Paranormal Headliner: Mia Darien

Today I am welcoming Mia Darien, author of Cameron’s Law and When Forever Died, as my first ever Paranormal Headliner!  I’m introducing this series as a way to highlight other authors writing in the paranormal realm. One thing that intrigues me about Mia’s books is that she is writing a whole series of standalone books that share a common setting: the town of Adelheid, CT. It looks like there is quite a bit of paranormal adventure going on in Adelheid! So grab a cup of your favorite beverage and settle in as we get to know Mia better.

A Little About Mia

Mia Darien has lived in New England all of her life and knows that no matter where she goes from here, New England is always going to live in her. Presently, she still lives in the land of snow and fast talkers, with her husband, her son and her pets. She writes a bit of everything genre fiction (horror, romance, mystery, fantasy and science fiction) and thinks it sounds like an odd joke: a unicorn, a space monster, and a pair of zombie lovers walk into a murder investigation…

You mention that you hail from New England, and you seem to have a strong affinity for it. For someone who has never visited there, what things make you love it the way that you do?

Mia: It may just be sentimentality. I was born here, I’ve grown up here. I lived in the same town my entire life. But it is more than that. New England is beautiful. I’m not good at describing scenery (my books are proof of that) but it’s green and full of hills and every autumn, the trees look like they’re on fire. I live in a rural area, farm country, where it’s quiet and peaceful. That suits me very well. I can walk down my dirt road, after it stops being a road, and see history from two hundred years ago where stone walls used to wall off pastures but are now full of trees and wetlands, and how it used to be the main road from my town to the neighboring town. It’s just full of history and personality. My husband, who was born and raised in the South, sometimes says it’s not always a *nice* personality, but I say we’re at least always honest. 😉

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Mia: Oh, all kinds of things! For a while, my best friend and I were going to open up a veterinarian’s office. At another time, I wanted to be a police sketch artist. When I was fourteen, I got hit by the writing bug and wanted to be a published author, and I’ve stuck with that since.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Mia: My husband would say I don’t do either very well! It’s true, I always feel like I should be doing something productive. I guess when I need to chill out, I like to read. I write as a hobby as well as for publication, so that unwinds me and I’m working on fitting time for World of Warcraft back into my schedule.

Mia On Writing

What is it about writing that brings you back to the page for more?

Mia: I can’t stop. In fact, I’ve tried. There were a few years when life was too insane and I just couldn’t write. Times when I felt like it was too much and I should stop, but the ideas wouldn’t go away. I kept coming up with characters and story lines that wanted to be written, so I kept writing them down and leaving them for later. Now I have more stories than time to write them, and the knowledge that I just can’t stop. I have to keep writing, or my head really might explode.

How did you come up with the title for your books?

Mia: “Cameron’s Law” is fairly self explanatory when you read the book. My entire premise is that there is a law that makes preternatural creatures legal. It is officially the Preternatural Rights Act of 2010, but is named informally after the man (werewolf, Harvard Law student) who began the process, Cameron St John, hence Cameron’s Law. “When Forever Died” is actually a line from the story, when one character is explaining something to another. To say any more would give away a plot point!

Are any of your characters based on people that you’ve known, or situations in your book things you’ve encountered in real life?

Mia: Yes, actually. Have you ever seen that t-shirt in catalogs: “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel”? Well, in my case, I only make characters after people I like. Sadie and Dakota are both a little bit of me. Sadie Stanton’s name comes from family names. Vance Johnston is a little bit of my husband. Sarah Beaumont is after a friend of mine. My family and friends always sneak in there in parts, even if it wasn’t a conscious choice. As for situations, not specifically. But everything I see, everything I feel, read, watch, learn about, all eventually goes into the mix and comes out into a story in some way or another.

It looks like you have a lot of work planned for the future of your series (6+ more books- WOW!). What has been the thing that has surprised you the most in crafting storylines that all converge in the same town/same place?

