Welcome Back! It has been a long minute since I did an edition of Couch Convos.
Your girl was having some time management issue between working on the blog, and writing novels, but I have worked that all out and decided to bring back this feature. Today we have the talented Gisele Walko, an indie author who writes Paranormal Romance(PNR) stories. Her latest book Craving and Triggers is phenomenal. Let’s get to it:
LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos! Let’s get started. How did you get into writing PNR?
GW: PNR is the first thing I ever wrote. The story just came to me out of the blue, after my husband suggested that I try writing.
LWT: Sometimes we get our best inspiration out of the blue. Now, in this book your ‘hero’, Sani is a Skinwalker. How did you discover this entity and what compelled you to write about it?
GW: Hmm. I’m pretty sure I read some Navajo short stories about Skinwalkers, and a couple of years ago when I wrote Wolf Girl finds Necromance, I thought he would fit in quite well with the werewolves and vampires.
LWT: Speaking of previous books, I hear this isn’t Sani’s first appearance in your writing. How did his character start out and what inspired you to give him his own book?
GW: Sani was the villain in my first book, but through some growth and soul-searching he was able to grow as a person, and made a great hero in Cravings and Triggers. I wrote him a book because I love my spinoffs, but it hadn’t occurred to me to give him his own story until my friends Heather Crews and Donnya both told me within a few days of each other that he should have his own story. I gave them namesakes in the book.
LWT: I love it when readers get involved in your books! When I write, I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for Sani and Zeph?
GW: For Zeph, I pictured Meagan Good, but a little darker and curvier. For Sani, I just had myself a good time looking up hot Native American men with long hair. No one in particular stands out.
LWT: I can attest, it is fun finding inspiration for the characters, especially the men! In this story Zeph has a teenage daughter who is transgender and identifies as a boy. What inspired you to write Z as a transgender youth?
GW: Well, I love diversity in books, is probably the main reason. Secondly, my mother used to be a foster parent and she had one male to female transgender child, and two female to male transgender children. One of the female to male children was such a sweet person, but had issues and challenges relating to all kinds of things. He eventually moved on to another foster home, where the foster parents were very religious and forced him to identify as a female. It made me sad. I still think about him and hope he’s okay.
LWT: I have to know, in Cravings and Triggers, why did you decide to include a vampire element?
GW: I just think vampires are fun. The book already had some supernatural stuff going on. One of the reviews I got said the supernatural stuff wasn’t necessary, which may be true, but I write for enjoyment, and it was fun.
LWT: Having fun and enjoying the writing is what it is all about. Explain why Sani felt so comfortable revealing that he was a Skinwalker to Zeph and Z on the day they first met. He seemed to know that they would not be disturbed by this?
GW: I think Sani wasn’t really expecting to see Zeph much or get attached to her and he was just having a little fun. He would have been entertained even if they were terrified. In Wolf Girl finds Necromance, he actually was trying to scare Brennan when he revealed himself to her, but then she turned into a huge wolf and pinned him to the floor, so maybe it was like a nod to his past too.
LWT: Speaking of wolves and shifters, how do you feel that some people think PNR promotes bestiality and can you defend against it?
GW: I wasn’t aware that people felt that way. I don’t share that opinion. I don’t know how to defend against it, other than to say I don’t condone any form of animal abuse.
LWT: In the book does Zeph have the supernatural power to read minds or is it only Sani’s mind that she seems to read?
GW: Just Sani’s dark and twisted mind.
LWT: Who are some of your favorite PNR writers and why?
GW: Hmm. I like Theodora Taylor’s wolf books; all of her books really. Heather Crews has an interracial vampire romance called ‘Prince of Misery’ that I like. G.L. Tomas has a couple that I like, but surprisingly I haven’t read too much PNR.
LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?
GW: My husband and I do them on Adobe Photoshop to the best of our ability. I try to do everything for cheap or free.
LWT: Isn’t that the indie author’s way? Do you use social media and does it help with sales?
GW: I send out a few tweets, but I’m not great at social media. I wish I was better at it. Goodreads is my social media.
LWT: That totally counts! Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete
silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Spill the tea.
