Manic Readers
Author Interviews
Interview with D. Renee Bagby/Zenobia Renquist
May 12, 2008

Hi Renee,
It's great to have a chance to interview you for Manic Readers. I hope you and Zenobia Renquist will allow me to question you both at once.  I know our readers are very curious about the two of you and how you separate your talents so that neither of you gets too many irons in the fire at the expense of the other.  So let's get right to the questions.

Hi Hi!!  It's great to be interviewed.  Thanks for having me (us).
Renee you are published by Samhain and Zenobia by Red Rose Publishing. Can you each tell us how you found your publisher and what it is like working for either of them?
I found Samhain through my beta reader Terez.  At the time, she wasn't my beta reader just a co-worker. But, when I told her I had a finished manuscript and was agent-hunting, she suggested going the ebook route.  Samhain was her first suggestion. I did some research to make sure they were on the up and up and then submitted.  My original manuscript for Adrienne was rejected with a request to revise and resubmit.  I did it happily.  The second time it was accepted.

I love working with Samhain.  Their editors are wonderful and the cover artists are great.  They take care of their authors and make sure we have every opportunity to better ourselves, like providing HTML and promo classes and the like.
I found Red Rose through Stephanie Burke.  I'm part of her Yahoo group (FlameKeeper) and so is Wendi, the owner of Red Rose.  When I noticed Stephanie was published with Red Rose I figured it must be a good place to be despite being new.  Again, I did some research and decided to submit.  Acknowledging Meirion was accepted with enthusiasm.

Red Rose is a team-environment publisher.  Wendi likes to keep her authors in the know at all times.  She makes sure that we can reach her whether she's at home or out shopping.  Heck, she even likes to call up just to chit-chat.  She's a fun lady and I like working with her.  I'm sure Red Rose will get bigger and better with her at the helm.
Zenobia –your titles are more stand alone type titles am I right? Why don't you tell us a little about you first – how did you get your start writing. When did you first know that is what you wanted to do with your life? How does your family feel about that, especially now that you are a multi- published author?
I started off with the idea that my stories would be single titles, but my characters have other plans. Even now I'm planning a sequel for Acknowledging Meirion that is one-third written.

As for when I knew I wanted to write, that was back in middle school.  At first, I wrote as a coping mechanism to all the moving and lack of friends and the like.  When I got to high school and made friends with an artist who liked what I wrote, I decided I might have a chance at being published if I actually finished something.

My mom loves having a writer in the family.  She brags about me to whoever will listen.  My dad is proud of my accomplishments and can't wait for my titles to be in print since he isn't fond of computers.  My brothers are happy I've found something I like to do.

Renee maybe you can fill us in where Zenobia leaves off –how do you fit in the scheme of things with your twin Zenobia? I suppose I can call you twins as you are joined at the pen if not at the heart.  When did you begin writing as Renee? Were you writing before Zenobia? How did the split first become apparent? It wasn't a quarrel or a contest was it?
When I first started writing it was as Renee and I had no thoughts of splitting. I have many, many stories planned and had every intention of publishing them all as D. Renee Bagby.  But then a conundrum presented itself.  My stories as D. Renee Bagby fit into a multiverse -- a string of seven alternate Earths I created with different rules and laws and sometimes creatures.

One day I came up with a story that didn't fit any of the worlds, not completely.  I didn't want to change the story to make it fit, so I decided to write it outside the Multiverse.  But then I thought about my readers.  I knew there would be constant questions of whether or not a story was part of the Multiverse or not if I published everything as D. Renee Bagby, thus Zenobia Renquist was born.  I've always liked the name Zenobia and Renquist has a flow to it.
Renee Your stories are a series – starting with Serenity, does that follow from your first book Adrienne or is that a separate series from this one? Tell us a little about them if you will please. How many books do you anticipate will be in this series and how did you arrive at that number?
Oh, Serenity and Adrienne aren't related at all.  :)  Adrienne is part of the Bron Universe and Serenity is part of the Gezane Universe.  My plan is to introduce each of the seven Earths and then revisit them at random based on which book is speaking to me when.

When talking about my Multiverse, I use the term 'series' loosely.  The books are related in that they take place on the same Earth within their respective universes, but that's about it.  Some of the books have cameos from past characters and appearances from characters yet to come.  Sometimes it happens that a book in a certain universe will directly follow a past book, like in the case of the next Gezane novel starring Chigaru -- one of the major secondary characters in Serenity.  Though that's rare.

As for a set number, there is none.  Some universes have more books planned for them than others, but that's only for the time being.  My secondary characters are demanding time in the spotlight making it necessary to plan yet more stories.  :)
Zenobia your first title is it an interracial /multi-cultural, title?  What is the name of it and tell us a little about it if you will.  Is A valentine Gift for Tori yours or Renee's can you tell us about it?
Technically Acknowledging Meirion is my first title and yes it's multicultural/interracial (all my titles are MC/IR).  But, extenuating circumstances arose and A Valentine's Gift for Tori turned into my debut.  I suddenly wanted to write a V-Day story in January and Wendi said hurry up so it would be out in time for Valentine's.  The release of Acknowledging Meirion was pushed back so I had a little space between releases.

Though I wanted to write a V-Day story, I didn't want it to be the normal 'woe-begone heroine unlucky in love and alone but suddenly Mr. Right appears' type story.  I strive to torture my characters so finding unconventional ways to get from point A to point B are a must.  So, I made Tori, the heroine, married with three kids.

To add a little spice to the set up, I had Tori admit to her husband her need for a boyfriend.  There are probably women out there who've wanted to say the same thing to their husbands at one time or another despite loving the men they married very much.  Well, my heroine said it and her husband was all for it, provided he could watch her and the boyfriend in bed.

