How did the idea for your novels came to you? What was the inspiration?
I created the character of Tris Drayke back in 1981, sitting in one of my college classes (and obviously not paying attention). I use the term “created” loosely, since my characters tend to stride on stage in my imagination fully formed and present themselves, demanding to know where their book is. (Strange but true.) So I had the character but not a story to go with him. Jonmarc Vahanian showed up in the next year. The other characters pretty much appeared as they were needed as the plot began to evolve, but others showed up independent of plot and refused to go away until I wrote them in. Some minor characters showed up with such a strong presence that they literally stole the scenes they’re in—much to my surprise.
I imagine this sounds very strange to a non-writer (and maybe to some writers—it works differently for each of us), but I’ve always considered myself more a stenographer to my characters than a god-like plot architect. The characters do pretty much write themselves in that when I want to know more about them, I create a mental picture of the character and ask my questions and get answers. Then the plot springs from the personalities and actions of the characters. It’s kind of like taking notes on the movie that plays on the inside of my eyelids.
As for inspiration, the books do weave together several favorite themes. I’ve liked ghost stories and haunted houses for as long as I can remember. The same is true for stories about vampires and magic. I’ve also had a life-long fascination with folklore from around the world as well as mythology. I essentially wrote the story that I wanted to read so that I could get to read it! And while none of the characters is literally “me,” there are very clear elements of me in all of my characters if you know me well enough to know where to look.