Saturday, February 12, 2011

Featured Author Spotlight - Danielle D. Smith (Author of Erotic Horror)

Cell Phone Photo from 44th Annual Authors Convention in San Diego, Ca

Danielle D. Smith - Brief Bio

Danielle D. Smith was born in 1980 in San Diego, California, USA. In addition to being a writer of urban fantasy stories she is an accomplished fine artist and illustrator whose visual work has appeared in various public, private, and gallery exhibitions and in national publications. Dani, as she is known by many who are close to her, lives in San Diego with an ever-growing collection of books, documentaries, independent and foreign films. Her novels appeal to dreamers, troublemakers, dark romantics, and general escapists.

Laurie:  Hello, Dani. You have been so busy these days
with everything you have going on in your life I really appreciate this opportunity to visit with you a while.

Dani: Thanks so much for having me, Laurie! I’m truly honored to be here.

Laurie: Recently you attended the 44th Annual Author’s Exhibit at the San Diego Public Library.  Can you tell us some of your experiences there and some things you were able to take away from it?

Dani: This was really a great event for me. Admittedly, I was the turd in the punch bowl! Many of the other authors were of the Baby Boomer generation, and dressed very conservatively. I walked in with all my tattoos hanging out, wearing jeans, a recycled t-shirt dress, and a leather harness. Needless to say people stared! But I’ve gotta be me. The event featured over 300 authors and over 400 people attended. I was able to network with other authors and publishers and make important connections for current projects, including a graphic novel version and a screenplay of my most popular book thus far, Black Dog and Rebel Rose. Since this event I have seen sales spike and interest in upcoming projects swell, as well as the library system adding my books to their collection. Overall this was a great event that has created lots of possibilities for me and my work! I was honored to be asked to participate.

Laurie:  Do you outline and plan out your books in advance or do the stories just sort of evolve as you are writing them?

Dani: I usually write in a scatterbrained fashion, the same way I paint and draw. I’m a very organic artist, and my writing follows suit.

Laurie:  I think it is amazing that you will be illustrating your next two books as well.  I am so looking forward to that. What process do you go through for your art related to your stories….does the art come first or the story?

Dani:  Hmmm…that’s a hard one. I’d say both. I am constantly working on character artwork—random images, really—and doing that allows me to “flesh out” concepts for my stories. So if a book is not finished yet, the artwork will frequently plant ideas in my head—when it comes to visual vs. verbal, both sides of the brain are used, allowing ideas to flow seamlessly back and forth. Now, when a book is finished BEFORE art is started, I am more constricted artistically. I have to pluck scenes from the book and faithfully recreate them, down to character costume, pose, and setting. No drawing the heroine in a thong when she is described in the scene wearing a full skirt, for example. The reader will read the paragraph that is illustrated, look the picture, and then go, “Hey, the stupid illustrator got it wrong!” It breaks up the ability for the reader to stay “lost” in the tale. Art and writing must match to keep the reader’s rapt attention.

Laurie: What plans are there for the launch of In the Neon?

Dani:  Promote, promote, promote! I will be offering signed copies through Goodreads when the print edition is released, as well as interviewing and guest blogging all over. The release of this book will mark two more ventures for me: the official launch of my character art site, Dani’s Twisted Brush, and the Angel and Demon Author’s blog, a project I have been working on with U.K.-based author David Bridger. You can bet that I will be blabbering away about In The Neon on both of these sites. I also encourage folks to seek me out on Goodreads and Facebook—both links are on my site.

Laurie:  How much longer until it is available?

Dani:  Ha! Chompin’ at the bit, are we? It’s gonna be a few months…it is still in edits with my publisher and I have 10 or so detailed comic book style ink drawings I have to complete, scan, color in Photoshop, and submit for placement in the manuscript. I work quickly as an artist, but it’s still a process. Release for In The Neon should be expected in Spring 2011, probably around April. I’ll be screaming it to the world when it’s officially out—this is my first illustrated book, so I am crazy excited about it.

Laurie:  Can you give us a short excerpt from In the Neon that you had fun writing?

Dani:  Absolutely! Here you go:

     Faust did come back, the very next night. And the next. And the next. 

     He found that he could not stay away.

     He lingered outside of the little booth where Annie usually danced, still a shadow; his heart pounded with such force that he could hear it thundering in his very ears like fierce hurricane waves battering the shore. He could feel the music she danced to, a thrusting pulse through the dirty velvet-clad walls around him. He could smell and taste, like a wicked liquor, the grotesque lust that throbbed from the patrons who sat and watched her inside. He stood invisibly in the shadows on the main floor and watched her twirl and weave around the high chrome pole, took in the catcalls and whistles from her sordid admirers.

     It gave him no pleasure. It began, little by little, to anger him.

     Jealousy, as green as Annie’s eyes, began to rear its ugly head in his belly, in his breast.

