1. For anyone who may not be familiar with you, can you introduce yourself and tell us who Tiffany Apan is?
Sure, and thank you! Well, I am a musician, dark fiction author, blogger, actress, and producer. I grew up in gorgeous, though somewhat spooky, Northeastern Pennsylvania (which also serves as inspiration and a backdrop for most of my stories). I’ve been in several independent films and theater productions, have a few music releases out, and am also releasing several stories this year (both short and novel length). Finally, I am and forever will be a proud artsy kid in black.
2. You obviously are a Jack of all trades and talents, from producer, dancer, actress, writer, blogger, the list goes on. How in the world do you find time to balance all of your projects and write?
Keeping a planner definitely helps me prioritize what needs completed first. I do set a general schedule for the year (leaving room for movement, of course, should anything unexpected arise) and I have set dates for things like my blogposts and YouTube videos. I go by the adage of “if it’s not written down, it’s not real.”
This is something I need, because believe it or not, I can be the worst procrastinator ever. But I’m an odd mix. Sure I can procrastinate, but if I write something down in a calendar or planner, I’m OCD to where it bugs me until it gets done. Plus, I like having things like food and a roof over my head, so it does help to remember that as well!
In fact, this Friday’s YouTube video will about this very subject. 🙂
3. Can you talk more about your BIRTHRITE Series? How did you come up with the title and series and what inspired you to write them?
Certainly. It’s a journey that started back in late 2011 with a dream I had (us writers and our dreams). The dream involved me having a conversation with a guy who very much resembled someone rather famous from the 1950s (I’m not going to give away who yet, though anyone familiar with the era might be able to guess just by reading about some of the character’s traits).
I could not begin to tell you what we talked about, but the incident stayed with me to the point to where I felt compelled to write about this character (whose name is Everett in the series). I toyed with the idea of a time travel romance (which it ended up only sort of being) and decided to keep Everett in the year 1959 and began thinking of a female counterpart for him.
Well, being someone from the goth scene and with a very diabolical and sadistic side, I wondered to myself, “wouldn’t it be fun to see what might happen if a guy from the 1950s ran into a 20th-21st century goth chick?” I did have fun writing some sporadic scenes and character backgrounds for Everett and the female character, Joanna (whose name was originally Christina), but I didn’t feel the direction it was going in was complete and that I needed to dig further. So I started writing in more detail about their upbringings and family lives. Then things really started to get interesting.
One night, in the summer of 2012, I was struggling with where to begin the first book (at that point, it had grown to where it was definitely going to be a series) and had an epiphany of sorts. I have always had an interest in history and ancestory (my own as well as that of others). So I dug even further into the histories of Everett and Joanna, and thus the four patriachs that are now at the center of all the madness in the year 1844 appeared:
-Nicolae Ganoush, a Rom (or gypsy) slave in Romania.
-Jonathan Blake, a young man born in Ireland but lived in the States since the age of five and falls for a young woman from a Sioux (Native American) village close to his home.
-James Livingston, a high society middle-aged man (the Livingstons where actually a real family among the first settlers and founders of America).
-Hector de Fuentes, a young man from Mexico who is a grandson of a Spanish colonizer.
These four took the story in a new and an very exciting direction. A direction that allowed other vital characters access. AND everything connects back to Everett and Joanna at the end of the second book.
In a nutshell, it is a Gothic Horror-Fantasy with a nice amount of romance. The first part of Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) takes place in the mid 1800s and the second half in the year 1931 where we meet a crucial character named Dorothy Blake.
The first book is out this month and you can find out more at http://thebirthriteseries.com.
4. Is there a message in your series that you want readers to grasp?
Well, I don’t like to dictate too much of that, because one thing I do value about books and stories is the freedom for the reader to take from it whatever he or she may get out of it. But one ongoing theme that is prominent in my works is to question everything. Just because the talking heads in the media make a statement doesn’t make it fact or even encompass all that goes on. That, and the old saying of truth being stranger than fiction, sometimes.
