Hello Frolic Babes! I am so excited to share with you a question and answer author Moni Boyce so graciously took the time out of her day to do with me. Moni is a filmmaker, poet, lover of food, traveling, tv and writer of contemporary and paranormal romances. I recently read book one in her current series, The Oracle Chronicles, Awakened and wanted to pick her brain. I was totally geeked when she agreed, so without further ado, here is our chat!
Bree: Author Moni Boyce, thank you so much for chatting with me! I am so excited for Frolic Readers to get to know you and learn about your ongoing series, The Oracle Chronicles. I recently finished Awakened which is book one and have so many thoughts! First though, I want to get to know more about you as a reader. When did you begin reading romance, and do you remember any particular authors or titles you fell in love with?
Moni Boyce: I first started reading romance in middle school. I think I was in 6th or 7th grade. Virginia Henley was one of the first romance authors I read. She writes historical romance. I’ve read all of her books. I even wrote to her and she wrote me back. At the time, I had no interest in writing. I was just an enamored fan. During that period, I also found Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz. I loved Lucky Santangelo and Scruples.
Bree: You are literally Superwoman! You spent fifteen years working in the film industry and are now bringing characters to life on the page for readers. Do you remember when you realized that not only did you love to write, but that it was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
Moni Boyce: Storytelling has always been something I enjoyed. I started writing when I was in middle school. I wrote poetry and short stories, but filmmaking was my passion. After high school, I didn’t write for a long time, because I was focused on producing films and events. When I got divorced in 2010, some friends suggested I pick up writing again. It was cathartic. I started with writing poetry again, then graduated to fan fiction. It wasn’t until 2015, when I stumbled upon this website where women were posting their original stories that I realized I had stories inside of me I wanted to tell. After reading a lot of the stories on that site, I decided I was going to write and post a story as well so I could get feedback. So, I would come home after a 16-18 hour day of being on a film set or producing an event, turn on the TV and write. When I finished a chapter, I posted it and the readers could leave comments. At the time, I wasn’t even thinking that I was writing a novel. When I finally finished, I realized I did have a completed book. It was such an incredible feeling to have people engaged with the characters and stories I created. Right around that time, I left the country to travel the world full-time. The book, which would become my debut novel, Redemption of the Heart, sat for a while. I did keep writing, because I loved it so, I used my passion to make money while I traveled by ghostwriting. Once I was back in the US, I started hearing talk of people pulling their stories off the website to self-publish, so I decided that’s what I would do too. I wanted to learn about self-publishing before I just put it out there in the world, so I kept ghostwriting and started to soak up everything I could about what being a self-published author would entail. I was addicted to writing at that point and knew I wanted this to be my life.
Bree: As a writer, what do you find different in the worlds of writing characters for film versus writing characters for your novels? With writing for film, an actor gets picked and hopefully it’s the right person to bring that character to life on screen whereas with a book, I think each reader interprets things differently. Are there certain techniques that you’ve been able to use from your days of film writing in your novels, and are there techniques that worked in that world that don’t work with novel writing?
Moni Boyce: I don’t find film and novel writing that different. Yes, one is a visual medium and one is written word, but they’re both telling a story. Some screenwriters will tell you they write with a certain actor in mind to play the part, but often they are building these characters from scratch, just like you would in a novel. Having a background in film, has certainly helped knowing how to write show vs. tell. A technique I had to get better about in novel writing was being more descriptive on my settings and that kind of thing because in film I was used to the audience already seeing that. I didn’t need to explain. Even when you’re writing a script, you don’t get super elaborate with the exposition, so I definitely had to learn to be better at this aspect of my writing.
Bree: Okay, let’s chat a bit about Awakened! The back of the paperback says, “Secret lineage, a ruthless vampire, and forbidden love.” I am not a fast reader, so very rarely do I read a book in one or two sittings; but I couldn’t put this book down! It felt like everything happened so fast, it I was hooked! Please share all the details! Where did the idea for the story come from?
