Today on the blog, we are pleased to have Ife Oshun, Author of the Paranormal novel about a rocker with a voice to die for, Blood to Blood.
1. You have a very extensive resume. You were an actress, a music journalist, a television and theater producer, and now a writer? Out of all those different professions, which one would you have to say was your favorite experience? Which one did you enjoy doing the most?
IO:I have always been a storyteller. Whether it was journalism, or writing for stage or TV it felt like a natural progression to eventually write a book. When I first graduated from college I had a somewhat public profile due to being a part of the Rhode Island music industry, working as a radio dj and writing rap lyrics. Due to my connections, acting work in New York theater fell into my lap and as I became more of a part of that scene the work continued to feed my passion for stories by bringing me into contact with brilliant storytellers. Eventually, I wrote a couple of plays including a one-woman show, and when acting took me out to Los Angeles, I continued to work with other storytellers in theater and television. My writing efforts expanded into the realm of TV, which then, much later, led to my debut novel. So it was never “now I’m a music journalist” or “now I’m in television.” It was a natural evolution. What I enjoy most has, and will always be telling stories.
2. When did you decide you wanted to branch out into writing books?
IO: I never made the decision to branch into books until I realized the idea that I’d had for a television series was actually a series of books. In the early 2000s, I wrote a treatment for a TV pilot, showed it to some TV friends, got great feedback and hit a creative block with it. I put it on a shelf in my mind. Then in 2008, I made the realization it was a book series and the writing of the story became so easy I wrote the first draft in 3 months. When it became obvious that this story, about a girl who chooses to follow her dreams despite the obstacles she faces, was best told in novel form it was a no-brainer. That book became Blood To Blood.
3. What was your favorite part of writing Blood to Blood?
IO: I loved doing the research into ancient Egyptian history that serves as a backstory for Angel’s mom, Cleo. I also researched ancient Kush for her dad’s backstory. I especially loved creating the unique world of Angel Brown and the lore surrounding her destiny as a Shimshana and descendant of fallen angels.
4. What was your least favorite part of writing Blood to Blood?
IO: I’d have to say the least favorite part was thinking I was done only to have the editing process show me how woefully wrong I was. Since I am a perfectionist, I thought I’d never be done rewriting the book, and while I loved rewriting and refining, I hated being confronted with the stupid mistakes I’d made along the way to getting it right.
5. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
IO: You’ve got to be true to your characters. Everything falls into place then. Of course, knowing about plot and structure is a necessity. But at the end of the day the imagination has to take control. At a certain point in the process, the characters demand to live and you have to know when to let go. When I’m in the right space my characters start writing their stories for me. If it’s wrong I usually find myself stuck in the mechanics of writing.
6. How long did it take you to write Blood to Blood, given your vast experiences in writing?
IO: As mentioned it took 3 months to write the first draft. With rewrites the entire writing process took 3 years. That’s on top of the 6 years it took to for the idea to brew after it had been written as a TV treatment.
7. The description of your book is about a pop princess/ vampire. How much did you enjoy writing Blood to Blood, being able to incorporate all your past interests into one piece: music, writing, and fantasy?
IO: I loved it. It truly was a natural fit. However, I must remind you Angel Brown, the book’s heroine, is not a vampire. She is Shimshana. Shimshana is an ancient race of blood drinking beings that actually spawned the vampires that we know today. As such, many of the usual vampire tropes are not a part of this book. For example Shimshana thrive in sunlight and are not demonic by nature.
8. I have to ask it. The book is about a teenage vampire who sings pop music. Who is your favorite singer, pop or otherwise? Or if you do not have a favorite singer, per se, what type of music do you enjoy?
IO: Well, as you can imagine based on my background, music is a very important component of my life. My playlist in iTunes contains tens of thousands of songs, and I am always playing music in my house and have it streaming in various rooms at any given time. I don’t have a favorite singer, or even a favorite genre. My favorite artists span genres, eras (love Motown!) and include classic acts such as Queen, Aerosmith, Earth Wind and Fire, and Outkast as well as contemporary artists such as Sia, Adele, Phoenix, Muse, Silversun Pickups, and Ed Sheeran. I listen to music from every decade after and including the 1960s and every genre including the ones most people say they dislike (country and classical). I have a soft spot for alternative and punk rock. I love riot girrrl music from the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hole, Skunk Anansie, Cherry Bomb, vintage No Doubt and Garbage just to name a few. And I enjoy discovering new music and new artists, especially underground acts.
9. If you were writing a book about Your life, what would you title it?
IO: “How to Land on Your Feet Without Breaking Your Legs”
10. Do you plan to write another book? Do you have one in the works? (: maybe? If yes, will it be another book about Angelika?
IO: Yes! Most definitely! The sequel to Blood To Blood is in the works. I am also writing a spin-off based on one of the other BTB characters, Justin McCarthy. I’ve written a short story based on a third character, Sawyer Creed called tentacles which may or may not be the beginning of a third series. Finally, I’m developing a non-fiction book that, like many of my ideas, has been brewing in my head for some time. A passion of mine is talking to young folks about following their dreams and giving them practical advice on how to do that and make a living.
11. I would like to end the interview with something fun. Can you tell me something fun/random/wonky/crazy about yourself or your writing habits?
IO: I have to force myself to write during the day. My natural tendency is to write through the night but unfortunately unlike some of my characters, I actually need to sleep! If they invented a way to stay awake 24/7 I would be first in line because I could get more done!
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Enter the world of Bostonian teen Angelika Brown: budding singing sensation—and descendant of an immortal race of sun-loving blood drinkers known as Shimshana (the vampire prototype).
Angel defies her parents’ traditions of higher education by dropping out of high school to be a pop star. She has an amazing voice, but she’s also maturing into a full-grown Shimshana complete with fearsome power and insatiable bloodlust. What’s worse, her soaring vocals are now capable of destroying everything, and everyone, within earshot—including her girl group, their mysterious producer and Angel's hunky new blood donor.
Will Angel quickly learn to control her new abilities or will her killer instincts bring her promising career, and her life, to an end?
“The sound of his heartbeat was the background music banging in my ears as I, in a daze, took another step forward. My fingers itched with the desire to pull through the gold-tinged hair hanging less than an inch from my face. His eyes narrowed and his head cocked to the side. He was exposing his neck…yes, as if he was offering it to me. I inhaled his scent again and my brain switched off.
Led by my watering mouth, I closed the gap between us and placed my lips on his neck.”
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Ifè Oshun is the author of the YA modern fantasy Blood To Blood set for official release in December 2012.
Starting out as an actress, the Fine Arts and English major went on to work for over a decade as a music journalist for national magazines and major websites including serving as Editor-In-Chief for HiphopRnbSoul.com. She also produced, and wrote for, television and theater. A couple of her sci-fi/fantasy plays were produced Off-Broadway and in Los Angeles, and she did her Writers Guild of America internship with Star Trek Enterprise and Voyager.
Her work incorporates fantasy elements with some combination of the following: humor, social issues, family themes, metaphysical concepts, and pop culture. She lives in Boston with her small son and ink-black cat, and can be found online at her personal website.