Indie Support Sunday: Daisy St. James
As someone who is always on the search for great paranormal romance, stumbling across Daisy St. James was an absolute gift. The Phoenyx series introduced me to a whole new kind of paranormal romance that I can obsess and pine over. With a supernatural hunter and all the supernaturals you can think of, this series has been one that I recommend quite often. While I still have a few more books to read to catch up before the next one releases, I got a chance to have Daisy answer some of my questions.
She’s always wanted to be a writer and constantly wants people to cry, love and swoon all at once. And if you’re looking for recommendations and books that you definitely need to pick up, Daisy drops some of her favourites in this interview as well.
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been conjuring up a tale! I grew up reading all different kinds of genres, devouring them one after the other. Writing is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Whenever someone asks me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always replied, “A writer!” It’s in my blood and my bones.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
Even as a child, I kind of knew this was where I’d end up. My favourite soap opera character was the quirky writer (aka Felicia Gallant from Another World). In the 1990 romantic comedy, Don’t Tell Her It’s Me, starring Shelley Long and a hunky Steve Guttenberg, Shelley plays a romance novelist. I seriously dug her character!
As I got older and began reading more mature content, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to pursue writing romance novels. That feeling of being swept away while reading a budding romance on the pages just can’t be beat, and I wanted to replicate it as often as possible.
I love to make people cry as much as I want to make them swoon! Books like A Love Story, Wuthering Heights, Persuasion, all the heartbreak, angst and tragedy, I love that!
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
Honestly? Fear of rejection! I really wanted to share my stories with the world and if I waited for a publisher to pick me up, it might not ever happen, especially if you consider the Phoenyx Series. It doesn’t quite fall into the “romance” category, though there is plenty of it.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part of being an indie author is complete control over cover design and marketing. I don’t have to run things by someone first, there aren’t any discussions about things that don’t really matter. I can carry on the way I want to. The worst part is the community (yeah, I said it), and let’s face it, not being taken seriously. The indie writing community can be pretty vicious, not all of it, but a lot of it. There is tons of unhealthy competition and criticism. On the flipside though, I’ve met so many wonderful people in this community that it’s difficult to stay mad at it for too long.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
There is nothing I would like more than to be a full-time writer, but alas, I am not. I work as a voiceover artist and I homeschool my nine year old twins, so I write when I can!
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
My other hobbies are crocheting, reading (of course), I love singing (I used to front a band in the early 2000’s) and cooking! Cooking is one of my favourite things to do. I love feeding people.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I’d be writing thrillers or horror, without a doubt.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
Traditional: Kim Harrison is my absolute favourite. The Hollows series is incredible and I’ve read it more than once. Anything by Anne Rice (bless her, she was such an incredible writer and her passing this year was just shocking), J.R. Ward’s, The Black Dagger Brotherhood series (hot, smart and the world building is just beyond) and of course the Cat & Bones series by Jeaniene Frost.
Indie: Cassidy London writes some steamy books (I’d recommend her Maple Cove series, seriously hot)! Nicole Strycharz is a master of people and emotions (I’d recommend The Golden Van Dorens, which is historical fiction but worth every word, & any book from her Relationship Quo Series, but The Divorce and The Love That Hurts are by far my favourites). Mimi Flood’s With or Without You series, Dom and Jessie are FIRE! And if you are looking for some mind-blowing Paranormal Romance, LaSasha Flame’s Dark Immortal Flames series is epic! And it goes without saying, anything by Pam Godwin is a must.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. If writing is what you want to do, you need to go for it. Forget what anyone else tells you. We live in a time where you can share your talent with the world unimpeded. Just go for it! And you don’t need to start with a professional cover model to make it. There are tons of artists who make beautiful covers for a fraction of the price. Don’t think that you need all kinds of money to start. You don’t. Always work on your craft. Write every day. Never be too hard on yourself. You’ve got this!
Can you briefly tell me about the books you’ve published so far?
The Phoenyx series centres around Jane Grimshaw, a supernatural assassin known as The Phoenyx. She’s a seriously badass character who had to fend for herself from a very young age. Her origins are a mystery and the stories, while do lead to romantic moments, are all about her finding herself, learning the truth about her past and becoming the most feared woman alive. There’s a lot of intrigue, I don’t go light on the supernaturals (we’ve got witches, vampires, demons, shifters, flesh eaters, bog trolls, you name it). There are also stories within stories (I like to get into it with as many characters as I can).
These books do end in cliffhangers so if that’s not your thing, you might want to keep your distance, BUT I’d give it a shot anyway. I have complete confidence that if you’re into heavy Urban Fantasy with romantic elements and a sassy badassy heroine, you’ll really enjoy the series.
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
Ash, of course! He’s mysterious, hot, brave and doesn’t give up. What more can a woman ask for?
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
Phoenyx in Flames, book one in the series, was published in 2018, but I’d been toying with the story twelve years prior. I was a HUGE Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. Like, HUGE. My world revolved around Tuesday nights, I kid you not and Phoenyx is heavily inspired by it. It’s not the same, not even close, but HEAVILY inspired. Then True Blood came along and I thought, hmmm, I might have something here. I conjured up a little girl who lost her mother very young and got swept away by a handsome older man who taught and trained her how to kill the baddies. And then the characters started talking to me. When I tell you I have copybook upon copybook just filled with dialogue, I’m not kidding. When they spoke, I listened and eventually a story was born. However, it is an incredibly long story and I knew I would have to break it up to get it all out. So there are six books planned (currently working on book five). I know how it all ends. I’ve already written the final chapter of book six, I just need to get there.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
Despite writing in the Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance genre, I try my best to write them relatable. Sure we’ve got vampires and demons and all kinds of weird creatures, but I give them very human emotions and problems. For example, in the Phoenyx universe, my vampires aren’t all bad. They’re just as bad as they were before they died. If you were a shitty person before you turned, chances are you’ll be shitty once you’ve got fangs. There’s also a bit of a judgmental bias right? These vampires are still VAMPIRES. It’s not like they can go back to their day jobs so a lot of them end up doing naughty things just to get by. Same thing goes for my demons. A lot of them come from heavy lineages, but like with any family, you’ve got your Weasley’s and you’ve got your Malfoys. Some are good and some are bad. It all depends on how you’ve been raised.
As for the actual question, there’s a little bit of me in all of them. Some of them have my phobias, some have my fears, some have my wit. I slip myself in there as much as I can.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
What I want is for readers to sit down with these books and say, “Holy shit, why do I relate so well to this succubus?!” or “Wow, my mom used to do that with me.” I want them to relate, have fun with the story, laugh or cry, and really that’s all I can ask for as a writer. Just enjoy the ride!
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
So, I have a small series planned based on some random characters that made their way into Phoenyx Reborn (this is book five that I’m currently working on). The three book series is set in Losing Lake (the town over from Crystal Haven where the Phoenyx series is set) and it revolves around the villains. Villains need love too! So I’m excited to be fleshing that out.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
Yes! I ventured into contemporary romance and my first release was out this February.
It was originally planned to be a duet, but it’s starting to look like a trilogy of standalones with crossing characters. The first book is called Dirty Professor and I don’t want to say too much about it because I’m really nervous. A student falls in love with her university Spanish professor. It’s a VERY steamy age-gap romance and I honestly hope I do the story justice.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
I love Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Forbidden Love, Second Chance—there really isn’t much I won’t read.
If I had to pick the worst, it would have to be Bully Romances. I was severely bullied when I was younger, so this one doesn’t really fly with me.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I’d love to dive into Forced Proximity, I have an idea for Friends to Lovers and Fake Relationships!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
If you can stomach it, spousal abuse. The Love the Hurts by Nicole Strycharz tackles this one and it’s done so well.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
The romance, of course! And the sex. I LOVE a well written sex scene that just leaves you breathless. I mean, that’s talent.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones or series
Music or silence while writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl
Illustrated cover or photo cover
Daisy’s The Phoenyx series is available in Kindle Unlimited. You can also find her on Instagram.