5. What books have most influenced your life most?
I don’t know about any one book (there are many), but the authors/writers that influenced me greatly are Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, and William Shakespeare. All the Brontes are a close second with H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. But if I had to choose a book (or in this case, bookS), I would say that as a kid, reading the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy opened alot of doors to just how deep my imagination can go, along with my style of writing. It was Stephen Gammell’s illustrations! 🙂
6. What book are you reading now?
Oh, I have a long summer reading list. Right now though, I’m reading a book recently put out by a friend of mine, David Fairhead. The book is called The Fall of Tomorrow and there will be a review on my blog when I’m finished.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was a very strange child. Always making up stories for everything, from my dolls and matchbox cars to random people I saw on the street. Though it was in my fifth grade Writing/English class where my obsession with Vikings came to light along with my ability to string together a poem. Everyone else wrote about their families and pets. Not me. I wrote about a band of barbarians happening upon sea monsters. Don’t know what a modern psychiatrist would have to say about that, but my teacher loved it. I think it even won some kind of award. So take that, psychiatrists.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
It’s hard to say because I enjoy so many for different reasons. Though I will say Mary Shelley and Emily Bronte. I love their command with language and ability to tell a story. Many women of their time were brilliant and very well-educated. In fact – according to some sources – Mary Shelley’s husband valued her talents so much, he actually had her edit his works.
9. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Well, it ended up being a much more complex plot than I originally intended. Therefore, plotholes and ensuring continuity was a killer.
10. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, and write often. Don’t be afraid of having others critique your work. And please, for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT slap up your unedited first draft for sale on Amazon, Smashwords, or any other retailer. Take pride in your work and recognize that a rough draft is just that. A rough draft. Never fear editing and proofreading. Editing and proofreading are your friends. So is getting a second pair of eyes to look over your work.
No, not everyone will enjoy what you do. Regardless of how polished your manuscript is, there will always be critics. However, do all you can to put your best out there. Otherwise, it could get really ugly.
11. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for reading. Also, sharing is caring. In other words, share with friends!
12. Please tell us what exciting projects you have lined up without giving too much away?
Well, I’m releasing the first two books in THE BIRTHRITE SERIES this month. Those titles are Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1) and Sacred Atonement: A Novella (The Birthrite Series, #1.5).
Midsummer will bring the first release from my new album, Antiquity. I will be releasing each song on the album digitally (through CDBaby, iTunes, and the like) before releasing the album in full next year.
Late summer and fall will bring two new books in THE BIRTHRITE SERIES. Those will be Transcend (A Birthrite Series Short Story) and Kindred (The Birthrite Series, #2). The last three books in the series are set for 2015 releases.
As for film, I’m acting in Midnight Massacre (which also stars Linda Hamilton of Planet of the Apes) and The Downfall of Mr. Difford for Eerie Frequency Entertainment. I’m also producing (and acting in) my own Twilight Zone-inspired supernatural thriller, Driving Nowhere which should be finished by the end of the year.
13. Where can we find out more about your work and the BIRTHRITE SERIES?
Well, here are a couple places you can find me on the interwebs:
Official website: http://tiffanyapan.com
The Birthrite Series Website: http://thebirthriteseries.com
The Birthrite Series Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/birthriteseries
Stories from Colony Drive Website: http://storiesfromcolonydrive.weebly.com
You can also find my work (music, film, and books) on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
PREVIEW CHAPTER 21 FROM THE BIRTHRITE SERIES, BY TIFFANY APAN~
Descent (The Birthrite Series, #1)
Blue early morning light filtered into Dorothy’s bedroom. Throughout the night, sleep was sporadic, littered with unexplanable and bizarre images. Her Aunt Roxanne appeared among dark cyclones and thunderheads, speaking though never able to be heard while droplets of blood dripped from a dagger.
When Dorothy awoke, remnants of her feverish sweating remained as she lay on her back, eyes fixed to the dream catcher. Her nightgown was soaked through, but she made no effort to change it. The image of Roxanne lingered.
She turned her head to look at the vase holding Carl’s rose. The corsage he had given her prior to the dance now sat beside it. Taking in a jagged breath, she lifted her hand to view the now soggy strip of paper. The cryptic message was slightly smudged, though still legible. She studied it with weary eyes as her mother’s words echoed back to her. “My sister told me specifically to give this to you the first time a boy gives you a flower.”
Suddenly, that familiar ominous feeling seemed to seep in through the walls in the same subtle, though noticeable fashion cool, morning air might through a window pane.
Chills rose on her body as invisible eyes stared down at her. She tried lifting her head in an attempt to sit, but her head and limbs were like lead. Her soft breath grew rapid as panic rushed through. She struggled again to pick herself up, but to no avail and the sense of another presence in the room heightened.
Finally, she seemed to budge, raising herself rather fluidly. Relief began calming her as she turned on her elbow to view the clock, but what she then saw in her perihpery startled her. From the corner of her eye, she was able to see her body lying flat, still, and staring upward.
