By A.C. James

Welcome to my blog interview with novelist Margarita Gakis. If you like what you read, please investigate Trial by Fire.

A.C. James: Hello, Margarita. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.

Margarita: Hi, A.C. I’m happy to be here! I’m based in Calgary, AB (born and raised). Hmm. Something about myself. Well, I take cello lessons and while I’m not very good, I do enjoy it immensely. My only regret is not starting sooner. I only started 2 years ago. For my writing, I started writing short stories and some fanfic when I was in highschool. I wrote pretty consistently throughout university—although never for educational purposes, always just for fun. I had a big gap of several years when I didn’t write anything and then I started up again about 2006.

A.C. James: I can relate to writing short stories in high school. What genre do you generally write and what have you had published to-date? What do you think of eBooks?

Margarita: Currently, I primarily write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal. My first book is just released, Trial by Fire and falls under the Paranormal Genre. For my offline unpublished stuff, I’ve dabbled in horror, romance, humor and mystery. I love eBooks. It took me a little bit to get switched over because I did love to hold a book in my hand and see the cover art. But now I just can’t live without the convenience of having several books available to me at any time on my eReader nor being able to buy a book at 2 in the morning if I see something I like!

A.C. James: I completely agree considering the vast majority of my reading and writing is done late at night. Have you self-published? If so, what lead to you to become an indie author?

Margarita: I haven’t self-published before. I’m un-agented with Fable Press. They’ve been wonderful!

A.C. James: Do you have a favorite of your stories or characters?

Margarita: That’s a tough one! Sometimes I joke that my works are all like my kids and I can’t pick between them. I have a soft spot in my heart for each of them for separate reasons. Although I probably do favor my lead characters since I chose to make entire books about them. At this point, I would have to say Jade is my favorite lead character from Trial By Fire simply because I’ve spent the most time with her.

A.C. James: Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?

Margarita: I always find it so tough to remember all the authors that have influenced me. I was a BIG Stephen King reader when I was younger. Dean Koontz, Robin Cook, Mary Higgins Clark. Later on I was really into Christina Dodd, Teresa Medeiros, Jayne Ann Krentz, Christopher Moore, Julia Quinn, Tess Gerritsen and Tami Hoag. More recently I’ve read Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Kelley Armstrong and Rachel Caine.

Hands down my favorite book is and probably always will be Jane Eyre. It’s the only book I’ve read multiple times. I read it about once a year. 

I think every book you read shapes you in some way, as a person and a writer. Each one is a window to another world. How other people see the world also comes across in their writing. Like it, hate it, love it—I think every book you read affects you somehow.

A.C. James: Dito on the Stephen King. I absolutely love Kim Harrison with her excellent world building. Do you manage to write every day, and do you plot your stories or just get an idea and run with it?

Margarita: I do best when I write every day. I find the more days I miss, the more days I’m likely to keep missing. There are some days I just can’t do it—busy or just drained from my day job or other commitments. But I try to maintain consistency and write regularly. I have a general sense of plot before I start. I know the basic structure. Thing A will happen and then somehow we’ll get to Thing B and by the end of it, I better be at Thing C. I don’t always know the bits and pieces in between and there have been a few times I’ve been surprised by what my characters have done. I try to leave my characters room to do what they may need to do, so I don’t like to overplot. I try to just tell the story as I like it/see it. I tell the story that I want to read. I also find that writing consistently gives my work a better flow. If I leave a work for too long, it’s hard to get back into the ‘feeling’ of it.

A.C. James: Writing every day is really important. Do you do a lot of editing or research?

Margarita: I don’t do a copious amount of research but I do some moderate searching and reviewing on witchcraft, spells—things like that. I might look up herbs or crystals. I don’t want to get something horribly backward like using some herb that’s toxic in a spell that has to be ingested. But I don’t want to get bogged down in the minutiae either. Plus, the more time I spend on Google, the deeper I go. It’s addictive!

A.C. James: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?

Margarita: I enjoy reading in third person the most. First person can be limiting, I find, over a series because you’re relying on just that one person’s POV and we all tend to think about ourselves the most! I find that I get burnt out on narrators in the first person POV over a series. I’ve not personally tried writing in second person, but I’ve read some short stories where it was nailed and was intense. To be honest, it would probably put me off a full novel, but I find the intensity great for shorter work, or for poetry.

