I am a romance writer, first published in 1993. I've published over forty novels and a number of novellas, under the names Claire Delacroix. Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. Most of them have included some paranormal or fantasy elements. My first book to land on the NYT List of Bestselling Books was THE BEAUTY, a Claire Delacroix book, and part of my Bride Quest series. I write full time - well, more than that, actually - and am crazy in love with what I do. It's possible that my husband is the most tolerant person in this world - I tend to get lost in my fictional worlds and forget things in this one, but he's good with that.
2. When/how did you know you wanted to write?
Well, I'm a compulsive reader with an active imagination. Maybe it was inevitable that I'd eventually become a writer! I always wrote stories, but never thought it would be practical to earn my living as a writer. It's not particularly practical, but I do it anyway because I love writing and I love telling stories. I can't really imagine doing anything else.
3. How long did it take you to get published?
I actively pursued publication for about two years before selling my first book. And I was active - I was working on three different books. I'd revise one and send it out to multiple agents and editors, then revise the next one. By the time the rejection letters came in, that second one would be ready to go. I did this over and over again. At that time, it took about two months to hear back on queries, even on complete manuscripts, so there were a lot of full turns on those books in those two years. Only the one of them ever did sell - a medieval romance called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE, published by Harlequin Historicals in March 1993 under my pseudonym Claire Delacroix. I ultimately wrote eleven medievals for them and was the first author in the program to have four titles published in one year. (That was 1994.)
4. How long does it take for you to write a book?
It takes me about three months to write a book, but that's without any other distractions or projects on the go.With the editorial and production process, plus promotional activities, I need to work a lot of weekends to finish a book in four months. Fortunately, I love what I do!
5. Tell us about your newest release in your Dragonfire series, DARKFIRE KISS.
DARKFIRE KISS is a book that many fans of the series have been waiting for, because it's the story of Rafferty's firestorm. Rafferty has always been a popular dragon shifter with readers, probably because he's the one who is an unabashed romantic and has yearned to meet his destined mate. I had to mix it up a bit, though, in order to have a story : Rafferty is gorgeous. He's wise. He's a hunky dragon shifter. He's a romantic. He's Welsh. What woman could possibly resist him? And why would she bother? So, I made Rafferty's firestorm the one that sparks the legendary darkfire, a force for change dreaded by all of the dragon shifters. He might lose everything - or destroy the world of the Pyr - by falling in love with his destined mate. I really enjoyed making him work for his HEA!
Melissa is probably the most intrepid of my Dragonfire heroine's so far. She's a reporter trying to make a comeback, and she's not afraid to ask for what she wants - or take it. I liked her, and I appreciated that she'd been in some dark places - again, it was very satisfying to ensure that she not only worked for her HEA but got one.
DARKFIRE KISS is also book #6 in the Dragonfire series, which meant it was time (at least to me) to twist the world a bit and challenge the assumptions of the dragon dudes. Darkfire turns everything inside out and pushes the Pyr into a new era - which gives me lots of new elements to play with in subsequent books. I had a great time writing this book, and hope readers enjoy it too.
6. What inspired the Dragonfire series?
I'm always amused that people think the idea of dragon shapeshifters is strange and unusual, and can't imagine how I came up with the idea. I've always been fascinated by dragons - that line in my bio is true! - and ever since I sold my first romance, I've been writing proposals that featured dragon shapeshifter heroes. Maybe it seems natural to me because I think it would be fabulous to be able to shift into a dragon at will.
The other thing about dragons is that people have always told stories about dragons. These stories exist in almost every culture and are really old. A lot of creation stories feature dragons. So, it wasn't such a stretch to imagine that we humans consistently tell stories about dragons because we've known real dragons. If they were dragon shapeshifters, they'd be able to hide in our midst. In the Dragonfire world, the Pyr lived openly among humans - until it became fashionable in the Middle Ages to hunt dragons. Then they became more reticent and hid themselves (and their reality) from us. At least that was the case until the darkfire burned...
7. Which has been your favorite book to write?
Every writer says this and it sounds lame - but it's true. My favourite book is the one I'm working on at the moment. And my favourite hero is the one featured in that book. While I'm in the middle of writing his story, I'm wildly in love with him, just like the heroine. (In fact, the heroine is often a bit less susceptible to the hero's charms than I am!)
8. What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm working on Dragonfire #7, which is called FLASH FIRE and will be out in January 2012. I'm not telling who the hero is until everyone reads DARKFIRE KISS. Actually, you'll probably find out when I get the cover and post it on my site, which will likely be in July or so.
9. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?
Tell the story that you most want to tell, the one that keeps you awake at night - the one starring the characters who haunt you. Learn your craft so you can tell your story in the most compelling way possible. Send it out - no one will know you've written it otherwise. And don't give up. One of the qualities you most need as a writer is persistence. Good luck!
You can find Deborah on the web at: