Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.
1. What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. But about ten years ago, a friend suggested I join in National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org). Until then, I had always written short stories. That year, I finished the first draft of what would eventually become Legally Undead—it will be my second published novel, but it’s the first one I wrote. My first published novel, Waking Up Dead, was inspired by a single moment when I lived in Alabama for a few years. I remember driving to work one morning and seeing just a wisp of fog move across the statue in the middle of the town square. The statue was of some Civil War figure, and I remember thinking that it looked oddly ghostly. In between teaching classes that day (I’m a college professor in my other life), I started writing Callie’s story.
2. How did you come up with the title?
My grandmother used to tell all the kids that if we weren’t careful, we would wake up dead someday. The phrase stuck with me, so when Callie’s story came to me, I knew I had to use the title.
3. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
There are plenty of writers whose work I admire and would like to emulate. I read everything that Neil Gaiman and Lois McMaster Bujold say about writing, for example. I like to think that every time any author’s work touches another writer, it’s a form of mentoring, so every writer whose work I enjoy is a mentor!
4. What book are you reading now?
I just started Holly Luhning’s novel Quiver and am really enjoying it! Last week I finished re-reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I re-read this book every year or two. McKinley does a beautiful job of setting up a world that is almost, but not exactly, like our own. The eponymous protagonist almost seems to ramble sometimes, but the voice is perfectly her own and the things she reveals about herself are beautifully woven back into the plot. Also, the vampires are creepy as all get-out!
5. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Always. The best thing I ever learned to do as a writer was to decide that I was done with a project—because I could tweak it for the rest of eternity! Waking Up Dead is about to come out in paperback, so I am currently checking again for any errors. After this round, I don’t plan to read it again until it’s time to check for consistency with the sequel because I can make myself crazy!
6. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Never ask an English professor to discuss books unless you want the multi-paragraph answer! Like most novelists, I am a voracious reader in my field, which means that I read all kinds of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction. But in addition to being an urban fantasy writer, I have Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature. This means that any time anyone wants to talk books, I have more than my share to say!
In early British literature, I love the classics—but especially the stories with heroes and monsters: Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Knight’s Tale. I love Shakespeare’s plays, but my favorites to teach are Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream because each is such a great example of its genre. Hamlet’s tragedy seems virtually unavoidable, and Midsummer’s comedy hits all the high (and low!) points.
In my own sub-specialty of eighteenth-century British literature, I love the early novels written by some of the first women to make a living writing in England, such as Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, and Delarivier Manley. Behn’s 1688 novel Oroonoko tells the story of a king who became a slave and found the woman he loved in the process, only to kill her and their unborn child to save them from slavery. In Haywood’s Fantomina (1724), a young noblewoman sets off on a sexual adventure full of disguises and intrigue. And in Manley’s The Wife’s Resentment (1720), a young woman takes revenge against her unfaithful husband with a gruesome murder. These early novels influenced later gothic tales, with virtuous damsels in distress and monstrous villains out to destroy them.
I think these various loves in more traditional literature—monsters, heroes, strong women, and gothic settings—are all parts of what have influenced my love of urban fantasy and horror. I love seeing many of the same tropes and ideas in more recent publications that influenced earlier works, as well.
As far as favorite authors go, I tend to have lists of favorite authors according to genre and to time period. But at the moment, here are a few: I love books by Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold, Faith Hunter, Stephen Graham Jones, Ilona Andrews, Carrie Vaughn, Richelle Mead, Rachel Vincent, Holly Black, Janny Wurts, Jennifer Estep, Rachel Caine, Patricia Briggs, Janet Evanovich . . . and those are just the ones who come to mind immediately!
Connect with Margo
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/margobondcollins
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin @MargoBondCollin
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins
Facebook Novel Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Waking-Up-Dead/502076076537575Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mbondcollins/
Series: Callie Taylor (Book 1)
Author: Margo Bond Collins
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Stop by Amazon and pick up your copy of Waking Up Dead today (psst, it's currently free)!
While you're alive one thought is always in the back of your mind, "Am I going to Heaven or Hell?" Well when Callie Taylor was murdered she went to neither. Callie woke up in Alabama... Abramsville to be exact. Callie lead the typical life of a ghost... floating around here and there...and scaring one man to the point that he peed on himself. LOL. She had her daily hangout homes where she could watch her favorite TV shows or the couples she enjoyed to spend time with. On one particular night, Callie was spending time with the McClatchery family when Molly McClatchery was murdered. This fueled Callie to make the most of her afterlife and seek to solve the murder of Molly McClathery. But in order to solve a murder, Callie had to find a living person to help her out.
Poor Ashara was not prepared to meet a ghost while on a simple trip to Wal-Mart. Callie was not the first ghost that Ashara has ever met, but Callie was the first to bring a murder mystery to her door step. Ashara just didn't know how deep into the murder case she was going to get until Callie followed her to Maw-Maw's house....I love Maw-Maw. Callie had to kiss lady luck when she met Ashara because not only could she see her but Maw-Maw could see Callie too. In the beginning stages, Ashara and Maw-Maw referred to Callie as, " white ghost lady" or just plain, "white lady." LOL. Ashara and Maw-Maw eventually learned Callie's real name and only referred to her by those names if she was being a pain....which was often. So, the gang set forth to find clues to help find who killed Molly. On their journey, they met a guy named Stephen who could also see Callie and he helped solve the case. Ashara and Stephen even had a love connection! Callie and Maw-Maw had too much fun making fun of Ashara when she would never give up the goods on their relationship. By the end, you find out who murdered Molly and how Callie was murdered...which was not pretty.
I loved this book. It put me in the mindset of Molly Harper's Jane Jameson series. It was funny, witty, and kept me engaged. Everyone should have a Maw-Maw in their life because she made things so interesting. Maw-Maw made sure she was in no way left out on the fun and ran poor Ashara crazy. Ashara was always trying to get out of helping Callie by going to work, but Callie would pop in and scared the dickens out of her. I'm surprised nobody had an intervention for Ashara talking to herself. Even Stephen would talk to Callie walking along the street and it never caught anyone's attention. This book gets five notes because it kept me wanting to know what happened. There is no hot and steamy scenes but it's not needed because the storyline is the bomb. You do get a few cute scenes of Ashara and Stephen being all sugar sweet. I look forward to seeing what happens next with the gang. I especially enjoyed the scenes where Callie and Maw-Maw picked at Ashara for liking Stephen.....they were hillarious! If this book ever gets made into an audiobook, Amanda Ronconi would be great narrator.... I can just hear her with that sweet southern accent already!