A.C. James: And what’s your favorite or least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?

Margarita: Favorite part of writing life—the feedback. Least favorite—the feedback! I just dreamt last night that I was starting to see reviews come in on my book and people were saying horrible things and I had to keep telling myself that it didn’t matter, I couldn’t please everyone and as long as I tell a story I like, then at least one person is happy. It’s tough. Not everyone is going to like what I write, just like I don’t like everything I read. But it’s hard to distance yourself and realize that a rating of your work is not a rating of ‘you’ the person. The other hard part I find is feeling at times like I’m writing in a vacuum. When I’m in the middle of a story, I work hard to just keep going. It can be tough at 2am when it’s dark and you’re typing away by yourself!

A.C. James: Writing the middle can be gut wrenching and brutal. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?

Margarita: Not at the moment. I write fanfic so I’m active on some fandom sites. Between that, my original work, trying to work on promoting this book, and my job, I’m nearly maxed out!

A.C. James: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?

Margarita: Not currently. I find I get a lot of writing support in the fandom groups I’m part of in the fanfic world. Most people there have both original and fanfic work. I find networking very stressful. I’ve never been good at it and identify most as an introvert. Even when it’s online, I still kind of feel like the awkward kid on the playground, trying to fit in.

A.C. James: Well Margarita what are you working on at the moment or planning next?

Margarita: The second book in the Covencraft Series, tentatively titled Counter-Hex. I have the general outline of the second book in mind as well as the main plot point of the third.

A.C. James: Tell us more about Trial By Fire [Covencraft #1] and why it’s been such a big hit with your readers.

Margarita: It’s about a woman, Jade, who finds out that she’s a witch. She’s the first one born outside of a coven, so she’s somewhat of an anomaly. She needs to figure out if joining a coven is something she wants. Jade figures she’ll give coven life a try, only to find out once she gets there that there’s more involved. There’s someone or something that doesn’t want her around, and would like to take her power. The book is about how she deals with that thread as well as how she deals with trying to belong in the coven. She’s never been much for belonging and it’s a stretch for her emotionally and personally.

A.C. James: Sounds intriguing! Where can we find out about you and your writing?

Margarita: I have a blog and I’m also on Tumblr and Twitter under my full name, Margarita Gakis, and Facebook as CovencraftSeries [for the fanpage].

A.C. James: Thank you for interviewing today on my Paranormal Passion blog! Good luck with Counter Hex [Covencraft #2] and we look forward to having you back when it’s released.

Trial by Fire
Covencraft Book One
Margarita Gakis

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Publisher: Fable Press

Date of Publication:  6/25/2013
ISBN: 978-1-939897-03-9

Number of pages: 325
Word Count:  84,000

Cover Artist: Steven Novak


Book Description:

Jade leads a structured life:
Routine job.
Caffeine addiction.
No serious relationships.
And now, she can spontaneously set things on fire with her mind.
Well… perhaps “normal” was never in the cards for her. As she questions her own sanity and spirals out of control, a man appears on her doorstep and tells her that, like him, she’s a witch.
Pulled in all directions, her unbridled magic draws dangerous attention and Jade wonders if she’s made the worst mistake of her life by joining a coven, or if she’ll even live long enough to regret it.
About the Author:
Margarita loves the art, creativity and romanticism of storytelling. Sometimes, however, the act of putting pen to paper proves challenging, elusive. She develops genuine, relatable characters which grow in the hearts of her readers. From that foundation, the stories flourish into a warm friend.
She enjoys pursuits which blur the lines between the analytical and creative sides of her brain. This includes her day job in electronic data management, where she uses her creativity to solve logical problems, and also her lessons learning to play the cello, where she finds beauty in the structure of music and the instrument. She believes there is a place for both logic and imagination to work together. When they do, the results are magical. 
Margarita has a special spot in her heart for dogs and lives with three of them. It can be a little overwhelming but the quality snuggle time makes up for it. 
Margarita lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family.
Twitter:  @margaritagakis

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