Today on the Couch of Questioning, we have Antonia Aquilante, author of the new book The Dragon’s Devotion, coming out today, September 4, from NineStar Press. Welcome, Antonia!
I was reading some of the press materials on your book, and my geeky little heart went Ooooo! Dragon shifters! Let’s hear some more about your book. I see that it’s part of a series. Can they stand alone, or do you need to read them in order?
Each book stands alone, so you can jump in wherever you like (though, of course, I hope you’ll love them and want to read them all...). The Dragon’s Devotion is the story of Corentin, a scholar with a secret—that his magic allows him to change into a dragon—and Bastien, an earl who has just found out that the accident that killed his parents might not have been an accident. Their attraction isn’t at all convenient for them, but they can’t seem to ignore it either. As they become closer, the mystery surrounding the death of Bastien’s parents puts Bastien in danger, and Corentin has to decide just how much he’ll risk for the man he loves.
I had so much fun writing this book. It has romance and magic and political intrigue and family drama and, of course, the dragon shifters you mentioned. (I was so excited to write the dragons! They’d been in my head for ages.) I hope everyone enjoys reading about Bastien and Corentin as much as I did writing them.
How long have you been writing fantasy? Do you write in other genres as well?
I’ve been writing fantasy since I was a kid. I just love letting my imagination soar and creating magical worlds and characters to live in them. It’s definitely my favorite genre to write, and all of my published work so far is fantasy romance. I am writing a contemporary romance and have some other ideas for contemporaries, so you may see that from me soon too.
Tell us what your writing process is like. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m much more a pantser than a plotter. I don’t outline, but I do make some notes, mostly on character. For each new story, I pull out a journal and write down everything I know about my main characters—their personalities, their backstories, what they need and want. I also make some notes about the world and the story. I don’t know anywhere near everything that’s going to happen in the story when I start writing. Usually, I only know where I’m starting and where I want to end up, maybe a few scenes along the way. As long as I know my characters, I can start writing. When I write, I just get everything on the page, no editing as I go, and I never seem to write in order. I’m always skipping around, writing different scenes. At the end, I put it all together and revise. Somehow, it all comes together.
Being a fantasy and sci-fi writer myself, I find naming my characters one of my favorite things to do, and often sets a tone for them and their personality. How do you go about naming your characters? Is it one of the first things you choose?
I love naming characters too! I have to have the right names for my main characters before I start writing, but I don’t always have names for other characters. I’ve written entire manuscripts with characters just called [sister] or [friend], and then I have to go back and name them all at the end. I’ve always been interested in names, and I have a shelf of name books (with notes and highlights in them) and a couple of favorite websites that I go to when I’m looking for names. The names absolutely have to fit the character and the world. I think about meanings, sound, and feel of the name, as well as the more practical question of whether I have ten other characters with a name beginning with the same letter (this is a danger with me that I’ve learned to watch for). Naming characters isn’t a quick process for me, but I really do want to have the right name for each one. Even supporting characters need the right names, partly because they have to fit as much as the main characters’ names do and partly because so many of my secondary characters seem to demand their own stories, as Bastien and Corentin did.
I saw in your bio that you love to travel. Have any of the places you’ve been inspired your writing?
Definitely. I fell in love with Italy the first time I visited and then was lucky enough to go back. What I saw there inspired some pieces of the world of Tournai. The contemporary romance that I’m writing is set in Savannah, Georgia, a city that I’ve visited many times and loved. There are so many places I’ve been that have sparked ideas for stories that I haven’t gotten to yet too, but I have them all written down for when I do. And I have a long list of places I want to go someday that might inspire stories too. I’m excited to see.
What was your favorite book when you were growing up?
I’ve always been a reader, so this is a terrible question for me! It’s impossible to pick a favorite book now, and I don’t know if I could have picked one then either. I guess it also depends on when we’re thinking about. I could pick many favorites from different ages. (Can you tell I’m terrible at picking just one favorite anything?) All right, if I have to. One of the ones that stands out for me, and that I still have on my bookshelf is Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet. When I was eleven or so, I read them so much I wore out my first paperbacks and had to replace them. I went on to discover a lot of beloved fantasy books and authors from there.
Congratulations on The Dragon’s Devotion, Antonia. Where can people interact with you on the web?
Thank you so much! And thank you for letting me visit today. I can always be found at: