Valerie Willis is a Dark Fantasy Paranormal Romance author based out of Central Florida. She loves crafting novels with elements inspired by mythology, superstitions, legends, folklore, fairy tales and history. In 2018, she received the Reader’s Favorite Bronze medal in ‘Fiction – Mythology’ and FAPA’s President’s Silver medal in ‘Fantasy/Sci-fi.’ You can find her hosting workshops or a guest speaker at many events sharing her expertise in self-publishing, novel writing, research in fiction, worldbuilding, character development, book design, reader immersion and more.
Her Award-Winning Dark Fantasy Paranormal Romance, ‘The Cedric Series,’ is a wonderful blend of genres that appeal to a wide-range of readers described as “dramatic, lustful, and fantasy fulfilling.” The motto here is: “No immortal is beyond the ailments of man” and that includes powerful creatures, demons, witches and Gods. Many of the monsters present in battle derive from Medieval Bestiaries and adds a fun flavor of new yet deeply rooted assortment of creatures such as Coin Iotair, Shag Foal, Cynocephali, and many more.
For Young Adult readers look for her Dark Urban Fantasy filled with coming-of-age lessons, the ‘Tattooed Angels Trilogy.’ Hotan is a failed reincarnation and is becoming immortal against his will. Life is complicated and often we withdraw within ourselves and shut others out when life becomes hard. As the story unfolds we learn the importance of opening up and asking for support in all its forms even beyond friends and family. Each immortal controls powers of nature like fire and wind or elements of humanity such as fear or judgment.
You can often find this Author hosting workshops about writing and self-publishing in the Orlando, Florida area or working on the next novel. She loves to inspire other writers and creative minds. Be sure to visit her blog for some of the writing advice she has to offer. Uniquely, she brings in a perspective that has influences from Game Development and Graphic Design.
WORDS FROM THE AUTHOR
One of my favorite genres to read is Fantasy, more specific, Fantasy that is dark in tone and filled with paranormal and mythology elements. Add a sprinkle of historical references and I am SOLD. It has always amazed me how authors create such wonderful worlds and stories with such depth. I am glad to be able to share my own worlds and characters with readers in hopes of inspiring future writers.
Some of my personal favorite authors are Robin McKinley, Cat Adams, James Clavell, Anne Rice and Neil Gaiman. Before I stumbled upon these wonderful authors, I had only read non-fiction books about drawing or animals. Needless to say, I read every Zoo Book the library had, sometimes twice. Form there, like many of my generation, I dove into R.L.Stine's famous Goosebumps series, but I have never enjoyed horror books. That didn’t mean I didn’t read the genre, trying out Stephen King, Michael Crichton and others. Instead, I discovered there was a flavor I liked, and thus, I continued my search for my favorite reading genre.
It didn’t take long to find C. S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll who showed me fantastical worlds that were just beyond the rabbit hole or wardrobe. Soon after, I started discovering another genre through James Clavell; Historical Fiction. Here was where I realized that you can write amazing fictional stories while staying true to the events and settings around them. I discovered Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian and she opened up another can of worms. The enjoyment I received from reading a paranormal story heavily involving the history of Vlad the Imapler was off the scales. This idea, this dark flavor that smeared the lines of Fantasy, Horror, and History was the flavor I had been searching for and aspired to write.
With these tools and inspirations, I renewed my wants for writing. I still needed helping hands from family and friends to make sure I didn’t give up on my writing goals, but I finally made it. Cedric the Demonic Knight took its background and inspiration, not only out of the history books, but long forgotten lores and bestiaries. It took some heavy searching to dig out all sorts of research on all things werewolves, vampires, and more importantly, mythology. My single wish and hope was that my readers would be exposed to intriguing concepts and open a door to a time period and its lores that have been skewed from the original telling. I want my readers to experience the lore firsthand, and when the conversation came up in class or in conversation, they had the facts etched into their hearts. I want to hear them say “I know it, because I lived it through Cedric/Romasanta/Lillith” and smile.
Currently I am completing my Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Trilogy, Tattooed Angels. The first book in this series is Rebirth, a story I had put to paper back in high school (circa 2001-2003). When I started writing this piece, I wanted it to be able to go into my High School's Library and share some hard lessons about one’s sense of self and those harder moments in our lives. I had gotten up to Chapter Six down before life swept me away from it. It collected dust until it somehow came up in a conversation at work in 2005. At that time, a friend named Kelly inspired and encouraged me to continue writing. Once more the next year I added to it pushing it to Chapter 12 before once more I let life wipe it from my thoughts.
In 2010, I found myself part of an online gaming group called "The Shadow Legion". Once more, somehow someone reminded me I had Rebirth waiting on me to complete. Thanks to the encouragements of my Gaming Crew, I finished my first rough draft of a complete novel. Looking back, I had no idea how significant it is for any writer to first finish the story. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of my frustrations with the story. I realized as I researched and learned more and more about the professional writing field that Rebirth needed a mountain of work. Worse off, a rewrite at minimum on my high school portions without a doubt. I can't tell you how many times I sat in front of my computer staring at a screen of text, no idea how to even begin a rewrite or how to break myself away from the original writing to make a better version.
At this point, I entertained the idea to sketch out a graphic novel. There were obstacles to that piece as well. I found myself throwing out storyboard after storyboard on how to capture everything I wanted to tell the audience in this epic idea I had created. Standing there, looking at both of these stories, Rebirth and Cedric, I had to make some hard decisions. First off, Rebirth deserved quality writing and attention, but I wasn't skilled enough, not yet. Cedric on the other hand wasn't getting enough out to the audience in visual format. There were points I knew I would come to that would need large paragraphs to explain. It hit me; take what I now know about writing and put Cedric to text.
Cedric at this point had three years of random research, sketches, and roughed out storyline plots. It took another year to get all the story down in the rough and another year to edit and refine. So, Cedric finally made it to print and I had learned a mountain-sized amount of knowledge and experience in this new world where I am called author. The question at this point was, am I ready to fix Rebirth?
Holding my breath, I opened that old DOC file and on the other half a fresh DOC file. Thus, I started to rewrite the story, tears streaming down my face. Glancing over the first Chapter. I grimaced. I could see the mistakes, I can see where I didn’t think of my readers nor the importance of my characters at the very beginning. There were clear moments where my fear of revealing too much derailed the content. I have learned if it’s a good story and well written, you can tell them everything and still grasp readers and pull them in. That first night I pumped out over 5,000 words and expanded the first Chapter to the point it was split into two! Progress had been made.
Thus, an author was born. I haven’t stopped or looking back sense and hope to write many more stories, novels and series to come.