Vicki Locey, also known as Feral Female on some parts of the Internet, was recently interviewed by RJD, sometimes author of articles here at the EWS. Read on to hear about all the projects that Vicki (VL) is involved with now, and will be involved with in the near future.
RJD: So, Feral, you've written a book. For anyone who might have stumbled across this review who isn't familiar with your work or this particular book, would you care to tell us what the book is about?
VL: Sure, I`d be happy to! I`ve gotten quite used to shameless self-promotion. My debut novel is called 'Of Gods & Goats'. It`s a rural romantic/comedy centered around a widowed farm woman, Libby Simons, and the Greek god of war, Ares. And yes, there are goats in the story as well as chickens, Minotaurs, three-headed hellhounds, a steer, some bronze birds of legendary fame and a visit to Olympus and Hades` realm.
RJD: Now, I'm not sure if I'm out of bounds with this question, but when you are not writing, you are a goat farmer, yes?
VL: Nope, you`re not out of bounds. We do raise dairy goats here. They`re not our main source of income, my husband works at a foundry. My daughter shows them at our county fair and we drink the milk once the kids are weaned off.
RJD: How much of your book would you say is influenced by real life? Were your visits to Olympus similar to the visits taken by the heroine of the book? (mostly joking on that last part)
VL: Good one, CK! My trips to Olympus were rather pleasant, aside from the poor quality of ambrosia one of the nymphs served. I have to say a VERY large portion of my book is influenced by real life. The setting, which is the NC part of Pennsylvania where I live, the rural lifestyle with friends and neighbors, the animals Libby has on her farm. I won`t even begin to go into how much of me is in my protagonist. I will though pass along this rather telling tidbit. My editor sent me an e-mail while she was reading through my manuscript, with her blasted red pen at the ready, and it said this-
"I`m at the part now where Ares is carrying you....I mean, Libby back to the house."
RJD: Lol. In all seriousness, were your real life experiences helpful when you created this world in the book?
VL: Sure. Living where and how we do was perfect for Libby`s life. It is much easier to write about things that you`re familiar with. That`s not saying that everything a person pens has to reflect thier lives. If that were the case we wouldn`t have The Shire, Hogwarts, District 11 or any of the other fantastic places our imagination can take us to.
As for the parts of the book that deal with Hades realm or Olympus, that had to be pure fantasy. Being a HUGE fan of Edith Hamilton helped a lot. Also, I am an enormous groupie of Rick Riordan. He wrote the Percy Jackson books. It was his way of working the old, stuffy,boring Greek gods most kids hate learning about into the modern world that really inspired me. His work showed me that people are still into gods and heroes and legendary feats. It was then up to me to bring those gods into my world. I had a blast!!
RJD: I was going to bring up Percy Jackson. I imagine incorporating rural life into fantastical stories such as this isn't extremely common place, and so adding in farm life likely gives your book something that many other books that might follow a similar pattern don't have. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Luke Skywalker, they're all about the "normal" kid being brought into a larger world...but by adding something you wouldn't normally see into this somewhat typical formula, do you think that's helped you maintain a unique story?
VL: I do. As you said, most fantasy books deal with the normal kid being brought into a new and mystical world. My book differs from Harry, Percy and the like in that it is not about a teenager. This is NOT a kids book!! Libby is a thirty-five year old woman that has lost the only man she thought she would ever love to a drunk driver. She is alone on her farm and she is surviving but is she living? No, she really isn`t. And this is where Ares comes in and turns her life upside-down. She`s no longer sitting on the farm with only her goats for company. She is pulled into a wild adventure that not only ends up showing her that love CAN happen again to those who suffer loss and aren`t eighteen, but she also learns a very good lesson about faith.
The story actually wasn`t meant to be anything besides a romantic comedy that finally allowed me to get my man Ares into a book, and portray him the way I wanted. As it moved along though these wonderful, important messages started being learned while Libby and Ares are battling against Hades minions. The story had a life of its own and still does! I`m just now getting ready to write the third and final book in the trilogy and there is plenty yet to tell! So yeah, the mingling of farm life and Greek gods is a unique one I have to think!
RJD: Since the book has now taken on a more serious tone than you maybe initially intended, would you say that tone is more appropriate than the more comedic tone you were originally shooting for? Or do you think it still has the comedic aspects you always wanted?
VL: Good question.
No, I think the book maintains the comedic tone throughout. Libby is one damned funny woman in my humble. I feel that the humor helps to temper the subtle, and not so subtle, messages that the book brought to light. It keeps it from being preachy. There are some scenes that are hilarious with Ares trying to fit into this modern world that counter the deeper messages about faith and love and hope.
RJD: That's a fine line to walk, I imagine.
So Ares is a main character in this book/trilogy? You hinted that he wasn't ever portrayed the way you wanted him to be portrayed...are you very familiar with the comic book versions of Ares from Marvel Comics and DC Comics, respectively? Or were you more thinking of all other venues of Pop Culture?
VL: It can be. Hopefully it comes out well in the book. I think it does but others will have to judge for themselves.
