Please welcome Naima Haviland! Thanks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.
Oh, thank you so much for inviting me! I just moved from the Florida panhandle back to the state of my birth, Pennsylvania. My father is a published poet who lives nearby in Pittsburgh, and we enjoy talking about the craft of writing. I live to serve two dogs named Mini and Beanie, and they answer to a cat named Yardcat.
Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times?
Music and a deck of cards. When inspiration strikes, I move my fingers from my solitaire game to the keyboard.
Is your education relevant to your writing, or have you branched off in something entirely different to create? How would you best describe your books?
Readers can expect immersive worlds and complex characters; however, my plots go in unexpected directions. I bend genres, cross genres, and mix them. Some of my novels could be called paranormal romances but they’re also definitely horror novels. I’ll mix vampires with folk magic and history; or modern gothic with erotica. Or I’ll start a short story as a romance and finish it as a time-traveling mystery. My fashion career influences my writing in that you always know what everyone’s wearing, and until recently, everyone looked like a model. But in my latest novel, which has been called a steampunk romance, the lovers have physical challenges you don’t usually see in a romance novel.
Tell us about your most recent publication.
The Name I Chose, is a novel of passion and peril set in an alternative Victorian England. Bold inventions usher in a new age, while genetic and cosmetic sciences reinforce an age-old class system. For the rich, immunity to disability and disease justifies their hold on power. Upper-class beauty, Philomena Paulson appears perfect but she has secrets only her disfigured music teacher, Mordecai Michaeleson, understands. Acceptance, trust, and a passion for music compose bonds of forbidden love between them. When chance discovery of Philomena’s darkest secret provokes an act of shocking violence, Mordecai is framed for the crime. In my latest novel, I manage to combine romance, a steampunk London, a criminal underworld, body positivity, and social justice. This creative journey was a wild ride for me, and I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
What inspired you to write this story? What interesting thing did you learn or research to write it that you didn’t know before?
The idea came in a story dream, which is just my brain entertaining me. This dream was about a naïve and disadvantaged young couple eloping in Victorian times. As the omniscient viewer, I knew the strangers chatting them up in a pub were bad news. I woke up before I could warn them. So I decided to write their story.
I brushed up on menswear in the gilded age. Ascot ties were in. Stock ties were relics of a bygone era. In The Name I Chose, an eccentric thug named Callum adopts vintage fashion as his signature style.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
My earlier novels and my anthology are dark, and while I am proud of them, I’m excited by the lighthearted nature of The Name I Chose. There’s a refreshing optimism woven through this new novel, despite the dark intentions of its villains. My recent short stories hinted at a new direction in tone, but The Name I Chose is my first full length adventure embodying this playful spirit.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
My elementary school teachers always told me to quit daydreaming and pay attention. Now that I’m a writer, I like most that I’m allowed to daydream! I wouldn’t say I like marketing the least, but it is the writing-related activity I’m least skilled at handling.
My friends knew I wanted to be an author before I did. Way back when we were still in braces and training bras, I used to write stories in the margins of their bibles during church.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I belong to Pennwriters, a marvelous fellowship of writers in Pennsylvania. I subscribe to David Gaughran’s newsletter to stay abreast of indie publishing platforms and marketing. And I subscribe to The Book Designer’s newsletter to stay current on trends in production.
PENNWriters website: https://pennwriters.org/
David Gaughran’s blog: https://davidgaughran.com/blog/
The Book Designer’s website: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/about/
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
I just disappear into the world the music evokes and let my imagination fly around. For instance, when writing The Name I Chose, I listened to the soundtrack of Peaky Blinders to get into scenes that involve the criminal elements in the story.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
A chapter of Pennwriters meets monthly and there’s a related Pennwriters group that meets weekly. Attending critique groups allows fresh perspective into my process.
To encourage those still on the path, tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one? What do you think was the key to selling that first book?
The key was persistence. Like tennis, I’d serve the ball and publishers would lob it back. This game went on for a few years until a small press accepted my first manuscript. To date, I’ve self-published three novels, an anthology, and several short stories. Quality is the key to indie success, because it takes a well-written, well-edited, beautifully-designed book to satisfy readers – they are the rightful gatekeepers to acceptance in the book world.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
My next novel will be a paranormal story set during World War I, told through the eyes of an American soldier. I’m scheduling in-person and online appearances now. Readers can invite me to present to their group via my Facebook page. That’s also the best place to find out where I’ll appear next.
Anything else you would like to add?
PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, believed that ideas floated independently, searching for the person who would actualize them. I like to think an idea could choose any one of us, any time, if we just keep our minds and hearts open. We are all creative.
Bio: Naima Haviland writes novels and short stories in various genres, from dark fantasy to light romance. She takes as inspiration the Southeast United States, including the Florida panhandle, an ocean paradise with a not-too-distant past full of eccentrics, explorers, pirates, ghosts, and UFOs.
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/Books.by.Naima.Haviland
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/naimahaviland
Instagram and Pinterest: naimahaviland
EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve read THE NAME I CHOSE and give it five stars–don’t miss this one, readers!