Author bio:Ally Shields was born and raised in the Midwest, along the Mississippi River, the setting for her urban fantasy series. After a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time writing in 2009, and Awakening the Fire, the debut novel in her Guardian Witch series, was released in September 2012. Ally still lives close to the Mighty Mississippi with her Miniature Pinscher, Ranger. When not writing or reading, she loves to travel in the US and abroad. Way too often she can be found on Twitter.
Drink –coffee black or at night with Baileys Irish Cream
Food –prime rib, Mexican, Oriental
Vacation –Egypt, Italy, US Southwest, and I'm dying to return to DC and go through the Smithsonian museums again!
TV show –NCIS, Bones, Vampire Diaries
Movie –Lord of the Rings (all three); I haven't seen The Hobbit yet.
Book title:Fire Within (Guardian Witch Book Two)
Brief synopsis of your book:
A hidden evil stalks the city...
Fire Witch cop Ari Calin refuses to believe her human friend Eddie murdered a vampire—in spite of his confession. When a second vampire dies, Andreas, the sexy, charismatic vampire she dated and split from eight months ago, joins her in the hunt for the real killer.
But Riverdale may have a special kind of serial killer who's looking for its next vampire victim. The roles of hunter and hunted become blurred. And while unterHunAri might feel like killing Andreas at times, she doesn't want anyone else to do it...
Current book or project you’re working on:Stirring the Flames (Guardian Witch Book Five), which takes place mostly in Italy.
What was the inspiration for your novel?Book one started out as a traditional mystery until I discovered my protagonist was a witch. I started imagining what changes that would cause in a criminal investigation, and the first three books flowed from there. When Etopia Press offered me contracts for those books, they asked for a seven book outline. So the story continued. It all started with the character of Ari. Everything else in the series revolves around her.
Please share three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) Ari believes her traditional witch abilities are limited because she is missing the Book of Shadows which contains her family's spells.
2) Andreas and Ari continue to struggle with their relationship.
3) There are a couple of underlying themes in the book. One is that people are not always what they seem to be.
Do you have a favourite character from your current novel?Ari is always my favorite. I love her blunt honesty, her courage to stand up to anyone, and her intense loyalty to her friends and her job.
If you could pick any well known or famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?Kim Harrison because I so much admire her Hollows series. While there is little similarity between our storylines, I think she would understand Ari's world and her insight would be invaluable.
What, or who, inspired you to write?Probably my parents who raised me to believe there was nothing I couldn't do, and who considered an education the most important thing a person could have. I was encouraged to read anything and everything from a very young age. I wrote my first story when I was nine, and no one laughed at me.
What genre does your book fall into?Urban fantasy/paranormal romance/paranormal mystery
Which genres do you enjoy reading?I imagine you've guessed by now, but I read paranormals and mysteries, some romance.
What is the first book you remember reading, that affected how you thought or felt about something?The Bobbsey Twins books. They were always involved in a big adventure and solving some mystery. I think that set the groundwork for future reading and writing, and my love of seeing the good guys outsmart the bad guys. :)
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?There have been many more than three, but these three contemporary writers are certainly on the list:
1) Sara Paretsky for forging the way for women crime writers and establishing Sisters In Crime.
2) Laurell K Hamilton because I fell in love with the first Anita Blake book. I wouldn't have continued to read other paranormal books without that first experience.
3) Vince Flynn because I think he is the current master of the spy thriller.
Have you ever had a book you enjoy re-reading? Many. Strangely enough, when I need a break from writing, I reread some of Georgette Heyer's regency romances. I love her wit.
Do you read a book, while you are writing a book?It is hard for me not to read at all, but it has to be a different genre. While I was finishing Fire Within, I read some non-paranormal YA.
How many books have you written? Which book is your favourite and why?I have written six books. Two are published; two are under contract; and two are in another series and need further editing.
Of the two published, I'm still enamored with book one because it was the first baby bird out of the nest! :) I'm sure that will change. By this time next month, Fire Within will have taken over first place. I think I had the most fun writing book three, which should be released this summer.
Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?Music, sometimes reading other books. A big pot of coffee. :)
What were three challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Determining whether to write in first or third person
2) Learning that incomplete sentences were sometimes necessary.
3) Convincing friends this was my "job" that I took seriously. I think they've all figured that out by now.
What lessons have you learned as an aspiring writer?Writing is hard work, but the only way you get better is to keep writing.
Do you have any tricks, outlines, or methods that help you overcome writer’s block?I never get writer's block. Sometimes I get myself boxed into a corner, but brain storming with a friend will usually get me out of it.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned, either in the self-publishing or traditional publisher, route?Be persistence; be professional; be a perfectionist.