Yep, Ares is the romantic lead. There`s a god that you don`t associate with romance, huh? I am VERY familiar with the Marvel comics Ares but not the DC version. I about wept when Sentry did that terrible thing to Ares....
As to the other venues of pop culture lets just say that I always found myself wondering if there were more to the god than just bloodshed and battle. His devotion to Aphrodite for centuries tells me that he has a loving heart and that when he loves a woman he devotes himself to her. He is a good father to his children. Most portrayals of Ares are rather one-dimensional. He likes to hit things and make people bleed. He`s the bully. He`s the hated son. And yes, all those things are true. He IS the son that was always shunted aside for other siblings: Perseus, Theseus, Heracles to name a few. He does like the sounds and feels of war. He can be stubborn and demanding and violent.
I feel that there is more to the god than the grunting, spear wielding barbarian and have tried to show that in my book.
RJD: Very interesting. Is this one of those cases where the people in the world of your book have a misconception of Ares from movies and legend? Like the stories have been exagerated and Ares as he actually is is quite different from how people see him?
VL: Hmmm, not really. In my book Ares comes to earth after striking out at Hades and taking his Helm of Darkness. He is cast out of Olympus for acting against his uncle. We do find out that Athena and Ares were working to thwart a plan they suspect Hades devised. What that plan is isn`t revealed until the second book. Libby and Ares must search for and find the missing Helm before Hades or his minions do. It`s somewhere in Pennsylvania but where??
Libby is the only one who knows that Ares is what he claims to be. And that takes her awhile to finally accept. A lot of the comedic aspects come from this alien from another planet plunked down on earth premise...like Mork & Mindy in a way only far less frenetic. Picture a seven foot tall god of war trying to sell eggs at a farmers market in a rural town. Now try to imagine a woman trying to keep this male from standing out among the mortals. Yep, its a recipe for disaster.
RJD: Well, disaster is what fuels stories, so that's good for you as a storyteller.
If Libby's arc is to learn that she can love again, and she comes to a decission about faith, then what would you say Ares' arc is, if he's the other main character?
VL: Amen. With Ares around disaster is just a slip of the tongue away.I think that Ares role, aside from teaching Libby to let go of her fears, is to learn who he is as a man and that the scorn of his family is not what makes him. Also, he now has a chance to be the hero his half-brothers always were. We see more of his turmoil in the second book when he begins to doubt his ability to be more than the warmonger.
RJD: And over the course of the trilogy, do we ever see any of Ares' brothers or other family, since they provide so much of his internal conflict for him?
VL: Oh yes! In the first book we meet Athena right after Ares lands on earth. Then Libby gets the trip to Hades realm and then Olympus. There she meets all the gods from Zeus to Dionysus. We also get to meet Phobos, Deimos and Harmonia, three of Ares`children.
The Phobos and Deimos in my books are not the Phobos and Deimos in my online series at EWC though! These are old-school Grecian warriors, the gods of fear and terror in all thier glory! And Harmonia....I have fallen in love with the girl, I really have.
RJD: So before we start wrapping things up, my next question has less to do with the story, and more to do with the context of how you wrote the book.
You said yourself that you like to promote the book, as you rightly should...in what ways does the Internet make that easier, and in what ways does it make it harder for you to get your published work out there?
VL: I do enjoy doing the promotional work for the book. As a self-published author all of the marketing and promo work falls to me. If I don`t hustle it then I don`t sell it, since I don`t have a large publishing house to do some of the work for me.
The Internet is a great tool for promoting and marketing in so many ways. It really allows a writer to reach across oceans with a click of a button. You do though have to wade through a lot of sites and pick and choose what works best for you and your book. There are tons of places and people that will say they will do this for this price, and I have seen some good writers get sucked into things they possibly shouldn`t have. So, as with anything on the web, you have to be very careful about who and where you align yourself and your work.
I have had great feedback from Facebook. It`s where I do the lion’s share of my promoting. There is no way I could have gotten the numbers of people looking forward to the release of the book if not for the Internet. It`s a valuable tool and has opened up the world of publishing, making us self-pubbers a fast growing community. And then there are E-books but that`s a subject that can take hours to debate!
While I`m promoting, let me just toss out that I have a new project that I`m very excited about. Coming mid-April Mr. Paul Rose and I are launching a thrice weekly strip called 'Don`t Ever Tell Alex'. Mr. Rose is of course the artist behind Alagg the Barbarian. It should be a fun strip and we hope y`all come around and check it out!
Okay, I`m done for the moment.....
RJD: And if anyone reading this is interested in buying your book, where do they need to do that?
VL: I`m glad you asked, CK!
You can buy my book off my website. Click on the store button on the top and that will take you to my beloved local Indie bookstore where you can purchase your print copy.
You`ll also be able to buy the E-book at Smashwords.
I was hoping for a 4/6 release date but issues with my formatting and the printer may set the release date back a few days. I`ll let everyone know at Mickey`s and on the website and Facebook when both print and Ebook will be available.
VL: I can`t think of anything we haven`t covered. Thanks for such well thought out questions! It`s been a blast! I hope that those who buy the book enjoy it and I thank y`all for your support!
RJD: Thank you for your time, Feral!
VL: My pleasure and back at `cha!