She wanted to let out a cry, but it was as though cold, dead hands were on her throat, paralyzing any attempted movement. In the deafening silence the air seemed to hum, and as she listened, the humming resembled a human voice. Her gaze shifted to her full length mirror, and there she saw a small body seated on the floor, hunched over and rocking back and forth.
Dorothy strained for a better look, but thick strands of dark, matted hair hid the other’s face and a small frame was lost inside a soiled, white nightgown. Back and forth, the figure rocked. Rocking as a female voice hummed nothing in particular. The figure seemed to shift between appearing inside and outside of the mirror.
The ringing in Dorothy’s ears accompanied the humming as the speed of the other’s rocking increased. With a sudden, jolting movement, it’s head shot up and turned in Dorothy’s direction. Dorothy stared in horror as she immediately recognized the face.
She bolted up in her bed, finally able to take in deep breaths. Golden sunlight had replaced the cold, blue light and the space in front of the mirror was now empty.
A sigh escaped from Dorothy as she brought a hand to her throat. She turned to look at the clock and frowned. Only seconds ago, the hands were pointing at a time two hours earlier than they were now. The telltale sounds of her mother downstairs in the kitchen had replaced the silence (and the humming).
“Only a dream…” Her voice sounded scratchy and her mouth was dry, as though several wads of cotton were lodged in her throat.
She grabbed the glass of water her mother had apparently left for her on the nightstand and gulped it down. It made her feel slightly better, and she decided that a bath was in the cards.
She slowly rose out of bed, steadying herself before making her way to the closet for her robe. On the way, she noticed her hand still clutched the small slip of paper with Aunt Roxanne’s scrolling. The ink had smudged through and was almost unreadable, yet the message seemed to pulse with life on the parchment.
Dorothy turned to her desk and tucked it in the top drawer. She turned once more to regard the space in front of the full-length mirror. Juliette…
Retrieving her robe, she headed to the washroom.
Shortly before breakfast, Dr. Ramsay, the town doctor, made a house call to the Blake house. He confirmed that Dorothy had caught a stomach virus and would just have to let it run its course with rest and plenty of fluids.
Liz had taken some lightly buttered toast and juice on a tray up to her daughter. Dorothy had been able to eat a little of it despite her near non-existent appetite. She then spent the latter half of the morning reading through the rest of Wuthering Heights. At around noon, Linda and Gail phoned to check on their friend. Both conversations were brief, and Dorothy promised she would speak to them once the illness subsided.
As she read through the final chapter that was the story of Cathy and Heathcliff, the doorbell rang. Dorothy looked up from her book upon hearing her mother answer the front door.
“Oh hello, Gladys,” Liz said.
Dorothy’s already queasy stomach flipped as Carl’s mother entered their home.
“Hello, Liz. My son told me Dorothy was feeling under the weather. How is she? I brought some soup for her.”
“Oh, thank you,” Dorothy heard her mother say. “Dorothy seems to be doing better. She’s resting right now, but I’m sure she’ll appreciate the soup for lunch.”
“Well, my son is anxious to see her,” Gladys replied. The footsteps of the two women headed toward the kitchen. “Would tomorrow be all right for him to phone or stop by?” She lowered her voice. “I think Matthew makes him a little nervous.”
Dorothy set her book in her lap and sat up straight as Liz and Gladys continued their conversation. Then, she heard her father emerge from the master bedroom and descend the stairs.
“I’m going over to Tom’s to get some firewood,” Matthew announced upon entering the kitchen. “Hello, Gladys.”
“Hello, Matthew. Liz was just telling me about Dorothy. I brought some soup for he.”
“Well, that’s nice,” he replied. “Thank you. Liz, honey, do you need me to stop by the store or anything while I’m out?”
“Actually, sweetheart, I do have a small list.”
Dorothy heard her mother’s chair scrape back and knew Liz was heading to the refrigerator where she always kept her shopping list.
“If you would, dear, there are a couple things I need for tomorrow,” Liz said.
Dorothy rose and slowly walked toward the bedroom door as her parents gave one another a quick goodbye kiss before Matthew thanked Gladys again.
As the back kitchen door shut, she opened her bedroom door a crack. The aroma of coffee floating up from the kitchen turned Dorothy’s stomach, though was she able to steel herself as Carl’s mother spoke again.
“Look, Liz…I know Carl isn’t Matthew’s ideal choice for Dorothy.”
