Well, hey there you beautiful darlins! I’m tapping into my southern roots a bit. We’ve got a wee surprise for you. Wha— … No, Dave, put that away! Jesus, you want to talk about horror?
Anyway, about that surprise!
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Idalita Wright Raso, author of Eye of Saturn, the first in The Daughters of Saturn series.
Eye of Saturn is a horror novel set in medieval Spain. Felipe de Hayos, the son of a wealthy statesman is forced by his parents to marry a mysterious Moorish woman named Lilith Al-Salameh. But Lilith is hiding a dark secret, and her love for Felipe comes with a dangerous price.
When Zaybeth Castile comes to live at the de Hayos estate, it’s love at first sight for her and Felipe. Learning of her husband’s betrayal, Lilith plots Zaybeth’s destruction. As Saturn’s Immortal High Priestess, Lilith calls upon the Daughters of Saturn to aid her in performing a forbidden ritual—opening the Eye of Saturn—and cursing Felipe with vampirism. Now, the only one who can kill him is the one who truly loves him: Zaybeth.
RJ: You’re an established news reporter/photojournalist for the Lake County Gazette (Jefferson, Ohio) and have recently released your first fiction novel, Eye of Saturn. What was it like to transition from a more professional medium to a creative one?
RASO: Being a news reporter groomed me into being a fiction writer, making the transition an easy one. As a reporter I conducted research and asked hard-hitting questions to flush out the facts. I find myself doing the same with my characters. I conduct interviews with them, pulling out the facts and revealing their true motives.
RJ: What prompted the writing of Eye of Saturn? Was it a spontaneous decision or one that had been brewing for a while?
RASO: Well, that’s a very interesting story. It started about eleven years ago, when I had a series of strange dreams. These characters—Felipe, Zaybeth, and Lilith—came into my dreams, describing chilling, detailed accounts of supernatural events that took place in their lives. The dreams happened so frequently, I had to keep a dream diary by my bedside. It all started to make sense on Nov. 9, 2006, when the planet Saturn had a hurricane-type storm, where the center of the storm resembled a human eye. This prompted me to do some research. Through my research I uncovered some scary, dark, and evil facts about the god Saturn and the planet.
RJ: Eye of Saturn is the first in The Daughters of Saturn series and the second has a tentative release date later this year. When you were writing Eye of Saturn did you know it was going to be a series, or did the idea evolve and expand during the writing process?
RASO: The series spans five hundred fifty years and covers a lot of history. I knew the entire story could not be told in just one book. I was thinking a trilogy—not four books.
RJ: There are so many different takes on vampire lore saturating the market. Are there any interpretations of this classic monster that just make your blood boil?
RASO: I’m sick and tired of vampires that sparkle, rock star vampires, vampires trying to fit into human society, vampire detectives, and vampires feuding with werewolves. I think vampires have gone soft and lost their “bite.”
RJ: You created an entire language for Eye of Saturn: Solsatihel. Can you tell us a little about what that entailed and from where you drew your inspiration for this language?
RASO: The inspiration for Solsatihel came as I listened to the NASA’s 2005 Cassini-Huygens spacecraft audio recordings of Saturn’s intense radio emissions. The recordings had eerie, whistling, frightful whooshing and haunting warbling echoes, as if Saturn was speaking. I developed the language based on these strange sounding emissions. I plan to write a Solsatihel dictionary once the series is completed.
RJ: I mentioned the second book in the series earlier. Can you give us any details on what to expect? Spoiler-free, of course.
RASO: Readers of the second book will not be disappointed. There’s plenty of gore and action peppered with history. It is a continuation of Felipe’s journey as a vampire. In book two, Felipe is in Romania and has taken on Vlad Dracula’s persona.
RJ: Every author has their own process when it comes to writing, from storyboarding to just winging it. What is your writing process like and are there any items you have to have on hand while writing?
RASO: I am a very visual person, so the first thing I do is create a storyboard. I collect pictures that remind me of the characters and locals in my story. I make a collage of the photos and pin them to a cork board above my computer for inspiration. Next, I do all the necessary research. When it is time to start writing, I have to listen to music. I have a soundtrack for every book in The Eye of Saturn series.
RJ: You’re currently contracted with Solstice Publishing. Can you tell us a little about your experience with them? Have you (or would you) consider self-publishing?
RASO: Solstice Publishing has been great to me. They are supportive, and they give their authors the resources to make them successful. I’m not sure I would go the self-publishing route just yet. There are too many things I do not understand about the publishing industry. I’ll leave publishing to the experts.
RJ: Whether you publish traditionally or independently, marketing is a key component. What has the marketing experience for Eye of Saturn been like? Will you do anything differently with your next book?
RASO: My marketing experience has been slow, but steady. Marketing and advertising can be expensive, especially for a new author. Social media has been a tremendous help in getting the book out into the world. For my next book, I am planning to have an even greater social media presence.
RJ: Do you have any advice for new authors?
RASO: My advice for new authors: Never give up.