Moni Boyce: I’m a huge fan of sci-fi/fantasy shows like Star Trek: Discovery, Firefly, The 100, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Buffy and countless others. The problem that I found with nearly all of them is while many of them are ensembles, the main protagonist is usually always white (Star trek:Discovery being one of the recent exceptions.) That does not keep me from enjoying a show, but representation is a real thing. I wanted to see someone that looked like me, be the hero, the lead. That’s what led me to write The Oracle Chronicles. I wanted to see this black woman on a journey, discovering who she is. I named her Willow, because growing up in the 80’s, the movie Willow was a favorite, so that was me paying homage to that film. Also, I wanted the book to feel like you were watching TV. If you subscribe to my newsletter you know I’m a TV junkie, because I’m always recommending TV shows. It’s my dream one day to see this adapted for television. Hint, hint Hollywood, lol.
Bree: In Awakened, our heroine Willow learns that she is part Oracle and part Fae. One thing I loved about the book is that Willow has no idea she is who she is, or what she is. So, part of what had me glued to the book was these different situations were happening with her as the focus and she has no idea really how to help! What inspired you to choose to write Willow as a character who is unaware of her lineage, rather than her being aware but refusing to acknowledge it?
Moni Boyce: I chose to write it as a story of discovery, kind of like how Luke Skywalker found out who he was, because I find that journey so much more interesting and fun, than if the character already knows who/what they are, and what they are capable of. Not to say the other way isn’t exciting to read. I just had a clear idea of how I saw her story and the way it would color her relationships to all the people as she was on this journey of discovery.
Bree: One of my favorite characters from the story, is a character who isn’t actually present in the book: Willow’s Mom. What I love about her, is that before she died, she made so many strategic choices to set Willow up for success. Willow will go up against Killian, the king of the vampires and her Mom wanted to make sure she could take him on, herself. As a writer, what inspires the choice to have Willow’s Mother not physically in the story? What do you want Willow to learn in her mother’s absence that she wouldn’t necessarily have learned with her physically present?
Moni Boyce: I love that Hyacinth, Willow’s mom is one of your favorite characters. I’m actually considering writing a novella or short story about her character. It was on purpose that she didn’t become an actual character. I wanted Hyacinth’s presence to be felt, even if she wasn’t physically there.
In life, different circumstances don’t always allow for everyone to grow up knowing their parents, that shapes us just as much as growing up with your parents does. Being an Oracle, Willow’s mother learns early on before she ever has Willow that if she doesn’t do something her daughter may not survive and she’s not okay with that. She wants to give her daughter a fighting chance. I think there is a toughness and a strength in Willow that she may not have learned or grown into with her mother present. I think she would have leaned on her too much, because they were close, they were all they had.
Bree: Let’s chat Eli, Willow’s love interest. Eli is a witch, which makes their feelings for one another forbidden. I think Willow for the most part wants to just go for it while Eli tries his hardest to resist falling for her. As a writer, what do you find most fun and difficult about writing a romance that is forbidden?
Moni Boyce: The fun thing about writing forbidden romance is the will they, won’t they. I love the slow burn, the push and the pull. I always knew that Eli would be the one that would resist giving into his feelings at the beginning. I love seeing people from two different worlds, two different backgrounds, come together because they care about each other. The difficult part of writing that is knowing when people have had enough of the will they, won’t they. You don’t want it to happen too quickly, because where’s the fun in that? You also don’t want to drag it out too much and have readers lose interest.
Bree: Okay, let’s get into my quick questions:
Bree: On your website, you mention being a foodie and you’ve visited 33 countries. What are your top three locations every foodie must visit?
Moni Boyce: Malaysia; Morocco; Italy
Bree: If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what movie would it be?
