I’ve met Seleste deLaney over this wonderful forum full of writers and have noticed her quick wit and readiness to always help a friend in need…and she’s quite the writer, too.
AM: I didn’t really know what to expect reading Badlands –being classified under ‘romance’ sub-genre and all– but I found the steampunk and action elements so strong, it made me wonder: was the developing relationship between your two main characters planned or did it just happen as you wrote the story?
Seleste deLaney: Thanks for the compliment! Actually, the romance was planned from the beginning. Personally, I like stories where there’s a really even balance between action, non-action drama, world-building, and romance, so that’s what I strive to write. It’s frustrating for me as an author because some places label Badlands only as steampunk, and a lot of steampunk fans were irritated by the romance. Hence, I’m really glad most places have the proper label on it LOL.
AM: I keep asking myself what identifies a story as romance, because sex scenes are present in most novels nowadays. Could it be that in the romance genre, the male counterpart cares more deeply and shows more feeling than in literary novels? How do you as a writer decide: ok, this is romance, because…
Seleste deLaney: For the most part, I’m a plotter, so romance is woven in from the earliest stages. I was once told that unless the love story between the main characters WAS the primary plot, it wasn’t a romance. Personally, I don’t believe that. For me, it qualifies as a romance if falling in love is a major plotline and on a level at or very near the external conflict. That may or may not mean sex. But in the case of Badlands, the heroine has a specific set of ideas about sex, love, and men. Her change in viewpoint (brought on in part by an unexpected sexual attraction) is another defining characteristic of a romance: where falling in love changes one of the characters in a substantial way. In general, I look at it like this: if you can take out the characters falling in love, and it doesn’t alter the plot and/or climax, then it isn’t a romance. The characters falling in live needs to be integral to the story as a whole. After all, people don’t fall in love isolated from the rest of their lives.
AM: I couldn’t help but totally get immerse into Badlands’ world: women rule part of the country, it’s dusty and dry like the Wild West, and the techno-steam is the right amount of punk. Where did you gather the inspiration for it, and how do you plan to keep it going for the second instalment?
Seleste deLaney: The story was inspired by a piece on DeviantArt that someone said reminded them of me. It was this lone woman on the top of a cliff, streaked with blood, weapons by her side…and I knew I had to tell her story. As far as keeping it going, the second story is Henrietta’s, so the way we see the Badlands is a little different. It’s an outsider’s image rather than someone who has known it all her life. Plus, there’s more ground travel involved (though the Dark Hawk is still in it), so we get to see different sections of the landscape.
AM: I love companions – can’t wait to read Henrietta’s story!! Last questions: why did you adopt a nom de plume, and what inspire you to become Seleste DeLaney?
Seleste deLaney: I decided to write under a pseudonym because I also write YA. My identities aren’t a secret, but I wanted to ensure that teen readers didn’t pick up my adult stories accidentally. As for choosing the pen name, the first part was easy. Seleste is a variation of the name I’ve been known by online for years (as well as my Pagan name). The last name was a combination of things. First, I wanted to pay homage to my favorite author and the woman who encouraged me to pursue publication, Kelley Armstrong, so a friend and I were going through the last names of her minor characters, looking for a last name that fit well with Seleste. When we ran across Delaney, I knew I wanted that one since the main character in the first novel I worked on when I got serious about my writing was named Delaney Craft. (It was only after I chose the name that Kelley’s The Gathering came out and it ended up Maya’s last name was Delaney, which killed my whole “minor character” plan LOL).