     One night he acted without thought. One of her many steady admirers had strolled out of the VIP room, where he had just enjoyed a nude couch dance from Annie. As the man hitched up his pants with a sticky hand, Faust slipped up beside him, his black eyes glittering; he silkily whispered into the man’s ear and watched humorlessly as he dashed out of the strip club, grinning like a mindless fool. Moments later, there was a crushing screech of metal on metal, and the gut-wrenching smash of an automobile flying off the road and slamming into an impenetrable brick wall in the alley behind the building.

     The man, Annie’s patron, was killed instantly. The authorities would assume he was just high; they found both meth and hardcore booze in his system. Only Faust knew what truly had happened: that he had planted a wily suggestion in the man’s subconscious mind and driven him mindlessly to his doom. He smirked at the audacity of his prank and found pleasure continuing his game.

     He hung around the doorway and muttered things to the men who walked out after jerking off to Annie; he suggested to one that he would see Annie herself outside, beckoning, her lovely pale breasts bare and her hair a gleaming platinum aura around her head. The man strolled off after the convincing illusion, fingering his crotch, and a little while later walked off the edge of a five story building, plunging to his death on the asphalt street below. Another man saw a red-faced, tear-streaked image of his own deceased mother in the dingy men’s room where he was trying to finish his erection off, scolding him mercilessly as he clutched his shriveling dick in his fist. He was found dead later that night on the floor of one of the grimy stalls, blood and chemicals foaming from his mouth, a chaser of drain cleaner in his limp palm.

     Satisfied with his wicked game, Faust soon slipped in alone to see Annie.
     Once again, he waited until she had entered the private booth where they had first met. Once again, he waved his hand in front of the token box, like a magician, and the worn velvet curtain swished open, revealing Annie sitting on her stool. This time she was dressed in a purple bustier, flouncy see-through black lace miniskirt and shiny black vinyl stiletto sandals that laced all the way up to her slender thighs. She raised her head and her weary eyes lit up when she saw him.

     “Faustie!” she cried merrily, grinning from ear to ear. “You came back!”

      Faust sat down on the stained cement floor, cross-legged, and pressed his palm to the Plexiglas that separated them.

     “Of course, I couldn’t stay away too long, Annie.”

     Annie knelt down across from him and pressed her pale hand to the window; it was as if they could almost touch, and Faust once again felt the most powerful, forbidden emotions rocketing through him like fireworks.

     “I missed you.” Annie whispered, her cheeks flushing prettily, like soft pink roses blooming beneath her skin, and he couldn’t agree with her more. “Can I ask you something?”

     Faust smiled; she could ask him anything, anything at all. “Of course.”

     Annie pushed away from the Plexiglas wall and twirled prettily; the sheer lace skirt swirled up around her hips. She paused, her back to him, lifting the skirt to reveal the high ripe slope of her buttocks and tiny floss g-string. Faust sucked his breath in sharply.

      By the Master...

     “Is my butt looking okay?”

     “Looks beautiful,” Faust choked. Annie's green eyes twinkled merrily. She turned to face him; she unhooked the purple bra and suddenly Faust was staring at her gorgeous full breasts. Annie cupped them and gave them an appraising massage, her rose-pink nipples hardening between her fingers.

     “Do I need bigger tits?” Her eyes gleamed again. He exhaled raggedly.


     “No,” he murmured, “why do you ask?”

     Annie laughed. She swiveled her hips seductively and crouched down before him again.

     “The guy who was in here before you said I have a squishy butt and I need a boob job.”

     Faust grunted and decided that he had another soul to hunt down later tonight. “A fool. They're all fools, Annie. Your paramount. That they would even speak such filth...”

     Annie sighed, blushing. “I love the way you talk, Faust. It's so...cute.”

     She ran her fingers through her long blonde tresses and sent his heart pounding in a flurry.

     “How have you been outside of here, Annie?” he asked her softly.

     She shrugged. “Okay. Nothing out of the ordinary. Same old, same old. I did pick up a copy of Goethe’s story about Faustus and Mephistopheles at a used book store the other day…I think you inspired me to read it a second time.”

    Faust found himself grinning hugely. “That is well, Annie. I’m glad I…I inspired something of interest to you. Are you enjoying it again?”

    “Quite. Maybe even a little more than I did the first time I read it.”

    There was a sweet silence between them, and they gazed at each other, onyx black meeting pale lime green. Annie tapped the glass with a long pink nail and grinned cheekily, winking at him.

    “You know,” she mused, “we really should make time to meet outside of this place. It might be a little more comfortable to talk without a sheet of plexi between us.”

    Faust cocked his head, and his dark eyes gleamed.

    “Are you suggesting,” he said softly, “that you would like to meet me elsewhere…perhaps a social calling?”

     Annie nodded, grinning; her teeth were straight and white and lovely.
    “Yeah, I think I am. Tell me, Faust, are you always a late night man?”

     Faust spread his burly arms, his chin raised proudly. “The night is my mistress, and I her eager lover.”