The story mostly revolves around Tori's man-hunt for a V-Day date and the effect it has on her family.
Did either of you have formal training as writers before you began?
I took a creative writing course in college.  After my first round of edits with Adrienne, I realized I had a lot to learn.  There were so many things (passive voice, semi-colon use, et al) that I didn't know the rules for.  Writing is an art but knowing the basics is important.
By the time I wrote Acknowledging Meirion, I'd already learned from all her mistakes.  It required very little editing, which I was very proud of.
For series writer's there are certain constraints and considerations that you must adhere to. Renee what is it like writing a series, how do you keep the books connected without losing the freshness required to make them a good read?  Does one in the series spark another idea or do you have all your ideas and just then set out to write a certain number of titles in that series?
My books definitely spark new ones, as I said before.  With some of the books, I'm very sneaky with the way I have them connected.  I'll describe a character, but not name him or her (because the hero or heroine aren't introduced), and then see if the reader remembers said character when they show up in a book of their own.

I'm lucky in that I have the majority of my stories planned out (some partially written) so I know how they'll all connect and who appears where so I can drop hints.  For instance, I allude to four future stories in Adrienne and three, possibly four (still debating one), in Serenity.
Zenobia, when you write your stories do you begin with plot or characters? Where do you get your ideas?
I begin with an argument, usually. As sad as it sounds, I'll be sitting in a room staring off into space and suddenly a man and woman start bickering in my head.  My job is to find out who is arguing, why they're arguing, how they met, and how they'll end up.  Sometimes just naming them answers half the questions and I build from there.

So I guess you could say I start with the characters.  In the case of Acknowledging Meirion, the scene featured in the excerpt (on my site) is where that story started for me.  I had to figure out why Kiar wouldn't and couldn't join Meirion on the bed

I had always planned to do a story revolving around a reality television theme, but that was too boring.  So, how about a reality TV show for aliens a few hundred light years away?  But then, why not make it a nature show instead of reality?  The aliens want to observe humans in their "natural habitat".  The story snowballed from there.
Renee, do you work on more then one series at a time or more then one book in a series at a time? How do you keep them straight or separate from each other?
Most definitely.  I work on my stories as my characters speak to me.  I'm usually focused on finishing one story at a time but will stop to drop a scene in another if I think of it.  It's actually not that hard for me to keep my stories straight.  I have a mind for random details and remembering things that some would say don't matter.

I can't tell you what day of the week it is (or the date, for that matter) without looking at my watch but I could tell you all about the plot of a movie I watched back in the 80's.

One trick I've learned is simply re-reading what I've written.  It's the fastest way to get me back in the mindset of the story.  Plus, I love going back and reading what I've written.  At that time, I'll also do some light editing.  The only problem with re-reading my WIPs is that they aren't finished.  ;P  I get to the place I stopped and want to read more and can't.  Thus the bug bites and back to writing I go.
How do you develop your characters?   Some writers I know have elaborate charts and graphs, and interviews and the whole enchilada to develop their characters before they even begin their books what about you?  (Renee and Zenobia)
Because of the intricacies of my Multiverse, I need to know minute details about my characters that may never come up in the book. It's handy info to have but also helps me drop random clues into other stories later.  I usually just open up a text file and write stuff as it comes to me then refer back to that text file when it comes time to finish the story.
My characters develop their personalities as the story progresses.  In some cases I have notes, but that's mostly vague details about the plot and how I want the story to flow.  I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer.  It seems to work.  :)
Your schedules must be intense – can you tell us what a typical writing day is like for you? (Renee and Zenobia)
Answering for both, I sit down at my computer and hope inspirations strikes.  :)  Well actually, I sit at my computer and check my mail and some of the loop digests then I open the current WIP and get to writing.

I work nights four times a week over the weekends (Thursday - Sunday), so I only have a few hours to write on those days.  My days off are usually spent playing catch up on correspondence and errands and then writing.  Thankfully my trusty Palm Pilot is with me whenever I'm out of the house so I can get in some writing if I find myself stuck someplace for a while with nothing to do or on my breaks at work.
Is there anything either of you would like to tell our readers before we call it a wrap here?  And do tell us where we can find out more about both of you and your publishers – where can we buy your books, do you blog?
To the readers of my Multiverse novels, don't get overwhelmed. The stories can and will stand by themselves unless otherwise noted on the cover.  I have much more planned. While the stories do get more convoluted, they also get more interesting too.

Yahoo Group:
To the readers of my stand alones, I was a bad girl. I have a series planned.  Teehee.  Yeah, it was a fun dream while it lasted.  But this is a true series with an interconnected plot and everything.  It'll be the first true series I put out (once it's finished).  So look for it.

Other than that, ENJOY!

Red Rose:
The blog and the Yahoo group are the same.  :)
Thank you both for entertaining us with your diverse personalities and wonderful answers to our questions. I look forward to hearing much more from you in the near future. Many Sales to You!
Renee, (Zenobia)
Thanks for having me (us).  It was a fun interview.  I look forward to contacting you all to announce future releases.  :)

Renee & Zen-Ren
D. Renee Bagby
Building New Realms of Passion...
ADRIENNE -- Fantasy Romance (MC/IR) - eBook Out Now; Print in May
SERENITY -- Fantasy Romance (MC/IR) - eBook out NOW, Print in Jan

Zenobia Renquist
Discover Different and Unique Romance
A VALENTINE'S GIFT FOR TORI -- Contemp IR Romance -- Out Now
ACKNOWLEDGING MEIRION -- Sci-Fi Romance (MC/IR) -- Out Now

Interviewed by: Billie A. Willams at Manic Readers

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