Liz sighed. “Well, my husband tends to forget that he was once in Carl’s place.”
“I’m sure most fathers are that way. I’m certain Paul will be with Emily once she is a little older. But…as for Carl…I know he has a tendency for trouble, but he really is a good boy and means well. And I really do believe he genuinely cares for Dorothy. In fact, I am a little worried about him.”
“Why’s that?” Liz asked.
“Well, ever since coming home from the dance last night, he’s been unusually quiet. Even this morning when I tried getting him up for breakfast…he just seems distracted. Dorothy hasn’t said anything to you, has she?”
“No. Right after my husband brought her home, she went straight to bed. She did have a high fever, but it seems to have broken. But she didn’t say anything this morning when I took her breakfast up to her.”
There was a pause before Gladys said, “Liz…I just want a nice girl for my son. Paul and I really think very highly of Dorothy. And I can tell she means a lot to Carl.”
Tears stung Dorothy’s eyes and she shut the door. All morning, she had managed to avoid thinking about her boyfriend and now the very mention of his name sent sharp pains through her heart. His words from the previous night that implied taking her to bed crept into her mind.
Well, you thought wrong…
Anger pierced her every fiber. She blinked away the tears, refusing to cry as she fought to ignore Gladys’s words.
She’s his mother…of course she would say those nice things. Carl didn’t care about her. To him, she was only another conquest. He really thought I was going to fall for it…after only a month of going together…he didn’t even discuss it with me. He just arrogantly assumed.
As Gladys left, telling Liz how happy Carl would be to talk to Dorothy, Dorothy made a decision.
That evening after supper, the phone rang for the third time as Dorothy sat at her desk reading over an English assignment. A feeling of impending dread came over her as Liz knocked on the half-open door.
“Honey, Carl’s on the phone.”
Dorothy felt her heart stop. “Um…tell him I’ll phone him later.”
Liz frowned. “Sure, honey…is everything all right?”
Dorothy kept her eyes fixed on her textbook. “Yes, it’s fine. I’m just not in the mood for phone calls right now.”
Liz regarded her daughter for another moment before relenting. “Alright, dear. I’ll let him know. Just rest then.” She turned and headed back down the stairs.
As her mother headed back down the stairs, Dorothy from her desk chair and went to lay on her bed. She leaned against the pillows, hearing her mother on the telephone downstairs repeating the message to Carl.
Part of Dorothy felt horrible for turning Carl away, but she just couldn’t bring herself to talk to him yet. What had happened the night before had been not only embarrassing, but confusing. And then I dream of Juliette…what if there really is something wrong with me? Well, it doesn’t matter. It will all be over soon.
Sunday morning arrived and Dorothy was relieved when her parents offered her the option of staying home from morning Mass. The Turners were Methodist, so she knew running into Carl at church was unlikely, but she would definitely see Gail and Jimmy (and possibly even Bernice). Chuck’s Diner was also popular among families before or after services and the possiblity of seeing the Turners there was high.
After her parents left, Dorothy rose from her bed, deciding she was feeling well enough for a walk to the library. Mrs. Stratton usually attended the very early Mass before opening for a few short hours on Sundays.
Dorothy dressed and made a quick breakfast of oatmeal and buttered toast before leaving a note for her parents. With most families in church, a peaceful serenity was over the town. As her steps moved over the sidewalk toward the library, she contemplated how ending the relationship with Carl should be approached. Her broken heart was undeniable. Everything seemed so right in the time she was with him, so why was it suddenly all wrong? As she ascended the steps library, she stole a quick glance at the statue of James Livingston as her Aunt Roxanne’s message appeared in front of her again. Shaking it away, she pulled open the door and said a quick hello to Mrs. Stratton, who regarded her sympathetically.
Dorothy sighed. Of course, the whole town knew. But browsing the bookshelves offered a beautiful distraction. She ended up selecting Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Shakespeare’s Macbeth before finding herself drawn to the section that held the works of Dante Alighieri. She took out The Inferno and The Divine Comedy.
Her gaze fell onto the case that displayed James Livingston’s journals, and she considered asking Mrs. Stratton to open it for her. The door to the library’s front entrance opened, thwarting her attention. Her breath hitched upon seeing Carl enter, and she quickly ducked behind a nearby shelf, feeling slightly foolish for doing so. She crept along the back shelves, stealing a glance at the clock and seeing that an hour and a half had in fact passed.