     Annie licked her rosy lips then, and something stirred in him, something very much like a whirlwind, one that picked him up and spun him around helplessly like a leaf in an errant breeze. To Faust, demon-born, this was entirely new. He was not used to feeling so very helpless, so very enamored.

    “Very sexy…you have a way with words,” Annie murmured. “What would you say to meeting me here when my shift is over sometime? Perhaps next Wednesday...I get off early, if you can call midnight early—we could grab a coffee, or something. Talk about books.”

     Faust gazed at her. His lips parted; her very words were, on one hand, like a dream come true. She wanted to meet with him, outside of this place, the place where he trolled for victims, where he plucked the Master’s fruit and sent them screaming to Hell. And he wanted to; oh, how he wanted to, if only to be near her in the open air, to smell her perfume and hear the rustle of her clothing up close. Another part of him, the dutiful demon, who knew only one thing,

     (damnation of all)

     screamed and pounded at his skull

     (we are not of God; we do not love, we do not, do not, do not!!!)

     and he suddenly found himself ignoring the voice, that screeching infernal beastie that was him, or what he had thought he was, up until now.

     By the Master…is she transforming me?

     He shoved the thought away and pressed his hand once again to the glass.

     “Annie,” he said, “it would be my pleasure.”

     She grinned hugely, her jade eyes sparkling, and he sighed audibly at the joy in her face.

    “Great, Faust. I’m so glad. Next Wednesday then. Midnight.”
 “As you wish. The witching hour it is. I shall…see you on Wednesday.”

     There was a rusty clank of shifting gears and the faded, velvet curtain swished closed, separating them.
----------End of Excerpt---------

Laurie: Thanks Dani! I am filled with conflicting emotions just reading that small piece. Faust is...I don't know...I hate him then I like him. Complicated.  Annie is surprising, too. Can't wait to read more and to see it illustrated!

Laurie: What advice can you share with us as far as promoting your books that you think will be beneficial to other newer authors who want to see increased sales?

Dani:  Grab every opportunity you can! Promotion in this business is not as easy as it used to be—advertising dollars are stretched tight nowadays. Be willing to do giveaways, blogs, interviews. Join Goodreads and participate on forums where authors are welcome. If the book is in print, sacrifice a few signed copies to contests—you will draw readers in with your generosity. Make book trailers and post them on YouTube.

When I attended the Author’s Exhibit, I gave copies of both of my books away to people who really engaged me in conversation about my work, and I know that those people will spread the word. Join Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter—I actually hate social networking sites, but I cannot deny how well they work if used in a professional manner.

Another big promo to jump on would be to join BookBuzzr. They offer a free plan, but it’s well worth it to take them up on their $7/month Pro plan. It really DOES work. I have seen sales jump since joining this site. Also, if you have other talents (i.e. artist, etc.) incorporate that into your marketing plan. My character art has brought in a slew of new loyal fans and has brought interest in my books to fans of fantasy, comic book, and horror art.

Laurie: Do you have any plans at this time to create a trailer for In the Neon?

Dani:  Sure do! I’m already working on it. I’m really excited about this particular trailer because most of the images used will be artwork from the book. I have already selected music and am currently working on the blurb. The trailer will be out within a few weeks of the book being released.

Laurie:  Do you have your own website or any plans for setting one up soon?  Where is the best place for your fans to find you?

Dani:  I have two official websites right now, my author site and my blog, The Angel’s Gate. I love to hear from fans so I welcome any and all to contact me through these sites. I offer contests and feature guest author interviews on my blog, and frequently post new book-themed artwork while my official character art site is in the works. That will be set up in the coming months and the prelim site can be viewed at Angel and Demon Art.

Laurie: Is there anything else you would like to mention today that I should have brought up and didn’t?

Dani:  More websites! There is a current giveaway going on with From The Shadows, the official site of author E.J. Stevens. She is giving away a signed matted print depicting Faust and Annie, the hero/heroine of In The Neon, by yours truly.  I would also love for Dani Smith newbies to check out my author page on Amazon…maybe pick up a few copies of my books. ;-)

Laurie:  Thank you again.  I so appreciate this opportunity to chat with you and wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.

Dani:  Thanks so much, Laurie! It was great talking with you. Xoxoxoxoxo.
Danielle's Books:
Psyche's Gate (ebook)
Pysches' Gate (print)
In the Neon (coming soon)

Black Dog And Rebel Rose           Psyche's Gate


tlynnetolles said...

Love your stuff Dani. Can't wait to get to know Annie and Faust.
Thanks Laurie for a VERY interesting Interview.
Teresa aka T.Lynne Tolles

black rose reviews said...

Wow. Dani and Laurie what a great interview. Dani I love the cover. Is the Faust setting on top of the church?

Laurie said...

Thanks Teresa and Catie.... :) I was happy to nab Dani for this. She's got a lot of irons in fires LOL

Louise said...

Wow, a multi talented author! "In the Neon" sounds very exciting - half in love with Faust already!

Thank you Laurie for a great interview.