Mia: I’m not sure if anything has surprised me about the whole thing, or the town, but the characters like to surprise me. I recently – in the book I’m writing now – had what was supposed to be an innocuous conversation turn into something I had to adjust my plot outline for. Sneaky vampires. It’s always the characters that surprise me the most, saying or doing things I didn’t see coming. But that’s the fun part, too.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Mia: There are a lot of hard parts to writing. Just getting it done, for starters. Making sure it’s a story that doesn’t suck, is consistent and well written. Then the inherent anxiety that comes with releasing it to the public: oh no, are they going to like it, is anyone going to read it, are they going to pan it… and so on.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Mia: Keep at it. It’s hard and takes a lot of work, you’ll want to throw yourself out a window at some point, but you just have to stick with it if you want to move forward. Listen to advice, but not all of it ’cause your head will explode. Read, read, read.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Mia: Oh, my. That’s a tough one. It’s hard for me to know what my “quirks” are, but one thing that I have found that differentiates me as a little odd, compared to other writers: I hear about a lot of authors that write to music, and what music inspires them. I listen to television shows and movies while I write. You would think it would get in the way, but it doesn’t. I think it’s something about hearing dialog and ongoing stories that inspires me more than music.

What is your favorite supernatural creature to write and why?

Mia: I don’t know that I have a favorite creature, actually. Vampires are fun because I love making dead jokes. (I write in First Person and all my character have a hint or more of sarcasm in their wit.) So, they’re great for the lack of a heart beat jokes and such. But Dakota and her unique nature are an absolute blast. And I have some other unique creatures in the pipeline that I bet will be as much fun, so I don’t think I can actually pick a favorite.

Mia’s Paranormal Perspectives

What’s your definition of the paranormal genre?

Mia: I’m pretty broad about this. Paranormal is defined as anything “extra” normal, and that’s how I view it. If it has vampires, werewolves, faerie folk, witches and what not, I would define that as paranormal. Though I suppose I’d have to further define it as these creatures in our world, at any time. If it’s another world then it’s sci-fi/fantasy.

How do you feel about the boom of paranormal fiction recently?

Mia: It worries me, to be honest. I love that it’s popular. It’s “okay” now to be a vampire freak. But at the same time, I worry about the genre I love being flooded with substandard story-telling. People writing paranormal *just* because it’s popular and sells well, not because they love it, and there by weakening the whole thing.

Is there a specific paranormal sub-genre interests you the most?

Mia: You know, I don’t think there is. I just like good stories. It’s all about the story.

What scares you?

Mia: All manner of things! I’m anxious by nature, and neuro-chemistry, so real life can be pretty frightening. 😉 But seriously, reading books and what not, I can get spooked by things that strike too close to home, like zombie fiction that’s more realistic than outrageous can give me the creeps. Or mysteries with particularly realistic killer perspectives.

What is your favorite paranormal book?

Mia: The first Vampire Files book by P. N. Elrod, because it’s the first in a whole series I love a great deal and highly admire. If you want to put modern definition on classics, then I’d go with “Dracula.” I have an audio version that is so fantastic that I’ve listened to it repeatedly.

What is your favorite paranormal movie?

Mia: You know, I really don’t know. I’ve liked a lot of the blockbuster paranormal films, despite some defects. (Underworld, Blade) But there was a low budget indie time film called Demon Under Glass that was fascinating. I’m still waiting for someone to get “Dracula” right.

What do you think draws people to paranormal novels?

Mia: I think it’s just something in the nature of humanity that’s always been there. I watched “Ghost Hunters” for a while and that, by nature, proves my point but beyond that, I had considered doing a ghost hunting story. Still may, but it’s down the line. I was researching ghost hunter sites and read a fascinating article, which had a part that I’ve always remembered. If you look back in old lore and read stories of the faeries, the wee folk, and how they used to kidnap babies and so forth, the descriptions of many of those stories sound a lot like people’s descriptions of aliens in more recent time. From mythological to science, it’s the same thing. People have always had these fascinations with things beyond themselves. Vampires and shifters in particular are so much like humans but not that it’s easier to imagine, I guess.

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

Mia: I wouldn’t say I research to get the ideas. I just research and read about these things because it interests me, and ideas may or may not come. Like, I’ve written a historical romance focused during the time of the Beast of Gevaudan. I don’t qualify it as paranormal, but I did read about the Beast for the first time in the Werewolf Encyclopedia. (Fun book.) The French film ‘Le Pacte des Loups’ is also about the Beast. I was obsessed with Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Norse mythology in middle school and onward. Norse mythos has made its way into my story “When Forever Died.”

I particularly enjoy regional stuff. I have two books on regional vampire stories, one in New England and one from the South, and then two books of ghost stories, same regions since I have ties there obviously. So, I can’t say I go to this stuff to get the ideas, but it definitely gives me ideas when I read it. And even if it didn’t, I’d read it anywhere because it’s just fun and fascinating.

Connect With Mia – Site & Blog

Thanks so much for chat, Mia!