As Dorothy approached the center, just beneath the framed portrait of President Herbert Hoover, she bumped into a figure in her path. Sure enough, her eyes met Carl’s. The two wordlessly regarded one another.
“Hi…” she stammered.
“Hey,” he replied. “I stopped at your house and your mother told me you were here. How are you feeling?”
“Better, thanks.” She shifted away her gaze.
“I’m glad. Dorothy…if you’re up for it, can we please talk?”
Unable to speak, she clutched her books. What was there to say? What would she say? She had never broken off a relationship before.
“Dorothy, please. It seems like you’re avoiding me. Are you?”
She looked up at him and drew in a breath. “Let me check these out, first.”
Carl waited as Dorothy checked her books with Mrs. Stratton before the two walked out together.
After a brief silence, Carl said, “Listen, I owe you an apology.”
“You certainly do,” she replied, surprised at her cold, empty tone.
Carl shifted beside her. “I got carried away and I shouldn’t have said what I did. I’m sorry. It was never my intention to make you uncomfortable…which, I obviously did. But Dorothy, I don’t want you to feel wrong about my intentions toward you. I…I’ve never gone with anyone like you.”
Dorothy kept her gaze foreward. “It was very presumptuous of you. You thought a few kind gestures and I would fall all over myself to…” She lowered her voice. “…be seduced by you?”
“Honey…please…that’s not how it was.”
She halted her steps and turned to face him. “Then what was it, Carl? Why would you come prepared if you didn’t plan for it?”
“Habit, I guess…Alright, maybe I did plan it a little…”
“What do you mean you planned it a little? How do you plan something like that a little? And without even discussing it with me!”
Carl’s voice lodged in his throat as the truth of what really happened to Juliette lingered at the tip of his tongue. “Dorothy…I just thought…”
“What? What did you think?”
Carl’s heart pounded as a panicking sensation churned in his core. “I…was afraid you would leave me…so I…”
Dorothy stared at him. “You’re making absolutely no sense. Face it. You did something underhanded and I didn’t fall for it the way you thought I would. You completely undermined and insulted my intelligence. Well, I have news for you. Just because I’m not Bernice or those girls at the speakeasies you ran around with doesn’t mean I’m completely naïve!”
“I didn’t say you were! Please, just let me explain.”
“What is there to explain?”
Carl opened his mouth. “I love you…” He flinched slightly as the words escaped.
Dorothy felt her insides jolt. Her heart raced as she searched for a response. “Carl, I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but it isn’t going to work. Honestly, I don’t think a relationship between us is going to work out.”
“Don’t call me that. We are no longer going together, and if you don’t like that, maybe you should have thought before acting like a playboy!”
Carl started protesting, but Dorothy cut him off. “Goodbye, Carl. I’ll have either my mother, Linda, or Gail return your jacket.”
With that last statement, she turned on her heel and ran off, leaving Carl to stand alone on the sidewalk. As she hurried away, she thought he had tried calling to her, but she never stopped. His declaration of love hung over her, but she hardened herself and took a back road home so she would not pass the lamp post he had kissed her under only a week ago.
When Dorothy returned home, she headed straight to her bedroom, barely hearing her mother’s greeting. Liz approached her daughter’s bedroom, and Dorothy informed her of no longer going steady with Carl.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Liz said. “What happened?”
Dorothy shrugged and sat on her bed. “We’re just two different people. It wasn’t going to work out.”
Of course, word of what happened made its way around the gossip circle. Gail and Linda both phoned, and Dorothy told her friends she would talk to them about it that following day.
That night, after finishing the final chapter of Wuthering Heights, she stared at the rose and corsage on the nightstand and considered throwing both into the garbage.
Picking up the vase, she felt a slight tingle followed by warmth permeating the hand that held the crystal. Carl’s essence loomed, along with the deep sorrow present in her dream.
Dorothy went to bed that night, dreaming of him being consumed by dark storm clouds and a looming stone structure in the distance. When she awoke the following morning, she drying tears stained her pillow.
June 10, 1922
My dearest sister Elizabeth,
I cannot bear to live there anymore and have decided to, once and for all, leave with Brett. I’m afraid I cannot tell you where right now. However, once he and I reach our destination, we shall send you and Matthew notice as soon as possible.
Please, never forget how incredibly blessed you are to have found Matthew. Don’t ever forget that and never let go of him.
Love, your sister,
Head on over to Tiffany’s page for an exclusive sneak peak at the first chapter in Divinity Immolation Book Three!