Moni Boyce: This is always a tough question. The idea of only watching one movie the rest of my life… I guess I would choose the 1995 film Strange Days that Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett star in. It was one of the films that made me want to be a filmmaker.
Bree: What was the last song to get stuck in your head?
Moni Boyce: Hold Your Head Up High by Darlingside
Bree: Ten years from now, you’re writing your Memoir, what is the title?
Moni Boyce: She Believed She Could, So She Did
Bree: Enemies to lovers or second chance?
Moni Boyce: Second chance
Bree: Small town or Big City?
Moni Boyce: Big City
Bree: What does a day of writing look like for you and what is one necessity you have to have in your writing space?
Moni Boyce: My desk is usually littered with post-it notes in various colors. I must have music. I don’t always play it while I’m writing, but sometimes I’ll listen to different playlists I’ve curated before I start writing or even take a music break. I find music very inspiring. If I have the whole day to devote to writing, I often write for hours at a time. From the time I get up I’m usually at my desk. I usually take a lunch break and watch a little TV. Then go back and write some more. Take a break in the evening to relax, watch some TV (remember I’m a TV junkie, I need my fix, lol.) I’m a night owl so if I can I usually will write again late at night, 11pm onward for a few hours. It’s some of the best time in my opinion to write because I have zero distractions.
Bree: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to Moni early on in her writing career?
Moni Boyce: I’m only a year into being an indie author, but I would tell myself not to look over the fence at someone else’s path or journey. My path is mine and the road I have to walk is specific to me. I think you can apply this to any aspect of life, but I think it can be easy to get caught up in let me do what so and so is doing or that author over there is doing. Often the person you’re looking at is ten years down the road. You just started. Give yourself time to grow.
Bree: What is one misconception about the romance genre you’d like to lay to rest?
Moni Boyce: Where to start? I feel like there are so many misconceptions. One of the main ones I would put to rest is the people that think the romance genre is all about sex. While some romances have more than others and some readers find this aspect highly enjoyable, most romances also have wonderful, engaging stories and well-developed characters. Stories that will make you laugh, make you cry and of course make you want to fall in love. At the end of the day, isn’t that what most of us want, is to be loved? If sex on the page really bothers you there is a category called sweet, clean romance. But don’t discount romance because of that misconception because you’d be missing out on a lot of great writers.
Bree: I really want to see more paranormal romances like yours; with a woman of color on the front who comes from this long line of bad ass lineage gearing up to take down the bad guys-I love stories like this and it means more than you’ll ever know to see a heroine who looks like me at the forefront of one. You absolutely nailed it! For aspiring writers at home, what is one piece of writing advice you’d give?
Moni Boyce: Write. Try and write every day. Learn your craft. Take classes, attend workshops, read books and keep doing it. Understanding the mechanics and how to tell a good story are so important. You can market until the cows come home, but if you don’t have a well written, well crafted story it’s all for nothing. If you want to write full-time and you’re going to go the indie route be willing to invest in yourself, not just money, but with time. You need to constantly be learning your craft, marketing, trends, etc. The other piece of advice is network, network, network. You’ll learn so much and open yourself up to opportunities.
I love that you enjoyed Awakened and I love what it meant to you. I want my stories to resonate with everyone, but I’m glad that a black woman can pick up my books and say I can be the badass heroine of the story. We don’t always get to see ourselves in those ways and I’m glad you had that reaction.
I can’t recommend Moni’s Oracle Chronicles series enough; treat yourself to Willow’s journey of self-discovery and figuring out all her bad ass powers all while hunting down the king of vampires, Killian and falling in forbidden love with her mister right, Eli. We have four books available Babes! Go get your one click on.
Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of contemporary and paranormal romances. She spent the last fifteen years working in the film industry and now creates characters of her own and brings them to life on the page. Moni has ghostwritten romance novellas and novels for over a year now and decided to put some of her own creations out in the world. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 33 countries and counting. She lives a bit of a nomadic life, but considers Los Angeles home.