GW: I usually start with a few scenes or bits of dialogue and try to build around that. I think when I sit down to write again, I may try using note cards. I don’t write out an outline or anything like that. Then I just try to string the scenes and conversations together. I usually have on the TV when I write, but just for background noise. If I find myself writing at night, I may have a glass of wine or two, but sometimes when I go back to reread those scenes, they’re not as funny as I thought they were when I was tipsy.
LWT: That’s why they say write drunk and edit sober. LOL. What challenges have you faced as an indie writer?
GW: I am an approval seeker by nature, so I hope most people like my books. In the beginning, bad reviews would hurt my feelings. Some people don’t like my stuff of course, and that’s okay. I try to take any constructive feedback I get and incorporate it and improve. Probably, some of the reviews that have helped me grow most were two star reviews. If I only got fours and fives, I would just think that everything I did was perfect, or damn near perfect, and never learn. Also finding readers is a challenge of course.
LWT: That is a huge challenge for us all. Earlier you mentioned how helpful your husband has been. I hear he also assists you with editing. How does that process work? Does it spark arguments or does it bring you closer?
GW: My husband reads and rereads for spelling and grammar mostly, but if he doesn’t get a joke, or thinks something sounds awkward, or thinks I need to look at a scene and tweak it, he’s vocal about it. Usually I agree, when I finish being defensive. I originally killed Sani, and he was like, “No! Absolutely not!” I un-killed Sani. We don’t really argue about it. He’s a sounding board and he’s pretty good at catching editing issues.
LWT: Well, he made the right call on Sani. I would have been devastated if he died. Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?
GW: I don’t know that I’m successful.
- I try to deliver a product pretty clear of most spelling and editing issues, because I know how they can distract from a story, and it’s important to be professional.
- Secondly, write for yourself. Writing a book is a tedious process, so write the kind of thing that you would like to read and just have fun with all the imaginary friends in your head. Chances are other people will like it too.
- Thirdly, I would recommend that you spend $5 on fiverr and promote with bknights. For Ethan and Michelle, I did really well with his gig. For my other books, not as well, but you’ll at least recoup your initial investment.
LWT: Oh, I love Fiverr. I will have to check him out. Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your book?
GW: At the risk of sounding crazy…I had business cards made up for my first book. On occasion, I still leave them places; the pharmacy, the grocery store, the doctor’s office. As far as I know, this has resulted in zero sales, but it’s a good time.
LWT: That doesn’t sound crazy at all. Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?
GW: The thesaurus and Google for research, or funny stories.
LWT: We met on Goodreads, where you are very active. How important is a site like Goodreads that brings writers and readers together in the same place?
GW: Goodreads is my favorite. Writers are readers, and I have found lots of fantastic authors (yourself included) who I have had the joy of discovering. I also love having a platform where I can interact with my readers.
LWT: It’s great isn’t it? What does success look like for you?
GW: I would eventually like to make some money at writing, so I can quit my day job and write more. I had a dream that my seventh book really took off, and I’m at number five so…we’ll just see.
LWT: You better speak that into existence! Speaking of your seventh book, what’s up next for Gisele?
GW: I was thinking earlier, that maybe I would start on Donnya and Ezra’s story from Cravings and Triggers, and keep the supernatural elements out of it. I don’t think it would be that hard since the vampire part was only the last 25% of Cravings and Triggers, and the new book would be mostly the meeting and falling in love part of the Donnya and Ezra story. I already love Donnya because she doesn’t cuss. She says things like, “What the cuss do you think you’re hecking doing?!” Ezra, I have to figure out more.
LWT: That sounds intriguing! I look forward to reading it.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, another edition of Couch Convos in the books. You can purchase her books on Amazon by clicking the picture below:
Gisele Walko is a wife, mother, and elementary school assistant librarian. She has a degree in Social Sciences, which she doesn’t use, from the University of Oklahoma. She loves writing, reading, and hanging out and watching movies with her family. She resides in the Oklahoma City suburbs with her hubby, two teenagers, and three spoiled rotten dogs.To connect with Gisele please click the links to her Social Media sites below.