities at university, majoring in English Language and Literature and Linguistics (Semiotics) and became a university lecturer. But I continued to write for fun and it was only when some of my students encouraged me to publish my novel that I thought about writing professionally (and not just publishing academic essays and articles for journals which many people would consider boring!)
My genre is YA/ NA paranormal romance, which I also love to read – you’ve got to be a fan of the genre to be a writer of the genre!
Tell us about SEED: Keepers of Genesis I
SEED is best described as The Mortal Instruments meets The Da Vinci Code. It follows the journey of Sage Woods, the seventeen-year-old daughter of an eminent archaeologist, who uncovers the disturbing secret about a powerful, hidden artefact; unearthed in modern day Southern Iraq (formerly ancient Mesopotamia). With its discovery, an ancient conflict is reignited and Sage is placed in terrible danger as, unwittingly, she stumbles into an invisible war. She is embroiled in a quest that takes her from the British Museum to the Louvre to the Vatican Secret Archives and realises that her blossoming romance with the mysterious, alluring St. John Rivers is inextricably tied to the artefact. Up until now, St. John has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Sage is determined to delve deeper to uncover his dark secret and his connection to the artefact. It is a decision that will have a devastating effect on humankind…
Do you have an academic background in History?
Readers might be surprised that I have very little background in archaeology and history. I love the subject but I never formally studied it beyond my first year at university. Yet, in the novel, there’s a lot of historical details which I tried to make as accurate as possible.
What are the main themes or ideas behind the series?
I think there are quite a few messages within the novel. One of them is that history is often stranger than fiction or fantasy. If we can understand the past, we can make sense of ourselves and our world.
Also, I want readers to understand that some things have to be taken on faith. There is much to discover still in our world – the unknown, the unexplored, the unseen – but, in the end, the story is about us; about love and mortality; the human condition.
Do you draw on personal experiences in your writing?
I would love to meet these characters or go to these places but my life is much more ordinary than that! I think the only sections I can safely say are based on events in my own life are the recipes in the novel and the Christmas celebrations I describe with the specific cultural and familial traditions and customs. The character of Sage’s mum is, perhaps, similar to my own mum who was also an artist/ designer – so she’s the only character in the novel that is close to being real.
How do you combine writing with work commitments and family life?
I’m a mum and I have four children (aged from 2 years old to 18 years old) who keep me on my toes!
Parenting comes first. I often feel guilty that I might need to lock myself away to write and have to leave the kids to my husband to take care of (he’s wonderful with them but I hear them through the closed door and just itch to get involved in their dramas) – though mainly I try to write late at night when the kids are in bed and asleep.
I don’t write every day or to a schedule but I am trying to be more disciplined as I admire writers who can write 2,000 words a day and stick to a schedule. But I’m more a stop-and-start, when-the-mood-takes-me, bash out a chapter in a day then take a hiatus for two weeks, get some inspiration from other authors/ reviewers/ readers and bash out another few thousand words, get distracted by my family (kids demanding food/ drinks/ misplaced toys/ misplaced clothes/ toilet trips…) and grind to a stop (swearing in frustration because I want to write but have to prioritize), then do it all over again.
On the upside, I do have a plan of where I want my novel to go and work around that. I always have a mental map of about half the chapters (including the beginning, climax and denouement) and let the rest work itself out.
Also, I get to spend time with the kids (dance class, soccer practice, baking brownies, school concerts, kids’ parties all have their place in my life) – but my secret is to be organized with everything else so that when I get time, I can lock myself away for an hour or two to write (and try not to feel guilty!)
On a personal note, I wrote the novel virtually one-handed whilst nursing my infant son. Typing one-handed is not my forte but I managed to write SEED within three months – a fact I’m very proud of!
Do you have any hobbies besides writing?
When not writing I love to cook. I especially love baking – cookies, cakes, brownies, scones … just about anything really. I use it as an excuse to procrastinate when writing. When I was young, the kitchen was my mother’s domain but the thing she’d let me cook was desserts. So every Saturday when my brothers went to play soccer and after my netball games, I’d rush home and bake a cake or cupcakes. It seemed to give lots of pleasure to everyone. Now I bake for my kids.
What novel do you wish you had written?
Of the classics, I wish I had written Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as there is something rather wonderful about the story of a young, headstrong, independent woman marrying the ideal man (who appreciates her for her brains and not just because she’s attractive).
Of the contemporary novels, I wish I had written The Time Traveler’s Wife by Hiffenegger as it made me laugh and cry and think about a love that lasted a lifetime and beyond.
I would love to write futuristic dystopian novels – I know that this is probably a trend with The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc… out at the moment, but I have a couple of ideas that are slightly different from the books published at the moment and I’m hoping to be able to write them down when I finish the KEEPERS OF GENESIS series.
Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?
I think it would have to be Gabriel Chevalier because he’s such a charming, capricious, mischievous figure. Think Loki in The Avengers and Thor film series – that’s Gabriel. But Gabriel is quite charismatic and humorous too (and he’s secretly a very deep character but the right girl will be needed to unlock all his secrets).
Tell us about the second book, SCROLL, in the KEEPERS OF GENESIS series
The second book in the series is SCROLL. It follows Sage’s sister’s journey (so the narratives in the novels are alternating between books) and her trials and tribulations. Unlike her sister, she’s confused about love and involved in a love triangle – but she’s very attracted to the Byronic hero-villain/ the bad boy figure, Phoenix (also known as Finn). Here’s an extract of the next book (soon to be published):
He leant forward, his eyes now so dark a blue that they were almost black in the emptiness of the shadowy gallery.
‘Oh, I understand perfectly,’ he said, his tone now mildly amused. ‘But do you?’
I scowled up at him as I took a step back. ‘Do I what?’
‘Do you understand what it is that you want?’
He stepped closer to me as he spoke, forcing me to retreat until I found my back pressed up against the stone monument that I had admired only moments before, ironically mirroring the event of the previous night.
I shook my head hesitantly. ‘What are you talking about? You’ve lost me. You constantly speak in riddles and I don’t understand you.’
‘Again, you do not see, because you do not choose to see, Saffron.’
This time when he said my name it was like a caress that tingled through me, electrifying every nerve ending in my body.
‘You make me forget, Saffron…’ His voice drifted off.
Staring up at him, I asked, ‘Forget what?’
But he ignored my question.
‘Is it so wrong?’ he mused again, speaking more to himself than to me.
I frowned in dismay. ‘What?’
‘Is it so terrible to want what you should not? To crave what you cannot have? Do you fear to seize what you desire? What is forbidden?’
I found the very breath strangled in my throat. Somehow our conversation had wandered down a different path and I was alarmed by the direction which it was now taking.
I didn’t know if I was ready for this.
And I had a strange feeling that Finn wasn’t just talking about me but himself. I wasn’t afraid of the wild look in his eyes, but it made my stomach flutter in an uncomfortable way, sent my pulse hammering through my veins.
I moved, but he was quicker, placing himself directly in my path.
‘Let me pass, Finn,’ I demanded futilely. But even to my own ears, my voice lacked conviction.
The top of my head scarcely reached his shoulder and I felt dwarfed, yet oddly protected, by his height and solid muscle. He slowly bent down, his lips brushing against my ear, making me shiver in reaction as his breath fanned the tendrils of loose hair curling around my left earlobe.
‘Fear and passion are but two sides of the same coin.’ The scent of fruit was stronger now. ‘You’ve felt fear, Saffron, but have you ever really felt passion?’
Musical notes dropped from his lips like pearls, seducing me.
‘We all are afraid of losing ourselves, of losing control and being possessed, and consumed. And yet, like moths drawn to the flame, we crave it.’ Finn’s eyes seemed to see into my very soul. ‘Against our better judgement, we’re tempted … and it would be so easy to give into that temptation…’
‘Finn, please. Let me pass,’ I said again, my voice even weaker. I tried to clear my throat, but instead my mouth felt dry like sandpaper.
‘You give me an order, Saffron, yet I do not feel the force of it. Perhaps you do not mean it…’ he whispered seductively into my ear. ‘Yet you could make any demand of me, if you only knew your power…’
What are you reading now?
I love discovering Indie authors so there are a few books from the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement I’m dying to read (including JC Brennan’s A Fine Line, Robert A Palmer’s Relyk, CL Schneider’s The Crown of Stones and Renee N Meland’s The Extraction List) but I’m also interested in those books recommended to me by my readers. I deliberately stay away from any books containing angels and Nephilim whilst I’m writing, but I have just discovered Rachel Caine’s The Morganville Vampires series and I’d also like to look into Jennifer Armentrout’s books that so many of my readers just love.
SCROLL: KEEPERS OF GENESIS II by DB Nielsen is published on 12th March
Find out more about DB Nielsen and her writing at: www.dbnielsen.com or follow her on Twitter @db_nielsen