Jen: This week we are pleased to have D. Renee Bagby as our guest. Renee, will you please share a short bio with us?
Renee: I am D. Renee Bagby and I also write as Zenobia Renquist. I go by my middle name because people in middle school kept butchering my first name. I am an Air Force brat turned Air Force wife who loves to travel even though I hate packing and then unpacking. Currently, I’m living in Maryland with my husband and two cats and my massive collections of comics, books, manga, DVDs, and video games/consoles. Depending on how you look at it, I’m either lucky to have married a man with the same interests as me or unlucky since our collections have grown exponentially since they combined seven years ago.
Jen: Tell us about Serenity and where it’s available.
Renee: Serenity is part of my Multiverse collection written under D. Renee Bagby. It is a fantasy, interracial romance which serves as the introductory book of the Gezane Universe—a parallel Earth where at some point history skewed so far from our own that even the planet got a different name.
Serenity is the daughter of the queen of the largest human kingdom and she’s been offered to Melchior, king of the bhresyas—a race the humans insultingly refer to as demons because of their Technicolor skin and horns. Melchior wants peace for his people and the humans and a political marriage is the fastest way to accomplish it.
The only problem with Melchior’s plan is Serenity’s feelings. She loves her husband and wants him to love her. Melchior was willing to marry her but love is a totally different matter. He pushes away her advances at every turn until he pushes her into the arms of those who don’t want peace and will do whatever it takes to see it disappear, including killing Serenity. Suddenly love is the answer and Melchior his before it’s too late.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Renee: I started writing in middle school as a way to entertain myself during class. The teachers thought I was taking notes so they left me alone. Back then, those stories weren’t meant for anyone but me. They were a record of my daydreams so I could revisit the story.
In my senior year of high school, I decided to write a story from beginning to end for a competition. I didn’t make the deadline, but my then English teacher who helped me edit said she found the story interesting and would love to see other stories.
While in college, I started many stories but focused on one. Adrienne went through three drafts (or was it four?) and several plot changes before I finally submitted it for consideration to Samhain Publishing. I got a ‘needs revisions’ letter at first. Once I made as many changes as I knew to make, I resubmitted the story and got a contract.
Adrienne hit the e-shelves July 2007 after massive content edits to a very rough story that I’m happy Samhain took a chance with. That was a learning experience and I’m happy to say my edits aren’t nearly that extensive any longer.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Renee: You know, it’s funny how many would-be writers in my family fell out of the woodwork after I announced I was published. I get the occasional email for advice and critiques to which I warn them I’m the last person they want critiquing their work since my first experience made me very strict about editing. I strive for candid honesty when critiquing and most would-be/new authors don’t want that, even if they say they do.
I do have a cousin-in-law Kimberly Bosket who writes inspirational, self-help for teenagers.
Jen: Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
Renee: I like to have a movie playing in the background with a similar theme to the book I’m writing. That way when I look away from my writing for a break, I stay in the mindset of the story. I think I watched 300 close to that many times while finishing and editing Serenity. Those half-naked men were very inspiring. In fact, they inspired the outfits my bhresya wear.
Unfortunately, my somewhat off-the-wall story themes means there won’t always be a movie for me to watch. So I make do by NOT watching movies that will take me out of the mindset. Other than that, I just need time and quiet.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Renee: Nope. I write whenever I can and, thanks to my smartphone, where ever I can. I tried to get on a routine and it only served to slow me down when I didn’t stick to it. I’d feel guilty for having to do other stuff (cleaning, day job, errands, etc) and that made me blocked so I’d feel even more guilty when I had time to write and couldn’t.
I make tentative plans and change them as life happens.
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Renee: Good question. I hear a name I like and decide I want a character with it. Or I choose my character’s ethnicity and go digging through baby books and sites for a name that I like. Actually that’s usually for the hero since the majority of my heroines are black, unless they are a species not human. For the heroines, I just choose a name I like.
Jen: Do you become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting them go, or are you happy that their story is told and you can move on?
Renee: I become totally attached to my characters but have no issues letting them go when the story ends. With my Multiverse collection, many of the stories are interconnected within the separate universe so chances are a past couple will make an appearance in another story. My Zenobia Renquist stories are, most of the time, one-shots where I my muse dumped an idea on me out of the blue and it didn’t fit with the Multiverse. That one story may develop into a series, but once it’s done I move to the next. If I ever miss my characters, I simply go back and read the finished story.
Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Renee: Travel back in time and stay for one year, huh? Where would I go? You know, I think I would be fairly safe in Ancient Egypt. No one would bat an eye at another black woman walking around. Not to mention, people back then liked to bathe so there wouldn’t be an issue with bodily odor and hygiene.
I’d take a solar battery charger, a digital camera with a 120 Gig memory card, and my smartphone. I wouldn’t be able to make calls but at least I could still write. I mean, come on, Ancient Egypt would be chock full of inspiration. 😀 I’d be taking pictures of everything. Anyone gives me too much lip, I’ll just tell them that I’ve captured their soul and they belong to me until such time as I feel like giving it back. I could probably extort living expense money out of a lot of people that way. Though, I would try to keep a low profile just so I don’t grab the attention of someone who might get me killed.
Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Renee: I think the chance to meet like-minded individuals is the biggest highlight. Up until I met other writers, I thought I was the odd one out. The way I think is weird for most mundanes and people don’t always get where I’m coming from. I’ve met several people with whom I can have the most off-the-wall conversations and no one gets lost or needs explanations. We actually bounce off of each other and come up with even weirder off-the-wall topics.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Renee: A lady I work with at my ‘day job’ read my books. She said she’d have never figured I’d write something like that. Most people who meet me for the first time and find out I’m a writer automatically assume I write children’s books, I guess because I smile a lot and tend to be upbeat. Then they read one of my books where dead bodies are raining from the sky from page one (a little exaggeration for effect) and get totally confused. I think it’s hilarious.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Renee: Writing, writing and more writing. I’m trying to get accepted to as many different publishing houses as I can—both small and large, e and non-e. Each house has its own reader base and the more I join the more readers I’ll reach. So that means finishing a bunch of books.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Renee: http://dreneebagby.com and http://zenobiarenquist.com
Blog – http://dreneebagby.blogspot.com
Twitter – http://twitter.com/dreneebagby
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/dreneebagby
Newsletter – http://ymlp.com/signup.php?id=geusujygmgj
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Renee: It’s not a question but a favor actually. I’m a little off from right and it shows in my writing. Without even trying, I tend to make things more convoluted than they ought to be. It’s a wild ride but I promise there’s an HEA at the end because it wouldn’t be a romance without it. So my favor is simply this… please keep your arms and legs inside at all times and do not exit until the ride has come to a complete stop. 😛
Jen: Readers, Renee is giving away love to give away a print copy of Serenity and A VALENTINE’S GIFT FOR TORI to two random commenters. To enter the contest, first leave a comment or question for Renee. Then you must either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Two winners will win one of Renee’s books and will be chosen on Sunday, August 23.